Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Arizona Fall League preview

So the Arizona Fall League starts today. Here's what you need to know...

What is the Arizona Fall League?
The AFL is a fall league, where all the teams play in Arizona.

Yes, but to be more specific, the AFL has six teams in two divisions. Each MLB team sends seven of their top prospects to the AFL, comprising of 180 players. Most are Double-A and Triple-A, but a team can send one A-level player.

What team will the Astros have players on?
I think it's actually supposed to be, "On which team will the Astros have players?" But I know what you meant. The Astros have players on the Mesa Solar Sox, managed by Rodney Linares.

What the hell is a Solar Sox?
It's a sock with solar panels to make players better. Anyone who puts one of these Solar Sox on will receive a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. 

Wait. This Rodney Linares fella sounds familiar.
Sure he does. He was the manager of the Lancaster JetHawks this season. 

Who are the Astros sending to Mesa?
Jarred Cosart, Chia-Jen Lo, Alex Sogard, Nick Tropeano, Jio Mier, Jon Singleton, Bobby Borchering, and George Springer.

Wait. That's...eight players. I thought you said there were seven players from each team.
I did. I don't know.
Update: Via What the Heck Bobby, we find that each team sends seven players and has an 8th on what is known as a Taxi Squad.

So who should we keep an eye on?
All of them, really, but obviously Cosart, Singleton, and Springer. I have a feeling that this AFL season is going to be pretty important for Mier. Sixteen of the 49 1st Round picks (Supplemental Round included) have seen time in the Majors. Mier, picked four selections ahead of Mike Trout, has yet to see Double-A.

How did they do this season?

Bobby Borchering: Acquired in the Chris Johnson trade, Borchering hit just .189/.275/.389 in 30 games (109 PAs) for Corpus down the stretch in 2012. He struck out 36 times in 109 PAs, but ten of his 18 hits were for extra-bases. He'll be 22 near the end of the month.

Jarred Cosart: The Clear Creek HS alum went 6-7 between Corpus (15 starts) and Oklahoma City (six appearances, five starts), throwing a combined 114.2IP, with a 3.30 ERA/1.40 WHIP. He struck out 92 batters and gave up just three homers to 501 batters faced. He also dealt with blister issues throughout the season.

Chia-Jen Lo: Lo will be 27 in April, so he needs to show some things. He only threw 30 IP this season, 11.0 with the GCL Astros and 19IP with Lancaster. In Lancaster he struck out 20 batters in 19IP, allowing just 14H/3ER. He's thrown 45IP since 2009. A good AFL and I wouldn't be surprised if he found his way to Houston in 2013.

Jio Mier: Hit .286/.385/.400 in 51 games - most of them for High-A Lancaster - with 34K:30BB in 220 PAs. Missed most of the season with a hamstring injury.

Jon Singleton: Singleton spent all of 2012 in Corpus, after coming over in 2011 as part of the Hunter Pence trade with the Phillies. Singleton hit .284/.396/.497, with 131K:88BB in 555 PAs, and only grounded into six double plays in 2012. Fifty-two of his 131 hits for Corpus were for extra-bases. Has an outside chance to win an Opening Day spot out of Spring Training.

Alex Sogard: 26th Round pick in the 2010 draft, Sogard threw 69.2IP in 2012, converting to a full-time reliever. Between Lancaster (16IP) and Corpus (53.2IP), Sogard allowed a 3.62 ERA/1.51 WHIP, striking out 52 batters and walking 33. His numbers took a hit at Double-A, with 35K:25BB in 53.2IP and a 1.58 WHIP.

George Springer: The latest version of The Truth for the Astros, Springer was Ed Wade's final first-round pick. He hit .302/.383/.526 in 128 games between Lancaster and Corpus, but struck out an alarming 156 times in 581 plate appearances (including 25K in 81PAs at Corpus). Fifty-five of his 137 hits at Lancaster were for extra-bases, including 10 triples, and 32 stolen bases.

Nick Tropeano: My man-crush on Tropeano aside, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in Houston at some point in 2013, either. Tropeano spent most of 2012 at Lancaster, and managed to keep his ERA at 3.31, with a 1.32 WHIP. He struck out 69 batters in 70.2IP, and only walked 21 of the 299 batters he faced.

When do they start playing?
Today (Tuesday, October 9). Jarred Cosart gets the start for Mesa against Salt River, who has excellent steaks.