Julien, Reifert earn AFL weekly awards

November 1st, 2022

Twins infielder Edouard Julien and Rays right-hander Evan Reifert came into Week 4 of the Arizona Fall League season with some serious momentum. And they both continued to pick up steam.

Julien was named the AFL’s NFP Hitter of the Week with Glendale, while Reifert took home NFP Pitcher of the Week honors with Mesa.

Julien doubles up -- again

Julien hammered his first two AFL homers on Oct. 22, the No. 14 Twins prospect’s final game before the Week 4 slate began.

“It felt great; I felt great coming in here,” Julien told MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo after that multihomer outing. “To be able to do it in the Fall League and hit two in one game was pretty cool. To just get on the board is a pretty cool experience. It was pretty fun.”

So fun, in fact, that Julien again went yard twice in his next game on Oct. 24, setting off a torrid week for the Desert Dogs. The 23-year-old went 7-for-18 with two homers, two doubles, six RBIs while posting a .389/.522/.833 slash line. He led or held a share of the AFL lead in OPS (1.355), extra-base hits (4), total bases (15), runs (6) and steals (3).

Julien’s hot stretch over five games wasn’t all that different from his performance in the circuit’s first three weeks. He leads the AFL with 1.242 OPS and has reached base safely in all 15 games he’s played. Skilled with a terrific eye at the plate, Julien has walked as many times as he’s struck out (15) and is one free pass shy of the league pace.

Good luck hitting against Reifert

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Reifert came into the week perfect. Through his first four AFL outings for the Solar Sox, the Tampa Bay reliever had not allowed a hit or a walk across 6 1/3 innings. He may have lost his bid at perfection in Week 4, but Reifert kept his multigame no-no intact against some of the best prospects in the sport.

Reifert made two appearances for Mesa: 1 1/3 innings vs. Salt River on Oct. 24 and two frames vs. Glendale on Saturday. Though the 23-year-old issued four walks over those outings, he recorded eight of 10 outs via the strikeout. (The only batter to put the ball in play against him on Saturday? Julien, of course.)

Now with 9 2/3 innings of no-hit ball complete, Reifert has struck out 20 and walked just four of the 33 batters he’s faced. Nearly a year removed from the trade that sent big league utility man Mike Brosseau to the Brewers and brought Reifert to the Rays, Reifert continues to show off the nasty arsenal that enticed Tampa Bay.

“I’ve got a good slider; I’ve known that since I’ve been here in pro ball,” Reifert told MLB.com’s Sam Dykstra after his latest gem. “I’m just getting to showcase that now here. It's been a lot of fun, and obviously getting to see different competition levels here, it’s been good. It gives me more and more confidence every day.”

Making the grade: Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers land on honor roll

The AFL named Rockies right-hander Fineas Del Bonta-Smith, Rangers right-hander Daniel Robert, and Dodgers outfielder Andy Pages to the Week 4 honor roll.

After being tagged for multiple earned runs in each of his first three AFL outings, Del Bonta-Smith turned in two starts for the Salt River Rafters with just two unearned runs charged to his line. The 25-year-old was especially sharp on Oct. 25 against Scottsdale, striking out three in 2 2/3 innings.

Robert made two relief appearances for the Surprise Saguaros, and the only blemish in those three innings was a hit batsman against Glendale on Oct. 25. The 28-year-old hurler whiffed seven and shook off a hot-and-cold start to his AFL campaign. Robert had allowed at least four runs in two of his first four outings before turning a corner and shaving more than seven runs off his ERA.

Pages, the Dodgers’ No. 5 prospect, collected multiple hits in three of his five games for Glendale and led the circuit with eight knocks in Week 4. Only Julien collected more total bases than Pages’ 12. The 21-year-old Cuban native brought his slash line up to .317/.408/.550 across 16 contests.