Rancho Cucamonga, CA - Preliminary rosters were announced for the prestigious Arizona Fall League on Tuesday, and six former Quakes will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs in October and November. Corey Seager headlines the list, which also includes Blake Smith, Darnell Sweeney, Scott Schebler, Michael Thomas and Ariel Pena.
Seager, who became the second Quake ever to win the California League's Most Valuable Player Award last week, will play in the AFL for a second-straight year. He hit .181 in 19 games with the Desert Dogs last fall, but has rebounded with one of the best seasons of any Minor League player in 2014.
The infielder began 2014 in Rancho Cucamonga, where he hit .352 with 18 home runs, 34 doubles and 70 RBIs for the Quakes. Despite playing in only 80 games, Seager impressed enough to be named Cal League MVP. He was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga in July and has experienced continued offensive success in the Southern League, posting a .326 average with 14 doubles.
Blake Smith, a teammate of Seager with the Quakes in 2014, was a late addition to the squad. The right-handed pitcher played in Rancho during parts of both 2011 and 2013, though he was an outfielder during the first stint. He smacked 16 homers in 78 games, but was converted to pitcher after struggling offensively in Double-A.
The switch paid off for the Modesto native, who became a fixture in the back of Rancho's bullpen in 2014. Smith went 1-3 with a 3.54 ERA, striking out 28 and walking 13 in 28 innings on the mound. He became Rancho's closer a few weeks in to the campaign, picking up his first save on April 26 versus Lancaster. He converted nine of 10 save opportuities with the Quakes before earning a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga in June.
Scott Schebler broke onto the scene last year with the Quakes. In 2013, he led the Quakes and was second in the league with 27 homers while also driving in 91 runs and hitting 13 triples. The Dodgers named him the Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year. The success has continued at the Double-A level with Chattanooga, where he currently leads the Southern League in both home runs (27) and triples (14).
Darnell Sweeney also had a prolific offensive season in 2013 with the Quakes. In 134 games, he hit 11 home runs, 16 triples and 34 doubles while also swiping 48 bases. Sweeney, who has played second base, shortstop and center field this season, is hitting .285 with 14 homers and 32 doubles with Double-A Chattanooga.
Left-handed pitcher Michael Thomas will join those three as Dodgers to play for Glendale this fall. Thomas pitched for Rancho in both 2012 and 2013. In 23.2 innings, Thomas had a 2.28 ERA with 27 strikeouts and eight walks. He has 74 strikeouts in 58 innings of work with the Lookouts this year.
Milwaukee prospect Ariel Pena will join those four with the Desert Dogs. Pena pitched for the Quakes in 2010 as an Angels prospect. Pena was traded to the Brewers in the deal that sent current Dodger Zack Greinke to Anaheim. Pena has 140 strikeouts in 128.1 innings with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds of the Pacific Coast League this year.
The Glendale Desert Dogs will play their games at the Dodgers facility at Camelback Ranch. Double-A Erie's Lance Parrish will manage the team, which will feature prospects from the Tigers, Orioles, White Sox and Brewers in addition to the Dodgers.
The Arizona Fall League begins on October 7 and will end with the league's championship game on November 15. The league has six teams and games will be played in five MLB Spring Training complexes in Arizona.
You can learn more about the Arizona Fall League and follow it on its official website here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.