With the Arizona Fall League (AFL for those who like abbreviations) right around the corner, the initial rosters have been released for each of the six teams. For the first part of the 2014 AFL Preview we will take an in-depth look at the Glendale Desert Dogs. The season begins with the Bowman Hitting Challenge on October 4th with games beginning October 7th.
All stats are as of the end of the minor league season.
|C||Mike Ohlman||BAL||R/R||6'5 215 LB||25||AA||403||95||40||25||1||2||33||43||86||0/0||236/310/318||627||291||77|
|C||Kevan Smith||CWS||R/R||6'4 230 LB||26||AA||389||113||45||21||3||10||48||46||68||1/2||290/376/437||813||369||129|
|C||Shawn Zarraga||MIL||S/R||6'0 248 LB||25||AA||215||71||34||16||0||1||30||42||23||1/5||330/440/419||858||395||147|
Kevan Smith's trip through the White Sox system has been slow and steady, working at one level per year for the most part.Drafted in the 7th round of the 2011 draft as a senior sign out of the University of Pittsburgh, Smith did not get his professional career started until his age 23 season so he's always been a bit behind the age curve. In 2013 he hit .286/.370/.464 with a 133 wRC+ and .383 wOBA at A+ Winston-Salem. Defensively, Smith has caught 34% of would-be base stealers this year with 10 errors and 10 passed balls this year for AA Birmingham.
|SS||Tim Anderson||CWS||R/R||6'1 180 LB||21||AA||44||16||7||3||0||1||7||0||9||0/1||364/364/500||864||389||143|
|3B||Jason Esposito||BAL||R/R||6'2 200 LB||24||A+||470||128||50||31||5||9||50||17||103||5/9||272/301/417||718||324||99|
|SS||Hector Gomez||MIL||R/R||6'3 200 LB||26||AAA||408||115||59||25||6||15||49||21||80||5/8||282/325/483||808||349||105|
|SS/2B||Domingo Leyba||DET||S/R||5'11 160 LB||18||A||116||46||20||7||0||1||7||6||13||1/3||397/431/483||914||420||165|
|1B||Nick Ramirez||MIL||L/L||6'3 225 LB||25||AA||490||113||71||21||5||19||82||55||152||1/5||231/312/410||722||324||99|
|3B||Nick Basto||CWS||R/R||6'2 210 LB||20||A+||315||83||39||14||2||7||35||19||66||1/5||263/313/387||700||321||97|
|SS/3B||Corey Seager||LAD||L/R||6'4 215 LB||20||AA||148||51||28||16||3||2||27||10||39||1/2||345/381/534||915||407||154|
|2B/SS/CF||Darnell Sweeney||LAD||S/R||6'1 180 LB||23||AA||490||141||88||34||5||14||57||77||117||15/31||288/387/463||850||387||141|
Glendale has set themselves up to have a potentially great starting infield alignment with Nick Rairez at first, Darnell Sweeney at the keystone, Tim Anderson at short and Corey Seager at the hot corner. Also on the roster, Hector Gomez can handle short stop, Domingo Leyba at short or second, and Jason Esposito or Nick Basto at third base.
Darnell Sweeney is a 13th round pick from the 2012 draft out of Central Florida, selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent most of his debut season playing short stop in Low A with a graduation to A+ Rancho Cucamonga the following year where he hit .275/.329/.455 in the California League with a quadruple double (34 2B, 16 3B, 11 HR, 48 SB). His plate discipline was shaky though, walking 43 times to 151 strike outs, and he was also caught stealing 20 times. He also began to transition from short stop to the other side of the keystone at second, spending 29 games at the new position. This year he has spend the majority of the year at second base (81 games, 16 errors) with time also spent back at short (28 G, 12 E) and also center field (23 G, 4 E). Sweeney also greatly improved his eye at the dish, raising his walk rate 6% while dropping his K rate 4.6%. His isolate power also held steady in the .175-.180 range while increasing his home run total from 11 to 14 in a much tougher hitting environment in the Southern League. One thing he still needs to work on is the stolen bases, namely the success rate. Sweeney has plus speed but a sub 50% success rate is completely unacceptable at any level. With guys like Davey Lopes and Dee Gordon in the organization, hopefully they can help him get better reads on pitchers.
