With the end of the minor league season next week, we are also rapidly approaching one of the most interesting events of the baseball season (at least for prospect guys): The Arizona Fall League. Real quickly, here's the details on the AFL:
- There are 6 teams in the Arizona Fall League, each filled with prospects from 5 different Major League Organizations.
- A majority of the prospects selected for AFL rosters must have reached the AA level, but not all are required to have done so. You can find the rest of the rules at the bottom of Jonathan Mayo's post announcing the rosters.
- The season will be played in October into early November, and is considered to be an excellent level of offensive competition for the prospects.
Mesa Solar Sox
Nick Castellanos (DET) - Castellanos is listed as an infielder on the AFL roster, but there are rumors that Castellanos will continue to play in the outfield when he reports to the AFL He would still have more value in a trade as a 3B than an outfielder, but could definitely have a better path to the Majors if he can play a decent corner outfield spot.
Yasiel Puig (LAD) - Puig needs as many at bats as he can get, and sending him to the AFL is definitely the best way to go about that. We could potentially learn a bit more about Puig, as the competition level in the AFL should be higher than any level he has played at so far.
Phoenix Desert Dogs
Miles Head (OAK) - The "3B" prospect has had a breakout season, and has carried over some of the performance after his promotion to AA. A nice campaign in the AFL could really start to vault him upward on prospect rankings, irrelevant of his long-term position.
Tim Beckham (TAM) - It hasn't been a great year for the former #1 overall pick, and a good month in Arizona could go a long way toward helping his cause with the organization after a 50 game suspension for drug use interrupted his season.
Kaleb Cowart (LAA) - Cowart really put it all together for the first time this season, and really looks like he can be a top 3B prospect coming into next year. Playing against this level of competition could be very good for him, as he spent the season split between Low-A and High-A.
Billy Hamilton (CIN) - Could we see him get to nearly 200 stolen bases in the calendar year in the AFL? To me, this leads me to believe he is very unlikely to be called up for a stretch run pinch-runner, which is probably best for his development. There are also rumors that Hamilton will be playing in the outfield in the AFL, which seems like a very interesting development given their reluctance to this point to move him from shortstop.
Mike Zunino (SEA) - The top draft pick going to the AFL, Zunino could potentially push his way into the starting catcher job for the Mariners during Spring Training.
Salt River Rafters
Anthony Rendon (WAS) - Rendon just needs more ABs at this point, and needs to show he can stay healthy. I'm still not sure what the Nationals do with him when he is ready, but until he can prove that health it is a moot point.
Jake Marisnick (TOR) - A prospect where the shine seems to be a bit duller after the 2012 season, Marisnick will look to improve his stock again, and potentially set himself up to make a run at a job in the spring. His performance in AA hasn't exactly been what anyone was expecting, especially the 10/44 BB/K ratio in 50 games there.
Kolten Wong (STL) - The Cardinals' 1st round pick from 2011 has had a great season in AA this year, and I'm honestly wondering how long until he becomes the starter for the Cardinals. A good month in Arizona could help confirm the fact that he might already be the best 2B in the organization.
Bryce Brentz (BOS) - Brentz interests me as a prospect because of the raw power he has shown, but an improvement in his strikeout rate (130 through 456 ABs) would really help me to move him up in prospect rankings.
Others of Note: Luis Sardinas, Kellen Deglan, Darrell Ceciliani
There are also a number of rosters which are not finalized yet, so we could see either more or less top 100-type prospects on these rosters by the time October rolls around. Both the Mesa and Peoria rosters are loaded with top end talent, and this is definitely a great way to catch a whole lot of the top prospects in the minors at the same time.