The Arizona Fall League has long been a proving ground for young Colorado Rockies prospects. Nolan Arenado, Tyler Matzek, Kyle Parker, Eddie Butler, and Christhian Adames – to name a few – have all gone through the Arizona Fall League on their way to the show. Rockies hopefuls Trevor Story and Tyler Anderson are also AFL graduates and are looking to make their mark in the big leagues in the very near future, hopefully.
The AFL provides a locally-based winter league so MLB could monitor player’s progressions during winter leagues. Most winter leagues are in the Caribbean and Central America where it’s baseball weather year-round. The league is a six team instructional league that all MLB teams take part in. Each team has six top prospects per organization and the games are hosted in spring training facilities located around Arizona.
Motor City Bengals
The teams are named after Arizona’s Southwestern desert heritage; Scottsdale Scorpions, the Mesa Solar Sox,the Glendale Desert Dogs, the Peoria Javelinas, and Surprise Saguaros. The Rockies AFL affiliation is with the Salt River Rafters, based in the their spring training home. The Rafters feature seven Rockies minor leaguers; pitchers Kyle Freeland, Sam Moll, Carlos Estevez, Matt Carasiti, catcher Chris Rabago, first baseman Jordan Patterson, and outfielder Raimel Tapia.
Keep in mind, the AFL is typically used for two reasons; to give players another shot at proving themselves and to give injured players more innings. This is a very small sample size; three weeks of games and not playing every day won’t give any eye-popping numbers. I’m just looking to see if these guys are taking care of business. With that in mind let’s see how our Pebbles are doing down in Arizona.
UPDATE: Freeland and Tapia were named to the AFL All-Star team.