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 fourth 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. Statistics are current as of the close of play November 10, 2015.
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 Chicago White Sox’s No. 17 prospect, outfielder Adam Engel, leads the league with a .418 average and 1.190 OPS, and he has stolen eight bases through 16 games.
- Pittsburgh outfielder Austin Meadows is No. 22 on the Top 100 list. The ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft is batting just .164 with a homer and 11 RBIs.
- Pirates catcher Reese McGuire is batting .343 with a .925 OPS through his first 10 games; he has struck out just three times in 35 at-bats.
- Dodgers prospect Jacob Scavuzzo is batting .370 with a 1.018 OPS and three homers through 11 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 .242 and slugging just .288 through 18 games.
- The Rays’ No. 1 pick in 2014, first baseman Casey Gillaspie, has struggled to a .189 average through 19 games.
- Tampa Bay’s No. 24 prospect, first baseman Jake Bauers, is playing the outfield here in Arizona; he has picked it up lately, but he’s batting just .212 thus far.
- Los Angeles Angels prospect Chad Hinshaw is batting .357 through 10 games.
- The Chicago Cubs’ No. 20 prospect, Jeimer Candelario, has been one of the hitting stars thus far, mashing out a .351-5-13 line with a 1.086 OPS through 14 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, continues to struggle after a hot start; he’s now batting .226 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 15 games.
- Cincinnati Reds’ No. 11 prospect, Phillip Ervin, received the Player of the Week award after raking out a .333 average with a homer and eight RBIs. Ervin is tied for second in the AFL with eight stolen bases, but he is batting just .222 through 14 games.
- Reds shortstop and No. 7 prospect, Alex Blandino, has been working at second base; he is batting just .174 through 14 games.
- Starting pitcher Nick Travieso, the Reds’ first-round draft pick in 2012, has forged a 2.12 ERA and 0.88 WHIP thus far, with 17 strikeouts in his first 17 innings. I liked Travieso when I saw him pitch for Daytona this summer, and I am very excited about his 2016 prospects after seeing him pitch so well in Arizona. Mark this name down, folks; a September 2016 call-up 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. It’s been a bit of a rough go for him, though: Paxton’s ERA is currently 4.43, and his WHIP stands at 1.48.
- Former fourth overall pick and Orioles’ No. 2 prospect, Dylan Bundy, has made two appearances here in Arizona, but he was scratched from his scheduled start November 9 due to right elbow tightness. Bundy’s long history of injury woes makes this latest setback all the more troubling. I saw him pitch November 6, and I was not overly impressed; I think he has a long way to go before he is in the mix for a major league rotation spot.
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, was traded to the Minnesota Twins November 10. I like the way this young man swings the bat, but Minnesota’s crowded outfield might mean he spends more time in the minors.
- Toronto first baseman Rowdy Tellez is the Jays’ No. 8 prospect; the 20-year-old has plated 13 RBIs and is batting .283 through 15 games.
- Arizona pitcher Yoan Lopez, the team’s No. 5 prospect, owns a 3.98 ERA and 1.72 WHIP through five starts; he has fanned 20 batters and walked 10 in 20.1 innings.
- The Mets’ 27-year-old knuckleballer Mickey Jannis spent parts of four seasons in independent leagues, but is turning some heads here in Arizona. Jannis has crafted a 1.88 ERA through 24 innings of work; I’ve seen him a couple of times, and he seems very difficult to square up. He mixes in a fairly decent fastball, which makes it doubly tough to sit on the knuckler. Jannis would be a great story if he makes it to the bigs.
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) has been suspended 50 games after reportedly testing positive for a drug of abuse under baseball’s Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program .
- San Francisco reliever Ray Black has endured a litany of injuries during his career, but he is lighting up the radar gun here in Arizona. Black’s fastball runs into triple digits, and he has used that wicked No. 1 to rack up 12 strikeouts in seven innings. While he has allowed just three hits, he has issued six free passes; he’ll need to harness that heater if he hopes to land a big-league job.
- Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect, Clint Frazier, is batting .323 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 (20 in 65 at-bats) could be problematic.
- The San Francisco Giants’ No. 2 prospect, Christian Arroyo, is batting .339 with three homers, nine RBIs and a .960 OPS through 14 games.
- The Giants’ No. 13 prospect, outfielder Mac Williamson, is up to a .385/.477/.558/.1035 slash line through 14 games.
- Minnesota Twins’ outfielder and No. 10 prospect, Adam Brett Walker II, is batting .296 with four homers, 15 RBIs, seven walks and 22 strikeouts in 54 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
- MLBPipeline.com’s No. 16 prospect, Alex Reyes, of the Cardinals organization was suspended 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse.
- The Cards’ No. 8 prospect, Luke Weaver, has a 1.88 ERA and 0.70 WHIP with 14 strikeouts in his first 14.1 innings. I’ve seen Weaver pitch both here and in the Florida State League and I have been very impressed with his stuff.
- Royals’ prospect Bubba Starling, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has mashed four homers, plated eight RBIs and is batting .295 with an .866 OPS.
- Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect, is batting .308 with six homers and 17 RBIs; he has hit a bit of a skid lately, but overall it has been a good showing by Sanchez.
- Shortstop Yadiel Rivera is the Brewers’ No. 18 prospect; he’s had an outstanding AFL thus far, batting .327 with an .888 OPS and five stolen bases. I like what I have seen of Rivera.
- 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. I’ve seen Profar quite a bit, and his swing looks to be coming around nicely. His ability to play defense remains a question mark, though.
- Put the name Josh Hader on your watch list; the long-haired lefty with the wonky delivery has fanned 15 batters and allowed just one earned run and four hits in 10 innings of work. Hader was awarded the AFL’s Pitcher of the Week honors for Week 4.
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