Minor leaguers across the board are being deprived of playing time. One such move could restore it for many: a huge expansion of the Arizona Fall League.
All 30 MLB clubs send minor league prospects to the Fall League, and five organizations are normally represented on each of the six AFL teams. 180 minor league prospects in all suit up in a standard year—a number that could multiply with a few provisions.
Six of the ten Cactus League ballparks host games in the Fall League, which suggests the league could instantly expand to the other four (We would need to brainstorm team names for Tempe, Phoenix, Goodyear, and a second team in Mesa). Call it 10 teams: this would expand the AFL by 66 percent.
If 2020 play includes an equally-represented ‘Florida Fall League’ throughout Grapefruit League parks, the roster spots could double.
It is also common that a select number of minor leaguers attend ‘instructs’ in the fall where games can also take place. With a collection of backfields available at each spring training site, this could presumably expand as well.
Fall League games averaged less than 1,000 fans in 2019, but that number could skyrocket if ticket sales are permitted in Arizona and Florida once the league starts up. It is dependent on state order of course, but crowds of baseball-deprived fans may be eager to see some action.
One of our only sources for baseball, the KBO, is featuring Roberto Ramos, a recently-released Rockies prospect, tearing up KBO pitching.
Ramos debuted in the Rockies organization at 19 years old. He worked his way to Triple-A in 2019, and slashed a .309/.400/.580 for Albuquerque. He was released following a .162/.295/.324 showing in the 2019 Arizona Fall League, and then signed with the KBO’s LG Twins for below the MLB minimum salary.
He leads the KBO with 10 home runs through 26 games. Ramos has been raking his way to a .363/.433/.747 slash.
The Denver Post’s Kyle Newman recognizes how a potential National League DH and expanded rosters could have helped Ramos’ case to make the big leagues. Newman also identifies Ramos’ strikeout rate (29 percent in the last two years) as something “detrimental to him making it in the big leagues,” but feels the Rockies might now be thinking twice on their decision to release him.
“The KBO is between Double-A and Triple-A in terms of talent and competition level,” according to a Baseball America survey of scouts and front office officials. This would suggest Ramos is facing lesser competition than his eyes were used to in Albuquerque or for the Salt River Rafters. His move to the KBO also comes with the adjustment of life on a completely different continent.
“Take a good look, I won’t see it for long.”
—maybe Drew Goodman
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