Just a quick update as to what happens during the offesason for minor leaguers. The bulk of the youngest guys, players who spent 2014 in A-ball, the Dominican Summmer League, Rookie League, and short-season, head to Surprise for the Fall Instructional season. Lots of work to be done here. This is a good time to teach a 17 year-old pitcher how to throw a pickoff to 2B without balking every time. This is the place to teach a speedy kid how to go first-to-third on a base hit to rightfield. It is just what it sounds like- instructional. That said, the kids are divided up pretty quickly, with the "Advanced" team being separated from the really raw kiddos. They play lots of intrasquad games as well as ones against other teams who train in Arizona. Basically, it's like Spring Training, without big leaguers.
There are games Monday through Saturday from now until October 10th, they are casual and they are free, so if you're out that way, swing by and catch a glimpse of the future.
Some of the notable names out there this season include DSL champs; Marcos Diplan, Samuel Zazueta, Yimmelvyn Alonzo, Luis Terrero, and Brallan Perez. The Rookie League team is well represented by damn near the entire roster. A big chunk of Spokane including Jose Trevino, Seth Spivey, and Luke Tendler are there as well. Hickory and Myrtle Beach (sniff, sniff) have names including Akeem Bostick, Colin Wiles, Cole Wiper, Lewis Brinson, Travis Demeritte, Michael De Leon, Ryan Cordell, Jose Leclerc, and Abel De Los Santos.
The big bombers are out there as well; Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro all will play for the Advanced team. As will Frisco stalwarts Hanser Alberto and Doobie Herrera.
Not many pitchers from AA play in the Instructional league. Double-A seems to be the delineation between "Here, do this", and "Hey, you should go home, but still do this." So no LuJax, Chi Chi, Eickhoff, Asher, or Thompson. Kela and Lamb are cooling their jets elsewhere.
Basically, anyone who hasn't made it to AA yet is there, and almost anyone who has played a full-season in AA isn't.
Everything wraps up on October 10th and the kids will be dispersed to the Earth in hopes that they don't eat cake all winter and arrive back for Spring Training looking like...[insert out of shape guy here].
The Arizona Fall League, which is much more prestigious and features mostly talent from (or destined for) the upper levels of the minors will begin October 7th. Texas has preliminarily assigned Lisalverto Bonilla, Cody Kendall, Josh McElwee, Sam Wolff, Pat Cantwell, and Nick Williams to the Surprise Saguaros roster. Along with an infielder named "Jurickson Profar". Can't wait to see what he does out there. I spoke with him last month, and he is incredibly motivated to play competitive baseball again. The AFL will wrap up November 15th at which time, the groundskeepers in Arizona begin to prepare for their close-ups.