Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League recently revealed its schedule for the 2006 season, and it's nearing the time for Major League teams to select players to be sent to the AFL. If, like me, you don't know a lot about the AFL, I suggest you check out the information on the league website under History, which you can find here.

Here's the executive summary of that information: There are six teams in the AFL, with rosters of 30 players each. Of course, that's 180 positions available in the league, and Major League teams equally divide those roster spots, meaning each MLB team sends 6 players to participate in the AFL. Players at the AA and AAA rosters are eligible, and each team can send one player below the AA level as well. Also, the league is designed primarily for American players, although foreign players who come from a country that doesn't have a winter league (such as the famous Venezuelan Winter League) can be sent. I'm sure there are also rules about number of pitchers v. position players, etc, because otherwise there would be no way to compose proper rosters.

Sometime in the middle of August players are assigned to the AFL. Knowing very little about how that process works, here's a list of Twins prospects who I think might find themselves in the AFL this season:

Beau Kemp - RP - Rochester Red Wings
Kemp seems to have a solid arm, and has had a great year for Rochester. He needs to work on boosting his strikeout totals, however. The Twins may elect to send him to the AFL to evaluate whether they want to add him to the 40-man roster before this year's Rule 5 Draft.

Garrett Jones - 1B - Rochester Red Wings
Tons of power, but a batting average under .240; the Twins would probably like Jones to work on his swing, and the AFL would provide him with an additional opportunity to do so.

Kevin West - OF - Rochester Red Wings
West was one of the top Twins prospects before he injured himself, and he's had a disappointing season average-wise. He has, however, hit with some power, and the Twins may want to send him to the AFL to continue his fight to come back. Like Kemp, West is Rule 5 eligible, so the Twins may also like to evaluate him as a potential roster addition.

Errol Simonitsch - SP - New Britain Rock Cats
Simonitsch is on the 40-man roster, and so the Twins might like to send him to the AFL to continue his development, since the clock is ticking in terms of options. I imagine that with starters, a lot depends on how the player's arm feels at the end of the season; does he need the 2 months rest more than he needs to work on his development?

Glen Perkins - SP - New Britain Rock Cats
Perkins becomes Rule 5 eligible this year, and as a left-handed starter, he may be gobbled up if the Twins don't protect him. His record this season (2-10) is terrible, but his ERA is around 4.00, and the Twins seem to believe he has a lot of upside. Sending him to the AFL may be a way to hurry along his development, but see the note above about whether it's a good idea to send a starter to the AFL.

Adam Harben - SP - New Britain Rock Cats
Harben is in a similar position to Simonitsch, in that he's on the 40-man roster. See above for the pro's and con's.

Doug Deeds - 1B - New Britain Rock Cats
Deeds has had a very solid season for New Britain, hitting just under .300 with 7 HR's. If Jones doesn't go, there's a good possibility that Deeds could. However, there are two other 1B in the system who may be even more likely to go...

Brock Peterson - 1B - Ft. Myers Miracle
Peterson is having a monster year, hitting .294 with 18 HR's. He's eligible in the Rule 5 draft, but is unlikely to be drafted because he's in A ball (and remember, Rule 5 draft picks have to spend the entire season in the Majors), but if he has another solid season next year (presumably in AA), then things would get tricky. He may be a good choice for the Twins sub-AA player to get the AFL nod. If not, then could it be...

Erik Lis - 1B - Beloit Snappers
Even further down the totem pole, Lis has had a brilliant season, hitting .326 with 16 HR's and 70 RBI's. What's more, Lis completely destroyed Henry Sanchez in the 1B phenom battle. Sanchez played so poorly, and Lis so well, that Sanchez was finally demoted to High Rookie Elizabethton when the short season started, and was injured after not too many games there. Lis' emergence means that the Twins have a glut of young, powerful 1B in their system. Unfortunatley, Lis hasn't played in about a week, and there may be a serious injury situation there that would keep him out of the AFL. If not, there's a distinct possibility that he could get the nod.

Matt Moses - 3B - New Britain Rock Cats
At times this year, Moses' name was mentioned as the next Twins 3B. In fact, his offense was mentioned as being "Major League ready" by the Strib (sorry, not going to dig through archives at this point, so you'll have to take my word for it...unless I get bored and look later). It was his defense that concerned Twins brass. Well, Moses has power (14 HR's), but his batting average of .249 in AA probably won't translate to great success at the Major League level. He's induspitably one of the Twins top prospects, however, and so it would probably be more surprising if Moses didn't get an AFL invite than if he did.

Denard Span - OF - New Britain Rock Cats
Span, like Moses, has practically been anointed as a Twins starter despite not having played above AA. In his case, of course, the position is CF, where wishful thinkers have the Twins picking up Torii Hunter's option in order to give Span one more year to mature before he takes thing over. That may, in fact, be what happens, but I'm not convinced that Span will be MLB ready in another year. Nevertheless, like Moses he is one of the Twins top prospects, and it would be surprising for him not to end up in the AFL.

Those are the biggest names, but as I said before, I'm not an AFL afficianado, and I could be way off. For the record, I'm going to guess (and that's all it is) that the following six guys get the AFL nod: Denard Span, Matt Moses, Glen Perkins, Beau Kemp, Brock Peterson, Errol Simonitsch. Now, the wait is on to see how right I am...


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