With the Arizona Fall League 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 AFL team 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 three or four pitchers and three or four position players. A team may add additional players who will be assigned to the “taxi-squad” who 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 start one game per week.
The AFL is an extreme hitters league, and the average player hits around .300. The average position player — not including taxi-squad players — gets about 60-70 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.
Orioles AFL Players in 2010
- Ryan Adams
- Greg Miclat
- Tyler Townsend (taxi-squad)
- Caleb Joseph
- Kam Mickolio
- Wynn Pelzer
- Oliver Drake
- Pat Egan
- Xavier Avery
Using criteria above this is who I’d send.
Ryan Berry – Whether he goes as a starter or reliever, Berry needs to make up the time that his shoulder injury cost him. He’d be one of the two allowed players from High-A or below.
Ashur Tolliver – After adding 20 pounds prior to the 2011 season, it’s clear Tolliver has returned to his pre-draft form. He’d be able to handle the extra innings and if he stays healthy should become a contributor in the major league bullpen sometime in late-2013 or 2014. He’d be one of the two allowed players from High-A or below.
Steve Johnson - Johnson has struggled since his promotion to Norfolk which hopefully makes it clear that his future is in the bullpen. It’s time to start looking at him as a big league relief option for 2012.
Wynn Pelzer – Pelzer seems to be in the bullpen for good now and, like Johnson, should be groomed for a 2012 big league job.
Joe Mahoney - Mahoney has missed nearly half of the season after spending time on the disabled-list with quad injuries. If the Orioles see him as a potential first baseman of the future, it makes sense to send him to the AFL in order to make of for the lost time due to injuries.
Xavier Avery - Avery is still more of an athlete than a baseball player at this point. Extra reps and instruction, along with at-bats against advanced competition, would go a long way into turning him into more of a baseball player.
L.J. Hoes - It’s been said numerous times: L.J. Hoes needs reps at second base. A trip to the AFL could give him some much needed time there. It’s amazing that if he plays 2B full time in the AFL, he will have played it almost as much as he did during the regular minor league season.
Brian Ward - Last year Ward was nothing more than an organizational catcher who was kept around for his defense. This year his bat has come alive, so much so that I would like to see him receive additional reps in the AFL.