The Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, and Minnesota Twins make up the Arizona Fall League team that just might have the biggest names in the league.
After putting in an absolutely terrible dozen starts in the high desert of Lancaster in the California League, Mark Appel looks to perform better in a desert a bit to the East. Appel had an ERA of 9.74 in Lancaster before one throwing a very controversial bullpen session in Houston and got a much scrutinized promotion to the Texas League. Appel was the first overall pick in 2013, and Houston fans are still waiting for him to look like a top pick.
At the end of spring, many people felt Archie Bradley would be a season long big leaguer, but he struggled at every level and only managed 83 innings, all in the minors. Bradley will be pitching in his parent team’s spring home park, where he hopes to recapture the magic that made his a spring training darling earlier this year.
Anthony DeSclafini showed good K/BB numbers in 33 big league innings this season (26/5) but gave up an opponent’s average of .303 with Miami. He pitched better than his numbers suggest, as his OBP against was actually worse than his BABIP of .343. He has bounced between starter and reliever ever since being drafted, so getting more starts against quality bats will be good for him.
Jason Adam was acquired by the Minnesota Twins from the Kansas City Royals in August for Josh Willingham. Adam only pitched seven innings in the Twins organization after being traded, and the Twins want to see what they have in Adam. He has good deception with his breaking stuff, and flashes plus velocity with his fastball at times, but the fastball can be inconsistent.
Peter O’Brien launched 34 home runs this season while playing catcher as his primary position, and was on the move at the trade deadline with Martin Prado heading to New York. O’Brien only played four games in the Diamondbacks system at the end of the year, giving him 106 games on the year, so he certainly has some home runs left in the bat waiting for the AFL.
The infield in Salt River is a less than fantastic, with the big name probably being Trevor Story of the Rockies organization. Story has some pop in his bat, but not enough to make up for his high strikeout numbers. In the field, he should be able to stick at short, although he will never be a star defender.
Then there is the outfield for the Rafters. It looks like Eddie Rosario has transitioned from second base to the outfield, and struggled at the plate in doing so. He likely is a future left fielder for the Twins, but that is not the Twins player people will be going to ballgames to see. No, that player is Byron Buxton, the top prospect in all of baseball. Buxton was literally knocked out of the first game he ever played in Double-A trying to make one of his signature diving grabs in the outfield.
Buxton is a legit 5-tool player, and looks healthy as he has already drawn a walk and stolen