The 2014 Arizona Fall League rosters were announced Tuesday, and the Cincinnati Reds will send four of their best prospects to participate.
Seth Mejias-Brean, Ryan Wright, Kyle Waldrop, and an apparently healthy Jesse Winker will all represent the Reds and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Land of the Endless Strip Mall, where they'll also be joined by their manager, Delino DeShields, who will be at the helm of the Surprise Saguaros for six weeks this fall. Last year, the Reds sent eight of their farmhands to the AFL.
Winker's inclusion is especially nice to see considering he's been on the DL with a car crash induced wrist injury for several weeks and will likely miss the remainder of Pensacola's season. The Reds top hitting prospect struggled a bit after his midseason call-up from Bakersfield, so it will be nice for him to get some more swings under his belt instead of having his season end on such a sour note.
Waldrop, an OF and the Reds 12th round pick in 2010 out of high school in Florida, has mashed his way through two levels at age 22 this season, sporting a lofty .337/.387/.508 line in 515 PA between Bakersfield and Pensacola, considerably better across the board than any of his previous seasons.
Both Mejias-Brean and Wright had similar impressive success at Bakersfield, but both have seen their offense slip significantly since their promotion to Double-A. Regardless, they remain among the top infield prospects in the Reds' thin system, so it's understandable that they'd be included in the AFL for the Reds to get extra looks at what they've got.
The Reds have opted not to send any of their pitching prospects to the AFL this year, meaning that 2014 1st round draft pick Nick Howard won't follow the same developmental path as Michael Lorenzen did last season. Since both were drafted out of college as closers with the plan to develop them into starting pitchers, there had been some thought that Howard may spend time stretching out over the fall much the way Lorenzen did in 2013 when he pitched with the Glendale Desert Dogs. Not including top prospect Robert Stephenson isn't much of a shock, either, as he's already logged 129.2 innings so far in 2014.
The AFL season begins on October 7th and will run through November 15th.
The full Saguaros roster can be found here.
It appears that the full Saguaros roster linked above isn't exactly as full as it is supposed to be.
According to Jamie Ramsey, the Reds will send a pair of pitchers to the AFL, as well, with Nick Howard being one of them and therefore negating what I wrote up above.
Joining Howard will be Ben Klimesh.
Why they aren't included on the Saguaros roster and website I do not know.