After a month long tease during which the Arizona Fall League revealed the name of only one player per day as a sneak preview, the entire rosters were released this afternoon.
I must say that the Phillies prospects who will once again play on the Scottsdale Scorpions are the best group I’ve seen on paper since coming to this Field of Dreams in Arizona. Joining top prospects from the Braves, Mets, Giants, and Blue Jays on the Scorpions, will be the following players:
- Alec Bohm – having just turned 23, Alec was a a 1st round draft pick of the Phils last year who primarily plays 3B but is also listed at 1B. At 6’5″ he’s projected to play like Kris Bryant, but will have to prove in the Fall League that he can live up to that billing. He breezed through A ball in Lakewood and Clearwater, but has hit .268/.843 at double A Reading. While respectable, those aren’t head-turning #s for Reading’s hitting-friendly park. If Bohm has a dynamite AFL showing, he could be given the chance to win the major league job at third base in spring training. If he struggles, chances are he’ll open the season in Lehigh Valley at triple A.
- Spencer Howard – the same age as Bohm, Howard was a 2nd round draft pick in 2017. Interestingly he put up pedestrian pitching stats at Lakewood but has stepped it up a notch this year with impressive #s in Clearwater and again at Reading. Rumor is that Howard might be a September call-up for the Phils, which would knock him out of the first few weeks of the AFL, but alot of speculation is involved. Howard was shut down for nearly two months with shoulder soreness at the beginning of the season. If the Phils are still in the Wild Card playoff race, Howard is unlikely to start. Having him come out of the pen without building up to that role isn’t the best formula.
- Mickey Moniak – I blogged about The Mick a bit in spring, As the #1 overall player selected in the 2016 draft out of high school, he’s still young at age 21. Although he’s shown a bit of power at Reading, his .254/.746 slash line isn’t quite what you’d expect from a #1 overall pick. So the Fall League is going to be a big test for The Mick, much as it will be for Alec Bohm. The Phils will be looking for him to cut down on his strikeouts, and to bump up that .306 on-base percentage.
- JoJo Romero – a 4th round pick in 2016, JoJo will turn 23 on September 9. Suffice it to say that he has much to prove in the Fall League, given his struggle in transitioning from AA to AAA this year. Left-handed pitchers are given more time to mature, but Romero’s astronomical 7.35 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, and .318 BA against surely raised a giant red flag. So JoJo will have much to prove in Arizona.
- Nick Maton – a rangy infielder at 6’2″, Nick was a 7th round draft pick who seems to alot of excessive movement at the plate. Although putting putting up a decent slash line of .276/.738 at Clearwater, he struggled to keep up the pace in Reading where his slashed .239/.731. Apparently he pronounces his name Ma-tahn (as in baton – the type you twirl). Nick’s performance will help decided whether he goes back to AA this year. Having turned 22 in February, there won’t be any rush to move him up to AAA.
- Connor Seabold – a right handed pitcher who was a third round draft pick in 2017, Connor will turn 24 in January. Connor struggled a bit last year when taking the step up from Clearwater to Reading. But when he repeated at Reading this year he showed considerable growth. With a fastball that is often in the 80s, and at best tops out around 90, it will be interesting to see how Seabold can handle the more savvy hitters he’ll face in the AFL.
The Fall League made several changes to the schedule this year. One is that the off days are distributed throughout the week instead of always on Sunday. The second is that most of the games will have a start time of 6:30 instead of the 12:30 start times common in previous years. The most significant change is that the start of the six week season was moved forward several weeks, now beginning September 18. The rationale give is that baseball teams will have an easier time transitioning into the Fall League rather than shutting down operations and re-booting in mid-October. Personally I’d be concerned that this puts more wear and tear on young pitchers. The minor league season ends on September 2, which means only a very short rest before having to ramp it up again for six weeks. Time will tell how successful these changes are.
Update 09/04/2019: A 7th Phils’ prospect has been added to the Scorpions, Josh Stephen. Josh is a left-handed bat who plays left field for the Reading Fightins. Drafted in the 11th round out of high school in 2016, he has shown mediocre numbers until this years. Interestingly he went straight from Lakewood low A to Reading AA, bypassing Clearwater’s high A. Someone must have sensed that he was ready for that jump in development, as he enjoyed his best year in 2019 putting up a slash line of .271/.826. He’ll turn 22 on September 22, and adds to the bumper crop of this year’s farm products to keep an eye on in the Fall League.
Update 09/13/2019: The 8th and final Phils’ prospect has now been aded to the Scorpions, Zach Warren, a 23 year-old local kid from Vineland, New Jersey. A 17th round draft pick in 2017, Zach is a 6’5″ left-handed reliever who put up nice numbers in Lakewood in 2018, and this year in Clearwater. Here is a nice interview done with Zach that gives some background on his selection to the AFL roster, and his thoughts on what playing Fall ball in Arizona means.