Down On The Farm: Arizona Fall League Part 1, Mesa Solar Sox

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Blake Murphy

With most minor leagues winding down to playoff time, September generally brings one of two big pieces of news for prospects – a September call-up to the Majors, or an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Running through October and November, the AFL operates as a league of extra seasoning for top prospects, and is usually a haven for scouts and prospect junkies alike. With few time-relevant minor league updates to make throughout September, the focus of Down On The Farm, for the next few weeks at least, will shift  to the Arizona Fall League rosters.

An assignment to the roster is definitely a positive for a player, though many top prospects are not sent due to the scarcity of roster spots, innings limits, commitments to native countries, and more, so a non-assignment is certainly not an indictment on a player. The league has six teams, so for each of the next sixweeks I will look at the rosters for one team at a time, hoping to shed light on the prospects sent from various teams and what the assignment may mean for their development.

This week we start with the Mesa Solar Sox, the team affiliated with the Orioles, Cubs, Tigers, Astros, and Dodgers.

Mesa Solar Sox
Baltimore Orioles
Michael Belfiore, LHP, 23 – 2.71 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 78K in 66 IP. Extra work assignment.
Chris Petrini, LHP, 25 – 2.49 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 81K in 83 IP. Extra work assignment.
Clay Schrader, RHP, 22 – 1.86 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 68K and 51BB in 58 IP. Extra work assignment, control the likely focus.
Mike Wright, RHP, 22 – 4.06 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) over 20 starts, 22BB in 108 IP, .279 OPP AVG. Likely working on developing an out pitch.
Brian Ward, C, 26 – .592 OPS at AA, 1 HR, 24:24 BB:K in 161 AB. Punishment, perhaps?
Jonathan Schoop, 3B, 20 (ESPN #56, BP #85, BA #82) – .710 OPS at AA, 14 HR, 50:103 BB:K in 485 AB. Extra work assignment to continue accelerated development for AAA assignment in 2013.
L.J. Hoes, OF, 21 – .759 OPS over two levels (AA and AAA), 5 HR, 20 SB, 12 CS, 65:75 BB:K in 513 AB. Possible mechanical assignment to improve ISO, potential 5th OF in 2013.

Chicago Cubs
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP, 23 – 4.81 ERA over 26 starts at AA, 78K in 142 IP, .298 OPP AVG. Extra work assignment to accelerate slow development.
Kevin Rhoderick, RHP, 24 – 4.99 ERA out of the bullpen at AA, 53:47 K:BB in 57 IP. Extra work assignment, control the likely focus.
Zach Rosscup, LHP, 24 – 3.45 ERA over three levels (AA peak), 45K in 31 IP. Extra work assignment to recuperate time lost to injury.
Nicholas Struck, RHP, 22 – 3.18 ERA over 26 starts at AAA, 123K in 155 IP, .238 OPP AVG. Assignment a potential audition for 2013 rotation spot and to continue gradual workload increase to MLB level.
Tony Zych, RHP, 22 – 3.67 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA), 64K in 61 IP. Extra work assignment.
Javier Baez, SS, 19 (ESPN #95, BP #66, BA #61) – .888 OPS over two levels (A and A+), 16 HR, 24 SB, 14 BB in 293 AB. Struggled at A+, extra work assignment to continue development and recuperate time lost to injury.
Rubi Silva, OF, 23 – .727 OPS over two levels (A+ and AA), 15BB in 500 AB, 10SB, 18CS. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on plate discipline and baserunning.
Matthew Szczur, OF, 23 (BA #64) – .751 OPS over two levels (A and AA), 42SB, 14CS, 79:61 K:BB in 438 AB. Possible adjustments to improve ISO and contact ability.

