Monday evening the Detroit Tigers released their list of players that will be participating in the Arizona Fall League. The annual six-week league showcases some of baseballs top young prospects in a post-season instructional league. This season the Detroit Tigers will be sending Will Rhymes, Danny Worth, Casey Crosby, Rob Brantly, Tyler Stohr and Matt Hoffman to the annual showcase in the desert.
While names like Crosby and Brantly were expected, I anticipated this seasons AFL installement to feature household names like Drew Smyly, Gustavo Nunez, Avisail Garcia, Austin Wood and Kenny Faulk. There are several winter leagues though, so I’m sure they will surface somewhere this off-season. However, the AFL is usually reserved for top-teir talent.
Perhaps the two oddest names on the list are 28-year-old Rhymes and 25-year-old Worth. The AFL is typically reserved for “prospects”. No disrespect, but neither Rhymes or Worth is anything near a “prospect”. Regardless, in 103 games with Triple-A Toledo, Rhymes has hit .303 with 17 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 24 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Rhymes hit .221 in 68 at-bats for the Tigers before being sent down to Triple-A Toledo. As for Worth, the slick fielding middle infielder has hit .244 in 81 games as a Mud Hen this year. He racked 18 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 32 RBI as a ‘Hen.
Hoffman allowed 56 hits and issued 22 walks in 57 1/3 innings out of the Triple-A Toledo bullpen. The 22-year-old southpaw racked up 41 strikeouts to go along with his 3.45 ERA. Fellow reliever Stohr has a combined 3.93 ERA between Advanced-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie this season. He has issued 25 walks while striking out 49 in 55 innings of work. The 24-year-old was selected in the 6th round of the infamous 2008 reliever draft.
In just his first full season of professional ball, catcher Rob Brantly has a combined .278 average between Low-A West Michigan and Advanced-A Lakeland. Known for his bat, Brantly has hit 22 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs and 61 RBI this season. Earlier this season Brantly was kind enough to participate in a Q&A with me.
The sixth and final member of the roster is starting pitcher Casey Crosby. The Tommy John survivor has been plagued by several injuries in the past. However, aside from missing a couple weeks, Crosby turned in a solid season at Double-A Erie. Crosby finished 8-7 with a 4.30 ERA, 73 walks and 113 strikeouts over 125 2/3 innings. The walks are ridiculously high but Crosby continues to miss bats and intrigue scouts. I’m curious to see how Crosby handles the competition and talent in the AFL.
For a look at some of Detroits former AFL participants that dried up in the desert, check out Mike McClarys piece over on the SweetSpot Blog. Much like the Waynes World movies from the 90’s, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll hurl!