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: C Rodney Daal .306/.385/.553
The Netherlands native signed at sixteen years old and got a brief taste of the AZL last year at 17. This season in twenty-one games with the rookie Padres, he had 14 extra-base hits before moving on to Eugene to finish the season.
Runner-Up: 3B Gabriel Quintana .291/.337/.483
Last year, one of the better players in the AZL for the Padres was Duanel Jones. This year they again had a talented player at the hot corner in Quintana. He finished second on the team with 44 hits, tied for the team lead with 36 RBIs and led the club with 5 home runs. The young Dominican just turned 20 and should have a shot at making the Fort Wayne team in 2013.
Player of the Year: Rodney Daal
While we've gotten used to seeing Dutch citizens from Caribbean territories in professional ball, Daal is a product of the national Honkball program in the Netherlands. Visibly bigger than his listed height and weight, Daal has a strong offensive profile with plenty of usable power. His defense behind the plate remains a work in progress (as his 11 passed balls in 29 games at two levels show), but repetitions with high-level coaching can address much of that. His low strikeout rate bodes well for the future.
Runner-Up: CF Edwin Moreno .298/.319/.461
Originally signed a day after his 17th birthday in October 2010, Moreno is a lanky left-handed hitter and thrower from the Dominican. In his first stateside tour this year, he flashed a solid line-drive bat. Though his walk rate was low, he also kept his strikeout totals down. While his overall numbers weren't as impressive on paper as Alberth Martinez's last year, his age and athletic abilities make him a more promising long-term prospect.
Player of the Year: Rodney Daal
It is difficult to look at an 18-year-old in the AZL posting a .306/.385/.553 line and not get excited. It would be even more difficult not to be ecstatic if that player is a catcher. With that in mind, it is no surprise why all three of us picked Daal as the player of the year.
Runner-Up: CF Mallex Smith .344/.379/.417
Smith excelled in his first season of professional ball. The fifth-round pick was the epitome of a table setter. The 19-year-old Smith, led the team in stolen bases(13) and scored 23 runs in 25 games. This led to a midseason promotion to Eugene. Smith also showed raw, but better-than-average defense in CF.
Others of Note:
The AZL Padres were not short on hitters. As a team, they hit .275/.346/.395. Outfielder Luis Tejada hit a respectable .293/.352/.370 while tying for the club lead in RBI (36) and second in stolen bases with 10. San Diego native Fernando Perez did well in his first professional action. The third round pick batted a respectable .273/.298/.455. Miguel Del Castillo led the club in average with a .364/.427/.424 line in 20 games at C/DH. Finally, athletic high school draftee Jalen Goree gave the Padres another legitimate shortstop in the system.
MadFriars' 2012 AZL Player of the Year: Rodney Daal
Top Prospect: Rodney Daal
Daal should battle Dane Phillips, the Padres' second round pick out of Oklahoma City College for the everyday spot with the TinCaps in 2013 where they will probably alternate between catcher and DH. Daal hit well in Eugene as well as the AZL so the bat should play.