October 5 - Khalil Lee is one of three Northern Virginia natives who will suit up in the Arizona Fall League beginning next week, and the Flint Hill graduate’s hitting coach will be another former area prep standout, Brian Buchanan.
One of the Kansas City Royals’ top prospects, Lee missed the final month of the season with a back injury suffered while playing with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The 2016 third round pick will learn this fall from another member of the Royals’ organization in Buchanan, a Fairfax grad who was the hitting coach this past season at Triple-A Omaha and will serve as the hitting coach for Lee with the Surprise Saguaros.
Buchanan was a first round pick of the New York Yankees out of the University of Virginia in 1994 and played for five seasons in the Major Leagues with Minnesota, San Diego and the New York Mets. He will also mentor two of the game’s top prospects in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette along with Cavan Biggio. All three are sons of former Major League All-Stars.
Also playing in the AFL, a six-team league that attracts many of the top prospects in baseball, are C.D. Hylton grad Andre Scrubb (Dodgers) with the Glendale Desert Dogs and Stone Bridge grad J.B. Bukauskas (Astros) of the Scottsdale Scorpions.
What’s Next for Phillies, Bour?
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Justin Bour (Westfield) in early August as a left-handed bat off the bench, but now find themselves with a numbers crunch at first base heading into the offseason.
The Phillies also have Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins listed on their depth chart ahead of Bour, who they have under their control through 2021. Many in the Philadelphia media and around the organization feel the best move this winter would be to trade the slugger, who reached the 20-home run mark for the third time in four seasons.
Bour saw just 49 at-bats in 29 games after his Aug. 10 trade from Miami. In 423 total at-bats in 2018, he hit .227 with .341 on-base percentage, 20 homers and 59 RBI. Major League Baseball’s free agency period begins after the World Series, and much of the offseason movements takes place around or during MLB’s Winter Meetings, which this year will be held in Las Vegas beginning on Dec. 9.
Great Falls Native Matuella Hits 97 MPH in Instructional League Outing
Michael Matuella, a Great Falls native who attended Georgetown Prep in Maryland, was featured by Baseball America earlier this week as the 6-foot-6 right-hander continues his transition to a reliever after having the start of his pro career slowed by Tommy John Surgery while at Duke and recurring back and elbow injuries since Texas selected him in the third round in 2015.
Matuella was sharp, Baseball America reported, in a two-inning outing during a fall instructional league game. He reached 97 MPH with his fastball and was sharp with his slider and changeup in the fourth of six outings he is scheduled for this fall. After the fall, the Rangers will make a decision whether to keep him in a relief role or have him return to a starting role in 2019. Matuella was 3-5 with an 8.24 ERA over 51.1 inning at High-A Down East this season, making eight starts among his 20 appearances. His last start came on May 17.
"Once he went into the relief role ... we went on basically a timed setting — outings will go two to three innings every three days — it allowed him to go one time through the order," Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark told Baseball America. "Obviously he's a very explosive guy who's got a high-velocity fastball. He's a high-leverage type of guy, so we felt we were a little bit more on the conservative side with him."
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Photo of Brian Buchanan courtesy of Minor League Baseball