Tim Anderson is the top positional prospect in the barren White Sox system, building on an aggressive assignment straight to Low A after being drafted 17th overall in 2013 out of East Central Community College in Mississippi. He hit .273/.348/.363 last year with 10 doubles, five triples, and 24 stolen bases in just 267 at bats. He also came up empty almost 26% of the time (78 K's) with a 7.6% walk rate (23 BB). Considered raw coming out of the draft, his plate discipline needs a lot of work as his walk rate plummeted 5.3% to just 2.3% of plate appearances ending in a walk. Instead of working the count, he has been aggressive when getting a pitch he thinks he can drive early in the count. Perhaps coincidentally, his power has taken a huge leap forward, gaining over 100 points in both slugging percentage and isolated power with 35 extra base knocks in 330 at bats. With the paucity of offensive minded short stops, someone with a first round pedigree and a 123 wRC+ will gain attention. Anderson's defense has been sketchy, committing 34 errors this year in 380 chances between A+, AA and a rehab stint in the AZL.
|CF/RF||Dariel Alvarez||BAL||R/R||6'2 180 LB||25||AAA||173||52||23||17||2||1||19||8||27||1/2||301/328/439||767||342||109|
|CF||Daniel Fields||DET||L/R||6'2 215 LB||23||AAA||274||60||29||10||3||6||26||15||76||8/10||219/273/343||616||281||67|
|RF||Steven Moya||DET||L/R||6'6 230 LB||22||AA||515||142||81||33||3||35||105||23||161||16/20||276/306/555||861||372||131|
|LF/RF||Scott Schebler||LAD||L/R||6'1 208 LB||23||AA||489||137||82||23||14||28||73||45||110||10/14||280/365/556||921||407||154|
|CF||Tyrone Taylor||MIL||R/R||6'0 185 LB||20||AA||13||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||5||1/1||077/143/077||220||117||-41|
The Desert Dogs have three players capable of handling center field duties with the best of the three being Milwaukee farmhand Tyrone Taylor. An ideal alignment for Glendale would be the Dodger's Scott Schebler in left, Taylor in center and Tigers breakout prospect Steven Moya in right field with Alvarez and Fields also available. Darnell Sweeney also saw time in center field this year for AA Chattanooga and could see more in the AFL.
Dariel Alvarez came to the Orioles as an international free agent in 2013 from Cuba and signed for $800,000. Signed in late July of his age 24 season, Alvarez only made it into 22 games between the GCL Orioles, A+ Frederick and AA Bowie while hitting .342/.373/.570 in a small 83 plate appearance sample size. This will be his second consecutive trip to the AFL where he hit .239/.268/.313 in another SSS of 71 trips to the dish. In 2014 he began the year back in AA and hit very well despite walking only 13 times (3.4%). A promotion was in order in mid July and he has continued to hit for good power while rarely walking. This kind of approach can work as long as he's not striking out at a Gallo-ian pace, which he isn't (9.2% in AA, 14.8% in AAA). Combined between the two highest levels of the minors, the 25 year old Alvarez has roped 37 doubles, 15 homers, 3 triples, and has knocked in 87 runs while scoring 75 times with 21 walks to 62 strike outs in 532 at bats. He spent his entire stint in AA manning center field but moved to right once he joined AAA Norfolk. Between the two levels he's made six errors with 14 outfield assists, showcasing his strong arm which grades out as plus.
Scott Schebler turned in a monster performance last year in the California League hitting .296/.360/.581 and earning player of the year honors for the Dodgers organization. He added 29 doubles, 13 triples, 27 homers, and 16 stolen bases with 35 walks to 140 strike outs. This came after three years of middling performance after being drafted out of the 26th round in 2010 from Des Moines Area Commnity College. Many took a wait-and-see approach after countless players have excelled in the offensively charged California League only to fall flat on their face in AA. This year, Schebler turned in an even more impressive season hitting .280/.365/.556 with a quadruple double (23 2B, 14 3B, 28 HR, 10 SB) and 45 walks to 110 punch outs.He made strides in walking more (1.4%) while striking out significantly less (6.6%).
