Here are the Arizona Fall League rosters and breakdowns of players. Text by J.J. Cooper, Josh Norris and Vince Lara-Cinisomo. (*-denotes taxi squad member activated only on Wednesdays and Saturdays).
|GLENDALE DESERT DOGS|
Aaron Rowand (White Sox)
Dernier Orozco (Cardinals), Greg Sabat (Dodgers), Sam Narron (Nationals)
Darryl Robinson (Astros)
THE STARS: RHP Francis Martes (Astros) is Houston’s top pitching prospect right now, according to one evaluator who saw him recently. Martes can run his fastball up to 98 mph with armside run and downhill angle and he has three present, above-average pitches. He just needs to polish his command and control. Organization-mate RHP David Paulino (Astros) has big upside, with a fastball that ranges 91-96 mph, with downhill run and tail. He needs to develop feel for his breaking ball, but when he stays with it the curveball shows depth. First-round pick C Zack Collins (White Sox) has plus power and outstanding plate discipline, and enough skills behind the plate to be a catcher long-term. C Carson Kelly (Cardinals) is a defensive stalwart who made strides with the bat. 1B/OF Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) cut down on his strikeouts without sacrificing power and plays an above-average first base . . . Willie Calhoun has thunder in his bat despite his short stature and can be a workable second baseman in time. OF Harrison Bader (Cardinals) was one of the youngest players in Double-A to start the season. He has at least average power if not a bit more and good balance at the plate and should be able to stay in center field. OF Alex Verdugo (Dodgers) made great strides on and off the field. He has matured and come into his power and should be able to hit for more as his swing picks up more loft.
INTERESTING: RHP Matt Cooper (White Sox) has a four-pitch and exceeded expectations. 3B Paul DeJong (Cardinals) hasn’t been as good as his pro debut, but still showed power. OF Jason Martin (Astros) has blasted 22 homers—doubling his career total—but it has come at high Class A Lancaster. . . . RHP and converted catcher Rowan Wick (Cardinals) has been up to 96 mph and one evaluator said his curveball has been “electric.”
REHABBING: OF Courtney Hawkins (White Sox), the 13th overall pick in 2012, was limited early by an oblique injury. Paulino dealt with a team suspension but also some arm soreness.
— Vince Lara-Cinisomo
|MESA SOLAR SOX|
Ryan Christenson (Athletics)
Vince Horsman (Blue Jays), Brian Lawrence (Cubs)
Paul Phillips (Marlins), Larry Day (Indians)
THE STARS: RHP Conner Greene (Blue Jays) is one of the best pitching prospects in Toronto’s system. . . . OF Eloy Jimenez (Cubs) had a breakout year in the Midwest League and was a star of the Futures Game. He has big-time power potential as a corner outfielder who ideally will develop into a right fielder. . . . SS Franklin Barreto (Athletics) is one of the better young hitters around, but he is coming off of an up-and-down season at Double-A Midland.
INTERESTING: C Austin Nola (Marlins) is converting from shortstop to catcher. Nola was the starting shortstop on Louisiana State’s 2009 national champs and was good enough defensively to push future MLB all-star D.J. LeMahieu to second base at the time. . . . 2B Ian Happ (Cubs) is still working on his defense in the infield but he’s an advanced hitter. . . . SS Yu-Cheng Chang (Indians) has more thump in his bat than most middle infielders.
REHABBING:RHP Duane Underwood (Cubs) never had a significant injury this year, but he missed much of April and July with forearm soreness and other minor maladies. . . . RHP Frankie Montas (Athletics) missed much of the year after having a rib removed to solve a blood clot issue. . . . OF Anthony Alford (Blue Jays) struggled in the first half as he tried to recover from a concussion and a leg injury.
— J.J. Cooper
Jared Sandberg (Rays)
Justin Lord (Orioles), Pete Zamora (Padres)
Brant Brown (Mariners)
THE STARS: RHP Brent Honeywell (Rays) is one of the best pitching prospects in Tampa Bay’s system. If Honeywell was pitching in a different organization, it would be fair to say a strong Arizona Fall League season on the heels of an excellent finish in Double-A could put him in contention for a big league job early in 2017. But the Rays are a team who wants their starting pitching prospects to log plenty of innings in the upper levels of the minors, so this is more about continuing to add polish. . . . OF Tyler O’Neill (Mariners) significantly improved his prospect stock with an outstanding season at Double-A Jackson. O’Neill has always had outstanding power but this year he got pickier at the plate. That helped him raise his walk rate and cut his strikeout rate, allowing him to get into more counts where he could let loose his plus power. . . . OF Michael Gettys (Padres) intrigues scouts with a useful combination of power potential and present speed.
INTERESTING: LHP Tanner Scott (Orioles) has an outstanding arm and frighteningly poor control. He comes to the Arizona Fall League after posting a sky-high 7.7 BB/9 walk rate between high Class A and Double-A. . . . SS Drew Jackson (Mariners) saw his numbers slip precipitously after he skipped a level to play at high Class A Bakersfield–his batting average, on-base and slugging percentages all dropped by nearly 100 points and he stole 36 fewer bases–but he is still one of Seattle’s best prospects. . . . 2B Brandon Dixon (Reds) has a lot of work to do to find a home defensively, but he can hit.
REHABBING: RHP Dylan Unsworth (Mariners) missed the Futures Game and some significant time with a hamstring injury. . . . C Justin O’Conner (Rays) is trying to make up for lost time after being sidelined for much of the season with a back injury. . . . C/1B Chad Wallach (Reds) saw his season cut short by a broken hand.
