Prospect hounds looking for some action now that the minor league season is over can turn their attention towards the 2014 Arizona Fall League. The league is made up of six teams and each of those teams is affiliated with five major league clubs. MLB clubs will typically send prospects that need some more reps to refine their skills against different (sometimes tougher) competition. Other players on these rosters may have been injured at some point in the past season and need the extra game action to continue their rehab and development. The preliminary rosters have been released for each AFL squad and there are a bunch of fantasy relevant prospects for us to take a look at. For the next three weeks I’ll write up two teams and a few of the significant names from each, what their 2014 MiLB season looked like, and what we might expect from them in fantasy baseball going forward. Let’s get right to it with Mesa and Glendale…
Mesa Solar Sox
Addison Russell, SS | CHC
Ranked #5 on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50, Russell is fitting in nicely with the other mega-prospects on Chicago’s farm. He was the tenth youngest player in Double-A this season at just 20 years old and he’s arguably the best shortstop prospect in the game. Adding to his fantasy value is the chance that he actually sticks at short where his offensive numbers will be more coveted. In 205 plate appearances with the Cubs’ Double-A squad, Russell hit .294/.332/.536 with 12 homers and two steals. He missed the early part of the season with a hamstring injury and should enter the 2015 season as one of the best fantasy prospects in the minors.
Dalton Pompey, OF | TOR
Pompey burned through three levels of the minors this season and is now getting a cup of coffee as a September call-up with the Blue Jays. He spent most of the season in High-A (70 games) where he hit .319/.397/.471 with six home runs and 29 stolen bases. He hit .295 and stole another eight bags in Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A for 12 games. Still only 21 years old, Pompey will most likely return to Double-A to start the 2015 season, but the switch hitter is now firmly on the radars of fantasy players with his combination of pop and speed. He appeared at #47 on the BA midseason Top 50.
C.J. Edwards, RHP | CHC
The Cubs landed Edwards in the Garza deal with Texas and he’s been lost in all of the position player studs on their farm. This year Edwards dealt with a shoulder injury that held him to just 48 innings pitched at the Double-A level. Shoulder stuff always gives me the shakes when it comes to pitchers, but I’m keeping an eye on Edwards this fall as a possible buy-low in dynasty leagues. Since returning on August 2, Edwards struck out 26 batters in 27.1 innings with a 2.30 ERA.
Matt Olson, 1B | OAK
Still just 20 years old, Olson hit 37 bombs in High-A this season. Obviously the power gets fantasy owners salivating but there’s a lot of development left to go. The AFL will pit Olson against some more polished arms and next year will be a big stepping stone as he’ll presumably see time at Double-A. Given what the landscape of first base prospects looks like at the moment, it might not be a bad idea to invest in a player like Olson now before he gets any more helium in 2015.
Glendale Desert Dogs
Corey Seager, SS/3B | LAD
Along with Julio Urias and Joc Pederson, Seager is one of the Dodgers’ most exciting prospects. The 20-year-old hit .347/.400/.600 with 20 homers and seven steals between High-A and Double-A this season. Although he’s listed as a shortstop, he’ll likely begin shifting over to third base. If the name looks familiar, he’s the younger brother of Mariners’ third baseman Kyle Seager. Corey checked in at #16 on the BA midseason Top 50 rankings. While he’s very talented and should be a factor in all fantasy formats when he reaches the show, he was the fourth youngest player in Double-A and will likely need more time there in 2015 before a call-up is in the cards. This will be Seager’s second season in the AFL.
Tim Anderson, SS | CWS
Anderson spent the majority of the season in High-A ball where he hit .297/.323/.472 with six homers and 11 steals. He broke his wrist in June and missed all of July and half of August, so his AFL play will give him back some of the at bats he missed with the injury. As far as his fantasy value, the 21-year-old could start popping on radars more next year if he continues his success in Double-A. It’s never a bad idea to invest in shortstops either. Even if they eventually move off, they are usually the best athletes on the field and that can translate to other positions.
Francellis Montas, RHP | CWS
Joining Anderson from the White Sox is Montas, who himself is coming back from injury. Montas had knee surgery earlier this season. He was one of the chips the White Sox got in return for Jake Peavy and he throws gas. Across three levels, the 21-year-old righty struck out 80 batters with a 1.44 ERA in 81 innings pitched. He’s a good buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues and he’s still young enough to develop into a fantasy asset as a starter. He’ll likely start the 2015 season behind Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson in most White Sox prospect rankings.
Zach Davies, RHP | BAL
Another 21-year-old right-hander, Davies got lost in the shuffle among bigger names like Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and the recently departed Eduardo Rodriguez. Davies struck out 109 batters in 110 innings pitched for Double-A Bowie this season. He showed good control for the second straight year with only 32 walks – good for a 2.6 BB/9. He’s not going to blow anybody out of the water with his stuff, but he’s polished and could end up as a solid starter at the back end of a fantasy rotation.