After enjoying a nice little break from minor league coverage (finding good information about the instructional leagues proved to be difficult), we get right back to it with coverage of the Arizona Fall League. We will also be doing a weekly recap on Sundays where we will go through all of the Braves' prospects that are taking part in winter leagues this offseason. However, lets first take a look at the Arizona Fall League and what to expect over the next couple of months.
The Arizona Fall League
The Arizona Fall League started in the early 1990's as a way for teams to allow prospects to have easy access to an offseason baseball league and give players an option that wasn't out of the country and difficult to oversee. The way it works is that in August there is a position draft where the players are chosen. Each club can send up to seven players but no more than two of those can be from below Double-A, so naturally the league is made up primarily of Double and Triple-A players. Once the players are chosen and assigned a team, they start playing in mid-October (this year games start on October 13th) and play essentially a full schedule of games (with Sundays off) until right before Thanksgiving. There are six teams in the the AFL which are each comprised of players from five different organizations: the Peoria Javelinas, Glendale Desert Dogs, Scottsdale Scorpions, Mesa Solar Sox, Salt River Rafters, and Surprise Saguaros. We will be following the Peoria Javelinas this year as that is the team that will contain the prospects the Braves are sending. With that in mind...
The 2015 AFL Season
Season Begins: October 13th, 2015
Season Ends: November 21st, 2015 (Championship Game)
Braves' Team Affiliation: Peoria Javelinas
Braves Representatives: Lucas Sims, Daniel Winkler, Mauricio Cabrera, Andrew Thurman, Joseph Odom, Johan Camargo, Connor Lien
Three of the four pitchers the Braves are sending to Arizona missed significant amounts of time this year with injuries (Thurman and Sims missed significant amounts of time after the Carolina Mudcats bus crash while Daniel Winkler was recovering from Tommy John surgery). Sims and Thurman are highly regarded prospects and Sims in particular could use a strong performance in the AFL to regain his momentum towards getting a shot in the majors. The AFL may be the final audition for Mauricio Cabrera as to whether or not he gets to keep his spot on the 40 man roster. Joseph Odom is a bit of a surprising member of the roster, but at the same time the pickings league wide at catcher are pretty slim. Johan Camargo appears on man top 25 Braves prospect lists and could open some eyes with a good performance down in Arizona. Finally, one of the more interesting prospects in the AFL is Connor Lien. Its certain that he will impress with his glove as he had an All-World defensive season for Carolina, but if he can continue his development at the plate (in particular with plate discipline and OBP) and put a good line together in the AFL he will start climbing prospect ranks in a hurry.