Tyrone Taylor was brought into the Brewers organization as their second round pick in 2012 out of a California high school. He spent last year as a 19 year old in Low A while posting a .274/.338/.400 line with 33 doubles, eight home runs and 19 stolen bases with a 109 wRC+ and .341 wOBA. He was moved up a level to A+ Brevard County this year and posted a strikingly similar line in a much tougher offensive environment. His walk rate rose a hair to 7% while lowering his strike out percentage 1.1 points to 10.4%. Taylor is an extremely athletic type with the potential to be a four-tool player with power his only below average tool currently. He roams the center field pastures well, making only a pair of errors in 312 chances and also had eight assists. Taylor was promoted to AA Huntsville for the final five games and has made two appearances in the Southern League playoffs. He did feature a pretty large platoon split, hitting .323/.367/.485 against southpaws while only managing a .255/.312/.355 line against same handed pitchers.
|RHSP||Chris Bassitt||CWS||R/R||6'5 210 LB||25||AA||34.2||0.202||9.35||3.63||2.57||1.56||1.15||0.264||81.6||3.25||3-1||0||6||6|
|RHSP||Parker Bridwell||BAL||R/R||6'4 190 LB||23||A+||141.2||0.233||9.02||4.45||2.03||4.45||1.36||0.299||68.1||4.20||7-10||0||26||26|
|RHSP||Zach Davies||BAL||R/R||6'0 150 LB||21||AA||110||0.247||8.92||2.62||3.41||3.35||1.25||0.314||70.3||3.30||10-7||0||21||20|
|RHSP||Francellis Montas||CWS||R/R||6'2 185 LB||21||AA||5||0.063||1.80||1.80||1.00||0.00||0.40||0.067||50.0||3.39||0-0||0||1||1|
|RHSP||Tyler Wagner||MIL||R/R||6'3 195 LB||23||A+||150||0.216||7.08||2.88||2.46||1.86||1.11||0.258||82.4||3.66||13-6||0||25||25|
|LHSP||Scott Snodgress||CWS||L/L||6'6 225 LB||24||AAA||16.1||0.262||8.82||2.20||4.00||4.96||1.29||0.289||77.9||5.33||0-1||0||8||0|
Zach Davies was drafted by the Orioles in the 26th round of the 2011 draft out of an Arizona high school, but don't let the round he was picked in fool you; he still cashed a hefty $575,000 bonus check. Bumped up to A+ Frederick for 2013 in his age 20 season, Davies found success by striking out almost eight batters per nine innings with a 2.3 BB/9 and a 3.69 ERA over 148.2 innings. His FIP was much better at 3.28 on the heels of a low strand rate (66.3%) and only 0.61 HR/9. This year he spent his time in AA Bowie where he cranked up the strike outs to 8.92 K/9 while keeping his walk rate low at 2.62 BB/9. His ERA came in at 3.35 with a 1.25 WHIP, 3.30 FIP, and a career high 10 wins over 110 innings pitched. His season was highlighted by a five game stretch beginning in late July where he won every start with a 1.44 ERA over 31.1 IP with 30 punch outs and just 5 walks. Davies features a fastball that sits in the high 80's but can hit 90+ mph, and three usable offspeed pitches in a change up, curve ball, and slider. His change is his best offspeed pitch as it features great arm speed with solid speed differential from the heater. The hook is further along than the slider, but both can get the job done and he can locate any pitch. For those interested in reports on his make-up, that may be where he excels the most as a very heady player that knows how to pitch despite premium velocity.
