Arizona Fall League 2014 Preview
The minor league season has concluded, but we are far removed from the days of baseball being confined to the summer months. Next week marks the beginning of the six week long Arizona Fall League where top prospects will compete against one another. The six teams form like Voltron with each Major League organization sending seven representatives; players will shuffle on and off of the roster from there. The Arizona Fall League is often the stepping stone from which prospects in the lower minors transition into Double-A the following year.
Glendale Desert Dogs (BAL, CWS, DET, LAN, MIL)
Glendale boasts a pair of marquee players on the left side of the infield in Tim Anderson and Corey Seager. Anderson (ROTOscouting Report) is a standout athlete who has proven more advanced offensively than anticipated, but his approach remains troublesome. Seager (ROTOscouting report) had an excellent 2014 season in friendly offensive environments. The two will share short stop duties. Eastern League MVP Steven Moya is the premier power threat on the roster. After smashing 35 homeruns in the EL, the thin air of the Arizona Fall League has him poised to put up explosive offensive numbers. Francellis Montas and Parker Bridwell are the two most impressive arms on the staff, but most polished is Zach Davies (ROTOscouting report). Working around a below average fastball, he must rely on command and secondaries to succeed. The thin air of the Arizona Fall League will be a stern test.
Mesa Solar Sox (CHN, LAA, OAK, TOR, WAS)
Addison Russell (ROTOscouting Report) dwarfs everyone else on Mesa’s roster. It’s not an indictment of the other prospects on the team; it merely highlights Russell’s elite status. He profiles as an all-star caliber shortstop who has the bat to slot into the middle of the order. Daniel Robertson was the Athletics second first round pick in the same draft class, and the two will reunite in Mesa. The Oakland shortstop will see time at third base in deference to Russell. It’s where he profiles best long term. Robertson is a pure hitter with average power and a quality approach at the plate. The Cubs are also sending their top pitching prospect in CJ Edwards (ROTOcouting Report). Edwards’s fastball and curveball are tantalizing, but durability and change-up concerns currently fit a bullpen role. Roberto Osuna (Scouting Report) is another highlight. The Toronto product returned from Tommy John surgery in August; he has a more complete arsenal than Edwards and looks to re-establish himself as a top-50 prospect in the near future.
Peoria Javelinas (ATL, CLE, KC, STL, TB)
Continuing with the shortstop theme, Peoria is rostering defensive wizard Francisco Lindor (Scouting Report) and the high upside Raul Mondesi (ROTOscouting Report). Lindor is one of the safest prospects in the minor leagues. He blends silky smooth defense with a strong hit tool. What he lacks in over the fence power, he more than makes up for with the rest of his game. Mondesi, meanwhile, has impressive raw tools and is trying to convert them into tangible production. Next to them will be third baseman Hunter Dozier (ROTOscouting report). His blend of bat control, raw power, and above-average defense makes him a future regular. The most notable roster addition is the inclusion of Kyle Zimmer. A top-5 pick in 2012, Zimmer will use the Arizona Fall League to make up for a lost 2014 season. Miguel Almonte and Tyrell Jenkins are two other starters worth keeping a close eye on. Almonte works with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and backs it up with a quality change-up and solid curveball. Jenkins (Scouting Report) is a premier athlete with an impressive fastball/curveball tandem who has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies throughout his career.
Salt River Rafters (ARI, COL, HOU, MIA, MIN)
Entering the year as the top prospect in baseball, Byron Buxton‘s 2014 season was marred by injury and he played just 31 games. He’ll have the opportunity to make up for the lost season in Salt River. Buxton (Scouting Report) has the tools to be a legitimate superstar center fielder and is the biggest draw of the Arizona Fall League. But Buxton isn’t the only player hoping to rebound from a shaky summer; Mark Appel and Archie Bradley were both considered top-25 prospects last winter. Bradley (ROTOscouting Report) missed the first half of the year with an elbow strain and returned without the same plus-plus fastball and curveball which screamed front line starter. Appel struggled throughout the 2014 season after being selected #1 overall. A mid-season promotion to Double-A saw him post results more suited to his raw talent. Eddie Butler (ROTOscouting Report) will work to add polish to his game in hopes of capturing a rotation spot in Colorado next season.
Scottsdale Scorpions (NYN, NYY, PHI, PIT, SF)
The Pirates send three breakout prospects to Scottsdale this year. Tyler Glasnow was dominant in high-A Bradenton, using his upper-90’s fastball and wipe out curveball to strike out more than 11 batters per nine innings. Command and control is still a work in progress, but he’s been nearly unhittable during his minor league career. Josh Bell also made a big splash in Bradenton, showcasing the power and hitting ability which enticed the Pirates into spending five million dollars to buy him out of his commitment to the University of Texas. Meanwhile, Adrian Sampson had the most surprising year of the three, showing improved stuff and dominating at Double-A Altoona. In a somewhat similar mold is Clayton Blackburn (ROTOscouting Report). He uses his sinker and feel for pitching to overcome a lack of pure stuff. Brandon Nimmo (Scouting Report) and Aaron Judge (ROTOcouting Report) join Josh Bell as the outfielders to watch for Scottsdale. Nimmo has steadily moved up the Mets system with his advanced knowledge of the strike zone and ability to make hard contact. Judge stands out for his massive frame, joining Glasnow as 6-foot-7 giants among men. He has produced strong offensive numbers despite flaws in his swing and approach. The Arizona Fall League will be a test to see whether he can continue to overcome mechanical deficiencies.
Surprise Saguaros (BOS, CIN, SD, SEA, TEX)
Surprise was scheduled to be the place where Jurickson Profar returned to action, but the shoulder injuries still linger, leaving the Saguaros without his services. Still, they should have a formidable offense. DJ Peterson (Scouting Report) and Hunter Renfroe were both top-15 picks in the 2013 draft class and will form the heart of the lineup. Peterson makes quality contact, while offering above-average power and a strong approach at the plate. He has played mostly third base during his career, but a move to first base still appears inevitable. Renfroe offers more athleticism and raw tools than Peterson. Renfroe has made significant strides improving his approach and turning his tools into production over the past few years (including his time at Mississippi State). He profiles as a prototypical right fielder. Jesse Winker (ROTOscouting Report) will be the primary left fielder and offers another middle of the order bat. His quick wrist and sweet swing offer plenty of offensive upside once he masters the art of pitch recognition. Trae Turner gives Surprise an electric lead off hitter and shortstop. He’s an impressive pure hitter with plus-plus speed and the aggressive play style to exploit it. Rusney Castillo is the biggest name on the roster after signing a $72.5M contract with the Rex Sox in August. He saw brief action at Triple-A Pawtucket, but the Arizona Fall League will serve as his coming out party. The pitcher most interesting to follow will be Nick Howard as he continues to transition from a lights out collegiate reliever into a starting pitcher in pro ball.
Other Arizona Fall League Reports:
- Greg Bird – 1B – Scottsdale Scorpions
- Erik Cordier – RHP – Scottdale Scorpions
- Matt Magill – RHP – Glendale Desert Dogs
- Deven Marrero – SS – Surprise Saguaros
- Edgar Olmos – RHP – Salt River Rafters
- Dalton Pompey – OF – Mesa Solar Sox
- Roman Quinn – OF – Scottsdale Scorpions
- Edward Salcedo – OF – Peoria Javelinas
- Trevor Story – SS – Salt River Rafters
Look for these players and more as the Arizona Fall League begins on October 7th.
2 Oct 2014 / Jeff Reese /
Categories: Everything Else
Tags: arizona fall league, Athletics, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Mets, MILB League Previews, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rangers, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees
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