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 second 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 October 27, 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, is batting just .150, with three singles in 20 at-bats, through his first five appearances.
- Pittsburgh outfielder Austin Meadows is No. 22 on the Top 100 list. The ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft is off to a very slow start in the desert, batting just .138 with a homer and five RBIs.
- Pirates catcher Reese McGuire is batting .286 with a .412 OBP, and he has four RBIs in his first four games.
- Slugging Houston first baseman A.J. Reed (No. 92 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list) has picked it up after a slow start; he’s now batting .241 with a .361 OBP. Reed has a homer and five RBIs through eight games.
- The Dodgers’ No. 24 prospect, catcher Kyle Farmer, has plated seven RBIs in his first seven games, and is batting .333.
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 6.75 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with 13 strikeouts through his first 12 innings of work.
- Tampa Bay Rays’ infielder Daniel Robertson (No. 80 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list) is batting .233 through eight games.
- The Rays’ No. 1 pick in 2014, first baseman Casey Gillaspie, has struggled to a .146 average through 10 games.
- Tampa Bay’s No. 24 prospect, first baseman Jake Bauers, is playing the outfield here in Arizona; he’s batting just .152 thus far.
- The Chicago Cubs’ No. 10 prospect, catcher Willson Contreras, impressed me the first time I saw him. He’s batting .286 with two homers and five RBIs through nine games.
- The Chicago Cubs’ No. 20 prospect, Jeimer Candelario, has been one of the hitting stars thus far, mashing out a .429/.448/.929/1.377 slash line with three homers and eight RBIs through seven games.
- Outfielder Chad Hinshaw of the Angels organization currently leads the league with a .545 batting average.
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 cooled off after a torrid start; he’s now batting .286 with two homers and seven RBIs in seven games.
- Mariners’ outfielder Tyler O’Neill, the team’s No. 6 prospect, has a .261 average and is slugging .609, but he has struck out in 10 of his first 23 at-bats.
- Reds shortstop and No. 7 prospect Alex Blandino has been working at second base; he is batting just .095 through seven games.
- Seattle prospect Tyler Smith is batting .385 with a robust 1.064 OPS; he’s going to pop on to some prospect radars if he maintains this level of play.
- Starting pitcher Nick Travieso, the Reds’ first-round draft pick in 2012, has forged a 1.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP thus far, with seven strikeouts in his first seven innings. I liked Travieso when I saw his pitch for Daytona this summer; he’s a big, burly guy who throws what I term a “heavy” ball. Keep your eye on him.
- James Paxton has made 30 appearances in the majors; he’s here in Arizona logging some innings after an injury-riddled campaign in 2015. Thus far, Paxton has allowed just two earned runs in 10.1 innings of work.
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 pounded out a robust .519 average and 1.380 OPS thus far.
- Arizona’s No. 29 prospect, Daniel Palka, has been a pleasant surprise so far, raking out a .344 average and .854 OPS in eight games.
- Toronto first baseman Rowdy Tellez is the Jays’ No. 8 prospect; he’s tied for third in the league with nine RBIs.
- Arizona pitcher Yoan Lopez, the team’s No. 5 prospect, has struggled in the early going; he owns a 6.10 ERA and 2.13 WHIP through three 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) shared Player of the Week honors for Week 1; he’s now batting .364 through eight games.
- Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect, Clint Frazier, is batting .368 with two homers, seven RBIs and two steals; Frazier is ranked No. 35 on MLB Pipeline’s list of Top 100 prospects. I saw Frazier play Tuesday, and I was very impressed with his all-around game. While the sample size is small, he’s someone I’ll be watching very closely going forward.
- The San Francisco Giants’ No. 2 prospect, Christian Arroyo, is batting .414 with two homers and six RBIs. Arroyo didn’t play the day I saw Scottsdale.
- Minnesota Twins’ outfielder and No. 10 prospect Adam Brett Walker II is batting .296 with two homers, five RBIs, five walks and 12 strikeouts in 27 at-bats. He launched a mammoth home run the day I saw him play; he has huge 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 no homers and three RBIs thus far.
- MLBPipeline.com’s No. 16 prospect Alex Reyes of the Cardinals organization has allowed one earned run and five hits and fanned nine batters in 7.1 innings thus far.
- 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.
- Texas’ Lewis Brinson, MLBPipeline.com’s No. 66 prospect, is batting .273 with an .874 OPS; he has five RBIs and four steals through nine games. I was impressed with Brinson; he’s tall and thin, and faster than I first thought he would be. I think he’ll become more of a power hitter and less of a stolen-base threat as he fills out.
- Royals’ prospect Bubba Starling, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has mashed a pair of homers, plated five RBIs and is batting .333.
- Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect, was the AFL’s Player of the Week in week 2; he’s up to a .457 average and 1.402 OPS. Sanchez leads the league with five homers and 15 RBIs, and he’s probably the AFL’s hottest hitter at this point.
- Shortstop Yadiel Rivera is the Brewers’ No. 18 prospect; he’s tearing it up in Arizona right now, leading the league with a 1.440 OPS. He also has stolen four bases.
- Kansas City pitcher Brooks Pounders has allowed zero earned runs and just five hits while fanning 14 batters through 12 innings; he earned the AFL’s Pitcher of the Week nod for his efforts.
That’s it for this week’s Arizona Fall League update; we’ll talk again soon.
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