AFL Updates From Japan, Giants & Mets

Updated rosters for the Arizona Fall League season, which starts today, are online here. Let’s take a look at some of the updates:

• Five Japanese pitchers will take part in the AFL, a first for the league and a byproduct of the demise of Hawaii Winter Baseball.

Two are 2006 Japan League first-round picks—lefthanders Hiroshi Katayama (Rakuten Golden Eagles), who will play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, and Takanobu Tsujiuchi (Yomiuri Giants), who will pitch for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Tsujiuchi has had control problems in Japan, while Katayama, much more physical at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, had a 5.42 ERA in the Japanese minors this season and has had injury issues the last two seasons.

Righthander Toshiyuki Yanuki (Nippon Ham Fighters) will also pitch for the Desert Dogs, while 6-foot righties Ken Nishimura (Hanshin Tigers) and Toru Murata (Yomiuri Giants) will pitch for the Scorpions. Nishimura pitched in Japan’s major leagues this year, making him the most advanced of the quintet of Japanese imports.

• The Mesa Solar Sox added lefthander Andrew Miller, the No. 1 prospect and No. 6 overall pick from the 2006 draft. While Tim Lincecum and Evan Longoria already have established themselves as stars from that draft class, Miller has faltered, and is just 14-21, 5.50 over 262 career innings. The Fall League will be crucial to getting his career on track.

Another intriguing name on the final rosters is Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias, the Cuban whose signing only became official last week. He’s listed at 19 and is the youngest player in the AFL, two months younger than Mesa teammate Starlin Castro (Cubs).

Mesa also lost Peter Bourjos (Angels) to wrist surgery; the Angels sent infielder P.J. Phillips in his place.

• The Athletics dropped righthander Clayton Mortensen, replacing him with fellow righty Mickey Storey. Tampa Bay added righty Mitch Talbot, injured for much of the season, to the roster. Talbot is out of options and has made 67 Triple-A starts the last three seasons. He turns 26 on Saturday.

• The Tigers added 2009 supplemental first-rounder Andy Oliver to the Peoria Javelinas roster. The Mariners replaced Carlos Triunfel with Juan Diaz, who hit .311/.356/.446 at high Class A High Desert this year. Triunfel’s left leg, which he broke this season, is still bothering him, but he could still play in the AFL if he is physically ready in two weeks, according to a Mariners official.

• The Reds added supplemental first-rounder Brad Boxberger to the Peoria Saguaros roster; he’ll join 2009 first-rounder Mike Minor (Braves).

• The Giants were tardy in naming their players to the Scorpions roster. They added three pitchers—lefty Steve Edlefsen and righties Dan Turpen and Joe Martinez, with Martinez coming off an eventful major league campaign that included getting hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Mike Cameron in April. The accident left him with a concussion and three small skull fractures. He returned to the big leagues in August.

The Giants also added shortstop Brandon Crawford and outfielder Thomas Neal.

• The Mets, like the Giants, had nothing but TBAs in the first announcement of AFL rosters. Filling their slots on the Surprise Rafters are righthanders Jenrry Mejjia, Scott Moviel and Josh Stinson and lefthander Eric Niesen; shortstop Reese Havens, their 2008 first-round pick, and outfielder Lucas Duda. Mejia will be one of the best arms in AFL and has work to do after pitching just 94 innings between two levels.

The Rangers, as expected, added righthander Tanner Scheppers to their AFL contingent, and big league lefty Matt Harrison also was added. The Rafters had three Royals TBA slots among pitchers, but Aaron Crow isn’t initially one of them. Instead, righthanders Aaron Hartsock and Blake Wood and lefty Brandon Sisk will be Rafters.