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The rosters for the Arizona Fall League have been determined and the Chicago White Sox will send seven prospects to the desert. There appeared to be many interesting prospect options for the organization to send this year but the franchise typically beats to its own drum and 2022 is no different. Chris Getz and company have chosen to leave their top prospects to finish the season in Birmingham concluding with the Barons. It could be argued that players such as Oscar Colás, Lenyn Sosa and Norge Vera could benefit from the showcase but the White Sox clearly have different ideas.
The Arizona Fall League begins play Oct. 3, and some of the best minor league talent in the sport will be on display. Sixteen prospects currently positioned on the top 100 list at MLB Pipeline will participate in the festivities. Jordan Walker of the St. Louis Cardinals, Jordan Lawlar of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Noelvi Marte of the Cincinnati Reds and Henry Davis of the Pittsburgh Pirates are the biggest names participating. Others like Jasson Domínguez of the New York Yankees, Brennen Davis of the Chicago Cubs and Matt McLain of the Diamondbacks will be on display as well.
The annual Fall Stars Game will take place on Nov. 6 at Sloan Park and, for the first time ever, there will be a home run derby that will occur a day earlier. The AFL championship game will happen at Salt River Fields on Nov. 12. The new rules that will be coming to Major League Baseball for 2023 will be in effect this fall as well. The pitch clock, larger bases and shifting restrictions could add an interesting wrinkle to the action. The league will also use the Automatic Ball-Strike system at Salt River and Chase Stadium for games.
The Fall League is considered to be finishing school for top prospects in most cases and many of the top players at the highest level of the sport have played in the league throughout the years. The league is comprised of six clubs and five major league organizations send up to seven prospects to fill out the rosters of the clubs. Here are the affiliations for the 2022 season:
Glendale Desert Dogs: Brewers, Dodgers, Reds, Twins, White Sox
Mesa Solar Sox: Athletics, Cubs, Marlins, Rays, Yankees
Peoria Javelinas: Guardians, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Padres
Salt River Rafters: Blue Jays, Cardinals, D-backs, Rockies, Tigers
Scottsdale Scorpions: Angels, Braves, Giants, Orioles, Red Sox
Surprise Saguaros: Astros, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Royals
How do teams decide which players to send to the AFL?
Beyond the standard rule of being in Double-A or higher, here are some reasons why clubs typically put players in the fall showcase:
- Key prospects who missed time due to injury
- Minor leaguers with imminent or impending roster deadlines in regards to the 40-man roster or Rule 5 eligibility
- Players who the team wants to expose to better opposing talent
- Showcasing talent to the rest of the league as potential trade bait
The White Sox aren’t sending their top prospects to the Arizona Fall League, but Birmingham Barons’ skipper Justin Jirschele will manage the Glendale Desert Dogs. The 32-year-old is a rising star in the coaching industry and he’s currently finishing his second year in the Magic City. He could be a big league manager in the near future and with uncertainty in the big league dugout in Chicago, this is a storyline worth monitoring over the winter.
As for the players, read on to learn more about who they are, why the Sox are sending them to the AFL, and what everybody hopes they get out of it.
Moises Castillo, 23, SS
Who: An infielder signed out of the Dominican Republic by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2016. He was left exposed in last year’s Rule 5 draft and the White Sox selected him during the minor league phase. The 6-1, 170 pounder has played primarily shortstop this year and he throws and hits right handed. Castillo posted a 107 wRC+ with a .388 OBP in Winston-Salem with the Dash to start the year. Known for his defense, the infielder has mostly struggled in 62 games in Double-A but he has posted a 12 percent walk rate with the Barons.
Why: Castillo is Rule 5 eligible in December but this also affords the organization another opportunity to see him against better players. He could profile as a utility type down the line but it’s a crowded infield picture for the White Sox in the upper minors.
What: Plate discipline and defense are the most notable traits for Castillo. He has to cut down on the strikeouts unless he runs into some more game power somehow along the way. Playing time with the Desert Dogs will be tough to come by and it’ll interesting to see how much of a priority
Declan Cronin, 24, RHP
Who: The 24-year-old right-hander advanced to Triple-A in 2022 and has been pitching for the Charlotte Knights. The 6-4, 225-pounder was selected in the 36th round of the 2019 draft. Cronin posted a 3.52 ERA with the Knights after posting a 3.86 ERA for the Barons. He profiles as a reliever and while his stuff has ticked up recently, he hasn’t put up huge strikeout numbers in the high minors.
