AFL 2013 - Facts & Figures PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 07 October 2013 00:00

If you read my earlier AFL Primer, I mentioned the incredible success of young players sent to the Fall League. The numbers are worth updating and repeating here:

There were 397 former fall leaguers on MLB Opening Day rosters in 2013 (plus 50 more on injured reserve).

In addition to the success of players, 30 former AFL managers and players have become major league managers, including 11 this season (post your guesses in the comments section below – winner gets free ticket to an AFL game this year and lunch in the press box with me).

That IS tremendous success and is why MLB proudly calls the AFL its premier development or showcase league. As I mentioned in the primer, each MLB team is required to send seven players each year subject to the following eligibility requirements:

  • All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible (must be on Double-A roster by August 15)
  • Each organization is permitted to send  two high A level players
  • No players with more than one active year or two years of total credited major league service as of August 31 are eligible except a team may send one player picked in the most recent Rule 5 draft (generally these are pitchers who missed time with injuries)

There are 29 players returning for their second AFL appearance this year.

25 of’s current Top 100 prospects are on AFL rosters this year, including the 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs at Camelback Ranch Stadium.

33 of this year’s AFL players were selected in the first round of June’s annual amateur player draft. Four of those players – Kris Bryant (2nd overall by the Chicago Cubs), Colin Moran (6th overall by the Miami Marlins), Michael Lorenzen (38th overall by the Cincinnati Reds) and Corey Knebel (39th overall by the Detroit Tigers) were drafted this June. There are 11 first-rounders from 2012, seven from 2011, seven from 2010, three from 2009 and one from 2008 - LHP Mike Montgomery, now with his second MLB organization.

63 of the 210 AFL players were on 2013 minor league all-star teams. 12 of those were in the Futures Game, eight who played for Team USA and four who played on the World Team. Another five played in previous Futures games.

There are 15 AFL players this year with some MLB experience, 13 of which saw the Show for the first time this year. Shawn Tolleson, who pitched for the Dodgers this year, also saw some time in the Majors last year and Arodys Vizcaino, who was on the original roster of the Mesa Solar Sox, played for Atlanta in 2011. Vizcaino has since been removed by the Cubs due to injury concerns.

32 of this year’s AFL players were born in ten different foreign countries (and one more in the territory of Puerto Rico). Canada, Columbia, Curacao, Germany, Mexico and the Republic of South Africa each have one native son here, while there are two from Nicaragua, four from Venezuela, seven from Cuba and 13 from the Dominican Republic.

There are three AFL players born in 1994, so they will celebrate their 20th birthday after “graduating” from the Fall League. Shortstop Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Glendale Desert Dogs is the youngest, just 11 days younger than the Cubs' Albert Almora and three months younger than shortstop Addison Russell of the Oakland Athletics and a teammate with Amora on the Mesa Solar Sox.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 07:04
AFL Preview - The Surprise Saguaros PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 06 October 2013 00:00

Saving the closest to my house for last, we now look at the Surprise Saguaros which, per my earlier post, feature the “home” Texas Rangers prospects along with those from the Brewers, Indians, Orioles, and Red Sox.

The Rangers start with their #1 prospect (again as rated by catcher Jorge Alfaro who had a breakout 2013 with 16 home runs, 53 RBI, and 16 stolen bases between A Hickory and high A Myrtle Beach.  Alfaro was another AFL player who was in the 2013 Futures Game.

The Brewers #2 prospect, hurler Taylor Jungman will also play in Surprise with organizational mates Mitch Haniger, an outfielder who is at #12 and pitcher David Goforth, #17 for the Brewers. Jungman who starred at the University of Texas won the Dick Howser Trophy as the national college baseball player of the year in 2011 and was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes award that year.

The Indians delegation will be led by outfielder Tyler Naquin, the Tribe’s #5 prospect and include catcher Tony Wolters, #12 on the Cleveland prospect list who will catch several as yet unknown Indian pitchers.

Baltimore is sending several prospects you may have seen starting with second baseman Jonathan Schoop who was the franchise's 2012 Minor League Player of the year and was also in Phoenix last season. Schoop #4 on the Oriole’s prospect list saw some time in Baltimore at the end of the year and played for the World Team in this summer’s Futures Game. Outfielder Henry Urrutia also saw some time with the big club this year although the former Cuban had enough at bats to be off the prospect list but not enough to prevent his assignment to the AFL. Other young Birds here will be the #2 prospect southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez, and catcher Michael Ohlman, Baltimore’s #12 prospect.

Garin Cecchini, the #7 prospect of the Boston Red Sox will play third base for the Saguaros. You may recognize the last name: his younger brother Gavin was a first round selection of the NY Mets in the 2012 draft.

2013 Arizona Fall League play begins next Tuesday and I will have one final preview blog on Monday with some interesting facts and figures on the players and some updated information on late roster changes.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 07:13
AFL Preview - The Scottsdale Scorpions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 03 October 2013 00:00

The 2013 Scottsdale Scorpions, who play their home games in Scottsdale Stadium, are made up of prospects from the “home team” San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees.

The Giants are sending their #1 prospect (as rated by, RHP Kyle Crick, who is now #42 on the current Top 100. He will be joined by catcher Andrew Susac, #15 on the Giants' list, LHP Adalberto Mejia, #19 Giant prospect, as well as former top prospect third baseman Angel Villalona.

The Braves top prospect on the Scorpions is RHP Aaron Northcraft, #10 on the Braves' prospect list. Other young Braves will be infielders Kyle Kubitza, #12 on the prospect list, and Tommy La Stella, #14 on the Atlanta rankings.

The initial list of Mets prospects that I am working from is incomplete, so hopefully some of the unnamed pitchers will be amongst their top-20 prospects.

