The Arizona Fall League is an instructional league for MLB prospects that runs from October through mid-November consisting of six teams. Rockies prospect suit up for the Salt River Rafters and play at the Rockies’ spring training facility in Scottsdale, AZ. Many notable Rockies players in the past have used the instructional league to progress to the majors, including Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, and Nolan Arenado.
The 2022 season is in full swing with Rockies’ prospects with eight players this season including top prospect Zac Veen, Grant Lavigne, and Peter Lambert. You can read Sam Bradfield’s interview with some prospects live from the Arizona Fall League on their current experience playing from yesterday’s Rockpile. We’ll have a full recap of this season after its conclusion in a couple weeks. But for today, let’s take a look at the past few season of the Arizona Fall League and where those prospects are now.
Last season class featured many Rockies’ prospects that were able to make their MLB debut in the 2022 season, including Michael Toglia, Ezequiel Tovar, and Jake Bird. Three of the eight prospects making the jump to the MLB level is pretty impressive for a group in the AFL. View the entire 2021 Salt River Rafters stats by clicking here.
Michael Toglia led the Rockies’ prospects during the fall slashing .264/.343/.403 in 105 plate appearances for the Rafters. The first baseman also powered his way to three home runs in the 26 games he played in. The solid fall numbers proved to help Toglia take another step forward in 2022, earning his call up to the Rockies late in the season.
Shortstop prospect Ezequiel Tovar had a lackluster fall only batting .161 in 25 games, but three of hit 14 hits left the yard. Although the fall stats for Tovar weren’t the best, the extra reps paid off, leading to a .319/.387/.540 line combined between Double-A Harford and Triple-A Albuquerque.
Jake Bird got also got the call to the Show this season. Last fall, Bird pitched 12 2⁄3 innings for the Salt River Rafters. He posted a 2.84 ERA and struck out a batter per inning in his 12 appearances. The solid fall for Jake Bird paved the way for his June 16th MLB debut.
In 2020, the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A tough season overall for MiLB players and prospects.
The only current Rockie that represented the Salt River Rafters in 2019 is catcher Brian Serven. That fall, he slashed a solid .283/.277/.522 while also hit two home runs in just 12 games for the Rafters.
Ashton Goudeau also pitched for the Rafters in the 2019 fall. During the fall, Goudeau pitched impressively, throwing 13 scoreless innings while only giving up four hits and striking out 18 in six games for the Rafters. The reliever appeared out of the Rockies bullpen in parts of the 2021 and 2022 seasons before being designated for assignment.
Current Albuquerque Isotope Bret Boswell also suited up for the Rafters that season, but had a fall to forget at the plate only four hits and five walks in his 46 plate appearances . Click here to see the full stats for the Rafters’ season.
During the 2018 fall the Rockies sent seven prospects to the AFL. Brendan Rodgers was supposed to be the headliner of Rockies’ prospects to play that year, but an injury kept him out of the AFL. Current Rockies’ reliever Justin Lawrence pitched for the Rafters, pitching 10 2⁄3 innings with a 3.38 ERA and striking out 13.
Another current Rockie, outfielder Sam Hilliard, appeared in the AFL during the 2018 season. Hilliard put up a solid slashline of .328/.389/.512 and hitting two homers in 16 games. Other Rafters that would eventually join the Rockies in the coming seasons include Josh Fuentes, Ryan Castellini, and Jesus Tinoco, all of who may contributions to the teams in the following years. For full stats for the Salt River Rafters, visit the Baseball Reference page.
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Grant Lavigne currently holds an AFL-best 12 game hitting streak to start the fall after Thursday win over Glendale. The streak is the longest in the league, with the next best being half as many games as the first baseman. Lavigne left the yard for the first time this fall hitting a 457 foot homer in a 2-4 and a walk effort in the 9-6 win last week for the Salt River Rafters. During the fall, Lavigne looks to improve his power by changing the path of his swing to lift the ball more. The Rockies have to make a decision to put Lavigne on the 40-man roster or risk him being exposed in the Rule-5 Draft. Lavigne is making his case, on the fall, he is hitting an impressive .363 and slugging his way to a 1.032 OPS.
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Mark Polishuk breaks down the ealy off-season notes for all the NL West. The Rockies are rumored to have Brandon Nimmo on their initial free-agent list from a report from Patrick Saunders. The Mets’ outfielder is set to be a free agent at the beginning of the offseason and could be a candidate to take over the centerfield position, give the lineup a much needed left handed bat, and possibly leadoff for the Rockies if a deal is able to be reached. Polishuk does mention the Rockies payroll for next season is pushing towards the top of what the club usually spends, so an increase financial expenditure to sign any notable free agents this offseason.
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Gerard Gilberto of MiLB.com presents the 2022 organizational All-Stars for the Rockies’ farm system. As an organization, the Rockies minor league affiliates posted a .549 winning percentage, good for second best among MLB organizations. A step in the right direction for the farm system. Top prospect Vac Veen and Wynton Bernard lead the organization’s outfield performances, while Eddy Diaz (2B) and Warming Bernabel (3B) round out the infield. On the mound, Case Williams (RHP), Joe Rock (LHP), and Adam McKillican (Reliever) get the honors of the organization’s best this year.
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