Why: Cronin is Rule 5 eligible in December and the White Sox see him as a potential relief option worthy of 40-man status in the near future.
What: Throwing strikes will be important for Cronin. Keeping the walks down while improving the strikeout rate could be the impetus for his eventual arrival in the majors.
Adam Hackenberg, 23, C
Who: The White Sox selected Hackenberg in the 18th round out of Clemson in 2021. He was injured a lot in college and the organization thought he was a bargain where they were able to get him. The scouting department is very high on his game calling, defensive acumen and leadership skills. At 6-1, 225 pounds, he’s physical enough to handle the position. Despite a 10 percent walk rate however, he has struggled with the bat. Hackenberg smoked seven homers this year but hit just .231/.328/.343 with the Dash.
Why: The White Sox likely feel that Hackenberg will benefit from catching the best pitchers on the Desert Dogs’ roster consistently. It could help the 23-year-old to be around some of the best prospects in the sport as well because he has the mental acuity to handle the assignment.
What: Any offensive improvement could be tied to a small sample but Hackenberg does possess real power potential. Monitoring which pitchers the backstop catches consistently should be something to keep an eye on.
Sammy Peralta, 24, LHP
Who: Southpaw who was drafted in the 18th round of the University of Tampa in 2019. The 24-year-old just posted a 3.70 ERA in Double-A while averaging nearly 11 K/9 over the course of 56 innings pitched. The 6-2, 205-pounder displays a low-90’s fastball with a good breaker and he’s tough on lefties.
Why: Peralta is also Rule 5 eligible and left-handed relief help is always a priority for the White Sox. He should begin the 2023 season in Charlotte and he could be one of the next options if the big league team is in need of a lefty reliever.
What: It will be interesting to see how Peralta’s stuff plays against some of the best offensive prospects in baseball. While relievers need to be more versatile to carve out roles in general, success against left-handed hitters will always be something to monitor with Peralta.
Lane Ramsey, 26, RHP
Who: The 26-year-old righty was drafted in the 23rd round back in 2018 out of Oklahoma. Ramsey is a large man that checks in at 6-9 and 245 pounds. He throws hard but has struggled in 16 innings with the Charlotte Knights in Triple-A. Walks and strikeouts are prevalent with this big reliever on the mound.
Why: Ramsey’s inclusion seems to be twofold. He has been injured often and has missed lots of time. The Arizona Fall League will allow him to rack up some innings against quality competition. He’s also Rule 5 eligible in December and the organization might want to get a closer look before making a decision.
What: Staying healthy is key for Lane Ramsey but if he is, the showcase circuit could be beneficial for the righty moving forward. The White Sox are clearly intrigued in some fashion.
Chase Solesky, 24, RHP
Who: The former Tulane product was drafted in the 21st round by the White Sox back in 2019. The 6-3, 200-pounder profiles as a starting pitcher and he should get that opportunity in the desert. The 24-year-old threw 110 innings in High-A with the Winston-Salem Dash and posted a 4.24 ERA. Solesky made one start in Double-A with the Barons and struck out eight hitters while giving up one earned run in six innings.
Why: Solesky is a starting pitcher and he should get that opportunity for the Desert Dogs. He’s also Rule 5 eligible and the White Sox could theoretically have a decision to make. The righty has posted decent peripherals over the past couple years as well.
What: Solesky needs to look comfortable on the mound. He’s spend most of his time in the lower minors but he’s had some success. The stuff deployed will be important but getting outs is the name of the game and we’ll see how he does in Arizona.
Terrell Tatum, 23, OF
Who: 23-year-old outfielder drafted in the 16th round out of North Carolina State in 2021. The 6-0, 167-pounder displays solid speed and defense and hits from the left side. Tatum was excellent in a 10-game sample in Low-A to start 2022. He was promoted to High-A and played in 32 games with the Winston-Salem Dash where he hit .255/.371/.418 with three homers and 10 stolen bases. He posted a 119 wRC+ and he even cracked the organizational top 30 prospect list for Baseball America.
Why: Tatum is participating in the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time. He was suspended for most of the season after failing a drug test and his inclusion will allow him to get some playing time prior to next season.
What: It will be curious to see how often Tatum sees the field for the Desert Dogs. If he gets to play, his speed and defense could be on display because both of those traits shouldn’t have been negatively impacted by lost time. Tatum could start the 2023 season with the Barons in Double-A regardless.