Level: The Arizona League is the lowest level of the minor leagues in the states. Typically the players at this level are young Latin American players, high school draftees and second-tier college picks. If they play well, a few will get an opportunity to compete for a spot in Fort Wayne next spring, but most will go to extended spring training followed by a trip to Eugene in the Northwest League.
Player of the Year: CF Alberth Martinez .354/.394/.593 Martinez led the little Padres in batting average, on-base and slugging percentage among players that had 100 or more plate appearances. The slim Venezuelan (6'1" 170 lbs.) also stole 14 bases in 17 attempts.
At the end of August, he was promoted to Eugene where he struggled with a .182 batting average in 46 plate appearances.
Runner-Up: RF Yoan Alcantara .348/.367/.586 Alcantara is nearly a mirror image of Martinez, statistically and physically (6'1" 175 lbs.) and ended up leading the team in counting statistics once Martinez left. Alcantara led the team in total bases and RBIs and led the AZL with 28 extra-base hits, including 8 triples.
Yoan, who is 18 months younger than Martinez, likes to swing the bat as evidenced with only four walks in 214 plate appearances.
Player of the Year: CF Alberth Martinez Despite the fact that Martinez spent a week in Triple-A, he still managed to be either first or second in nearly every offensive category for the Pads. One thing John didn't mention is that, for a 20-year-old prospect playing in the U.S. for the first time, he struck out an incredibly low 27 times in 199 plate appearances. He also plays an above average center field.
Runner-Up: 3B Duanel Jones .267/.349/.500?Alcantara might beat him just by pure numbers, but from a scouting standpoint, no one showed a higher ceiling than Jones, who didn't even turn 18 until May. Jones led the club in homeruns, (8) and was third in RBIs (23) and walks(16), and was second with 38 runs scored. He did all of this despite playing in fewer games than either Martinez or Alcantara as he was promoted to Eugene.
Player of the Year:CF Alberth Martinez It's hard to argue against the guy with the team's top average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. So, I won't! Kudos to Alberth Martinez for a stellar stateside debut, even though he struggled in brief stops at three other levels on the year.
Runner-Up:3B Duanel Jones . The Padres signed Duanel Jones out of the Dominican Republic last year even though he faced an MLB suspension after an illegal substance violation voided his original seven-figure contract.
The 18-year-old slugger showed why he was so highly regarded in his stateside debut, finishing second in the AZL with eight homers. Unlike many of his teammates, he managed to walk in almost 10 percent of his plate appearances even as he flashed the power. He'll need to reduce the strikeout and error rates to get out of the desert next spring.
Others of Note: Fabel Filpo joined the club from the Dominican Summer League late in August and flashed the tools that made him the club's highest-profile July 2 signing in 2009. He tore the cover off the ball, hitting .385/.448/.538 with more walks than strikeouts and showing some serious range in the OF. Second-rounder Austin Hedges saw action in five games after signing at the deadline. He has the potential to vault over everyone else on the roster if he can hit. Dutch-born Rodney Daal was more than a year younger than anyone who suited up in the Valley of the Sun this year. While he is definitely a work in progress, he will be worth watching next year. Justin Miller was leading the club in virtually every statistic (.407/.476/.574) when he got the early promotion to Eugene. You will see the tiny 2B/OF discussed in the Eugene write-up.
MadFriars' 2011 AZL Player of the Year: Alberth Martinez
Top Prospect: Duanel Jones (unanimous)
While Martinez was certainly the best performer of the season, Jones is more than two years younger and has plus tools in both his raw and in-game power. Jones takes a good swing and has a solid 6'3" frame at the ripe old age of 18 and scouts believe he will eventually become a 25+ homer guy. The big right-handed slugger will probably move up slowly as he masters the strike zone, but he has as much power upside as anyone in the system. He remains a work in progress defensively and may outgrow and/or play himself off of third base.