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2017 Arizona Fall League Preview: Salt River Rafters Roster

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A closer look at the AFL roster of the Salt River Rafters featuring players from the Arizona, Baltimore, Colorado, Miami, and Milwaukee organizations.

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
Lucas Erceg
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This is the fifth part of six as we look at the Arizona Fall League rosters with the Salt River Rafters up now after completing Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, and Mesa already. The Rafters are made up of prospects from the Brewers, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Orioles, and Rockies organizations.

I see Salt River as one of the second tier teams in terms of just prospect talent. The Orioles and Brewers have each sent a number of quality prospects to the league, and while neither have a true headliner outside of Corey Ray and Ryan Mountcastle, they have a number of talents.

The Diamondbacks have sent a few guys of interest as well, though not quite the same caliber as the first two teams, and you could say the same things about what the Rockies sent. The Marlins group is weaker, but Dillon Peters is worth watching.

All ages are as of 9/1/2017.

Players on the taxi squad are represented with a * after their name. These players are only eligible to play certain days a week.

In my projected lineup the positions I have guys playing aren't set in stone by any means. Since you typically see guys sharing roles and playing slightly out of position, a lineup wouldn't be simple to project correctly- which is why my projected lineups are meant as a way to get the best lineup out there for each team.

Pitchers

Keegan Akin, LHP, Baltimore Orioles, Age 22

A 2nd rounder out of Western Michigan last year Keegan Akin was tested with an assignment to High A this year. Akin more than held his own with a 4.14 ERA and 1.35 WHIP as he struck out 110 batters over his 100 innings.

Akin has a plus fastball up to 96 MPH to headline his three pitch arsenal, with all three pitches being at least average or better to go with average control of his stuff. Akin is a potential #3/4 starter, especially if he can really iron out the inconsistent command displayed this season.

Yency Almonte, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Age 23

A 17th round pick in 2012 Yency Almonte is on the doorstep on the big leagues right now after being dealt two times already. The first deal from the Angels to the White Sox was for Gordon Beckham, and more recently from the Sox to the Rockies for Tommy Kahnle.

Almonte had no problems in Double A this year, posting a 2.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but he was up and down in Triple A in a short period thanks to the Pacific Coast League. He's got a plus fastball, potentially plus slider, and has shown flashes with both his change and his command.

Almonte has everything you may want out of a #3/4 starter, but unless he can make strides with the change or command may be destined for a role in the bullpen where his stuff can play up.

Ryan Atkinson, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 24

Ryan Atkinson was an undrafted free agent from the University of Cincinnati that made his pro debut last year following a brief stint in indy ball. Atkinson moved fast this year, making 10 starts in Low A, then nine in High A, before his final seven in Double A, holding his own at every level. On the year he posted a combined 3.30 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 167 strikeouts over 141.2 innings.

Atkinson gets by with a mostly average fastball due to his command and movement plus deception. Then he's got a curve that could be average and a change which could also be average of even slightly above. His role could be in long relief or even as a swingman, but he's a kid who took a year off after college and then went to the indy leagues before getting his shot, making him easy to root for.

Kirby Bellow, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 25

Kirby Bellow was a 26th rounder out of Texas in 2015. He's the classic power pitcher with command issues as his career 11.5 K/9 rate and frequent battles with command illustrate. Bellow was solid in High A this year despite it being the Cal League, but then walked 10 in 13 innings after a promotion to Double A.

Bellow only has a career 3.7 BB/9 rate, but his struggles in Double A this year have popped up at times in both 2015 and again in 2016. Bellow is probably a middle relief prospect, but if he can be more consistent with his command there is potential for more since his slider is such a weapon.

Shane Broyles, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Age 26

A 14th round pick out of Texas Tech in 2012, Shane Broyles broke out in Double A this year. Broyles recorded 21 saves with a 1.84 ERA and 0.97 WHIP before making one appearance in Triple A.

Broyles doesn't have the stuff to close in Colorado- he has a low to mid 90s fastball that he commands and manipulates, and another pair of fringy pitches to work with. That's a middle relief profile, and a guy who could possibly be ready at some time in 2018.

Miguel Del Pozo, LHP, Miami Marlins, Age 24

Dominican reliever Miguel Del Pozo missed all of 2016 and some of 2017 with injury, and was limited to 25.2 innings over four levels this year. Del Pozo got the bulk of his innings in High A, but made a handful of appearances in Double A.

