Raley named AFL Hitter of the Week

Twins prospect notched two-homer performance

October 23rd, 2019

Twins prospects have been making their impact felt all throughout the Arizona Fall League, with Royce Lewis having been named Bowman Fall Stars Game MVP and previously having accrued one Championship Chains Hitter of the Week honor.

Now, it’s time for the Twins’ other offensive representative taking the field for the Salt River Rafters to step into the limelight.

Enter: Outfielder Luke Raley.

Raley collected a hit in all six games last week, going 9-for-23 (.391) with three RBIs, two doubles, two home runs and five runs while producing a 1.156 OPS. Those numbers earned him the Championship Chains Hitter of the Week Award for games played from Oct. 14-20.

Raley’s first two home runs during the Fall League came this past week.

“The two-home run game was really nice,” Raley said. “That felt like a weight off my shoulders.”

Raley was hampered during the 2019 regular season by what was originally believed to be a left ankle strain, but was eventually deemed a dislocated tendon in the same ankle. That ailment limited him to 33 games with Triple-A Rochester. In that stretch, he hit .302/.362/.516 with 13 extra-base hits, seven of which were home runs. But after May 18, he did not play higher than the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Now back against some of the finest prospect competition that the sport has to offer, the 25-year-old left-handed hitter has begun to find success. Raley is in the midst of his second go-round with the Rafters, having played in four games last fall, finishing 3-for-14. He mentioned that returning to the Fall League was about getting to see live pitching and getting himself comfortable and ready for Spring Training come February.

“Other than that, it’s been a lot of early work and stuff like that to try to get my swing back and my timing back, and I think that’s been the biggest thing,” Raley said. “Getting my timing back, recognizing pitches, [things] like that. It’s nice to feel this turning around.”

Raley, alongside Lewis -- who is in the running for AFL MVP honors -- will both be representing the organization during the AFL Championship game Saturday at 2 p.m. ET when the Rafters take on the Surprise Saguaros.

Minnesota acquired Raley at the Trade Deadline in 2018 as a part of a deal that sent second baseman Brian Dozier to Los Angeles and returned a package of infielder Logan Forsythe and left-handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer, both of whom have already appeared for the Twins.

After reaching Double-A as a member of the Dodgers organization in 2018, Raley is now just a level away from the big leagues, while trying to simultaneously make his impact felt with a new franchise.

“As for the new organization, yeah, you want to go out and impress and show that they made a good trade in getting you,” Raley said. “It’s frustrating getting hurt, but it is what it is, you got to live with it and try to move on.”

Moving on seems to be working for Raley, as he opened the final week of Fall League play by mashing another home run during Salt River’s East Division-clinching victory Monday. He’ll be making a bid for back-to-back Hitter of the Week honors, even if he is not yet a finished product.

“I’m getting closer. I wouldn’t say that I’m back where I want to be, but it’s definitely getting closer,” Raley said. “I can definitely see progress being made.”