See Also: AFL Rosters
As is the case every year, the preliminary rosters released by the Arizona Fall League have undergone quite a few changes in the weeks following their announcement. Players get added (the Blue Jays haven’t announced which pitchers they’re sending) and some get subtracted based on length of season, late injury or big league callup. This season is no different, and the Fall League on Wednesday released the first wave of changes.
The highest profile removal was Tigers second base prospect Devon Travis, who played in the AFL last year and spent this season with Double-A Erie. With the SeaWolves, the 23-year-old hit .298/.358/.460 with 20 doubles, seven triples and 10 home runs over 100 games. His hands are the key to his swing, which produces line drives in bunches. He fits at second base but some evaluators believe he could move to center field if necessary. His replacement is unannounced.
Travis was slated to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs, who also lose Brewers reliever Ariel Pena, a Futures Game selection who spent the year with Triple-A Nashville. He brings a four-pitch mix which includes a fastball in the low-to-mid-90s with a slider that projects as plus. He whiffed 140 in 128 innings this season but also walked an unsightly 75 hitters. Glendale adds Dodgers righty Blake Smith, a converted outfielder who spent the season with high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Smith offers a low-90s fastball with a pair of fringy breaking pitches.
The Yankees had a catcher to be determined on the initial Scottsdale roster, and on Wednesday they announced that Kyle Higashioka would fill that role. Higashioka, a 24-year-old selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, missed a good chunk of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s played just 24 games over the past two seasons, and just 16 outside the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
The Mets also made an addition to Scorpions’ roster, sending infielder L.J. Mazzilli to bolster their complement of players. Mazzilli, the team’s fourth-rounder from 2013, hit .301/.361/.440 across three levels this year—including a one-game cameo with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Twins opted on Wednesday to send one of this year’s draftees, Jake Reed, to fill a remaining slot on the Salt River roster. Reed, a fifth-round selection out of Oregon, brings his fastball into the upper-90s and complements it with a hard slider. He pitched at two levels this season and fanned 39 in 31 innings against just three walks.
The Angels also made a couple of adjustments on Wednesday, pulling back Dan Reynolds, a righthander who throws in the upper-90s with tons of life, in favor of Chris O’Grady, a lefthander whose heater sits in the mid-to-high-80s. O’Grady, a 24-year-old from George Mason, made 45 appearances (two starts) with high Class A Inland Empire and struck out 81 against 17 walks.
UPDATE (Sept. 11): As expected, more changes were announced on Thursday. This time, only the Glendale roster is affected. The Desert Dogs lose White Sox standout Rangel Ravelo but gain system-mate Nick Basto, and also receive a pair of Tigers prospects in lefty Robbie Ray and infielder Domingo Leyba.
In Basto, Glendale gets a 20-year-old second baseman who hit .263/.313/.387 with high Class A Winston-Salem. He slugged 14 doubles and seven home runs in 87 games. He was also sent to extended spring training for a month starting in May.
Leyba, a second baseman who ranked No. 6 in the Tigers’ system in our midseason prospect update, hit .323/.360/.423 with 18 doubles, two homers and 24 RBIs in 67 games. He struck out just 30 times in 260 at-bats, or 11.5 percent of the time, a figure that was split nearly evenly between short-season Connecticut and low Class A West Michigan.
Ray, a lefthander and the centerpiece of the deal that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals in the offseason, made his MLB debut and has gotten six starts with the Tigers thus far. He pairs an average fastball two potentially above-average offerings in his curveball and changeup. With Triple-A Toledo he went 7-6, 4.22 with 75 strikeouts in 100 innings.
UPDATE (Sept. 17): Glendale got a little more ammunition yesterday with a top-100 prospect and a hard-throwing righty with six MLB starts under his belt. The most notable addition is Kyle Zimmer, the Royals’ No. 1 prospect entering the season. Shoulder problems from spring on limited him to just 4 2/3 innings in the regular season and four more innings in the playoffs with Triple-A Omaha. During the Triple-A Championship Game on Tuesday, he was 94-96 with his fastball and touched as high as 97.
Matt Magill, a Dodgers righty, has three pitches—fastball, slider and changeup—and has worked primarily out of the bullpen this season. He’ll head to the Fall League to build innings.