Francellis Montas was originally a Red Sox farmhand, signing in December of 2009 out of the Dominican Republic for a mere $75,000. He spent the better part of three years in the organization before he was shipped to the White Sox in 2013 as part of the Jake Peavy/Avisail Garcia/Jose Iglesias three-way trade with the Tigers also in the mix. He began the year with Low A Greenville where he struggled with the long ball (10 HR allowed in 85.1 IP), but posted solid peripheral stats (10.13 K/9, 3.38 BB/9). Once he joined Low A Kannapolis after the trade, his control abandoned him as he walked 6.31 per nine innings over the span of 25.2 innings but still whiffed 10.87 K/9 and limited the opposition to a .211 batting average. He kicked off 2014 with A+ Winston-Salem and absolutely dominated when healthy. Over 10 starts and 62 innings, Montas posted a 1.60 ERA with a 0.95 WHIP and 2.90 FIP. The opposing team hit just .199 off him and he walked a career low 2.13 BB/9 while striking out 8.13 per nine. He also made one start for AA Birmingham where he threw five scoreless with just one hit, one walk, and one strike out. Montas was rated by Carolina League managers as having the best fastball in the league, one that sits in the 90-95 mph range and can touch 98-99 mph. The cheese is his bread and butter (pun completely intended) with the offspeed pitches lagging behind. He throws a mid 80's breaking ball with varying shape and consistency and a work-in-progress change up. The delivery shows a lot of effort so take that how you will.
Tyler Wagner made a strong case as the biggest breakout in the Brewers system with only Jimmy Nelson in the same vicinity. Wagner came to the Brew Crew as a fourth round selection in 2012 out of the University of Utah with a quarter million dollar signing bonus. Wagner was moved to the rotation once he began pitching professionally and had a great 2013 in his first full season. Anchoring the Low A Wisconsin staff, he posted a 3.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 3.84 FIP over 148.2 innings. He did a great job limiting hits (7.81 H/9, .233 BAA) with 7.02 K/9, and 3.39 BB/9. Bumped up to A+ Brevard County, Wagner took full advantage of the friendly confines of the Flroida State League with an astounding 1.86 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and just 7.08 H/9 which was good for a .216 batting average against. The strike out rate remained the same while limiting the free passes better at 2.88 BB/9. A look at his BABIP and strand rate scream regression with an abnormally low .258 BABIP, and higher than normal 82.4% of runners left on base after being pulled not scoring. Wagner works the zone with a heavy low 90's fastball with good sink, a sharp mid 80's slider, and a change up that has worked well against lefties. He can mix all three pitches well to keep hitters off balance and has worked to improve his consistency in his delivery since he features a high leg kick.
Left Handed Relievers
|LHP||Jefferson Olacio||CWS||L/L||6'7 270 LB||20||AA||14.2||0.312||7.98||4.91||1.63||6.14||1.84||0.396||60.7||3.26||0-0||0||9||0|
|LHP||Mike Thomas||LAD||L/L||6'2 185 LB||25||AA||59.1||0.226||11.53||6.22||1.85||2.73||1.55||3.27||79.7||3.36||4-3||3||48||0|
|LHP||Ashur Tolliver||BAL||L/L||6'0 170 LB||26||AA||22.2||0.294||9.93||1.99||5.00||3.18||1.41||0.394||75.2||2.38||1-3||1||18||1|
|LHP||Wei-Chung Wang||MIL||L/L||6'1 180 LB||22||A+||9.2||0.206||8.38||0.00||9.00||1.86||0.72||0.280||71.4||1.53||1-0||0||2||1|
|LHP||Joe Mantiply||DET||R/L||6'4 215 LB||23||AA||10.2||0.279||8.44||2.53||3.33||3.38||1.41||0.344||73.5||3.54||0-0||1||8||0|
|LHP||Daniel Coulombe||LAD||L/L||5'10 185 LB||24||AA||21||0.225||13.29||4.29||3.10||2.57||1.33||0.354||73.4||2.57||0-0||1||18||0|
|LHP||Onelki Garcia||LAD||L/L||6'3 225 LB||24||A+||0.2||0.500||0.00||13.50||0.00||27.00||4.50||0.500||33.3||8.24||0-1||0||1||1|
|LHP||Michael Strong||MIL||L/L||6'0 195 LB||25||AA||4||0.000||13.50||2.25||6.00||0.00||0.25||0.000||100.0||0.94||0-0||0||1||0|
Ashur Tolliver represents one of the elder statesman on the Desert Dogs staff as one of two 26 year olds (with Blake Smith being the other). Tolliver was a 2009 draft pick in the fifth round out of Oklahoma City University and signed for $200,000. The 2012 season was lost to injury (hint: it rhymes with Mommy Kahn), and he came back in 2013 to pitch in the bullpen at both levels of A ball. Over 48.1 innings between Delmarva and Frederick, Tolliver ran up a 2.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 3.67 FIP. His peripherals were solid with a 7.82 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, and .232 opponents batting average. This year he went back to A+ Frederick to start the season and made nine relief appearances spanning 14.2 innings with a 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 2.77 FIP. This was enough for a promotion to AA Bowie where he finished the season throwing 22.2 more innings of 3.18 ERA ball. At both stops he posted a K/9 over 9.0 and BB/9 under 2.0. Some hard luck in the BABIP category (.394) at AA catapulted his opponents average to .294 but he also struck out 9.93 batters per nine innings and walked 1.99. Despite the high average he still managed a 2.38 FIP. His repertoire features a good mid 90's heater that he pairs with an above average change up and fringy breaking ball.
