The Arizona Fall League wrapped up play this previous weekend. For the second yr in a row, the Shock Saguaros — rostering gamers from Kansas Metropolis, Texas, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Toronto — claimed the AFL title, defeating the Peoria Javelinas within the championship recreation. The Saguaros had been clearly the very best within the desert this autumn with a 19-11 report and +38 run differential. They weren’t fairly as stacked prospect-wise as final yr’s squad, however they featured a top-100 man in Ricky Tiedemann and another fascinating prospects like Eric Brown Jr. and Mitch Bratt. The Royals despatched a number of high prospects to Shock for the autumn, in addition to some org guys that performed key roles. Let’s check out how Royals farmhands fared within the desert. Please observe that each one of those guys include the “small pattern measurement” disclaimer.
Kansas Metropolis’s 2022 first spherical decide hoped to place an unhealthy and poor 2023 minor league exhibiting behind him with a stint within the desert. Cross performed in 4 video games over the primary couple weeks of play, then missed the subsequent three weeks with a hamstring harm. He got here again to play 4 video games as soon as the calendar turned to November, however he didn’t seem within the championship recreation. In 27 plate appearances break up between DH, proper subject, and heart subject, Cross hit .222/.353/.296 with eight strikeouts and 6 walks.
Cross’s AFL efficiency was simply as disappointing as his minor league season, and in comparable methods. His hit instrument continues to be a lot worse than anticipated popping out of Virginia Tech with numerous strikeouts and a low batting common. The ability was a letdown in addition to he did not go yard in Arizona’s pleasant energy atmosphere. On the intense aspect, he bought reps in heart subject, demonstrated his skill to work a stroll, and stole seven bases with out being caught regardless of restricted enjoying time.
Turning 23 in February, the ship has not sailed on Cross, however he could have a lot to show in subsequent yr’s minor league season.
Ending the 2023 season on the large league roster, Loftin posted strong however flukey numbers in a brief stint. This got here on the heels of two largely underwhelming minor league seasons after a robust Excessive-A exhibiting in 2021. He performed in two video games early on, one at second base and one at first, and went 3-11 with a pair doubles. For causes that had been by no means introduced, he was subsequently pulled from the Saguaros roster.
I’ve a sense that Loftin will probably be this offseason’s model of Drew Waters: a man that posted good floor degree numbers in a small pattern on the finish of the season regardless of some scary underlying metrics. That’s to not say he doesn’t deserve a shot in Kansas Metropolis subsequent season, simply don’t anticipate him to be Whit Merrifield.
Wilson was the 2023 model of Samad Taylor from final yr’s squad — with 101 plate appearances, Wilson was as shut because it will get to an on a regular basis participant within the AFL. He primarily performed second base but in addition drew some begins in left subject and at DH. Wilson bought off to a torrid begin that included a two-homer recreation, however tapered off because the autumn wore on. That is smart given his workload, with 663 plate appearances between Double-A and the Fall League, an unlimited improve over his 390 minor league PA’s in 2022. Wilson completed the circuit hitting .272/.390/.432 with an 18.8% strikeout price and 15.8% stroll price.
Relative to his Double-A season, Wilson carried out very equally with slight enhancements. He hit for extra energy and took extra walks — way more in step with his ‘22 Excessive-A efficiency — with out a significant improve in strikeout price. There was no BABIP-driven enchancment both as his .323 mark was decrease than his ‘22 and ‘23 minor league charges.
It’s unclear to me precisely what Wilson’s path is to the majors. Loftin, Taylor, and Michael Massey are all forward of him on the depth chart, and the incumbent Massey has a a lot stronger minor league monitor report than Wilson. Maybe he could be a higher model of Taylor, however we haven’t seen that materialize but.
Arriving in the identical commerce that introduced Waters to Kansas Metropolis, Alexander has been mainly the identical participant on this system as he was in Atlanta’s. Taking Loftin’s spot on the roster, Alexander made his AFL debut on October 21 and was a mainstay within the lineup the remainder of the best way. Splitting time between first base and DH, he hit .213/.291/.553 in 47 plate appearances.
Alexander is the traditional power-over-hit 1B/DH kind with strategy points. He walked 10.9% of the time in Arizona, which is healthier than he had accomplished within the higher minors, however he additionally punched out 29.1% of the time, roughly in step with his Triple-A price. He did take advantage of his contact, main the workforce with a .340 ISO, but it surely’s exhausting to deliver a lot worth offensively with an OBP under .300.
At 27 years outdated with no defensive worth to fall again on, Alexander is extra organizational depth than precise prospect. With sufficient accidents at first base subsequent yr, perhaps he can discover his approach to the roster for a bit. Alexander will not be on the 40-man roster and will probably be topic to the Rule 5 draft this winter.
