In two weeks the Arizona Fall League will start its 22nd season, and each MLB team will send to it a handful of its top recruits. The League has become both a finishing school and a preview of the MLB stars of tomorrow. Some recent names include Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper.
I'm assuming you have at least a passing idea of the AZFL, so the main purpose here is to look at the 2013 Diamondbacks prospects. This should give you a good idea about how to look for, and perhaps how excited you should be.
The Diamondbacks send their players to the Salt River Rafters, sharing the team with the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rays, and Rockies. Even if you can't find a future Diamondback to get excited about, there's some pretty good farm systems on that list. But without further ado, here's the D-backs representatives:
Jake Barrett: Did you know he went to ASU? That's right! Also, the former Sun Devils closer has been lighting up both the California League (Single A) and the Southern League (AA). He's been used as closer for both levels, and has featured an aggregate line of 1.21 ERA, 29 saves, 10.2 SO/9, 4.92 SO/BB. He throws some good heat, getting up into the mid-90s for most of his fastballs.
Andrew Chafin: Did you know he went to Kent State? KSU KSU KSU! Chafin is a lefty starter, instead of a righty closer like Barrett, and he also spent time in Visalia and Mobile this year. His aggregate line had 3.20 ERA, 6.8 SO/9, and 2.16 SO/BB. Not a top Diamondbacks prospect by most lists, falling behind the usual Big 3. He's a kind of guy who will use a decent fastball and great slider to get some strikeouts and grounder, though his K rate this year didn't look that great in Mobile.
Bo Schultz: At 27 he's getting a little long at the tooth to be entering the AZFL. He's bounced around the A's and D-backs systems, and this year went backwards from Reno to Mobile. That may have been partially to save him from the meat grinder that is the PCL. His ERA was blew up in Reno, as to be expected, but his SO/9 was much better than when he dropped to Mobile. A submarining righty in the mold of Brad Ziegler.
Matt Stites: Part of the Ian Kennedy Trade, Stites is a new face for most of us. Another righty reliever, he's a strikeout machine. His aggregate KO/9 was 9.9 in 2013, with a KO/BB ratio of 4.5. He and Barrett will be interesting guys to watch if you like fantasizing about replacing Heath Bell next year (ha ha ha good luck with that).
Nick Ahmed: Part of the Justin Upton trade, Ahmed might be the guy I want to see the most. Another shortstop in the system, he did not hit particularly well this year in Mobile. His slash was .236/.324/.324, but has been highly regarded as a player that can develop into a starter down the line. With Didi Gregorious and Chris Owings ahead in the organization, the Diamondbacks have time to get the slick fielding Ahmed time to get a little more of a bat.
Mike Freeman: Another lighter hitting middle infielder, Freeman spent all of 2013 in Mobile and had a slash line of .245/.345/.297. Might eventually be a starter, but again, another guy down on the depth chart.
Jake Lamb: Finally, someone who has a little power. He spent most of the year in Visalia, though started the season in the Arizona Rookie League. His aggregate slash was .302/.421/.548 with 13 home runs and 22 doubles. He also a plus arm so he might be an exciting player to check out. The only downside for him is being behind Matt Davidson, who might compete for a Major League job next year.
So there you have it, the 2013 Diamondbacks minor leaguers you'll be able to see from October until the beginning of November. Other teams will have some of their top prospects as well, so there's always something interesting to see. And if you like kind of crazy rumors, Sandy Alderson, the Mets GM, is floating the idea of sending Matt Harvey to the AZFL this year. That is a terrible idea.