2013 Arizona Fall League Preview: Glendale Desert Dogs

Minnesota Twins farmhand Byron Buxton - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Future superstar Byron Buxton leads an impressive group of talent for Glendale.

The Glendale Desert Dogs have an intriguing mix of talent. Pulling from the rosters of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, and Chicago White Sox. The Glendale squad mixes a number of 2013 draftees and some break out stars.

Los Angeles Dodgers

C Pratt Maynard
C Chris O'Brien
SS Corey Seager
LF Brian Cavazos-Galvez

LHP Onelki Garcia
RHP Yimi Garcia
LHP Jarrett Martin
LHP Michael Thomas

Corey Seager headlines the Dodgers class this year, as the 19 year old caps off his first pro season. He hit .269 with a .824 OPS between both A ball squads with 16 home runs, 72 RBI and 40 extra base hits in 426 trips to the dish. His 6'4 215 lb frame generates solid contact with good power. C Chris O'Brien was an 18th round pick in 2011 and had a season to forget in 2013. In the California league he managed only a .195 average and .561 OPS in 233 plate appearances. He's got bloodlines (his old man, Charlie O'Brien spent 15 years in the bigs) and is solid defensively, but was hopeless at the plate in his 2nd try at A+. Yimi Garcia spent his age 22 season in AA and flourished as the closer. He struck out 12.68 per 9 while only walking 2.09 per 9 over 60.1 innings. He had a 6.07 K/BB and just 5.2 H/9 this year. He features a fastball that went from the low 90's last year to sitting mid 90's and touching 97 this year with a nice tight slide piece.

Miami Marlins

SS Danny Black
3B Colin Moran
LF Brent Keys

LHP Andrew Heaney
LHP Edgar Olmos
RHP Colby Suggs
RHP Nick Wittgren

The Marlins are sending two 2013 draftees to Arizona. Colby Suggs was taken in the 2nd round, 73rd overall and posted a 3.29 ERA, allowing only 4.9 H/9 and 12.5 K/9. His control wavered with a 5.9 BB/9 but he did not allow a home run. Coming from the SEC (Arkansas), he moved all they way to A+ Jupiter in his first taste of pro ball. The most advanced bat of the draft, Colin Moran performed well in Low A with a .299 average and .796 OPS with 8 doubles and 4 home runs in 175 plate appearances. His trip to the AFL makes me think the front office might be willing to jump Moran to at least AA to start next year. Nick Wittgren was one of the best relievers in the minors, posting a 0.77 ERA over 58.1 innings with 6.5 H/9 and 6.3 K/BB between A+ and a 4 inning stint at AA. He features a low to mid 90's fastball with a curve that has plus potential around 80 mph with great control.

Cincinnati Reds

C Tucker Barnhart
1B/3B Travis Mattair
CF Ryan LaMarre
RF Yorman Rodriguez

RHP Drew Hayes
RHP Michael Lorenzen
RHP Chad Rogers
RHP Jamie Walczak

Right hander Jamie Walczak is looking to impress as the front office has to make a decision on if they want to protect him on the 40 man roster. He did a solid job in A+ and AA this year, posting a 2.95 ERA with 3 K/BB and 6.8 H/9. He was victimized by a .350 BABIP in AA which skewed his 3.82 ERA there. RHP Drew Hayes had a stellar 2011 in Low A, posting a 1.35 ERA and 22 saves though he was old for the league at 23. 2013 was a different story as his .357 BABIP did work to his ERA, leaving it at 5.43 for the year. He struck out 8.7 per 9 with 4.7 BB/9 and 10.4 H/9 in his second trip through the Southern League. He has one more year before the Reds needs to decide to place him on the 40 man roster or not. Corner infielder Travis Mattair never lived up to his 2nd round billing in the 2007 draft by the Phillies (he was taken 7 picks after Giancarlo Stanton and 5 after Freddie Freeman). He signed as a minor league free agent with Cincy prior to 2012 and then hit .274 with 19 home runs and 31 doubles as a 23 year old in the Cal. This year he was bumped to AA and struggled to repeat his performance, only hitting .242 with 13 HR and 30 extra base hits.

Minnesota Twins

LF/1B Max Kepler
2B Eddie Rosario
CF Byron Buxton

RHP AJ Achter
RHP Zach Jones
RHP Trevor May
RHP Alex Meyer

One word describes Minnesota's conrtibution to the Glendale squad, STACKED. 4 of the 7 players will surely make every top 10 list to come out this winter in Buxton, Rosario, Meyer and May. German born Max Kepler split time between 1B, LF and CF this year while bringing a .237/.312/.424 line to the plate in 263 trips. He hit 9 home runs and added 11 doubles showing solid plate discipline with 24 BB to 43 K. He projects to have good pop but don't expect to see him patrolling center again. He's strictly a left fielder or 1B. AJ Achter had a great year limiting contact; batters only managed a .202 average against him and he only allowed 6.7 H/9. His control however, left quite a bit to be desired. Achter walked 4.9 batters per 9 innings and he averaged a home run every 9 innings as well. He was the recipient of some favorable BABIP where his sat at .238 for the year. Once that returns to normal, expect the ERA to skyrocket, possibly matching his 4.54 FIP for the year. Zach Jones was a 4th round selection in the 2012 draft and has impressed since then. Strictly a bullpen arm, Jones posted a 1.85 ERA in 48.2 innings while allowing 5.2 H/9, 5.2 BB/9 and 12.95 K/9. His fastball can hit triple digits and he's got an inconsistent slider that is dynamite when its on. He limited batters to a .172 average and .531 OPS this year.

Chicago White Sox

2B Micah Johnson
SS Marcus Semien
LF Brandon Jacobs
CF Jared Mitchell

RHP Chris Bassitt
LHP Charlie Leesman
RHP Stephen McCray
RHP Kevin Vance

The White Sox delegation is led by minor league stolen base leader Micah Johnson. Despite lacking top of the scale speed, he stole 84 bases in 110 tries between Low A, A+ and AA. He hit a combined .312 with 7 HR, 24 doubles, 15 triples and 107 runs scored. He struggled in his brief AA trial (5-21) but that's almost to be expected at the end of his first full professional season. His defense is bad and there's not really any other way to say it. He has plenty of range and a decent arm but it looks like he tries to field his position with a frying pan. Right hander Chris Bassitt was another bright spot for the pale hose, splitting the season between the A+ and AA rotations. He finished the year with a 3.08 combined ERA with 8.34 K/9, 3.56 BB/9 and 7.6 H/9. He brings a fastball that touches 95 and a much improved change up that he had been concentrating on throughout 2012. LF Brandon Jacobs came over in the Jake Peavy deal mid-season with Chicago hoping he could regain his 2011 form when he hit 17 HR and stole 30 bags. Long story short, he didn't. Jacobs only managed a .237/.291/.327 line after the trade in 176 plate appearances with 2 HR, 8 doubles and 11 walks to 50 strike outs. For the entire year, Boston and Chicago combined, he hit .244/.320/.407 with 13 HR, 33 doubles, 12 stolen bases and 44 walks to 140 strike outs. The pop is still there, as is the speed, he just hasn't been able to make the adjustments as he's climbed the ladder.

Sources: BaseballReference, Fangraphs, The Baseball Prospect Book 2013, TrueBlueLA.com

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