Joe Mantiply began professional baseball without much fanfare, getting drafted in the 27th round of the 2013 draft out of Virginia Tech by the Tigers. He was a late round senior sign after being drafted for the third time (2009, 48th round - NYM, 2012, 28th round - PHI) and began his career for A- Connecticut in the New York-Penn League. He threw 35.1 innings with a 2.04 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 3.15 FIP on the heels of a 7.64 K/9, 2.55 BB/9, and 7.9 H/9. In 2014 he became a mainstay in the Low A West Michigan bullpen at age 23, anchoring the corps with a 2.40 ERA in 71.1 IP with a 6-3 record and eight saves. Mantiply not only lowered his BB/9 but also made a huge jump in the strike out game, up to 9.59 K/9. The opposition only hit .219 off him and his FIP came in at 2.64. This was apparently good enough to skip A+ Lakeland all together and advance to AA Erie in early August. He made eight appearances there covering 10.2 IP with a 3.38 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 3.54 FIP. Mantiply also ran into some bad luck with a .344 BABIP causing his H/9 to go from 7.19 in West Michigan to 10.13 in Erie. On the hill, he works with an 88-92 mph fastball, a good change up, and breaking ball that is nothing special. At the conclusion of this past season, Midwest League managers named Mantiply's change up as the best in the league.
Right Handed Relievers
|RHP||Zach Reininger||DET||S/R||6'3 170 LB||21||A||56.2||0.200||9.21||2.70||3.41||2.54||1.04||0.262||76.1||3.18||4-4||11||33||0|
|RHP||Chad Smith||DET||R/R||6'3 215 LB||24||MLB||11.2||0.319||6.94||2.31||3.00||5.40||1.54||0.378||66.3||3.47||0-0||0||10||0|
|RHP||Mychal Givens||BAL||R/R||6'0 207 LB||24||AA||25.1||0.204||9.95||8.17||1.22||3.91||1.66||0.292||75.0||4.58||0-0||0||18||0|
|RHP||Brooks Hall||MIL||R/R||6'5 230 LB||24||AA||26||0.247||5.54||2.42||2.29||2.77||1.19||0.288||78.0||3.84||2-1||0||5||5|
|RHP||Blake Smith||LAD||L/R||6'2 225 LB||26||AA||33.1||0.261||8.91||4.32||2.06||4.05||1.53||0.333||68.4||3.70||1-4||2||26||0|
Zach Reininger was another 2013 draftee for the Tigers, getting picked in the eight round out of Hill Junior College in Texas and signing for $153,000. Like Mantiply, he was sent to A- Connecticut to get his feet wet in pro all. This was nothing close to a challenge as he pitched to a 1.00 ERA over 27 frames with a 0.85 WHIP, 1.50 FIP, and outstanding .170 opponents batting average. He posted 10.67 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, and a 5.33 K/BB ratio while saving 10 games and not allowing a home run. He broke camp with Low A West Michigan this year and proceeded to throw 56.2 innings in relief with a 2.54 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 3.18 FIP. Each of his peripherals lagged behind from his debut, but that's partially to be expected with a debut as good as his. He allowed a full hit per nine innings more (to 6.67), walked nearly 2% more hitters, and struck out 9.21 per nine. Reininger also saved 11 games and surrendered three long balls. He works with a 90-95 mph fastball with late life and sink when it's low, a decent curve with 11/5 break and good depth, and a change up that seems to be getting phased out as he barely uses it anymore.