The AFL rosters for this fall have been announced, with five Rangers having been assigned to the Grand Canyon Raftors: Wes Littleton, Nick Masset, Kevin Mahar, Drew Meyer, and Mike Nickeas.
Meyer and Littleton are both Rule 5 eligible this offseason, and are both guys who appear to be on the bubble...like Mario Ramos after the 2002 season, whether or not they make it onto the 40 man roster may well depend on how they perform in the AFL. Both players could stick on a major league roster -- Meyer as a utility man off the bench, Littleton in the back of a bullpen -- which makes the decision on them a little tougher.
With Nickeas, the Rangers likely want to see him get some more at bats, after a terrible AA campaign this year which featured significant time lost to injury.
Masset struggled badly at Frisco this year, as well, and was dropped from the 40 man roster in the middle of the season. The decision to send him to Arizona is curious...generally, pitchers who go to the AFL are guys who need innings, and Masset pitched the whole season for Frisco (he should crack 150 innings for the year in his next start). Plus, Masset seems unlikely to be put back on the 40 man roster this offseason, and one would think that a team would be reluctant to give another team that close of a look at a Rule 5 eligible guy.
Mahar is a classic underdog, an undrafted free agent outfielder signed out of college by the Rangers in 2004. He's hit quite well in A-ball this year, but at 24, he's old to be in A-ball. The AFL should give the Rangers a better read on whether he's a prospect or not.
The Rangers still have one more pitcher that they will send to the AFL...my guess is that Scott Feldman and Mark Roberts would be the top candidates.