Each October and November, some of baseball’s biggest prospects descend upon the Phoenix area for the Arizona Fall League.
This week, the majority of roster spots for the six-team league were announced, and a few Arizona Wildcats will be back playing games in the state of AZ.
So far, those guys are: James Farris, Brandon Dixon, Scott Kingery and Willie Calhoun. Former Arizona signee Michael Kopech will also be there, as well as Alex Verdugo, a talented player from Sahuaro HS in Tucson.
Two of these players were on the 2012 National Championship team, so let’s start with them. All stats were through Wednesday, August 31st.
Farris is currently playing for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies in the Chicago Cubs organization after starting the year in Single-A. He’s gone from starting games at UA to being a late-game reliever for the Cubs. Farris has never started a game in his professional career, but has finished 57 of the 87 games he’s appeared in, including 22 saves.
In 25 appearances for the Smokies this year, Farris has five saves and an ERA of 2.83. That fifth save came on Wednesday, when he worked two perfect innings and struck out two. His WHIP is down to 1.057. He will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall, who play their home games in Sloan Park.
Dixon has spent the entire year with Double-A Pensacola in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He’s blasted a team-high 16 home runs, which is the third-highest total among players in the Southern League this year. Dixon has a .265 batting average with Pensacola, which is up slightly from his .244 average with Double-A Tulsa last year.
He actually played in the AFL last year, getting 66 plate appearances with the Glendale Desert Dogs. This year, he will play for the Peoria Javelinas, who play their home games at Peoria Sports Complex.
Kingery has the exact same batting average as Dixon at the Double-A level, though the Philadelphia Phillies prospect has only been with the Reading team for 33 games. His on-base percentage leaves something to be desired at .292, but he’s also only made one error at second base since being promoted to Reading.
When he comes to Arizona, Kingery will be playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who are based out of Scottsdale Stadium. In my mind, the Scorpions will always be known as the team that had both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in their outfield one year.
Now for the others. Calhoun played one year at Arizona before transferring to Yavapai Community College and becoming a 4th round draft pick in 2015. He’s already played in the Futures Game this year and will now play for the Glendale Desert Dogs at Camelback Ranch. Calhoun is hitting .261 in 127 games with Double-A Tulsa in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system.
Verdugo is Calhoun’s teammate in Tulsa, and is hitting .276 this year. He’ll also be playing for the Desert Dogs.
Kopech elected for pro ball instead of going to U of A after the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 1st round (33rd overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft. He has made 11 starts for High-A Salem, and is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA. Six of the 13 earned runs he’s allowed this year came on Wednesday. He’ll be playing for the Surprise Saguaros.
The Arizona Fall League is scheduled to start on Tuesday, October 11th. It runs through November 19th. You can find the complete schedule here.