Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reds prospects look to polish their skills in Arizona Fall League

Leading Off
The Arizona Fall League season will get under way on October 9th. This will be the 20th season for what is often called a “finishing school for prospects.” MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo gave an overview of the entire AFL in his article, but we obviously are only concerned with the Cincinnati Reds involvement in the league. Everything you need to know is below.

As of now the Reds will send six players to Arizona to be part of the roster of the Peoria Javelinas. Those six players are right-handed pitchers Drew Hayes, Curtis Partch, and Josh Ravin along with switch-hitting Billy Hamilton and lefty infielders Didi Gregorius and Donald Lutz. The other players for Peoria will come from the Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, and Seattle Mariners.
Don't call me skunk pig.

First, “What is a Javelina?” you might ask. Well the javelina, also known as a peccary or skunk pig, is a member of the artiodactyl suborder Suina, as are the pig family (Suidae) and possibly the hippopotamus family (Hippopotamidae). They are found in the southwestern area of North America and throughout Central and South America. They are often confused with the “razorback” hogs that roam other parts of the country, except that they don't lose to Louisiana-Monroe at football.

Second, “Who are those guys?” you wonder. You’ve definitely heard of Hamilton. He’s stolen a few bases in his career. You’ve probably heard of Gregorius because he’s on the Reds current roster as a September call-up. You might also have heard of Lutz. He’s the ball-mashing German dude (though he was born in New York) who was a teammate of Hamilton’s at A+ Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola this year. The pitchers might be a different story unless you follow the minor leagues very closely, but don't worry as we cover all the players below.

Who
Hayes spent the entire year at Pensacola and posted a 2-3 record with a 3.41 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 63.1 innings over 56 games. He started one game and picked up one save. In 2011, he was named a MiLB Organizational All-Star, the Class-A Relief Pitcher of the Year, and a Postseason All-Star.

Partch split time between Bakersfield (7g) and Pensacola (45g). He was 7-4, with a 4.26 ERA overall and 79 strikeouts. He threw 82.1 innings in 52 games, including four starts. He recorded eight saves as well. In 2011, he was named the California League Pitcher of the Week once.

Ravin spent a little time with Bakersfield (3g) and the rest with Pensacola (20g). He was 1-3, with a 5.33 ERA overall and 26 strikeouts. He pitched in 27 innings over 23 games. In 2010, he was once named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week.


Will Hamilton see time in the OF?

Hamilton is the Reds #1 prospect. He played most of the season at Bakersfield (82g) before being promoted to Pensacola (50g). He batted .311/.410/.420 overall with two home runs and 45 RBI. Oh yeah, he also set a record with 155 stolen bases. There has been much speculation that Hamilton will begin the process of moving to the outfield during the AFL, though he’s listed as an infielder on Peoria’s roster. He’s been a shortstop for most of his career, but everyone says his defense projects better in the outfield, plus he’s currently blocked by Zack Cozart and Gregorius at short. He committed 31 errors this year, 25 with the Blaze and six with the Blue Wahoos. The fast track, no pun intended, for Hamilton to the majors is most likely in the outfield where his speed can help his glove become a more potent weapon as well to pair with his offensive game. He’s won numerous awards with the most recent being this year as the 2012 California League MVP, Cal League Postseason All-Star, and Futures Game Selection.

Gregorius was recently ranked as the #5 prospect in the Reds organization by MLB.com. In the minors, he played at Pensacola (81g) and Louisville (48g) this year before being called up in September to the big leagues. Overall, in the minors he hit .265/.324/.393 with seven homers and 54 RBI. He has an outstanding arm and glove, which he’s already flashed for the Reds. He hits well enough, and if he can continue to improve with his bat, Cozart could start to feel some heat behind him. In 2009, he was a Pioneer League Postseason All-Star and this year he was pegged as a Southern League Midseason All-Star.

Lutz is not ranked among the Reds top 20 prospects, but he can crush the ball. He split his time between Bakersfield (63g) and Pensacola (40g), with a brief rehab stint with the AZL Reds (4g). He batted .269/.336/.517 with 22 homers and 71 RBI. His 22 dingers were tops among all Reds minor leaguers this year, while his 71 RBI ranked him third. He currently lives in Germany and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. #BraunerHulkMASH

If anyone else is sent to the Arizona Fall League, we'll let you know.

When
The Peoria Javelinas will play their first game against the Surprise Saguaros at 12:35pm local time on October 9th. We will keep you up to date on all the latest stats and results here at Redlegs Review.

Want a Prize?
In celebration of the AFL’s 20th anniversary, the fans have a chance to win roundtrip airfare for two people, plus two nights of hotel accommodations in Scottsdale, along with two tickets to the AFL Championship Game on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Scottsdale Stadium.

All you have to do is vote for the top 20 players of the past 20 years of AFL play. You can vote up to 10 times. There are a few Reds names in the mix for whom you can vote. Among current players you can vote for are Drew Stubbs (2008), Joey Votto (2005), and Brandon Phillips (2002). Former Reds for whom you can vote include Josh Hamilton (2001), Sean Casey and Russell Branyan (1997), Aaron Boone and Paul Konerko (1996), Todd Walker (1995), and Todd Hollandsworth (1993). Some of those guys weren’t Reds prospects when they played in the AFL, but later played for the Reds. You could probably guess who or I’ll let you Google it.

Last Year...
...the Reds assigned C Yasmani Grandal, 2B Brodie Greene, OF Cody Puckett, RHPs Nick Christiani and Brad Boxberger, and LHPs Travis Webb and Donnie Joseph to play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the AFL. As you well know, Grandal, Boxberger, and Joseph are no longer with the Reds, with the first two being sent to the Padres and the latter to the Royals in the trades for Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton, respectively. Greene, Puckett, Christiani, and Webb all enjoyed decent seasons with their respective Reds affiliates.

One Aroldis Chapman also pitched in two games to begin stretching out to become a starter for this season. We know how that worked. He’s gone on to have one of the most dominant seasons a closer has ever had and it’s still going, but you already knew that. Perhaps he’ll start next year?

Anything else?
Keep visiting RedlegsReview.com for all the latest on how the Reds prospects perform in the Arizona Fall League. That is all, I think.

I lied
These are the player eligibility rules for AFL rosters.

Player eligibility rules:

Roster size is established at 35 players per team.

Each Major League organization is required to provide seven players, subject to the following eligibility requirements:

All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, provided they are on Double-A rosters no later than Aug. 15. Each organization is permitted to send two Class A Advanced-level players in addition to the current allowance of two "A exempt" players (who are under contract as of Aug. 15). Foreign players are allowed as long as the player is not on his native country's primary protected-player list.

No players with more than one year active or two years total of credited Major League service as of Aug. 31 (including Major League disabled-list time) are eligible, except a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft.

Each team is allotted 20 pitchers, but only 15 are designated "eligible" each gameday.

BONUS PROBLEM:




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