Del Pozo has long struggled with command at times, and with him being mostly off the radar for the last two years it's hard to really peg him into a role going forward. The AFL should give him a chance to showcase what he can do and let him build momentum for 2018.

James Farris, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Age 25

A ninth round pick by the Cubs out of Arizona in 2014, and dealt to the Rockies for Eddie Butler in a trade involving international money, James Farris is an interesting reliever. Farris has been successful through the minors- he dominated Double A this year before a more up and down showing in Triple A thanks to the Pacific Coast League.

Farris has a plus fastball and an average to above average slider, and is able to get plenty of ground balls along with swings and misses. Farris projects best in a setup role in the big leagues.

Nate Griep, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 23

An 8th rounder out of Kansas State in 2015, Nate Griep has been dominant in his first two full seasons. Last year in Low A he posted a 2.05 ERA with 23 saves. In High A this year it was 30 saves with a 2.37 ERA. While Griep has been an excellent closer in the minors, he is likely to be more of a middle reliever in the majors.

Adrian Houser, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 24

A second round pick back in 2011, Adrian Houser made his big league debut in 2015 but hasn't been back as injuries have ruined his last two years. Houser is a guy who has long been seen as a potential swingman, but he needs to stay healthy for that to occur.

This year he pitched just 17.2 innings of rehab as he came back from Tommy John surgery, so he's going to use the AFL to attempt to get some of his lost time back.

Zach Jemiola, RHP, Colorado Rockies, Age 23

The Rockies got Zach Jemiola in the ninth round all the way back in 2012 and have seen him get to the doorstep of the big leagues. After a decent showing in the AFL last year, Jemiola struggled mightily in Triple A, but that tends to happen to guys in the PCL. He posted a 6.83 ERA and 1.74 WHIP as he struggled with hard contact and command issues.

Jemiola is a guy that made all but eight of his career appearances as starts, but if he gets to the big leagues he will need to do it in relief as he doesn't have the profile as a starter- especially in Colorado.

Yoan Lopez, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 24

The guy best known for less than ideal things, Yoan Lopez is still around in Arizona. He's most likely going to be known for his stepping away from the game, or hitting Dansby Swanson in the face with a pitch while they were teammates, or even as the target for Dave Stewart to overspend on and keep the Dbacks out of international free agency due to the penalties.

Lopez got new life this year after moving to the bullpen for the first time, and the Cuban responded by posting a 0.88 ERA and 0.82 WHIP over 30.2 innings in the Cal League, going with 56 strikeouts- just under two per inning pitched.

Lopez was looking like a complete bust both on and off the field, but a dominant year has him in position to head into the AFL to gain more experience in the pen to help get him on the fast track to Arizona where he could be a late inning reliever.

Ben Meyer, RHP, Miami Marlins, Age 24

The Marlins went north to grab Minnesota pitcher Ben Meyer in the 29th round in 2015. Meyer began this year in Low A and was dominant as an older pitcher out of the bullpen before moving to High A and actually starting in 12 of his 20 appearances. Overall he went 111.1 innings while posting a 2.02 ERA and 0.93 WHIP thanks to his command.

His command allowed his stuff to play up, and while dominating both leagues he posted a 10.8 K/9 rate combined. Meyer is probably a long man as a big leaguer, but his success this year makes him one to watch in the AFL.

Jon Perrin, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 24

Jon Perrin was a 27th rounder out of Oklahoma State in 2015 and he's progressed to spending all of 2017 in Double A. Perrin was a starter all of last year, before moving into a swingman role this year as he made 12 starts in his 23 appearances. He posted solid numbers in both 2016 and 2017, but he doesn't have the stuff to start, leading him to more of a swingman or long relief role.

Perrin typically works in the low 90s with some movement, but his advanced command and pitchability are what make him an interesting prospect for a potential big league role.

Dillon Peters, LHP, Miami Marlins, Age 25

A 10th rounder out of the University of Texas in 2014, Dillon Peters dominated the minors on his way to the big leagues. This year alone he had a 1.57 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over 13 starts, mostly in Double A. That goes well with his career minors totals of 2.40 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Unfortunately for Peters he didn't do quite as well in the big leagues, struggling a bit over his first six career starts.

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks
Dillon Peters
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Peters has a plus fastball along with a curve and changeup that each rate as at least average, and his command is above average outside of what he showed in his short time in the big leagues. Peters has the stuff and the track record to be an asset for a Marlins team searching for pitching, and it's not hard to see him as a solid #4 starter for the 2018 season if he's able to come to the AFL and make some adjustments.

