The Arizona Fall League exists as a sort of state-side winter ball, with the rosters a mix of genuine comers and castoffs whose appearance in the AFL may well be a career highlight. Pitching is usually sparse, with the arms sent seemingly as sacrificial anodes for the bats. The 2016 Royals participants were overall more suspect then prospect.
GUYS I HAD TO LOOKUP EVEN THOUGH I JUST FINISHED WRITING A TOP 50 DYNASTY PROSPECT LIST FOR THE SYSTEM
Evan Beal, RHP from South Carolina, drafted in the 21st round in 2014. A reliever all the way, he was a below average pitcher in AA last year, with an impressive (in a bad way) HR/9 of 1.5
Todd Eaton, RHP a Southern Illinois Saluki drafted in the 34th round in 2014. Had nice year as a 24 year old reliever in Wilmington.
Eric Stout, LHP drafted out of Butler in the 13th round in 2014. Pitched pretty well in 2016, could make it as a LOOGY. Useless in a dynasty league.
Mauricio Ramos, 3B, signed out of Columbia in 2010. Has diligently advanced one level a year since, from the DSL to AA last year, and has been league-averagish along the way.
GUYS I RESEARCHED BUT PROBABLY AREN’T IN THE TOP 50
Jake Newberry RHP pitched a couple of innings on his way to actual winter ball. Drafted in the 37th round from a San Diego high school, he keeps plugging along and should open 2017 in the NW Arkansas pen.
Alfredo Escalera OF was 17 when drafted in the 8th round in 2012 from a Florida high school. He hasn’t really hit yet, and struggled in the AFL. Alfredo Escalera sounds like a delicious fusion pasta dish though.
Josh Staumont kept doing Josh Staumont things. It is encouraging that the Royals felt he could pitch another 24 innings (adding up to 147, not counting spring). If you squint hard enough, I suppose it is also encouraging that his BB/9 dropped from 7.5 to 6 along the way, but that is improvement from the laughable to merely catastrophic.
Corey Toups isn’t really a prospect, but is better than the guys above, and fun guy to root for. He is going to have to hit better than he did in Arizona to make it.
Ryan O’Hearn hit okay, and was named runner-up to the AFL All-Prospect team, which is nice.
Overall for the Royals, a disappointing crop of prospects had a disappointing showing in the AFL. Staumont is two or three command grade improvements from making it as a starter, or two grades away from being a viable power reliever at the MLB level. That didn’t change over six weeks in Arizona.
KC Shankland lives in Maple Valley, Washington. His Royals fandom runs from the Royals/Yankees blood feud of the ‘70s to Hosmer’s mad dash home.
‘People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. Obsess over prospects.’