As the Phillies minor league teams wind up the 2014 season the end of the month, and with the exception of the GCL Phillies, none are in the playoff hunt so we must look ahead. In a few weeks the Fall ball rosters will be announced to the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
It was in the AFL in 2012 where Cody Asche led that league in doubles and proved he was major league timber. In 2013 Ken Giles burst on to the scene and drew raves with his high 90’s fastball and devastating slider in the Fall Stars game by getting two strikeouts in his one inning of work.
Who will the Phillies AFL players be this time? Each team provide at least six players to make up the six team, two division league. The Phillies players will be assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions.
The Scottsdale will be managed by Jeff Bannister and will have players from the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates and Giants. Phillies AAA pitching coach Ray Burris and Mike Couchee will serve as the team’s pitching coaches, and the Yankees’ P.J. Pilittre will be the team’s hitting coach.
The eligibility rules to play in the AFL are: The roster size is 30 players per team. Each Major League organization is required to provide six players subject to the following requirements: All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, provided the players are on at least a AA level roster no later than Aug. 1. One player below the Double-A level is allowed per Major League team. One foreign player is allowed, as long as the player does not reside in a country that participates in winter ball, as part of the Caribbean Confederation or the Australian winter league.
No players with more than one year of credited Major League service as of August 31 are eligible, except a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft. To be eligible, players on Minor League disabled lists must be activated at least 45 days before the conclusion of their respective seasons.
These rules limit who can play in the AFL. Likely Phillies to be selected are outfielders Kelly Dugan and Aaron Altherr, the A ball representative from last season. They were scheduled to play last year in the league. Dugan suffered an foot injury and was replaced by Cameron Perkins. Altherr had a wrist injury and played sparingly. Lehigh Valley catcher Cameron Rupp also played and remains a candidate for a repeat. Logan Moore with Reading would be another catching prospect who could be selected.
The Phillies have not traditionally sent eligible starting pitchers to the AFL so it is unlikely any will be assigned. Last year Mike Nesseth, Kyle Simon, Austin Wright and Giles were on the AFL roster of the Peoria Javelinas. Relief pitchers such as Reading’s Colton Murray and Lehigh Valley’s Tyler Knigge and Reading’s reliever turned starter Ryan O’Sullivan could be other candidates.
Some likely players from below AA to go to the AFL are top prospect shortstop J.P. Crawford and center fielder Roman Quinn. Crawford has not played in the last several games for Clearwater perhaps to give him a breather for later action. Quinn missed the first half of the season with injuries. Unlikely but possible, pitcher Severino Gonzalez from Panama and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez formerly from Cuba could be international players to go.
The FSL opens October 7th with the Scorpions taking on the Salt River Rafters and the season ends on Nov. 13th in the Arizona desert.
The Florida Instructional League is usually reserved for recent international signings and draftees. It has traditionally lasted for four weeks starting in mid September until the Friday before the Columbus Day weekend. The Phillies instructs play the nearby Blue Jays, Yankees and Pirates instructs over three weeks at the Carpenter Complex.
Several Phillies scouts including Jose Valendia and Charlie Manuel along with minor league director Joe Jordan are in Clearwater currently attending GCL and Threshers games with notebooks in hand to no doubt finalize the Fall rosters.
On September 1st the 25 man major league rosters can be expanded up to as many as the 40 man roster limit. Of course the maximun never happens but expect top prospect Maikel Franco to be added to the 40 man roster and to make his major league debut. He will join the usual suspects such as utility players Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez, catcher Cameron Rupp and pitcher Ethan Martin among others already on the 40 man roster.