Detroit Tigers
Tyler Clark, RHP, 23 – 1.62 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 66L in 50 IP. Extra work assignment.
Matt Hoffman, LHP, 23 – 3.69 ERA out of the bullpen at AAA, 32:16 K:BB in 46 IP. Extra work assignment, likely working on an out pitch for potential 2013 promotion.
Michael Morrison, RHP, 24 – 3.14 ERA out of the bullpen at AA, 72:40 K:BB in 63 IP. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on control.
Luke Putkonen, RHP, 26 – 4.92 ERA out of the bullpen at AAA in 56 IP, with a 6.52 ERA in 10 IP MLB audition. Potential audition for 2013 bullpen role.
James McCann, C, 22 – .589 OPS over two levels (A+ and AA), 18BB in 380 AB. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on plate discipline and contact ability.
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, 20 (ESPN #37, BP #71, BA #45) – Potential stud had 1.014 OPS at A+, struggled with .678 OPS at AA, striking out once per game. Assignment for further development of plate discipline and to further move to RF.
Aaron Westlake, 1B , 23 – .711 OPS at A over 465 AB. Extra work assignment to expedite development.

Houston Astros
Jared Cosart, RHP, 22 (ESPN #78, BP #48, BA #50) – 3.30 ERA over two levels (AA and AAA), 92:51 K:BB in 114 IP. Extra development time for potential 2013 rotation spot and to recuperate some time lost to injury.
Chia-Jen Lo, RHP, 26 – 0.90 ERA over two levels (A and A+), primarily out of the bullpen, 31:6 K:BB in 30 IP. Extra development time to recuperate time lost to injury.
Alex Sogard, LHP, 25 – 3.62 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 52K in 69 IP. Extra development time, likely working on out pitch.
Jiovanni Mier, SS, 22 – .805 OPS at A+, 34:39 K:BB in 171 AB. Extra development time to recuperate time lost to injury.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, 20 (ESPN #46, BP #73, BA #34) – .893 OPS, 21HR, 7SB, 131:88 K:BB in 461 AB at AA. Extended development to prepare for AAA in 2013 with potential MLB call-up.
Bobby Borchering, OF, 21 – .756 OPS across three levels (AA peak), 24HR, 159K in 479 AB. Has profile of Quad-A hitter eventually, will likely work to improve contact, possibly at the expense of some power.
George Springer, OF, 22 (ESPN #60, BP #49, BA #59) – .955 OPS at A+, 22HR and 28SB in 433 AB, though struggled to .630 OPS in 22 AA games. Extra work to expedite development, could reach AAA in 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Eric Eadington, LHP, 24 – 3.63 ERA over three levels (AA peak), 77K in 67 IP. Extra work assignment to build on successful season and continue expedited development.
Red Patterson, RHP, 25 – 3.07 ERA at AA out of the bullpen, 71K in 70m IP. Extra work assignment, preparing for AAA assignment in 2013.
Steven Rodriguez, LHP, 21 – 0.92 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 32K in 19 IP. Continuation of expedited development for 2012 draftee touted as Major League ready.
Andres Santiago, RHP, 22 – 3.69 ERA across two levels (A+ and AA), primarily starting, 122K in 112 IP. Extra work to increase season inning load as building block for 2013 at AAA.
Gorman Erickson, C, 24 – .673 OPS at AA, 56:44 K:BB in 274 AB.. Extra work to recuperate time lost to injury.
Rafael Ynoa, 2B, 25 – .715 OPS, 23SB at AA. Extra work to expedite what has been a slow development.
Joc Pederson, OF, 20 – .913 OPS, 18HR, 26SB, 14CS in 434 AB at A+. Great season to be put closer under the microscope, with a likely promotion to AA in 2013.
Yasiel Puig, OF, 21 – 1.076 over two levels (R and A+), 5HR, 8SB in just 82 AB. Extra work to further development, as he was just signed out of Cuba in late June.

I should reiterate that these assignments should be taken in the vain I tried to explain – for some, it is extra grooming for promotions, while for others it is simply extra work for the sake of extra work. The top prospects are the ones to keep an eye on, and hopefully over the next few weeks Down On The Farm can help to highlight who to focus on as you see the scouting reports and stat lines begin to trickle in.

Follow me on Twitter, @BlakeMurphyODC.

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