Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Desert Report: Big names kick off Arizona Fall League

  •  

How great would it be to see wunderkinds Bryce Harper and Mike Trout play in the same outfield? Or to see the first two picks from the 2011 amateur draft, Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen, face their first batters as professionals? All it takes is a trip to the Phoenix area, as Harper, Trout, Cole, Hultzen and dozens of other prospects are facing off in a league made just for them.

Ever since 1992, minor leaguers and newly minted major leaguers looking to gain some additional experience have played in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL is home to six teams that are populated with prospects from the upper minors, along with a handful of relatively green major leaguers. Not everyone who plays in the AFL is a top prospect, and not every big-name minor leaguer finds his way to the Grand Canyon State to participate in this annual circuit, which typically holds its schedule from early October until mid-November.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Baseball.

Tracking the AFL can give Fantasy owners a leg up on developments that may unfold next year, from spring training on forward. Performances in the league aren't always a good indication of what to expect in the near future; for example, AL Rookie of the Year candidate Eric Hosmer hit just .203 in the AFL last year, while rookie disappointment Brandon Belt tore things up with a .372 batting average and a 1.043 OPS. Then again, many rookies-to-be can raise their profiles in the AFL. Dustin Ackley led the league with a .424 average a year ago, though he was on the fast track in any event. However, Chris Parmelee, Adam Loewen, Josh Harrison, Cord Phelps and Andy Parrino all had strong showings last fall, and all may owe their callups this season, at least in part, to their AFL success of a year ago.

The AFL, given its location, tends to favor hitters, so even good pitching prospects often put up ugly numbers there. Danny Duffy and Alex Cobb, for example, were among the pitchers to post ERAs over 6.00 in 2010, which didn't prevent either from playing an important role for their respective big league teams this past season. Then again, pitchers occasionally do shine in Arizona, and in the cases of Josh Collmenter (3.04 ERA in 2010's AFL) and Steve Cishek (18 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings), it can open the door to unexpected opportunities the following season.

For the next month, we will check in once a week to see how a handful of players are faring in the AFL. We will certainly keep tabs on top prospects like Harper, Trout, Cole and Hultzen, but we will also see which lesser-known names are making a splash. After all, even if Harper or Cole bombs this fall, both will be popular targets in drafts next year, especially in keeper leagues, but we also have a chance to spot the next Collmenter.

Teams have only played seven or eight games so far, but it's not too early to zero in on some players to watch. Below is a list of some key players grouped together by their AFL team. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a short list of some important names to track along with a few of the early notable performances.

Mesa Solar Sox

Feeder organizations: Cubs, Orioles, Pirates, Twins, White Sox

Andrew Cashner, SP, Cubs: Cashner won the Cubs' fifth starter job last spring, only to wind up losing nearly the whole season to a strained right rotator cuff. Now he has an opportunity to make his case to be back in the rotation next spring. In his first appearance, pitching an inning in relief, Cashner drew attention by hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.

Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates: This will be Cole's first exposure to professional ball since the Pirates made him the first pick overall in the amateur draft this past June.

Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins: Hicks struggled to hit for power this year in the Florida State League, but he is going to work on hitting from the left side during his AFL stint. The switch-hitter has already shown an ability to get on base and steal bases.

Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs: Vitters cut back on his strikeouts in his first full year in Double-A, but will he develop the power he needs to be an impact Fantasy player down the line? It wasn't there in hitter-friendly Tennessee, but already he has two homers and two doubles in his first seven AFL games this year.

Peoria Javelinas

Feeder organizations: Brewers, Cardinals, Mariners, Mets, Padres

Anthony Bass, SP, San Diego: Bass got to make a couple of starts for the Padres after spending most of the second half of 2011 in their bullpen. The Detroit-area native has allowed only two runs in his first seven innings, as he tries to position himself for a key role on the Padres' staff in 2012.

Jaff Decker, OF, Padres: Decker put up decent power numbers at pitcher-friendly Double-A San Antonio this year. He's not doing much extra-base damage yet in the desert, but Decker is off to a hot start nonetheless, going 11-for-22 (.500).

Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners:The 20-year-old Franklin got promoted to Double-A in August, and he responded with a .325 batting average, seven extra-base hits and five steals in 21 games. A good AFL performance could help propel Franklin to Seattle sometime in 2012, though he has only two hits in 14 at-bats through his first five games.

Danny Hultzen, SP, Mariners: Hultzen made his first professional start last Friday, allowing a run in two innings with a pair of strikeouts. The southpaw from the University of Virginia could be in the Mariners' rotation as soon as sometime next season.

Phoenix Desert Dogs

Feeder organizations: A's, Blue Jays, Indians, Reds, Yankees

Michael Choice, OF, A's: Choice is making a good early impression, going 8-for-17 (.471) with three home runs in his first four games. The 21-year-old's power is unquestioned, but how much he can improve his contact skills will have a lot to say about his progression over the next couple of years.

Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays: Gose is at a crossroads, as the athletic outfielder will need to show that he can hit for power and get on base as he advances to Triple-A. He stole 69 bases for Double-A New Hampshire this year, so if he can make strides at the plate, he could be someone to target in long-term keeper leagues.

Yasmani Grandal, C, Reds: Devin Mesoraco should get the first crack at the Reds' catching job next year, but Grandal isn't far behind. He has appeared in just two AFL games so far.

Tyson Ross, SP, A's: Ross is getting some work in after missing part of the season with shoulder and oblique injuries. He could contend for a spot in the A's rotation next year, after spending a brief time there this season.

Salt River Rafters

Feeder organizations: Astros, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, Tigers

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies: The Rockies have a potential opening at third base, but Arenado isn't ready yet, having just completed a season at Advanced Class A. Already, he has shown that he can hit for power and contact, making him one of the majors' top third base prospects. So far, he is 8-for-21 (.381) with three doubles in AFL action.

Jason Castro, C, Astros: Castro's stint in the AFL will be his latest step in recovering from knee surgery he underwent in March. His entry into the league was delayed by a ribcage injury, but he made his debut on Tuesday.

Andrew Oliver, SP, Tigers: Oliver may not be far from joining the Tigers' rotation, but the lefty needs to work on his control. Time will tell if he can improve on the nine walks in 16 innings that he posted in his last trip to the AFL, back in 2009.

Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies: Wheeler had a major breakthrough this year, mashing 33 homers and stealing 21 bases at Double-A Tulsa. A good AFL campaign can only hasten his major league debut, which could come sometime next season. Wheeler is struggling early, getting just seven hits in his first 27 at-bats.

Scottsdale Scorpions

Feeder organizations: Angels, Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Red Sox

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals: Harper is probably the most highly touted prospect at the AFL this year. So far, he has disappointed onlookers with just one hit in his first 19 at-bats.

Matt Purke, SP, Nationals: Purke, along with Harper and catcher Derek Norris, is part of a talented Nationals' contingent in the AFL. His first appearance in Arizona will mark his professional debut. The Nationals drafted Purke in the third round this June, and he is coming off of a shoulder injury that limited his innings in his final year at TCU.

Jean Segura, 2B, Angels: Segura is a developing speed and power threat, but an injury limited him to just 44 games at Advanced Class A. Though he initially came up as a second baseman, he began a conversion to shortstop this season, and Segura has been playing shortstop in the AFL.

Mike Trout, OF, Angels: Like Segura, Trout is a prolific base stealer who could thrive playing under run-happy Angels manager Mike Scioscia. He has already shown flashes of power in his first exposure to major league pitching, so the 20-year-old could be one of next season's top rookies.

Surprise Saguaros

Feeder organizations: Braves, Marlins, Rays, Rangers, Royals

Nate Adcock, SP, Royals: Dayton Moore, the Royals' general manager, has stated that Adcock's appearance in the AFL is part of a "tryout" to make the team, and possibly the rotation, in 2012. Adcock showed some promise as a Rule 5 pick this past season, posting a 4.62 ERA with a 56 percent ground ball rate, after not having pitched at any level higher than Advanced Class A.

Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves: Bethancourt struggled upon his promotion to Advanced Class A, but he is still considered to be one of the top catching prospects in the minors. He will be the youngest player on the Surprise roster, and if he fares well in the AFL, that bodes well for his long-term value. So far, it's been so good for Bethancourt, as he has gone 6-for-12 (.500) in his first three games.

William Myers, OF, Royals: Myers has shown that he can take a walk, but his power has diminished with each level he has reached in the minors. Now that Myers has converted from catcher to the outfield, Fantasy owners will look for signs of improved offense, especially since his production fell off with his promotion to Double-A this year.

Alex Sanabia, SP, Marlins: Sanabia missed most of the season with a strained forearm, so the AFL will give him a chance to get some innings in. It will also give him an opportunity to showcase himself as a rotation candidate for next year. Sanabia has already made one start, allowing a single run over three innings.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Cardinals OF Matt Holliday doesn't have time frame for return
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:40 am ET) Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday thinks he will be back on the field "soon" from his quad injury, but stated that there is not a specific time frame for his return, according to MLB.com.

"It's one of those deals [where] you know when you know, and right now I don't have any idea," Holliday said.

Holliday landed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a Grade 2 quad strain.

"I want to play as soon as I can play," Holliday said. "My leg will dictate when that is. Whenever I am able to run and play at a decent clip, I'll play."


Rays option OF Mikie Mahtook back to Triple-A Durham
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:35 am ET) The Rays optioned outfielder Mikie Mahtook to Triple-A Durham after their loss to the Red Sox on Friday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Angels CF Mike Trout enjoys three hit, three RBI performance
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:30 am ET) Angels center fielder Mike Trout went 3 for 4 with a triple, a home run and three RBI in Friday's loss to the Dodgers.

Over his last six games, Trout is hitting .521 with 12 hits, four home runs and 10 RBI.


Angels SP Hector Santiago gets rocked for five runs in loss
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:21 am ET) Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago gave up five runs on nine hits in a loss to the Dodgers on Friday.

Santiago gave up two home runs in the loss. He drops to 7-5 on the season with a 2.70 ERA.


Dodgers closer Kenley Jensen struggles to pick up 18th save
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:15 am ET) Dodgers closer Kenley Jensen didn't have his best outing of the season on Friday against the Angels, but he still managed to put the game away and earn his 18th save of the year.

Jensen allowed a solo home run to Mike Trout in the ninth inning to make the game closer, but quickly erased any lingering hopes the Angels had of a comeback.

Jensen now has a 2.81 ERA this season.


Dodgers SP Zack Greinke flashes dominance again in win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:13 am ET) Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke continued to show why he is one of the best -- if not the best -- pitchers in baseball with his outing on Friday.

Greinke tossed eight dominant innings, allowed two runs on five hits and struck out a cool eight batters. Over his last eight starts, he has 53 strikeouts and eight walks.

Greinke improved to 10-2 on the season with the win, but it wasn't all great as his ERA did rise to a still other-worldly 1.41 on the year.


Athletics SP Kendall Graveman strikes out six in no-decision
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:08 am ET) Athletics starting pitcher Kendall Graveman struck out six batters in a no-decision on Friday against the Indians.

Graveman (6-7) gave up one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. He walked two batters, but his command was crisp throughout the game.

Graveman now has a 3.84 ERA this year.


Indians closer Cody Allen notches 21st save of the season
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:04 am ET) Indians closer Cody Allen picked up his 21st save of the season on Friday against the Athletics.

Allen worked the ninth inning with ease, getting three consecutive outs on ground outs to second base.

Allen now has a 3.48 ERA in 40 1/3 innings of relief this season.


Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt hits in 12th straight
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 2 for 4 in Friday's win over Houston.

Goldschmidt singled twice and walked once. He extended his hitting streak to 12 straight, the longest current streak in the National League. He's hitting .436 over the streak. 


Indians SP Danny Salazar tosses gem, picks up ninth win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:57 am ET) Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar had one of his best outings of the season on Friday against the Athletics.

Salazar allowed just one run on one hit over eight dominant innings of work. He struck out four batters while allowing just one walk en route to his ninth win of the season.

Salazar (9-6) now has a 3.47 ERA this season.


 
 
 
Rankings