While the big club’s season continues in the playoffs, the minor league players are continuing their seasons as well. This is the time of year where prospects go to Instructional League, or for a select few prospects, they go to the Arizona Fall League.
The Arizona Fall League is essentially an opportunity for major league clubs to test their top prospects in an environment against other top prospects, regardless of age or level. Not all top prospects go, some teams prefer to send guys they just drafted, or guys that may have had injury. Each team allocates players, and this season the Tigers have allocated 7 guys to the Salt River Rafters. Pitchers Casey Crosby, Matt Hoffman, Tyler Stohr, and Andy Oliver will be pitching for the Rafters. Offensively, the Tigers have Rob Brantly, Dixon Machado, and Hernan Perez on the squad.
The Rafters are made up of five organizations, the Tigers, Rockies, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Astros. While the roster isn’t loaded, there is some good players on the team. Nolen Arenado, a 3B from the Rockies organization will be one to watch, and so will Tim Wheeler, also of the Rockies.
This will be a good test for the Tigers youngsters, especially the pitchers. The environment in the league favors the hitters incredibly, but this will be a repeat for two guys, Andy Oliver and Matt Hoffman.
While the AFL doesn’t necessarily equate to major league success if a player does well there, it certainly does drive up the value of a player that performs well. Matt Hoffman put himself on the prospect map by touching the mid 90’s with his fastball regularly. There is opportunity here for pitchers to face guys like Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, or hitters to face Gerit Cole and Danny Hultzen.
So far on the season, the AFL is only 3 games in, however, some Tigers are making their presence felt already. Today, the Salt River Rafters won 3-2 against Bryce Harper’s Scottsdale team, with Dixon Machado and Hernan Perez teaming up for the winning run.
Andy Oliver got the start for the Rafters today, and went just 1.2 innings and gave up the 2 runs. Perez led off for the Rafters and finished the day 3-5 with a double and the game winning RBI. Machado was 2-3 with a walk. The damage in the ninth done by Perez and Machado was done off major league pitcher Chris Tillman of the Orioles.
*We will continue to give you updates on the AFL and how the Tigers minor leaguers are doing, as well as other minor league happenings.