Colin Poche, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 23

Last year's 14th rounder out of Dallas Baptist, Colin Poche had an excellent first full year of pro ball. Split between Low A and High A this year, Poche posted a 1.25 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a ridiculous 14.5 strikeout per nine rate. Nevermind that he threw slightly more than half of his innings in the Cal League.

If Poche can slightly improve his command then he would have a very good shot at being a late inning reliever, as he had some command issues pop up this year. Poche doesn't have great stuff, but the former college starter has decent stuff mixed with deception, allowing him to be a strikeout machine.

Tanner Scott, LHP, Baltimore Orioles, Age 23

The Orioles 6th round pick in 2014 out of Howard College made his big league debut this year with a cup of coffee in Baltimore. Scott is mostly a starter in the minors, but it doesn't seem realistic for him to hold that role in the big leagues because he only has two pitches and he has well below average command.

Still Scott has a true 80 grade fastball, capable of lighting up radar guns with more than 100 MPH readings. He has one other pitch in his slider, and he does show some potential with it, but it would be below average due to it's lack of consistency. Scott has a career 11.4 K/9 in the minors, but he's also got a 6.6 BB/9- higher than his 6.4 H/9 allowed.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
Tanner Scott
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

That just goes to show that he's got real problems with walks even against minor league competition. Scott has the stuff to dominate, but unless he seems his slider or command improve he is destined to relieve and probably wouldn't close, leaving him in more of a setup role. He'll probably keep starting to get his innings in and give him a chance to make those improvements.

Scott Squier, LHP, Miami Marlins, Age 24

One of two University of Hawaii lefties on the team, the Marlins grabbed Scott Squier in the 16th round in 2014. Squier has been a swingman for most of his career, but this year made starts in 26 of his 28 appearances. Squier spent the year in High A, a spot he spent most of his 2016, posting a 3.82 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He’s most likely to be a long reliever because none of his pitches grade as better than average, instead he uses his pitchability to get guys out.

Quintin Torres-Costa, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 22

A 35th round pick in 2015, the Brewers went all the way to the University of Hawaii for Quintin Torres-Costa. The undersized(5’11”) lefty has been quite the find, quickly working his way up the system. He broke out in High A this year, but saw about a third of his season in Double A which was a bit bumpy. Still he’s got big stuff as his career 11.9 strikeout per nine rate shows. I’m not ready to say he’s only a LOOGY, but he’s been much more successful against lefties so far whils being merely adequate against right handed bats.

Catchers

Dom Nunez, C, Colorado Rockies, Age 22

A sixth round pick out of a California high school in 2013, Dom Nunez has shown some flashes of being a bat first catcher with some real pop. Nunez broke out a bit in 2015 in hitter friendly Asheville of the Sally League with a .821 OPS, but he failed to keep it up in the equally hitter friendly environment of the Cal League in 2016, posting just a .682 OPS.

This year Nunez went to a more neutral environment in Double A and hit just .202/.335/.354 with 10 doubles and 11 homers. Nunez has seen his average from 2015 drop from .282 to .241 and now .202, and the doubles from 23 to 13 to 10 this year, but he still hits the ball hard and only strikes out at a moderate rate. If Nunez is able to use the AFL to make adjustments at the plate, he’s already a quality defender with a solid arm and he could again profile as a potential big league starter.

Michael Perez, C, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 25

Michael Perez was taken in the fifth round out of Puerto Rico all the way back in 2011, and he’s progressed slowly through the minors. Now he’s on the verge of the big leagues as a quality bat- though without much power. This year Perez played all but three games in Double A and hit .284/.370/.446 with 24 doubles and six homers, as he used his contact ability and willingness to work a count/take a walk to produce at the plate.

Perez isn’t a complete zero in the power department either, as he’s got gap power and has hit 10 homers in a season before. He's also a defender with an arm strong enough to keep an opposing run game in check, though he can be prone to making more errors than you would like. Perez is a borderline potential starter, who at the least could make a contact oriented backup.

Rodrigo Vigil, C, Miami Marlins, Age 24

Rodrigo Vigil is a Panamanian prospect who converted from the middle infield to catching for the 2013 season. Progress has been slow, as he hasn’t hit a home run since he hit one in 2014, and he only threw out 30% of opposing base stealers this year. Still he’s an athletic backstop and the Marlins like his potential skill set behind the dish. Vigil is probably going to be a glove first backup if he can make it to the bigs.

