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
AFL Preview - The Mesa Solar Sox PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 29 September 2013 00:00

Our second Arizona Fall League (AFL) team preview is of the Mesa Solar Sox who will be playing their home games at Hohokam Park for the last time as the new Chicago Cubs spring training home, Riverview Park, will be ready for play early in 2014.

And the hometown Cubs are definitely sending their top talent this year. In fact they were originally scheduled to send five or their top six prospects before having to scratch SS Javier Baez and P Arodys Vizcaino. But outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler, the Cubs #2 and #3 prospects should certainly be worth a trip to Mesa. Almora, the Cubs 1st round pick in 2012, is #21 on’s current Top 100 list while Cuban native Soler is #25 on that list. The Cubs are also sending their first round draft pick from June’s draft Kris Bryant, a third baseman out of San Diego State college who is already #35 on’s list.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are sending their #2 prospect, first baseman C.J. Cron, who was the team's first round pick in the 2011 draft and the first ever first round pick in University of Utah history. The Angels are also sending two right-handed pitchers who are on their top twenty list, #10  Mike Morin, and #12  R.J. Alvarez.

The number one prospect in the Oakland organization is #17 on the list and it won’t be long before you hear a lot more about Addison Russell who played in the  Futures game during his first full season of minor league play. Russell was the eleventh pick in the 2012 draft and like the other young Athletics will be very excited to play at Hohokam Park which will become their spring training home in 2015 after the stadium is renovated next summer.

The Washington Nationals are another team sending a top prospect to the AFL this year as fly chaser Brian Goodwin returns after starring in the league last year in both the Rising Stars game and the league championship game. The Nationals are also sending LHP Matt Purke their #8 prospect and 1B/OF Matt Skole who is their #10 prospect.

Finally, the Detroit Tigers are sending SS Devon Travis #12; OF Tyler Collins #13 who was the All Star game MVP in 2011 in the Australian league; RHP Corey Knebel  a first round pick this June who was the closer at the University of Texas; and RHP Will Clinard, #18 on the Tigers prospect list.

Next up the Peoria Javelinas of Surprise.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 10:27
AFL Preview - The Glendale Desert Dogs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00

This is the first of six articles looking at the players who their organizations are sending to the Arizona Fall League in 2013. While the league is the ultimate in the development of many minor league prospects, it can also be used to get some extra innings or at-bats for a player who was injured this year. No doubt you have read that the New York Metropolitans GM has suggested the club might send Matt Harvey as the rookie sensation tries to assess whether his rest and rehab will put him in line to pitch in spring training and get ready for the 2014 season or whether he may have to reconsider the surgical option.

Since this is the first AFL team review, let’s start with the team that will have the number one minor league prospect in its outfield in two weeks. That player of course is outfielder Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins, the 2013 Minor League Player of the Year who will play for the Glendale Desert Dogs at Camelback Ranch Stadium, the spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Buxton is one of the four top ten prospects in the Minnesota organization who will play in Glendale. The others are RHP Alex Meyer (formerly of the Washington Nationals) who is #3 on’s ranking of young Twins and #31 on the current Top 100; Eddie Rosario, #5 on the Twins prospect list, is a second baseman who was also learning to play in the outfield so we will have to see where he is deployed by the Desert Dogs; and finally 1B/OF Max Kepler, currently #8 on’s ranking of the Minnesota prospects.

The Desert Dogs are the club where we will see six young Miami Marlins prospects, including the sixth overall pick in the June draft, third baseman Colin Moran out of UNC, who is the Twins #4 prospect; LHP Andrew Heaney, who is the Marlins #2 prospect; Brent Keys, an outfielder who is #17, and RHP Nick Wittgren #20. In addition, the Marlins are sending RHP Colby Suggs, who was the 73rd pick in June, taken in the Competitive Balance Round B selections.

The Cincinnati Reds are sending RHP Michael Lorenzen, another first round pick in June who was a star closer at Cal State Fullerton. He checks in as the Reds' #6 prospect. Ryan LaMarre, a speedy outfielder, is their #14 prospect.

The Chicago White Sox are sending their #8 prospect, shortstop Marcus Semien, who was called up to the parent club in September and has already hit his first major league home run; and #15 prospect second baseman Micah Johnson, who stole 84 bases in three minor league stops this year.

Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers are sending their first round pick in June, shortstop Corey Seager, who is their #2 minor league prospect. The name may be familiar – his older brother Kyle plays for the Seattle Mariners and scouts think Corey may be moved to third by the Dodgers and be better than his older brother, which would make him a valuable player on fantasy rosters.

Remember that the AFL rosters are not complete yet – there will be many pitchers added before play starts on October 8.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 07:34
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