This is a day prospect fans look forward to every year, the announcement of the Arizona Fall League rosters.
For a month and a half every Fall, the top prospects in baseball head to Arziona for MLB’s “finishing school”. This year is no different as the top prospect in baseball will be featured in Vladmir Guerrero Jr., along with possibly the best defensive player in Christian Pache, and the top pitching prospect in baseball, Forrest Whitley.
As the season gets closer we will take a deeper dive into each roster, but here are some initial reactions to each roster.
Glendale Desert Dogs
They will be led by one of the top catching prospects in Keibert Ruiz from the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Chicago White Sox fans will be excited to see a pair of Luis’ in Glendale with Luis Robert and Luis Alexander Basabe on the club. The Yankees send a pair of players for their second taste of the AFL in Esteval Florial and Domingo Acevedo. The Orioles and Indians are the two other organizations that make up the Glendale rosters, with their highest touted prospects heading to Arizona are Austin Hays and Yu-Cheng Chang.
Peoria will have a hard time living up to the roster they had last year, which featured Ronald Acuna. The star of this year’s squad will likely be Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura who is one of the most pure hitters in baseball. The Braves don’t have the massive star power they sent last year, but the before mentioned Cristian Pache might be the best defensive player at any position in the minors, and he will have a chance to shine in Arizona.
The Padres will send out one of the more overlooked players in Buddy Reed who can absolutely fly and would be a star center fielder on a roster that doesn’t include Pache, but the ball can really jump off Reed’s bat at times. The other team that calls Peoria home, the Seattle Mariners, will send one of their top prospects in Evan White to the AFL. The club rounding out this roster is the Tampa Bay Rays, is sending the CEO and President of Wayne Enterprises himself, Lucius Fox (who also happens to be a solid shortstop).
Scottsdale will feature a more rare roster that is loaded with big name pitching prospects. The Astros are not only sending Whitley, but also J.B. Bukauskas, while the Philadelphia Phillies will send over Sixto Sanchez. The lineup will still feature some big bats with the Cincinnati Red’s Taylor Trammell and the New York Met’s Peter Alonso.
The final club sending players to Scottsdale is the team that calls Scottsdale Stadium home in Spring Training, the San Francisco Giants. Giants fans won’t see any future stars in the AFL this year, but Heath Quinn and Aramis Garcia could prove to carve out solid roles for themselves with the club in the future.
Mesa Solar Sox
Michael Chavis was expected to be an impact player for the Boston Red Sox down the stretch run of the season, and he still may be, but the PED suspension to start the year lands him on the Solar Sox roster for his second trip to the AFL. The Tigers send a pair of players that play prime positions, in center fielder Daz Cameron catcher Jake Rogers, while the Oakland Athletics send out a guy with 80 grade hair on the mound in hard throwing righy Grant Holmes. T
he Chicago Cubs will send their first round pick of this June’s draft, Nico Hoerner, making him one of the few to head to the AFL in the same year they were drafted. The final club on the Mesa team is the team that has had one of the biggest turnarounds in farm systems over the past few years, the Los Angeles Angels. Jahmai Jones is not only their top prospect heading to Arizona, he is also slated to be the only position player they send with their other four players all being pitchers, the best of whom is Jesus Castillo.
Salt River Rafters
Salt River is the Spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, and the D-Backs are sending their top prospect Jon Duplantier to toe the rubber for the Rafters, while he will have three of his battery mates available at catcher, including Daulton Varsho. The other host club will also send their top prospect, Brendan Rodgers, to don the Rafters cap.
The Miami Marlins join the host teams in sending their top prospect, as Monte Harrison will be headed to northern Scottsdale, and the Nationals will send MLB.com’s second ranked prospect in their system, Carter Kieboom, whose brother Spencer also represented the Nationals in the AFL just a few years ago.
The Minnesota Twins may not be sending as big of names as the other four organizations represented by the Rafters, but both Brent Rooker and Travis Blankenhorn will be provided an opportunity to turn some heads in the Fall.
The team that will likely get the most publicity heading into the season is Surprise, as they are headlined by the Toronto Blue Jays top prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Meanwhile the host clubs, the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, will be sending the likes of Khalil Lee and Juan Pablo Martinez to the Saguaros.
Not to be outdone, the Pittsburgh Pirates will send both Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds to represent them, while the St. Louis Cardinals may have the least impressive list of players headed to the AFL featuring Conner Greene and Connor Jones.