Major League Baseball is done for the time being, so why not check in with one of the biggest offseason leagues in organized baseball, the Arizona Fall League?
A quick refresher: The Arizona Fall League is run by MLB as a place for prospects to get extra playing time after the regular minor league season ends. Generally, the competition level in the AFL is somewhere around AA/AAA, although a small number of top prospects from the lower levels of the minors are usually present. This year, the A's sent eight players (and a manager) to play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs:
Ryan Ortiz, C (AA)
Dusty Coleman, SS (A+)
Michael Choice, OF (A+)
Grant Green, OF (AA)
Anthony Capra, LHP (AA)
Andrew Carignan, RHP (AAA/MLB)
Tyson Ross, RHP (AAA/MLB)
Murphy Smith, RHP (A+)
Clearly, the standout of the group is OF Michael Choice, as he demolished the Cal League in 2011 to the tune of a .918 OPS. The big question mark on Choice has always been that his high strikeout rate may indicate poor performance against a stronger competition level of pitching, so even in a one month small sample of AFL play, this is a great test for him. And he's passing with flying colors.
A+ Stockton (2011): .285/.376/.542
AFL Phoenix (2011): .333/.424/.745
A+ Stockton (2011): 24.7 K%
AFL Phoenix (2011): 15.5 K%
Choice is tied for the league lead in home runs, he's second in OPS, I could go on and on. I know it's a small sample, but considering this is the first taste of upper-level pitching he's seen, Choice deserves all the raves he's getting. It should be an interesting year to see in Midland next year.
As for the rest of the team, though, it's not nearly as rosy. Ryan Ortiz has been one of the only other positives, and he's been entirely powerless. Tyson Ross has nice peripherals, but he has 75 major league innings under his belt, and he should be dominating this competition level. Grant Green has been his usual uninspiring self, and everyone else...you don't even want to know.
Capra: 12.86 ERA, 7.0 IP, 7/7 K/BB
Carignan: 5.63 ERA, 8.0 IP, 12/5 K/BB
Ross: 4.91 ERA, 11.0 IP, 10/3 K/BB
When the AFL announces the rosters for the Rising Stars Game on November 5th, get ready to hear Choice's name a whole lot more. As for everyone else, well, try again next spring?