The Arizona Fall League rosters were announced by Major League Baseball last week. The league allows up-and-coming prospects (usually from high-A and double-A levels, as well as recent high draft picks) to continue honing their skills away from the fall instructional leagues held by each organization. Play will begin in early October and run until late November with the six teams – each one made up of five organizations’ players – continually facing each other.
Over the next week, we’ll take a look at some of the more interesting names on each team. The rosters that were recently released are preliminary rosters and some players will be added, while others could be removed. On Monday, we took a look at the Phoenix Desert Dogs. On Tuesday, we had a gander at the Scottsdale Scorpions roster. Today, let’s view the Mesa Solar Sox roster.
The Mesa Solar Sox (Click HERE for the entire roster)
Minnesota, Chicago (NL), Los Angeles (AL), Florida, Boston
Andrew Cashner | RHP | Chicago
Drafted as a college reliever, Cashner has made a successful conversion to the starting rotation. He opened the 2009 season by allowing just 31 hits in 42 high-A innings. The right-hander then moved on to double-A where he’s had similar success, although his walk rate has risen from 3.21 to 4.56 BB/9.
Tommy Mendoza | RHP | Los Angeles
This right-hander had a breakout season at the low-A ball level in 2006 at the age of 19. The next two years, though, were a disappointment. Mendoza’s value has risen again in 2009, although the ceiling is a little more modest this time around. Still only 22, he profiles as a No. 3 or 4 starter.
Welington Castillo | C | Chicago
With Geovany Soto tanking with a capital ‘T’ there is suddenly a desperate need for catching depth in the Chicago system. However, Castillo chose a really poor time to have an off-year at the plate. He is a very promising defensive player with an excellent arm behind the dish. Unfortunately, Castillo has proven for two straight seasons now that he cannot hit right-handed pitchers, which significantly hinders his chances of ever playing on an everyday basis.
Hank Conger | C | Los Angeles
Conger has the opposite problem to Castillo. The slugging catcher can mash with the best on them, but his defense is bad enough that no one believes he can remain behind the dish. After struggling with injuries in 2007 and 2008, the switch hitter finally played a full season and is currently hitting .294/.365/.423 in 428 double-A at-bats. A former first-round pick, Conger is still just 21 years old.
Starlin Castro | SS | Chicago
The Cubs organization was aggressive with Castro in 2009 after he hit .311/.364/.464 at rookie ball in 2008. The 19-year-old shortstop hit .302/.340/.391 with 22 steals (in 33 attempts) at high-A in 2009 before being promoted to double-A, where he’s held his own in 24 games. Incumbent MLB shortstop Ryan Theriot needs to be looking over his shoulder.
Matt Dominguez | 3B | Florida
Three prep third basemen were nabbed near the top of the first round during the 2007 draft: Dominguez, Josh Vitters, and Mike Moustakas. All three players have had their struggles but Dominguez (who was drafted last at 12th overall) is the only one of the trio to make it to double-A. Although he’s struggled a bit with the bat, Dominguez has the edge in the field.
Josh Vitters | 3B | Chicago
Vitters has had troubles adapting to new levels in his brief pro career. After starting out very well in 2009 at low-A (His second attempt at the level), he has struggled mightily upon a promotion to high-A. At the root of the problem is his lack of patience at the plate, which has manifested itself in the form of a dismal 2.4 BB% in 2009.
Bryan Petersen | OF | Florida
I highlighted Petersen prior to the 2009 season as a possible breakout candidate in 2009. He hasn’t made me look like a genius, but he’s held his own in double-A as a 23 year old. His power has taken a step back in 2009, with his ISO dropping from .200+ to .120. He’s also struggled on the base paths with only 12 steals in 24 attempts. On the plus side, he’s shown a consistent ability to hit for average and he continues to trim the strikeouts. If he cannot regain some ground with his power and speed numbers, he’ll develop into a fourth outfielder.
Michael Stanton | OF | Florida
Petersen’s teammate should need no introductions. Stanton is one of the biggest mashers in the minors and fans are constantly asking for updates on his ETA, especially after he spent the first part of 2009 demolishing high-A pitching. The holes in the talented outfielder’s plate approach have been exposed by double-A pitchers, though. He’s currently hitting .234/.311/.453 with a strikeout rate of 33.6 K% in 274 at-bats. Stanton will likely opened 2010 in double-A with a mid-season promotion to triple-A possible if he makes the necessary adjustments, which have so far eluded him. At the age of 19, time is very much on his side.
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