The 2015 Arizona Fall League began its 24th season October 13, and play will continue through the championship game November 21. Many of today’s top stars have played in the Arizona Fall League, which has gained the reputation as a “finishing school” for the game’s top prospects.
We’ll be bringing you periodic updates on how some of the top young players are faring in Arizona; this is the third of those updates.
If you haven’t read our Arizona Fall League Preview, here’s a brief overview of how the AFL works: The league is made up of six teams, with each squad consisting of players from five different major league organizations. Each MLB team is required to send six players – who must meet certain eligibility criteria – to the AFL; the resultant teams compete against one another in a bonafide league-style format, with the aforementioned league championship a rather highly sought-after prize.
The AFL features many of the top prospect hitters, but many of the top pitchers are not here due to having reached their innings limit during the season; this is one of the reasons that the AFL has gained a reputation as a hitter-friendly league.
All right, let’s take a look at each AFL team and highlight some of the top performers and key players in the AFL’s early going. Statistics are current as of the close of play November 3, 2015. Don’t forget to watch the Fall Stars Game this Saturday night at 8 pm EST on MLB Network and MLB.com.
Arizona Fall League Update
Glendale Desert Dogs
Composed of players from the Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates’ organizations.
News and Notes
- Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford, the No. 5 prospect on MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 list, was removed from the roster after suffering a thumb injury; he should be fine for spring training.
- The L.A. Dodgers’ second-base prospect Brandon Dixon is batting .371 with a 1.005 OPS through nine games.
- Pittsburgh outfielder Austin Meadows is No. 22 on the Top 100 list. The ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft is batting just .133 with a homer and six RBIs.
- Pirates catcher Reese McGuire is batting .357 with a 1.009 OPS OBP through his first eight games; he has struck out just twice in 28 at-bats.
- Slugging Houston first baseman A.J. Reed (No. 92 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list) is batting .231 with a .326 OBP. Reed has a homer and six RBIs through 11 games.
- The White Sox’s No. 17 prospect, outfielder Adam Engel, is batting .366 with six stolen bases in 12 games.
Mesa Solar Sox
Comprised of players from the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
News and Notes
- Oakland pitcher and No. 3 prospect Sean Manaea owns a 5.63 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 17 strikeouts through his first 16 innings of work.
- Tampa Bay Rays’ infielder Daniel Robertson (No. 80 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list) is batting just .216 through 14 games.
- The Rays’ No. 1 pick in 2014, first baseman Casey Gillaspie, has struggled to a .169 average through 15 games.
- Tampa Bay’s No. 24 prospect, first baseman Jake Bauers, is playing the outfield here in Arizona; he’s batting just .165 thus far.
- The Chicago Cubs’ No. 10 prospect, catcher Willson Contreras, is batting .288 with three homers and eight RBIs through 13 games. I think Contreras could be in the majors by the end of the 2016 season.
- The Chicago Cubs’ No. 20 prospect, Jeimer Candelario, has been one of the hitting stars thus far, mashing out a .341-3-11 line through 11 games.
Featuring prospects from the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.
News and Notes
- Seattle’s No. 3 prospect, D.J. Peterson, has been battling a bit of a slump; he’s now batting .231 with two homers and nine RBIs in 11 games.
- Mariners’ outfielder Tyler O’Neill, the team’s No. 6 prospect, has a .333 average and is slugging .753. He swings and misses a lot, but O’Neill has some serious power potential. O’Neill was removed from the Peoria roster November 2; possibly to play for Team Canada.
- Reds shortstop and No. 7 prospect Alex Blandino has been working at second base; he is batting just .200 through 11 games.
- Starting pitcher Nick Travieso, the Reds’ first-round draft pick in 2012, earned Pitcher of the Week honors for Week 3; he has forged a 1.50 ERA and 0.75 WHIP thus far, with 13 strikeouts in his first 12 innings. I liked Travieso when I saw his pitch for Daytona this summer, and I still like him after seeing him work for Peoria October 31. Mark this name down, folks; September 2016 is a distinct possibility.
