The Arizona Fall League has long been a way for the top prospects in each MLB organization to get a little bit more seasoning against top competition, and the 2015 edition gets started Tuesday afternoon in the Land of the Endless Strip Mall. This year, the Cincinnati Reds have sent seven farmhands to the AFL to join up with prospects from the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, and Seattle Mariners on the Peoria Javelinas, and former stalwart MLB catcher Rod Barajas will be their manager.
Alex Blandino, Nick Travieso, and Phil Ervin highlight the Reds contingent, as each are former 1st round draftees by Chris Buckley & Co. Blandino's coming off a solid first full season campaign, as the Stanford product and 2014 1st rounder posted a .364 OBP across A+ and AA. Travieso - still just 21 years old - also made strides in 2015, as the 2012 1st rounder dropped a solid 2.70 ERA in 93.1 IP in Daytona (though he missed time after being hit by a comebacker and is likely in the AFL to help recoup those lost innings). Ervin will hope to rediscover the swing that he had at the outset of the 2015 season - the one that saw him sport a 1.121 OPS and hit 7 dingers in 91 April PAs - as the 2013 1st rounder will look to ditch the one that saw him hit just .220/.330/.315 from May 1st through the end of his season.
Those three will be joined by catcher Chad Wallach and relievers Stephen Johnson, Zack Weiss, and Layne Somsen as the Reds representatives. You can find the complete Javelinas roster here, where you'll also find highly regarded Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson as well as former University of Kentucky pitcher (and Mariners rotation regular) James Paxton, who will be trying to log some innings after missing the majority of the season with a finger problem.
First up for the Javelinas will be a contest against the Surprise Saguaros, with first pitch set for 2:35 PM EST.
On a slightly different - albeit still MiLB related - note, the first round of minor league roster transactions were announced on Tuesday morning, and Baseball America has the complete list of what each team was up to. Several notable players elected to become free agents (Jemile Weeks, Dillon Gee, Javy Guerra, Shaun Marcum, Conor Gillaspie, Steve Lombardozzi, Todd Redmond, and Ernesto Frieri, among others), but there were no players with whom the Reds cut ties.
The real item of note on this list, really, is the recall of both Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez, both of whom I believed were out of options after the 2015 season. Their respective statuses will be interesting to follow this off-season, as the two talented young OFs got huge signing bonuses as teenagers but haven't yet developed the way the Reds had hoped.