Infielders

Lucas Erceg, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 22

The Brewers 2nd round pick last year, formerly from Cal but drafted out of Menlo College, Lucas Erceg is a power threat. Erceg broke out in his pro debut with a .895 OPS and had a strong showing in spring training this year. Then he got off to a slow start in High A before settling in.

To illustrate how he heated up, his monthly OPS totals went from .561 to .631 to .825 to .718, and then finally to .881 over August and September. In his 83 games after June 1st he hit .285/.339/.468 with 26 doubles and 10 homers. Erceg could be Milwaukee's answer at third base as he brings borderline plus power with a plus arm, solid athleticism and glove, to go with an average hit tool.

Jake Gatewood, 1B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 21

Jake Gatewood was a first rounder in 2014 as a power hitting shortstop. He showed flashes of that power, but moved to the corners(mostly first defensively) after struggling through his first few years in the minor leagues. This year Gatewood finally took a major step forward as he corrected his vision issues, helping to allow him to improve his contact and ability to draw walks.

Between mostly High A and a little Double A, he hit .264/.333/.441 with 40 doubles, 15 homers, and 10 steals. The team believes now that his vision is fixed, he still has room to grow with the bat as he clearly has plus raw power if not better. Due to the path he's taken I'm not really ready to pencil Gatewood into a role as much as I want to watch how he fares against AFL competition.

Peter Mooney, SS/2B, Miami Marlins, Age 27

The Blue Jays drafted Peter Mooney in the 21st round in 2011 out of South Carolina and wound up releasing him a few years later. Mooney went to indy ball before catching on with the Marlins organization last year. This year the 5'7" primary shortstop, who plays second and third base as well, spent the year in Triple A hitting .213/.290/.308 with 18 doubles and four homers.

He's a glove first utility guy without much pop and he isn't a real threat to steal. His chances at the big leagues aren't great, but his glove could get him there.

Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Baltimore Orioles, Age 20

A first round pick in 2015, Ryan Mountcastle is listed as a shortstop but may eventually need to move to third base or even left field as his glove isn't a strong point. That said his bat is more than enough to carry him. He dominated High A this year, with a .313/.343/.542 slash line to go with 35 doubles, 15 homers, and eight steals in just 88 games.

He wasn't quite as productive in Double A, where he was mostly overmatched, posting an OPS of .605 in 39 games- though in his last 16 games he did make adjustments to post a .829 OPS. Mountcastle was very young for the levels he played at, and he won't even turn 21 until the start of spring training next year, so he's going to get to use the AFL to show how big of a prospect he really is after his 2017 breakout. I see him as a real asset with the bat, even if he does move to third base.

Brian Mundell, 1B, Colorado Rockies, Age 23

A seventh round pick out of CSU San Luis Obispo in 2015, Brian Mundell is an average hitter with average power. He's limited to first base defensively, but he's a productive guy so far as a pro. This year he split the year between High A and Double A and hit .300/.385/.472 with 28 doubles and 15 homers. Sure the Cal League helped a bit, but he still had a .819 OPS once he got to Double A Hartford.

Mundell's numbers are in line with what he did a year ago as he hit .313 with 14 homers- though that also came with a ridiculous 59 doubles...not a misprint. Mundell is the kind of guy who needs to keep hitting because there's a lot of pressure on his bat since that's all he brings to the table, but he could also be a guy who benefits from Coors. The AFL should be an interesting look at him.

Jack Reinheimer, INF, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 25

Jack Reinheimer was a fifth round pick out of East Carolina by Seattle, and eventually traded to Arizona in the Mark Trumbo deal. He made his big league debut this year in a brief look after he spent the entire season in Triple A playing everywhere in the infield but first base, as well as a brief look in left field. Reinheimer only hit .278/.341/.351 with 19 doubles, four homers, and 12-20 in steal attempts despite the Pacific Coast League helping.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers
Jack Reinheimer shows off his glove
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Reinheimer is a plus runner with above average defense, and although he's a natural shortstop his path to the big leagues involves him being a utility guy. A solid showing in the AFL could be what helps push him to the big leagues in 2018 as he's already got two full seasons in Triple A.

Steve Wilkerson, 2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles, Age 25

Baltimore used their 8th rounder in 2014 on Clemson infielder Steve Wilkerson and has watched him become an interesting utility type of prospect. Wilkerson started the year in High A but spent nearly two thirds of his season in Double A. He hit a combined .305/.375/.423 with 23 doubles, eight homers, and seven steals, playing primarily second and third base.

