The Arizona Fall League opens today in spring training complexes around the Phoenix area. The league runs from today to the championship game on November 17 and features some of the top young prospects in all of baseball competing for teams in the area.
Here's the official website
The Mariners have placed eight prospects from the organization in the league. They will play for the Peoria Javelinas, who will be managed by Dusty Wathan of the Phillies organiation. Lance Painter, who was the pitching at Double A Jackson, will serve as pitching coach for the team.
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The eight prospects are ...
LHP James Paxton 6-4, 220, Jackson (AA) -- Paxton had an up and down season, posting a 9-4 record with a 3.05 ERA in 21 starts. Part of his season was submarined when took a line drive off his knee that cost him about a month. Paxton had 110 strike outs in 106 1/3 innings pitched with 54 walks. Paxton's progress seemed to plateau a little this season. But he's still left-handed and throws in the mid 90s. His value is apparent.
C Mike Zunino: 6-2, 220 Jackson (AA) -- The Mariners top pick in the 2012 draft - and the third pick overall - had an outstanding first pro season. After decimating pitching in a longer than expected stint in Everett, he moved up to Double A Jackson and hit .333 with four doubles and three homers and a .974 OPS in 15 games.
SS/2B Nick Franklin: 6-1, 180 Tacoma (AAA) -- one of the top position prospects in the Mariners organization, this will be Franklin's third year in the AFL. After dominating at Double A, Franklin was called up midseason to Tacoma. He struggled at times with the jump in level. He hit .243 with a .725 OPS for the Rainiers in 64 games. At times, he looked overwhelmed at the plate. But it's also instructive to remember its fourth full year of professional baseball and he's only 21 years old. The bigger question is whether or not he will be a shortstop in the future. Some scouts believe he doesn't have the arm strength to play that position in the big leagues.
LHP Bobby LaFramboise 6-4, 190, Tacoma (AAA) -- The lefty reliever was outstanding for the Rainiers this season. He was 5-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 27 appearances for the Rainiers. He isn't overpowering, but he's tough on lefties. He could definitely compete for a bullpen spot next season for the Mariners as a left-on-left specialist.
RHP Logan Bawcom 6-2, 200, Jackson (AA) -- Acquired from the Dodgers in the Brandon League trade, Bawcom was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 relief appearances for the Generals. He had 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings pitched, but he also had 15 walks.
RHP Carson Smith 6-6, 205, High Desert (A+) -- Another big, strong, hard-throwing reliever. Smith was 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 49 relief appearances in the hitter-friendly Cal League. Smith struck out 77 batters in 62 innings pitched with 28 walks.
3B/OF Vincent Catricala: 6-3, 220,Tacoma (AAA) -- Catricala was the talk of spring training and then went to Tacoma and struggled early on. His numbers were so low that even an improved second half of the season couldn't really make his final numbers seem respectable. He hit .229 with 10 homers and 60 RBI with just a .640 OPS
2B Stefan Romero: 6-3, 225, Jackson (AA) -- Romero will be on the "Taxi squad" meaning he can only play two days a week - Wednesdays and Saturdays. He put up good numbers in 53 games with Class A High Desert - which is expected. But he almost matched those numbers in 60 games with Double A Jackson - hitting .347 with 12 homers and 50 RBI and a whopping 1.012 OPS.
The Javelinas will be an interesting team that also features minor league steals record setter Billy Hamilton, who stole 155 bases this season for the Reds organization. Also Padres top pitching prospect Casey Kelly will be a starter for the team.
Full rosters for all teams are after the jump ...