- James Paxton has made 30 appearances in the majors; he’s here in Arizona logging some innings after an injury-riddled campaign in 2015. Paxton had been going well, but a rough outing October 30 ballooned his ERA to 3.52 and WHIP to 1.43.
Salt River Rafters
Comprised of prospects from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals.
News and Notes
- First baseman Dominic Smith is the New York Mets’ No. 5 prospect; the 20-year-old has racked up a .385 average and 1.083 OPS thus far.
- Arizona’s No. 29 prospect, Daniel Palka, has raked out a .353 average and plated 12 RBIs in 13 games; I’ve seen him a few times, and I like the way this young man swings the bat.
- Toronto first baseman Rowdy Tellez is the Jays’ No. 8 prospect; the 20-year-old has opened some eyes here in Arizona by plating 13 RBIs and batting .313 through 12 games.
- Arizona pitcher Yoan Lopez, the team’s No. 5 prospect, owns a 4.11 ERA and 1.70 WHIP through four starts.
Comprised of players from the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants organizations.
News and Notes
- Detroit shortstop JaCoby Jones (the Tigers’ No. 10 prospect) is now batting .304 through 11 games.
- Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect, Clint Frazier, is batting .315 with three homers, eight RBIs and three steals; Frazier is ranked No. 35 on MLB Pipeline’s list of Top 100 prospects. I have been impressed with Frazier’s all-around game, but his strikeout rate (16 in 54 at-bats) could be problematic.
- The San Francisco Giants’ No. 2 prospect, Christian Arroyo, took home Player of the Week honors for Week 3; he’s now batting .400 with three homers, nine RBIs and an 1.107 OPS through 11 games. I’ve watched Arroyo take BP, but have yet to see him in game action.
- The Giants’ No. 13 prospect, outfielder Mac Williamson, has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, and is up to a .372/.471/.558/.1029 slash line through 11 games.
- Minnesota Twins’ outfielder and No. 10 prospect Adam Brett Walker II is batting .268 with three homers, eight RBIs, six walks and 16 strikeouts in 41 at-bats. He has enormous power, but his contact rate is problematic.
With players from the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers organizations.
News and Notes
- Brett Phillips, the Brewers’ No. 3 prospect and No. 32 on the MLB Pipeline Top 100, is batting .346 with zero homers and three RBIs thus far.
- MLBPipeline.com’s No. 16 prospect Alex Reyes of the Cardinals organization had a bumpy outing November 2, which pushed his Arizona Fall League ERA and WHIP to 3.60 and 1.60, respectively.
- The Cards’ No. 8 prospect, Luke Weaver, has a 1.08 ERA and 0.48 WHIP with 10 strikeouts in his first 8.1 innings.
- Royals’ prospect Bubba Starling, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has mashed four homers, plated eight RBIs and is batting .308 with a .926 OPS.
- Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect, continues to rake: he’s up to a .339 average and 1.402 OPS. Sanchez leads the league with six homers and 17 RBIs, and his stock is likely rising as a result of his performance here.
- Shortstop Yadiel Rivera is the Brewers’ No. 18 prospect; he’s had an outstanding AFL thus far, batting .395 with a 1.094 OPS and five stolen bases.
- Former uber-prospect Jurickson Profar of Texas is trying to get his injury-riddled career back on track; he’s batting .313 with nine RBIs in eight games.
- Put the name Josh Hader on your watch list; the long-haired lefty with the wonky delivery has fanned 11 batters and allowed just one earned run and three hits in seven innings of work. I’ve seen him twice, and he looks very tough to square up – but wildness has been his bane.
That’s it for this week’s Arizona Fall League update; we’ll talk again soon.
- Arizona Fall League Wrap-Up - November 25, 2015
- 2015 Arizona Fall League Report: Updates on Bubba Starling, J.P. Crawford - November 12, 2015
- Arizona Fall League Report: Early November Edition - November 5, 2015