AFL Report: Fall ball underway, and so is a housing plan for prospects

The Arizona Fall League opened on Wednesday — check out our preview if you missed it — but given the sporadic nature of playing time and the firm structure of off days, it makes sense to check in every Monday to see how White Sox prospects are faring in the desert, while also roundup up other minor league news.

And major news for prospects emerged on Sunday, as Major League Baseball announced that it’s going to start providing housing for minor league players next season.

We’ve been following the stories of hardships in the minors throughout the season, and it became abundantly clear that the meager raises instituted at each level after the contraction and realignment of Minor League Baseball still did little to provide players adequate housing, especially those who might not have firm plans for staying at a given level.

The details are unclear…

While MLB has yet to outline its plan formally, six team officials told ESPN they are starting to prepare to help house players across each of their four minor league affiliates. In mid-September, owners from the league’s 30 teams agreed unanimously to a plan that would provide housing for certain minor league players, the league said in a statement. Whether they will offer stipends that fully cover housing or provide the lodging itself has yet to be decided, sources said.

… for reasons likely practical and cynical. A mix of provided housing and stipends makes the most sense, with the balance shifting based on things like the scarcity of affordable rental housing in a team’s market, or the likelihood of dramatic in-season roster shifts. Players probably don’t want to be at the mercy of their teams when it comes to a decent place to live if they can apply that money to something independent — or if they plan on living in the area year-round — but some players might appreciate having a reliable place to sleep when moving between affiliates.

I’m also guessing the league wants to make even vague plans known before the World Series, lest groups like Advocates of Minor Leaguers and More Than Baseball use the game’s biggest stage to highlight the often squalid living conditions the non-stars endure. This all happened because players finally had enough to support to break the silence on the mental strain caused by not having their basic needs met.

The news has been greeted with cautious optimism:

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AFL Report

Only four games are in the books thus far, as the season started on a Wednesday and the Arizona Fall League schedule is always dark on Sundays. It should be six games a week from here on out, which will give us a better idea of which players are getting the priority lane on the Glendale Desert Dogs roster.


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Céspedes appears to be one of those players, starting three of four games, and appearing in center field for two of them (the other game was in left). Céspedes appeared to get a handle on his strikeout rate at Double-A, but walks were scarce, and grounders were overabundant (58.5 percent ground-ball rate). Those are the elements worth monitoring, and four games into the season, he looks like the same guy That includes the two HBPs, as he was plunked 11 times over 72 games during the regular season.


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The middle-infield pecking order is still shaking out, but Sánchez has so far taken a backseat to the proceedings. He played his first game at second base, albeit as a midgame replacement. He then DH’d for his second appearance.


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Likewise, Rodriguez entered his first game as a pinch hitter and handled shortstop the rest of the way, followed by a start at second base two days later. It wouldn’t be surprising if he had the lightest workload of the bunch, given that he exceeded his previous career total in games (104) this year alone (114), and this is the fourth team he’s played for.



In terms of intrigue, I’d rank the White Sox’s four pitching participants as follows:

  1. Caleb Freeman
  2. McKinley Moore
  3. Johan Dominguez
  4. J.B. Olson

And so far, that’s bearing out in the results four games in, with each pitcher making one appearance apiece. It’d be nice to see Freeman end up with more strikeouts than walks, because Tyler Johnson’s ration reversed when he jumped to the AFL, and that foreshadowed difficulties for his prospect stock.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Teams can’t hit Abreu anymore so clearly they are taking it out on the only Cuban White Sox player they can find!


Apologies to Mr. Sanchez and his family. He is just as capable of being hit by a pitch as Yoelqui is.


Its nice to see the league stepping forward to help the minor leaguers. I hope it’s for real and not just for PR.


I’d be more excited about it if the words “certain minor league players” weren’t included in the story. Sounds like they are going to try to do the bare minimum and call it a win.