Their crosstown rivals, however, are sending their top two hitting prospects, outfielder Mason Williams, who is #2 on the Yankees' prospect list, and former outfielder Tyler Austin, who is #3 on the list, and I say former because Austin is listed as an infielder on the Scottsdale roster, which leads one to believe they may be moving him to first base (I will report back on that after the opening games next week). The Yankees also have not announced the pitchers they will be sending to Scottsdale.

The Pirates are sending their #3 prospect, shortstop Alen Hanson. Other Bucco prospects are outfielder Alex Dickerson, #13 prospect, and shortstop Gift Ngoepe, who hopes to become the first South African to play major league baseball.

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 October 2013 11:13
AFL Preview - The Salt River Rafters PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 00:00

The Salt River Rafters include prospects from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies and thus play their home games at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

This year, the home teams will be joined by players from the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals. So starting with the Diamondbacks, let’s take a look at some of the highest rated players from each organization.

You know the Diamondbacks are loaded with pitching prospects but likely their #7 prospect RHP Jake Barrett and #8 prospect LHP Andrew Chafin haven’t been on any lists you have seen.  They will be joined by third baseman Jake Lamb, #11 on’s organizational ranking and #13 shortstop Nick Ahmed who was in a Braves uniform in the AFL last year. Both had very good seasons this year, Lamb at high A Visalia and Ahmed, who came over in the Justin Upton trade, with Atlanta at Double-A Mobile. Relief pitcher Matt Stites, obtained from the San Diego Padres in the Ian Kennedy deal, checks in at #17 on the D-Backs list and will work out of the Rafters bullpen.

From the Rockies, RHP Tyler Anderson, #5 and LHP Tyler Matzek will pitch for the Rafters while third baseman Kyle Parker #9 and outfielder Tim Wheeler #10 on the prospect list, who was a Rising Star participant in 2011, lead the young Rockie hitters.

RHP Aaron Sanchez is the #1 prospect in the Toronto system and is ranked #20 on’s current Top 100 list. Marcus Stroman, a LHP used more in relief and #3 on the Blue Jays list and LHP Sean Nolin, #5, will also pitch for the Rafters. Catcher A.J. Jiminez, the Blue Jays #9 prospect, will catch his organizational mates and other Rafter pitchers.

Tampa Bay has two interesting prospects returning to Arizona for their second fall league assignment. LHP Mike Montgomery, who was first here as a Royals prospect in 2010, is currently ranked as the #8 Tampa prospect. The #9 prospect, 1B/OF Richie Shaffer, played in the AFL last year after being drafted in June 2012. The other Ray currently ranked in the organization’s top twenty is second baseman Ryan Brett, who is #14 on the list.

The Cardinals have four outfielders in their top ten prospects and two of them, Stephen Piscotty #8 and James Ramsey #10 will be in the Rafters outfield. There are still a few Cardinal spots to be filled on the Salt River roster but they would likely be pitchers not as high on the prospect lists.

Next up is the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 07:36
AFL Preview - The Peoria Javelinas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 30 September 2013 00:00

The Peoria Sports Complex, spring training home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, has always had one if not two teams in the AFL play at Peoria Stadium. Well, due to construction work on the stadium and clubhouses, the Peoria Javelinas will call Surprise Stadium their home this year.

Normally, the Surprise AFL team has prospects from both its regular tenants, the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers, but this year to divide the clubhouse and practice fields better, the Royals prospects will be on the Javelinas while the Rangers youngsters will be on the Surprise Saguaros.

And as usual, the Royals have some nice prospects. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, the younger brother of Emilio, is their #5 prospect and on the current Top 100 at Two infielders from the Royals who are in their top ten prospects according to will also be on the team. 2B/SS Orlando Calixte is #8 on the list while 3B Cheslor Cuthbert is #9. The Royals are also sending several pitchers, headed by #18 on their prospect list RHP Jason Adams.

Obviously, both the Mariner and Padre prospects are on the Peoria team, led on the rankings by Seattle LHP Danny Hultzen, who is #23 on the current Top 100 and the highest ranked LHP. Hultzen, who was the Mariners' first-round pick in 2011, is #2 on their prospect list. Second baseman Chris Taylor, who was a college teammate of Hultzen at Virginia, is #5 on the Mariners list while infielder Stefen Romero, who is the Mariners #7 prospect, has been converted to an outfielder to reduce the logjam in the Seattle infield. Romero will be patrolling left field for the Javelinas. Third baseman Patrick Kivlehan, the MVP last season in the Northwest league, is #16 on the Mariners prospect list . I don’t have the full list of pitchers the Mariners are sending to the AFL this year but #13 on their prospect list RHP Carson Smith, a relief pitcher who played here last year, will return and Brandon Maurer, who surprisingly made the Mariners' rotation in April, may be sent here as well.

The Padres are sending their #2 prospect catcher Austin Hedges, currently #33 on the Top 100 list who will catch several young San Diego pitchers as yet unnamed. And former catcher now first baseman Tommy Medica, who was called up to the big league club in September, will be on the Javelinas playing exclusively at first base. Second baseman Cory Spangenberg, the Padres' #14 ranked prospect, is another returning player from the 2012 fall league.

The Houston Astros youngsters will also be playing with the Javelinas. Delino DeShields, the #7 Astros prospect, will be playing the outfield in Surprise. The speedy DeShields, who also played in the MLB Futures Game this year, is #70 on the Top 100 prospect list. Infielder Nolan Fontana, the #8 Astros prospect, will also play for the Javelinas.

The fifth team contributing players to the Javelinas is the Philadelphia Phillies, who are sending LHP Austin Wright, #12 on their prospect list, as well as #18 outfielder Aaron Altherr.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 10:28
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