While MLB’s postseason battles Halloween for October supremacy, some of the league’s top prospects will head to Arizona for Fall League — six weeks of extended instructional play at six of the Spring Training stadiums. The AFL begins in Arizona today, October 9.
The AFL is one of my favorite times of the year (other than Rocktober) and it’s the league that truly sparked my passion for baseball a few years ago when I started attending games. During my first AFL season, I was lucky enough to meet Ryan McMahon and see him win the Bowman Hitting Challenge for the AFL East. Here’s all you need to know about Arizona Fall League, 2018 edition.
How does the AFL work?
The AFL is six weeks of extended instructional play for minor league prospects (and non-prospects) that are close to the major leagues. There are six AFL teams with 35-man rosters, and each one is composed of seven players from five major league teams. Most are from Double-A and Triple-A, but teams can send two prospects from lower than Double-A if they choose. They come to Arizona to work on their skills in front of major and minor league scouts and executives, almost like an extra spring training opportunity.
Rockies minor leaguers share the Salt River Rafters with players from the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Twins, and Nationals.
Rockies of AFL Past
Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki are prospects who previously represented the Rockies in the AFL. Holliday was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2014. Nolan Arenado had perhaps the best performance of any Rockies player though, when he won AFL MVP honors in 2011 after hitting .388/.423/.626.
Who’s on the Rockies prospect roster?
Ryan Castellani leads the crew of four PuRPs to play in the AFL. Josh Fuentes, the PCL MVP, is the most notable of the three non-PuRPs who will appear. Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers was initially included on the AFL roster, but the Rockies removed him in late September. Rodgers suffered from shoulder tightness late in the season, and the Rockies opted to let him rest this offseason. Tyler Nevin took Rodgers’ place on the roster. Here is the full lineup of Rockies prospects who will play at Salt River Fields:
Ryan Castellani (no. 7 PuRP): RHP, Hartford Yard Goats
Mitch Horacek: LHP, Hartford Yard Goats
Justin Lawrence: RHP, Lancaster JetHawks
Jesus Tinoco (no. 21 PuRP): RHP, Hartford Yard Goats
Josh Fuentes: 3B, Albuquerque Isotopes
Tyler Nevin (no. 12 PuRP): 1B, Lancaster JetHawks
Sam Hilliard (no. 13 PuRP): OF, Hartford Yard Goats
If you’re planning to go
There are three games a day, except for Sundays, either at 12:35 pm or 6:35 pm. They take place at Scottsdale Stadium, Salt River Fields, Sloan Park (Mesa), Surprise Stadium, Peoria Sports Complex, and Camelback Ranch (Glendale). Tickets are $9 this year, and it’s a really great way to see a bunch of the stadiums and prospects without breaking the bank. There usually aren’t a lot of people there, so it’s also just a great way to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the sounds of baseball in the beautiful Arizona desert.