- The Rangers have announced that they are sending eight players to the Arizona Fall League: catcher Kellin Deglan, infielders Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness, and Luis Sardinas, and pitchers Miguel De Los Santos, Jimmy Reyes, Ryan Rodebaugh and Ben Rowen.
- Sardinas is the most intriguing name on the list. He's 19 years old and was signed at the same time as Jurickson Profar, with many evaluators thinking at the time that Sardinas was the superior talent. He's been hampered with shoulder injuries throughout his pro career, but when healthy, he's considered a top flight defender at shortstop. Drew Davison said in his notes column today that Sardinas will be the youngest player in the AFL.
- De Los Santos, Garcia, and Deglan are the other relatively prominent names on the list. De Los Santos is on the 40 man roster, has what Jason Parks has described as perhaps the best pitch in the minor league system (an 80 changeup), but whose command issues have kept him from having more success. This could be a chance for the Rangers to see him a little more before deciding whether he's worth keeping on the 40 man the rest of the season. Garcia and Deglan are decent prospects with strong defensive skills whose likely ceiling is in a reserve role at the major league level.
- The decision to send McGuiness to the AFL is an interesting one. McGuiness, a 13th round draft choice of the BoSox in 2009 who came over to Texas in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade, has had a nice season for Frisco. The lefty first baseman is hitting .262/.360/.469, and his 829 OPS ranks 8th in the Texas League among players with enough plate appearances to qualify. He's also improved as the season has gone on...after a slow April and May, he's had OPSs of 984, 801 and 875 in June, July and August. McGuiness is 24, so he's probably the next Jason Jones or Nate Gold type of organizational soldier rather than a future major leaguer, but his progress is worth keeping an eye on.
- Ben Rowen is also a guy whose performance I'll be closing tracking in the AFL. Rowen was a 22nd round draft pick out of Virginia Tech in the 2010 draft, and as a submariner, has been used exclusively as a reliever in the minors. But what a reliever...check out these stats
- I'm surprised Rowen hasn't been moved up from high-A yet this season, as the lower levels haven't provided him with much of a challenge, so the AFL, which generally features better hitting prospects than pitching prospects, should provide him with his stiffest test as a pro.
- Another reliever who is generating some buzz is lefty Joe Ortiz. The diminutive Venezuelan lefty (he's listed at 5'7", 175) has a 2.24 ERA in 60.1 relief innings between Frisco and Round Rock, striking out 51 Ks while allowing just 8 unintentional walks (but also 8 home runs). Ortiz has allowed lefties to put up a miserly .211/.219/.400 slash line against him this season, and the fact that he's NOT on the AFL roster could be an indication he's a candidate for a September call-up. The Rangers' bullpen could use another lefthander, and Ortiz (who is Rule 5 eligible after the season, and thus would have to be added to the 40 man roster or exposed to the Rule 5 draft anyway) could find himself auditioning, along with Michael Kirkman and Martin Perez, for a potential postseason roster spot once rosters expand.
- Engel Beltre's mystifying summer has continued. We were excited when Beltre posted a .263/.311/.505 line in April, then wrote him off when he followed it up with a .258/.301/.379 line and a .180/.219/.240 in May and June. He's hit .308/.352/.592 in July and .284/.342/.385 in August, though, making his second half somewhat respectable, and he still has plus defense in centerfield. He's not likely going to be a first division starter, as his walk and strikeout numbers will never be acceptable, but he's someone who could contribute as a fourth or fifth outfielder for a number of years.