Rays Prospects in the Arizona Fall League
Every fall, Major League teams must send at least six minor league players to the Arizona Fall League, a league designed for the development of young players. This season the Rays have sent seven players to the AFL, which began on Tuesday, who are playing for the Peoria Javelinas. Here we break down those seven prospects (none of whom played for the Bulls this season), and take a look at some of the other big names from around the AFL.
OF Kes Carter – The 56th overall pick in 2011 out of Western Kentucky University, Carter split 2014 between Advanced-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, combining to hit .235-5-44 with 24 doubles and 13 steals in 20 attempts.
RHP Zach Cooper – The 24-year-old spent his first season in the Rays system with Advanced-A Charlotte, going 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA out of the bullpen. Of his 22 appearances, 15 were scoreless, but he allowed two earned runs or more in six of his outings.
INF Patrick Leonard – Advanced-A Charlotte’s Team MVP in 2014, Leonard had a solid season, hitting .284-13-58. His .448 slugging percentage was the third-best in the Florida State League, while his career-high 79 runs scored was good for fourth-best on the circuit. He was a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts, while also setting a career-high with 126 hits, 49 walks, a .359 OBP and tying a career-high with 26 doubles. Leonard joined the organization in the trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.
RHP Matt Lollis – Traded to the Rays from the Padres before the 2014 season in the Alex Torres deal, Lollis was 6-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 49 relief outings for Double-A Montgomery this season. Standing at 6’9″ and 250 pounds, the 24-year-old struck out 70 batters in 73.2 frames this season.
C Justin O’Conner – The Rays Minor League Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, O’Conner spent the majority of the season with Advanced-A Charlotte (80 games) before a late-season promotion to Double-A Montgomery (21 games). Between the two levels the 2014 Futures Game selection was fantastic behind the plate, throwing out 33-of-60 runners, good for a 55% clip. Offensively he combined to hit a career-best .278 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs.
RHP Colton Reavis – In just his second year of pro ball, and first full season, Reavis was sharp out of the bullpen for both Single-A Bowling Green (27 games) and Advanced-A Charlotte (15 games). He combined to go 3-3 with a 2.15 ERA, including a 1.02 ERA with the Stone Crabs. He saved 14 games on the season, finished 38 of the 42 games he appeared in, and struck out 68 in 62.2 frames while walking 26.
RHP Jaime Schultz – The lone starting pitcher the Rays are sending to the AFL, Schultz started 14 games between Single-A Bowling Green (9) and Advanced-A Charlotte (5). He began the season on the DL and was limited to just 60.0 innings between the two levels, but struck out 79, good for a K/9 ratio of 11.8.
Additionally, C Luke Maile will serve as a “Taxi Squad” player for the Surprise Saguaros. Maile spent the entire 2014 regular season with Double-A Montgomery, hitting .268-5-37 for the Biscuits, before joining the Bulls for the postseason. In the IL Playoffs Maile caught five games, hitting .176-0-2 in his first five career Triple-A contests. As a Taxi Squad player, Maile will only be allowed to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Other Top Prospects
The AFL is known for featuring some of the game’s top prospects each fall, so here’s a list of some of the top prospects featured on each team. The number in parentheses indicates their rank on MLB.com’s Top 100 Propsect List.
Glendale: Cory Seager (13), Tim Anderson (82)
Mesa: Addison Russell (5), Daniel Robertson (85), Dalton Pompey (88)
Peoria: Franciso Lindor (4), Raul Mondesi (38)
Salt River: Byron Buxton (1), Archie Bradley (9), Mark Appel (41)
Scottsdale: Josh Bell (29), Nick Kingham (58), Brandon Nimmo (60)
Surprise: D.J. Peterson (49), Hunter Renfroe (71), Trea Turner (96)