The Glendale Desert Dogs, which features minor league talent from the Angels, Dodgers, White Sox, Astros and Cardinals are a third of the way into a 30-game season that showcases how selected players continue to refine their tools and look to make one last impression within their organization before the end of the year. Four pitchers and three position players from the Angels farm system received the nod to compete in the fall sprint and have the opportunity to one day join former Angels’ Garrett Anderson, Darin Erstad, Troy Percival and Mike Trout in the AFL Hall of Fame. To get caught up on the latest action and stats, here is a look at what has transpired under the Arizona sun thus far:
INF, Jeremiah Jackson (#5 Prospect) - [8 Games: .154 Avg. (4-for-26), 1 HR, 7 RBI]: Jackson held his own in his first full-season in the minors combining to bat .277 with 10 HR, 50 RBI and a .906 OPS across two different levels (6 games with ACL and 45 games with Low-A Inland Empire). The only factor that inhibited the 21-year-old from encountering a breakout season was a quad injury that sidelined the infielder from June 30 to September 12. He finished the 2021 regular season on a six-game hitting streak, however those blistering at-bats have yet to transfer into AFL play. The strikeout bug continues to bite as nearly half of his 22 plate appearances have ended down by way of the “K”. However, on Saturday, October 23, Jackson put together a breakout performance against the Mesa Solar Sox, recording a RBI Single and three-run Home Run.
As he works through getting past timing issues at the plate, Jackson takes pride in his overall abilities and relishes the opportunity to make an impact everyday in the Arizona Fall League with great competition.
OF, Orlando Martinez (#26 Prospect) - [8 Games: .214 Avg. (6-for-28), 1 RBI, 1 R]: Martinez has worked his way through the Angels farm system to Double-A Rocket City since the Halos signed the former 18U Cuban National Batting Champion in 2017. With the Trash Pandas in 2021, the 23-year-old clubbed 16 HR and 54 RBI, while securing the Double-A South Offensive Player of the Week honors on August 22.
The outfielder opened his AFL campaign with a multi-hit game in his first two contests, but has lost momentum going just 2-for-20 in his last six games. As a potential Rule 5 Draft player, Martinez is getting the chance to impress the Angels into a 40-man roster spot or audition for the other 29 MLB teams looking for outfield support.
C, Anthony Mulrine - [4 Games: .067 Avg. (1-for-15), 2 BB, 6 K]: Mulrine’s defense shined during his 55-game stay with Double-A Rocket City in 2021. The former Samford Bulldog caught 19 potential base stealers, while suffering only two errors in 442 innings behind the plate. He slapped 4 HR and 17 RBI with the Trash Pandas before ending the year with a promotion to Triple-A Salt Lake, playing in five games. The 23-year-old is currently playing second fiddle at the catching position to the Astros’ Korey Lee, limiting his number of plate appearances. His first and only hit of the AFL so far came back on October 19 in the ninth inning against the Scottsdale Scorpions. Mulrine does have a caught stealing on his resume when he threw out Donovan Casey (Surprise Saguaros) trying to steal second base on October 16.
Anthony Mulrine ties things up here in Surprise!— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 17, 2021
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Nathan Burns - [3 Games: 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1 BB, 4 K]: Burns, fresh off four seasons at Oregon State University, fit in extremely well in the bullpen of three different Angels affiliates during the 2021 season.
The 22-year-old right-hander completed 10 games in his brief professional debut (3 with ACL, 6 with Low-A Inland Empire and 1 with High-A Tri-City), going 1-0 and impressively did not allow a single earned-run in 16.1 total innings. Burns limited his walk total to just 3.3 per/nine innings and increased the level of strikeouts to 13.8 per/nine innings by controlling the zone. Burns highlighted his control of the strike zone right off the bat in his first relief outing of the fall, picking up the win against the Peoria Javelinas with a clean 19-pitch fourth inning.
Coleman Crow - [2 Games: 0-0, 1.80 ERA, 1 BB, 7 K]: Crow debuted in the Angels organization for the first time in 2021 after being drafted in the 28th round in 2019. In 13 games (10 starts) with Low-A Inland Empire, the Concord, GA native went 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. As a fearless competitor on the mound, Crow utilizes his four-pitch arsenal featuring a two and four-seam fastball along with a slider (his most dynamic pitch) and changeup. The righty improved his AFL stats during his second appearance on October 22 against Surprise. In a starter’s role, Crow completed three innings with three strikeouts and one walk, lowering his ERA from 4.50 to 1.80.
Zach Linginfelter - [4 Games: 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 5 BB, 5 K]: Linginfelter bounced back-and-forth between starting and relieving between High-A Tri-City (21 games) and Double-A Rocket City (6 games) during the 2021 season. The former Tennessee Volunteer struggled with walks during the season (47 with 5 HBP), but he did balance it out with 79 strikeouts in 70 innings and a collective .230 BAA. The AFL season has brought a variety of results to Linginfelter, from seeing no earned-runs allowed in his first two relief appearances, to suffering the tough luck loss last time on the bump on October 20 versus Peoria. With a fastball-curveball combination from the 24-year-old right-hander, a future in the bullpen seems likely at either the Double-A or Triple-A level at the onset of the 2022 season.
Robinson Pina (#20 Prospect) - [2 Games: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 BB, 2 K]: Pina’s pitching talents traveled across the United States in 2021 as he pitched at three different levels of the Angels organization (Low-A Inland Empire, High-A Tri-City and Double-A Rocket City).
The Dominican Republic native finished the year 2-10 with a 4.44 ERA in 21 starts with his best stretch of games coming in June when he was in the 66ers (Low-A) rotation tossing a 1.19 ERA over 22.2 innings. His above 90’s fastball, sweeping curve and splitter translated to a 13.2 strikeout per/nine ratio, highlighting a potential future as a reliever if his command as a starter does not endure. Oddly enough, his second appearance in the AFL came out of the bullpen on October 22 against Surprise, tossing three shutout innings and retiring nine of 10 batters faced.
The Glendale Desert Dogs currently sit in second place in the AFL West Standings (6-4), 0.5 games back of Surprise (6-3). With Sunday’s being a league-wide day off, the Desert Dogs and their seven Angels minor leaguers will return to action tomorrow versus the Scottsdale Scorpions.