Byron Buxton and Javier Baez are among the biggest names headed to Arizona this fall as Major League Baseball revealed the rosters for the 2013 Arizona Fall League on Tuesday.
Buxton, currently ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLB.com, joins a long list of elite prospects headed for the AFL, an annual two-month league that showcases some of the game's best young talent. The Twins outfielder will be joined by a trio of Cubs prospects in Baez, who ranks second in the Minors with 25 homers, outfielder Jorge Soler and 2013 first-round pick Kris Bryant.
The AFL begins on Oct. 8 and will feature up to three games each day at Arizona's Spring Training complexes. The league's annual Rising Stars game will be televised live on MLB Network on Nov. 2 two weeks before the AFL Championship on Nov. 16 in Scottsdale.
Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, figures to draw a lot of attention after his first full season in the Minors -- in 117 games, the 19-year-old is batting .335 with 12 homers, 75 RBIs, 52 stolen bases and a .426 on-base percentage at two levels. The Twins prospect will highlight a Glendale roster that will also include prospects from the Dodgers, Marlins, Reds and White Sox.
"I'm new to this whole process, but I know there are lot of good players who have gone to the [Arizona] Fall League," Bryant told MLB.com. "I'm excited I get to continue playing baseball. The games will only help me in my development against some very good competition.
"The progress I've made so far in my time with Boise and Daytona has been pretty good. I'm very pleased with how things have gone. Obviously, there are still adjustments that need to be made. I'm excited to continue to learn and compete with guys who are close to the big leagues."
"I think we felt like [Buxton has] shown he's ready from a skill perspective," Minnesota farm director Brad Steil told MLB.com. "As mature as he is, I think he can go out there and handle being in that type of environment. We wanted him to get the opportunity to face a little bit better pitching before the end of the season, so I think it was a good fit."
Baez and his fellow Cubs prospects will lead Mesa, a team that also consists of players from the Athletics, Nationals and Tigers organizations.
This year's AFL will include at least 25 players currently ranked among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects. Baez (9), Soler (27) and Bryant (37) will be joined by Oakland's Addison Russell (19) and Nationals top prospect Brian Goodwin (67) in Mesa. Albert Almora, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2012 Draft, is expected to join his AFL teammates later in the season as a part-time player.
"It's really exciting for us," Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod told MLB.com. "Javier has had a great year, and he didn't get to play as much last year in the AFL because of the injury. Kris is ready to be pushed. Soler was going to go [to make up for lost time]. Albert [Almora] missed time, so he'll go to the instructional league and then the taxi squad, which will be good for him.
Though the Astros own eight of MLB.com's Top 100 prospects, only one -- Delino DeShields Jr. -- is slated to join the AFL when he heads to Peoria. He is listed as an outfielder, which would be a position switch for the second baseman.
Other notable prospects on AFL rosters include Blue Jays No. 1 prospect Aaron Sanchez (Salt River), Mariners No. 2 prospect Danny Hultzen (Peoria), Padres No. 2 prospect Austin Hedges (Peoria), Yankees No. 2 Mason Williams (Scottsdale) and Pirates No. 3 Alen Hanson (Scottsdale).
Team and org breakdown
Mesa Solar Sox: Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Nationals, Tigers
Salt River Rafters: Blue Jays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rays, Rockies
Scottsdale Scorpions: Braves, Giants, Mets, Pirates, Yankees
Glendale Desert Dogs: Dodgers, Marlins, Reds, Twins, White Sox
Peoria Javelinas: Astros, Mariners, Padres, Phillies, Royals
Surprise Saguaros: Brewers, Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox
Top 100 prospects in the AFLThe following Top 100 MLB prospects are scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League this year.
|22||Aaron Sanchez||Blue Jays||Salt River|
|85||Garin Cecchini||Red Sox||Surprise|
|94||Marcus Stroman||Blue Jays||Salt River|