While most Blue Jays fans are rightfully focusing on the big clubs remaining games — something about a 22 year playoff hiatus and all — those of us who keep an eye on the minor leaguers also have the off-season leagues to look forward to.
This year’s edition of the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League won’t have the most exciting crop of Jays farmhands but with power hitting first basemen Rowdy Tellez (apparently fully recovered from a broken hamate bone that ended his season in early August), ex Vancouver Canadian speedster Roemon Fields and ex-prospect cum org filler Matthew Dean on the roster, it’ll still be worth watching (pitchers Brady Dragmire, Justin Shafer and Chad Girdo are also going). And the fact the AFL is affiliated with MLB makes it far easier to follow.
There’ll be other Jays heading off to the various southern hemisphere winter leagues and we should start seeing those announcements over the next month or so.
The younger kids will be heading back to school as they make their way to Dunedin to take part in the Instructional League (‘Instructs’).
For those unfamiliar with instructs the details (courtesy of mlb.com):
The Fall Instructional League (from MLB.com) A mid September through October league made up of lower level players (and younger players/prospects) from one (MLB) Major League organization. It is considered a “teaching league” and is based at individual Florida spring training facilities that are used in the Grapefruit League (Florida spring training).
The goal is to refine the skills of young players under the close coaching eyes of that organizations coaching and scouting staff and on occasion, even executives. Baseball rosters are determined by the front office, and typically include the most highly-regarded prospects from the lower levels of the system. Approximately 45 players are invited to participate each year. Others players who are commonly invited include A-Ball players who missed significant time in the recently completed season, players who are rehabbing from injuries, players who are prepping for the Arizona Fall League, and raw players who are learning a new position or focusing on the development of a specific skill.
An invitation generally indicates that the team is willing to invest time and money on a player’s development. A typical Instructional League day includes drill work from 9am – noon, lunch, and then a 1pm game. The games are controlled and allow for players to continue to work on specific skill development. A significant portion of the individual ball clubs management team attends each year to examine the next crop of prospects.
Of course, the Jays traded away a good chunk of their prospects but there’s still some interesting names on the below roster (hello Vlad Guerrero Jr!!).
Many fellow prospectors were surprised at the omission of Anthony Alford from the AFL. I had been told it was to give him a break after his first full baseball season — which included a trip to Australia last winter. So I’m a bit surprised to see him below. Would have thought a break would be a full break.
I’m still trying to get more information but the fact that Max Pentecost isn’t on the list can’t be good news. I reported in July that Pentecost had a ‘minor’ setback when extending his throwing program out to 120 feet. The fact he isn’t in uniform suggest the injury wasn’t as minor as first thought. I’m starting to worry that we may never see Max at full fitness again
Apologies for the 2-stage picture, was fighting with acrobat a bit.