Arizona Fall League rosters hold an abundance of talentby B.J. Martin September 1, 2019 2 comments
The AFL rosters are highlighted by some of the top prospects in baseball.
The Arizona Fall League is kicking off weeks earlier than usual this year. This is good news for fans of clubs that are limping down the finish line this season and already looking ahead to next year. Major League Baseball announced Wednesday the list of prospects that will make up this year’s AFL clubs, and the group is impressive.
The AFL was founded as a developmental league for MLB in the early 1990s following the regular minor league baseball season. The league fields six teams that each contain rosters of talent divided between five MLB organizations per team. Players from Mike Trout and Bryce Harper to Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols have participated in the AFL on their way to the majors. This year’s pool of talent is some of the best in recent fall league memory.
Here’s a quick breakdown of talent to keep an eye on in this year’s Arizona Fall League.
Mesa Solar Sox
Mesa will field a team of prospects from the Angels, Cubs, Indians, Athletics, and Tigers fronted by outfielder Joe Adell and infielders Nico Hoerner and Nolan Jones.
Adell is the highest-ranked prospect in the AFL this year and his time in Mesa should be valuable, as he missed the first portion of this season due to injury. He’s looking to continue his development in Arizona and eventually take over right field for the Halos at some point in 2020.
Hoerner is wrapping up his first season at the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate in Tennessee and is looking to continue to build on his solid 2019 campaign. The shortstop does not hit for power but is a very good contact hitter and fielder and is somebody that could find his way to Wrigley later next summer.
Indians third base prospect Nolan Jones is looking to continue to develop his power as he’s wrapping up a season in which he split between Single-A and Double-A. Jones boasted just under 50 extra-base hits while walking close to 100 times and the Tribe would be pleased to see him land at Kyle Seager comparable third bagger.
Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya, Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh, Tigers shortstop Isaac Paredes, and Athletics infielder Nick Allen are a few others that look to make Solar Sox force to be reckoned with in the league.
Salt River Rafters
The Rafters’ roster consists of players from the Twins, Giants, Rays, Diamondbacks, and Marlins. Their line-up will be headlined by a pair of Twins Top 20 prospects in shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff.
The 20-year-old Orange County product Lewis has climbed his way to Double-A in two-and-a-half years since being a first round pick. He will continue to work on his patience at the plate while continuing to develop more power to go with his outstanding speed.
Lewis’s Pensacola teammate, left-handed hitting outfielder Alex Kirilloff, is finishing up his full season of Double-A ball with a strong August that he hopes to carry into his AFL season. Both are exciting young players that look to contribute to the Twins’ youth movement very soon.
The Rafters will also feature D-backs prospect (and soon-to-be top-selling jersey) Seth Beer, Marlins Cuban outfielder Victor Mesa Mesa, Rays’ Shane Baz, and Rockies third baseman Colton Welker. This is a team deep of prospects that should also fair very well against their competition.
Scottsdale’s club will be fielded by farmhands from the Giants, Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, and Jays with a roster highlighted by catching prospect Joey Bart and infielder Alec Bohm.
Bart is being groomed as the heir apparent to Buster Posey behind the plate in San Francisco. The former Georgia Tech catcher is finishing the regular season at Double-A Richmond and promises to be an exciting player to watch in the Fall League.
Phillies third base prospect Alec Bohm has hit at every level and that will carry into the AFL season ahead. This year, Bohm has hit over .300 across three levels, clubbing over 20 home runs while registering a .516 slugging percentage.
Bohm will be joined by Double-A Reading teammate Mickey Moniak as a pair of highly-valued Phillies prospects to keep an eye on in Scottsdale. Also keep an eye on Giants outfield prospect Heliot Ramos, Mets infielder Andres Gimenez, Braves Cuban right-hander Daysbel Hernandez, and Jays powerful shortstop Kevin Smith in Scottsdale this fall.
The Javelinas are made up of talent from the Red Sox, Pirates, Mariners, Astros, and Padres organizations. They are led by highly-regarded Astros pitching prospect Forrest Whitley and Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic.
Whitley was thought by many earlier this year to have a good chance to be pitching in Houston in September. Instead, AFL fans are in for a treat having him pitching for Javelinas and displaying his fastball in the Valley of the Sun while the Astros push for another World Series title.
Kelenic was a first-round pick by the Mets in last year’s MLB draft and was a key piece acquired by the Mariners in exchange for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano over the winter. The 20–year-old outfielder has not disappointed in his first full season of professional ball, hitting close to .300 across three levels.
Other Javelinas to keep an eye on this fall are Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz, Red Sox speedy outfielder Jarren Duran, and Padres catcher Luis Campusano.
Glendale Desert Dogs
Glendale’s AFL roster has been built of prospects from the Dodgers, Reds, White Sox, Cardinals, and Brewers systems. The key players to watch on this club are Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson and Reds third baseman Jonathan India.
Carlson, like Mesa’s Jo Adell, is finishing his 2019 campaign at Triple-A after a very successful season at Double-A. Carlson has not missed a beat since his promotion to the highest minor league level, hitting over .370 in his first 14 games for Memphis.
India is a more advanced player out of the Florida Gators college program and the Reds’ front office must be pleased with his August performance after his second-half promotion to Double-A Chattanooga.
Omar Estevez is another Cuban second baseman from the Dodgers’ organization that will be interesting to watch. White Sox outfield prospect Blake Rutherford will look to boost his offensive production in the AFL after completing a very underwhelming Double-A season in Birmingham.
The Saguaros are an amalgamation of talent from the Rangers, Yankees, Nationals, Royals, and Orioles farm clubs. The Surprise roster is led by Royals pitcher Daniel Lynch and Nationals shortstop Luis Garcia.
Daniel Lynch was drafted out of the University of Virginia and has been successful through his first 130 innings of professional ball at the lower minor-league levels. The Arizona Fall League will provide a higher level of hitters and a true test for the talented lefty.
Nationals 19-year-old shortstop Luis Garcia provides a good glove and the Nats are hoping to see his bat get back to the .300 hitter he was in his first year-and-a-half of professional ball.
Rangers pitchers Cole Uvila and Josh Advocate should be vital pieces of the bullpen for the Saguaros this fall. Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer excelled throughout the bulk of his 2019 season at Double-A and will figure to be a key component of the Surprise starting rotation.
The 2020 Arizona Fall League Opening Day is Wednesday, September 18 and is scheduled to conclude with a championship game on Saturday, October 26.