— J.J. Cooper
|SALT RIVER RAFTERS|
Tony Diaz (Rockies)
Gil Heredia (D-backs), David Chavarria (Brewers)
Phil Clark (Tigers)
THE STARS: 2B Ozzie Albies (Braves) is expected to be Atlanta’s Opening Day starter at second in 2017, so this should be a final tune-up for the speedy middle infielder. . . . 3B Ryan McMahon endured a very inconsistent season on the road with the nomadic Double-A Hartford Yard Goats. He’ll try to get to his power more regularly once he can settle down in Phoenix for six weeks. . . . OF Christin Stewart (Tigers) is a true three-outcomes hitter. He has plenty of home runs, plenty of walks and a lot of strikeouts as well. The 22-year-old has struggled after his promotion to Double-A Erie, so the AFL should be a good test.
INTERESTING: OF Dustin Peterson (Braves) did a very good job of catching scouts eyes with a very productive season split with Double-A Mississippi. Peterson eventually will have to turn some of his numerous doubles into home runs, but as an impressively pure hitter, his biggest focus in Arizona may be continued refinement of his defense. . . . 2B Travis Demeritte (Braves) has some defensive versatility and plenty of power, but he needs to make more consistent contact. Jean Segura had a great season for the Diamondbacks, but SS Isan Diaz (Brewers) is a valuable pickup for Milwaukee from that same Jan. 2016 trade. Diaz hit 20 home runs in the Midwest League this year as a shortstop. . . . Playing for Double-A Biloxi, C Jacob Nottingham (Brewers) didn’t come close to matching his 2015 season, but he is still a useful catching prospect.
REHABBING: OF JaCoby Jones (Tigers) will come to Arizona after his first stint in the big leagues. He is still making up for lost time after sitting out April and half of May to finish off a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a drug of abuse.
— J.J. Cooper
Tom Goodwin (Mets)
Michael Wuertz (Angels), Steve Schrenk (Phillies)
Damon Minor (Giants), Carlos Mendoza (Yankees)
THE STARS: The pitching side of this team isn’t complete yet, so for now the biggest name on the Scorpions belongs to SS Gleyber Torres (Yankees), the biggest prize in the package the Yankees acquired from the Cubs for lefty closer Aroldis Chapman. For now, Torres is the only true star on the roster. Keep in mind, though, that current incarnation has just nine pitchers.
INTERESTING: The Yankees more or less sent an three quarters of an infield to Scottsdale. Legitimately, manager Tom Goodwin (Mets) could start Miguel Andujar at third, Torres at shortstop and Greg Bird at first base at the same time. . . . Tyler Wade, who earns plaudits for his all-around skill set, is listed as an outfielder. He’s never played there in his career, but added versatility could be a wise move in a system stocked with shortstops. Andujar started strong after a move to Double-A this year, his first test at the upper levels, but started to get swing-happy once pitchers learned his tendencies. . . . The Angels’ top pick two seasons ago, C Taylor Ward (Angels), played well in the Midwest League but has struggled a bit since a move to high Class A Inland Empire. . . . SS/2B Gavin Cecchini (Mets), who also was in the AFL in 2014, will work on transitioning to second base in Arizona.
REHABBING: Bird, technically not a prospect any longer, will see his first game action of the season in the fall league after having surgery this offseason to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Bird was the AFL’s most valuable player in 2014 and hit a booming home run into the flower beds at Salt River Fields in the championship game.
— Josh Norris
Carlos Febles (Red Sox)
Ivan Arteaga (Twins), Oscar Marin (Rangers)
Kevin Riggs (Pirates)
THE STARS: Unquestionably, the stars of this club belong to the Red Sox. Among its group, Boston sends 2B/3B Yoan Moncada, the No. 1 prospect in baseball, as well as fireballing RHP Michael Kopech. The latter missed time to open the season after breaking his hand in a fight with his roommate in spring training. After returning, Kopech has been dominant. With high Class A Salem, the 20-year-old has gone 4-1, 1.23 with an eye-popping 81 strikeouts in 51.1 innings. Moncada, who won the MVP of the Futures Game with a late home run, has produced at high Class A and Double-A this season, but he’s blocked at second base by Dustin Pedroia. He’ll continue working on a transition to third base in Arizona.
INTERESTING: RHP Josh Staumont (Royals) has an impressive arsenal that includes a fastball that can touch triple-digits but has struggled mightily with control this season, walking 100 hitters in 111.1 innings between high Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. . . . SS Nick Gordon (Twins), the No. 5 overall pick in the draft in 2014, adds even more prospect sheen to an already-loaded club. He’s hitting .296/.340/.393 with high Class A Fort Myers this season and will continue to work on polishing his defense in the Fall League. . . . SS Mauricio Dubon (Red Sox), too, is interesting but has been overshadowed at high Class A and Double-A by bigger names such as Moncada, Kopech, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi. Dubon is a high-aptitude player on both sides of the ball and has made hard contact this year and shown good adjustments to the more advanced arms in the upper levels.
REHABBING: In the outfield, OF Austin Meadows (Pirates) returns after missing time this year early with an orbital fracture and more recently with a strained right hamstring. At his best, he’s a five-tool player and a true center fielder who ranks among the game’s very best prospects. He was our No. 10 prospect on this year’s Midseason Top 100.
— Josh Norris