Tentative rosters for the Arizona Fall League were released on Aug. 29. The fall developmental league is designed to help prospects received extra seasoning and coaching at the conclusion of the minor league season. Each organization contributes players to the six-team league. The league typically shifts in favor of the hitters because teams are generally reluctant to assign top arms to the league – unless they’re attempting to make up for lost innings due to injuries.
The Peoria Javelinas club consists of players from five organizations – Seattle, Philadelphia, San Diego, Minnesota, and Cincinnati. Below are some interesting names set to appear on the roster. Full rosters can be found here. We looked at the Mesa Solar Sox late last week.
Vinnie Catricala, IF, Seattle: Catricala dominated the low minors and into double-A during his first three seasons in the minors. He hit a speed bump in 2012, though, when he reached the highest level of the minors. After batting more than .300 in each season, Catricala has hit just .226 in 2012 and his power output has dropped significantly. If he can rediscover at least part of his past success he could have some big league value as a versatile right-handed bat off the bench. Catricala will look to rediscover his stroke in the AFL.
Zach Collier, OF, Philadelphia: The 34th overall selection during the 2008 amateur draft, Collier has yet to climb above A-ball and missed the entire 2010 season due to wrist surgery. He’s having his best pro season to date in 2012 but his offense has been league average. A left-handed hitter, Collier struggles against southpaws but has had decent numbers against right-handers in 2012 so he’ll look to carve out a career as a big league platoon outfielder if he can add some polish.
Robbie Erlin, LHP, San Diego: After an off-season trade from Texas to San Diego, Erlin was set to make his MLB debut in 2012 but an injury caused him to appear in just 13 games, slowing down his developmental timetable. He’ll head to the AFL to catch up on his innings with an eye on helping San Diego in 2013. He’s still just 21 and has the ceiling of a No 3 or 4 starter.
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota: Like Erlin, Gibson is heading to the fall developmental league to build up his innings total for the year after coming back from Tommy John surgery. The former No. 1 draft pick reached triple-A in his first pro season in 2010 but blew out his elbow partway through 2011. With a good AFL and strong spring, Gibson, 24, could be a member of the Twins’ 2013 starting rotation.
Billy Hamilton, OF/SS: Cincinnati: If you’re a baseball fan and haven’t heard of Hamilton then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The speedster recently broke the all-time MiLB stolen base record, previously held by former St. Louis Cardinal Vince Coleman. The hype around Hamilton’s accomplishment and 80-grade speed/base-running tends to overshadow the fact that the rest of his game is still somewhat raw. There are concerns he won’t stick at shortstop and he could see time in the AFL in the outfield. As well, his bat needs polish and he swings and misses too much. Just 21 years old, he has plenty of time to develop into an all-star big leaguer but that time is not here yet.
Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego: Kelly was the key to the trade that saw current Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez move from San Diego to Boston. It took him longer to reach the big leagues than expected due to inconsistency and injuries but the ultra-athletic hurler recently made his Padres debut with six shutout innings. The sky is the limit for the former two-way prep star but No. 3 starter is a safe prediction. The AFL will help him catch up on innings lost thanks to time lost in 2012 due to injury.
Cory Spangenberg, IF, San Diego: A former first rounder, Spangenberg burst onto the pro landscape with a .384 batting average in short-season ball but his offensive numbers have dwindled ever since. Despite playing in the potent California League in 2012 he managed a wRC+ of just 80. His offense abilities revolve around his ability to hit for average, as well as his above-average speed. He possesses little to no power. A former third baseman, Spangenberg will look to sharpen his defense at the keystone this fall.
Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, San Diego: Quackenbush has yet to post an ERA above 1.00 in two pro seasons and his strikeout rate has never dipped below 10.92 K/9 but he’s not quite the dominating pitcher that he seems to be. He possesses a low-90s fastball that can touch 94-95 mph but his secondary pitches are still developing. His control is better than his command and he needs to learn to work down in the zone more consistently if he’s going to make an impact at the big league level.
Mike Zunino, Catcher, Seattle: The third overall pick of the 2012 draft, Zunino has steamrolled his way through the minors to this point. After hitting .373 in 29 games in short-season ball, he moved up to double-A and produced an average of more than .370. He’s also hit 13 home runs in 43 games. In short, offense has not been an issue with Zunino and his defense is solid, as well. With a strong AFL performance, the former U of Florida star could be about a half-year away from pushing Jesus Montero for catcher-of-the-future in Seattle.