Wilkerson was better in High A, posting an OPS of .833, but he held his own in Double A with an OPS of .775. Wilkerson could end up becoming a solid asset to the Orioles with some versatility and some ability with the bat.

Outfielders

Yonathan Daza, OF, Colorado Rockies, Age 23

Yonathan Daza is a speedy Venezuelan who seems to have had things click recently. Daza has hit .370, .325, .303, and .341 over the past four full minor league seasons, though he's only been as high up as High A. Daza this year hit .346/.376/.466 with 34 doubles, 11 triples, three homers, and went 31-39 in steal attempts in the Cal League.

As a speedy contact oriented center fielder without a ton of power and being a guy who doesn't walk all that much, Daza is a guy who is going to need to keep hitting his way up the ladder to prove he belongs. I wouldn't say he doesn't have it in him to be a starter, but he feels like more of an extra outfielder/bench piece for a good team.

Monte Harrison, OF, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 22

Former football star Monte Harrison was taken in the 2nd round out of a Missouri high school in the 2014 draft and seemed to be stalling out a bit. In 2015 and 2016 he posted OPS marks of .642 and .639, but then the big breakout came this year when his power came on in a big way. Harrison started the year repeating Low A, but was promoted to High A where he spent half of his season. In total he hit .272/.350/.481 with 28 doubles, 21 homers, and 27-31 in steals.

Harrison came into pro ball raw because of his football background, but he's a super toolsy type with an intriguing speed/power combo to possibly produce regular 20/20 seasons, while being a very strong defensive outfielder with a plus plus arm. Harrison is always going to strike out a bit, but his upside is immense and after his breakout this year, he could really move up the spring prospect lists, especially after he didn't slow down at all in High A. A strong AFL could move him even further up the rankings.

Braxton Lee, OF, Miami Marlins, Age 24

The Rays took Ole Miss outfielder Braxton Lee in the 12th round in 2014 and then traded him this year to the Marlins in the Adeiny Hechavarria deal. Lee had to repeat Double A this year after posting a .525 OPS there a year ago, and did make some strides with a .309/.395/.384 slash line to go with 21 doubles, three homers, and 20 steals.

Lee has shown some ability to make contact, and this year showed more willingness to take a walk, but he's a guy with 30 grade power and isn't an efficient base stealer as those 20 steals came with 13 caught stealing attempts as well. This theme with Lee goes deeper than just this season, and is the reason I have a hard time projecting him to be anything more than an extra outfielder at the big league level.

Corey Ray, OF, Milwaukee Brewers, Age 22

Where Monte Harrison broke out, Corey Ray struggled. The fifth overall pick out of Louisville last year started the season slow because he missed part of the offseason recovering from injury. That bled into the season, where the guy billed as a weapon at the plate hit just .238/.311/.367 with 29 doubles, four triples, seven homers, and 24 steals in High A.

Ray still has the tools to be an impact bat, and with some time off to rest and make adjustments the Brewers are hoping to see the speed/power threat they drafted very high a year ago in the AFL.

Victor Reyes, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks, Age 22

Victor Reyes was taken by the Diamondbacks from the Braves in one of what was many Dave Stewart-John Coppolella trades. Reyes came over in part of a bigger deal for a Compensation B round draft pick(used on AJ Minter). He's a solid contact guy with borderline plus speed with quality defense from mostly right, but some center.

This year in Double A he hit .292/.332/.399 with 29 doubles, four homers, and 18 steals. Reyes has an outside chance to profile as a starter in the corner outfield, but looks a lot more like a fourth outfielder or a second division starter.

Projected Lineup:

1.Yonathan Daza, CF

2.Michael Perez, C

3.Ryan Mountcastle, SS

4.Monte Harrison, RF

5.Brian Mundell, 1B

6.Corey Ray, LF

7.Lucas Erceg, 3B

8.Jake Gatewood, DH

9.Steve Wilkerson, 2B

Projected Rotation:

1.Dillon Peters, L

2.Yency Almonte, R

3.Tanner Scott, L

4.Adrian Houser, R

5.Keegan Akin, L

Piggyback Options: Jon Perrin, R, Scott Squier, L, Ben Meyer, R, Ryan Atkinson, R

Projected Bullpen:

Closer-Yoan Lopez

Setup-James Farris

Setup-Colin Poche

Middle Relief-Nate Griep, Shane Broyles, Kirby Bellow, Miguel Del Pozo

LOOGY-Quintin Torres-Costa

Long Relief-Zach Jemiola