With the AFL a little under two months away, it’s a good time to look at players who will make the trip to Arizona. Before we get into who the Orioles are sending, let’s look at what the AFL is, how it works, and what the rules are.
Each one of the AFL teams is made up of players from five different major league clubs. Every club has a 35-man roster, with each of the five associated teams sending seven players, consisting of four pitchers and three position players. A team may add additional players who will be assigned to the “taxi-squad”, and they can play on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. If a player on the official 35-man roster gets injured, someone from the taxi-quad may be added to take his place.
The 35-man roster usually consists of three catchers, seven or eight infielders, four or five outfielders and twenty pitchers. Normally, six of the twenty pitchers are starters and they throw one game per week.
The AFL is an extreme hitters league, and the average player hits around .300 (.297 last year). The average position player — not including taxi-squad players — gets about 70 at-bats. Starting pitchers usually don’t throw more than 3-4 innings per game and usually make 6-7 starts total. The average reliever throws 12-15 innings the entire “season”.
Player Eligibility – players must meet the follow criteria in order to play in the AFL:
- Must have less than one year of MLB service time.
- Must be on a Double-A, Triple-A or MLB roster as of August 1st.
- Must have been activated from the DL before the last 45 days of the season.
- Must be on the parent club’s 40-man roster or still guaranteed to be under team control for the next season. Basically, if the player would be eligible for the Rule-5 draft, he may not participate in the AFL.
Exceptions and restrictions to the rules:
- Each major league team may send no more than 2 players who were playing in A-ball or below as of August 1st.
- Each major league club may include just one “foreign” as one of their 7 players (“Foreign” is being from places where “Winter Ball” is played: the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela).
- Each major league club may send just one player from the previous year’s Rule-5 draft.
Now, using criteria above, this who I’d send myself.
Pedro Beato – He’s thrived since his move to the bullpen and has already proved himself against older competition, but it couldn’t hurt to get him some more innings and continue his success (hopefully).
Brandon Cooney – Cooney’s always been older than most of his competition and this would give the Orioles a good chance to see his true talents and where he fits going forward.
Wynn Pelzer – After a move to the bullpen at mid-season Pelzer would certainly benefit from some more innings in relief.
Luis Noel – Noel stayed in Sarasota for extended spring training before finally joining the Shorebirds. He’s striking out guys at a very high rate and his entire season has been impressive. He could use the extra innings and experience against more advanced competition. He’d be a Single-A exception.
Joe Mahoney - Mahoney has been on a tear with Bowie and has made Double-A pitchers look silly. The AFL should allow Mahoney to continue his success and enable the Orioles to see if he’s ready for the jump to Triple-A in 2011.
Ryan Adams - His bat took a step forward this year and he’s established himself as a true second base prospect.
Xavier Avery - The Orioles have already shown their confidence in Avery after sending him to Delmarva to start his pro career, followed by a promotion to Bowie this year. Avery has the smarts and tools to be successful against older competition and the AFL would give him another opportunity to do just that.
Who would you send to the AFL?