Zerpa is unusually skilled for the Fall League, having pitched in components of three main league seasons. These components have amounted to simply 58.2 innings on the highest degree although, and the Royals wished him to get extra innings after being restricted by harm this yr. No pitcher “begins” within the conventional sense within the AFL, however Zerpa pitched in a multi-inning position in the beginning of video games all through the circuit. He saved his finest for final, throwing three scoreless innings with six strikeouts within the championship recreation. He in any other case struggled, nevertheless, permitting runs in 4 of his 5 different appearances. In 14.1 innings, he posted a 4.29 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 7 walks.
A pair instances within the fall, Zerpa was stung by the longball and at others he struggled throwing strikes. It was a bit head scratching when the Royals first added Zerpa to the 40-man roster and, within the three years since then, he hasn’t accomplished a lot of something to justify the transfer. He’s nonetheless solely 24, however I’ve a tough time seeing him as something greater than a swingman.
Flashing huge stuff and 30-grade command for the 2021 nationwide champion Mississippi State Bulldogs, Cerantola pitched primarily as a multi-inning reliever in 2023 between Excessive and Double-A. He occupied the identical position in Shock, pitching 14 innings throughout six appearances. He bought knocked round a bit on October 18 and misplaced the zone in his subsequent outing, however he pitched fairly effectively general with a 3.85 ERA. The peripherals had been very encouraging, with 21 strikeouts to simply six walks.
This can be a prototypical fashionable reduction prospect. Large-bodied with an upper-90s fastball, Cerantola may spin the hell out of a slider. He’s coming off a pleasant season within the minors with numerous strikeouts and an elevated however manageable stroll price. His efficiency in Shock is an efficient observe to finish the season on. Given his stuff and the present points on the large league roster, Cerantola might issue into the Royals bullpen as quickly as subsequent season ought to he proceed throwing sufficient strikes.
Drafted out of highschool in 2018, Kaufman was restricted to simply 29 innings within the minors this season. He ran strong strikeout charges and was robust to hit, but in addition struggled throwing strikes. He made seven appearances out of the bullpen within the Fall League and was solely scored on in two of them. He was usually a one inning man however was on a pair events stretched for longer. In 8.2 innings, he ran a 4.15 ERA with 9 punchouts and 5 walks. He completed significantly robust; after permitting successful to the second batter he confronted on October 24, Kaufman retired 13 of the subsequent 15 batters he confronted with out permitting successful.
Accidents and the Covid season early on could have screwed up the lefty’s growth as he threw simply 15 minor league innings previous to 2021. He posted full seasons in ‘21 and ‘22 as an old-for-the-level starter, producing strong strikeout charges however little else to hold his hat on. He’ll be 25 subsequent June and certain beginning the season in Double-A, the place the Royals must resolve if he has a future as a starter or if it’s time to maneuver to reduction. Kaufman will not be on the 40-man roster and will probably be topic to the Rule 5 draft this winter.
Acquired in a commerce for Wyatt Mills over the offseason, Wallace was quite boom-bust within the AFL. In his first outing, all 5 of his outs got here through strikeout, however he additionally bought taken deep. A pair weeks later, he walked 4 of the seven batters he confronted. He pitched a scoreless inning on October 24 then, for no matter cause, didn’t pitch once more. He completed the slate with six innings and an identical ERA, punching out 9 and strolling six.
Are you able to say “huge stuff with strike-throwing points?” Wallace throws a using fastball within the upper-90s with a superb slider and 30-grade command. He’s been wholesome within the minors and spent the final two full seasons in Double-AA, hanging out 27% of batters (good!) and strolling 18% (not good!), whereas additionally plunking eight guys and uncorking 16 wild pitches for good measure. Guys with any such stuff that keep wholesome usually get a shot finally, however he’s a really unstable prospect. Wallace will not be on the 40-man roster and will probably be topic to the Rule 5 draft this winter.
Becoming a member of the group final yr within the commerce for Andrew Benintendi, Approach bounced between beginning and reduction in his first Double-A motion. He pitched quite sparingly however was efficient till getting shelled within the final recreation earlier than the semifinals. Like Wallace, he went 666 together with his innings, earned runs, and walks. In contrast to Wallace, he solely struck out seven.
When it comes to stuff, you possibly can learn the second paragraph above and apply it right here. Approach struggled immensely in Double-A as his strikeout and stroll charges each moved within the fallacious route, although he did enhance within the second half. He was one thing of a challenge when he came to visit from the Yankees and that continues to be the case. Approach will not be on the 40-man roster and will probably be topic to the Rule 5 draft this winter.