Nearly 60 percent of former Arizona Fall League participants have reached The Show. Roughly 75 to 100 a year see major league action the following season. Plenty of AFL alums have been named All-Stars and have even gone on to win major MLB awards in their careers.
Needless to say, every year, the league boasts names that should be on fantasy baseball radars. The AFL has become Major League Baseball's prospect showcase.
Conger was happy to leave the desert after posting a .211 clip in 15 games. He was shut down in a "precautionary" measure to fight fatigue; he has battled injury issues in the past. Either way, the switch-hitter boasts ample power from the position and must be monitored.
Baltimore seeks new blood at the corners, and Snyder (.354-3-18 in the AFL) is their likely heir apparent at the scooper spot. He'll probably start out at Triple-A Norfolk but should touch the bigs not too long after. Snyder should command a decent stash price in AL leagues due to his power potential.
The switch-hitting Weeks has been tending to his defense and worked with Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson on ways to be a better leadoff bat. His .241 clip in the AFL was offset by his five steals and 19 runs, which speak more to how he'll benefit fantasy players in the future; 2011 should be Weeks' earliest debut season.
The Tigs probably won't bring back Placido Polanco, in turn clearing the road for Sizemore to start at the 4 next year. The 24-year-old broke his leg early in the AFL season, but doctors say Sizemore's recovery is progressing. He's coming off an '09 cumulative .308 average, 17 dingers and 66 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A but isn't projected to be that dynamic at the big league level.
The 23-year-old switch-hitter holds a big opportunity to start at the hot corner sometime next season and went .319-2-19 with 10 doubles among the cacti. Bell still struggles against lefties and will probably start out at Triple-A, but he could be warehouse hunting as soon as next year.
Scouts say he has plus bat speed, but besides homers he didn't show much plate prowess in the desert. Moustakas, 21, hit .267 despite leaving the yard five times and posting a .560 slugging percentage. He'll probably need at least another year in the minors to even attempt to unseat Alex Gordon.
After Dayan Viciedo was shut down with an injury, Morel replaced him and went on to win the AFL's batting crown (.435 in 62 at-bats). Scouts don't expect Morel to keep his pop, but he has a good glove and makes decent contact.
A broken leg halted Triunfel's progress in '09, but his arduous comeback has coincided with an attempt to improve his fitness. Triunfel was also playing second and third in Arizona and wound up hitting .204 with six RBIs. He'll have to show he can recover offensively for him to be anything but a promising prospect in fantasy circles. Don't count on an appearance before 2011.
Already on the Sox's 40-man roster, the slick-gloved Cuban import could probably step into the bigs if they played only defense. The 19-year-old speedster drove in 12 runs in 69 at-bats but doesn't have much projectable power; he'll best help in runs and steals. He's likely a 2011 MLB entry unless the Sox stick Dustin Pedroia at short permanently.
The league's MVP clubbed 11 dingers, 10 of which came before October ended. This followed a much heralded 30-homer, 40-steal farm debut. Reasons to be wary: The 23-year-old has battled the K bug, faced comparative toddlers, surprised with his swiping and played in hitter-friendly environments throughout '09. Keep posted on this intriguing bat, though; Billy Beane hasn't been shy in giving prospects chances.
The No. 2 overall pick's lefty inside-outside stroke makes him a two-hole prototype; he hit .315 with 12 RBIs. He hasn't displayed noticeable power, but if he can stay back on the ball more consistently, it may come; he's still a bit jumpy in the box. You'll probably have to wait at least a year for his debut; these M's haven't had much success in rushing position prospects.
Some bigwigs believed Danks' glove was bigs-ready last year. Danks hit .343 with 32 RBIs while scoring an AFL-high 31 runs. Nagging thumb and wrist injuries hindered his bat speed in Double-A, yet he could fill Chicago's leadoff role this season if necessary. Danks profiles more as a doubles popper with notable base thievery.
A rumored Roy Halladay trade chip, the bipositional Kelly, 20, finished last season at shortstop to preserve his arm; his future on the mound might be brighter. Kelly, who boasts three solid pitches, combined for a 2.08 farm ERA with a sparkling 4.63 command ratio. As a shortstop in the AFL, he remained plagued by his dish struggles from Double-A this past season. Boston will soon determine which positional he'll play next year.
The southpaw made his pro debut at the AFL and left with a 2.81 ERA and 16 K's in 16 frames. Control remains a red flag, but the dominant Oklahoma State alum could be on the fast track given his college pedigree.
Picture another Neftali Feliz-type that consistently visits the high 90s. Scheppers' shoulder will have to hold up after prior injuries to his rotator cuff and labrum. Good news: Texas has helped him work on getting his arm into shape, and reports are clean so far.
An eight-month contract holdout heading into Spring Training affected his performance in '09. In the offseason, though, Fields discovered his arm slot had dropped and has been working to fix the problem. Heading into the AFL championship game, Fields was leading all relievers with a .154 opponents' batting average. Watch both Fields and Phillippe Aumont heading into 2010; David Aardsma could easily crash back to earth.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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