On Tuesday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced the rosters for the 2015 Arizona Fall League, including five Orioles minor leaguers who will be playing for the Peoria Javelinas alongside of the selected minor leaguers from the Padres, Braves, Mariners, and Reds organizations.
The most interesting of the five names is catcher Chance Sisco, the 20-year-old second round pick from the 2013 draft who has already worked his way up to Double-A this season. Sisco is the best and some might say only real Orioles position player prospect.
The other four are a much less heralded crew: Shortstop Adrian Marin, outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, and pitchers Donnie Hart and Jon Keller, the latter of whom are both relievers.
Marin is in his second year with the Frederick Keys. He's still just 21, but he only batted .230/.275/.332 in his second time around there. Yastrzemski has played this full season at Bowie after getting promoted twice mid-season last year. The outfielder is 25 and batting .240/.320/.382 this year, seen as a future fourth outfielder.
Hart will be 25 in a few days. As a general rule, if you're almost 25 and playing for Frederick, you're not very exciting as a prospect. But he's pitched to a 1.06 ERA there in 26 games, and that's not nothing. Keller, 23, is a hard-throwing bullpen arm who has battled command issues. You know the type. Hart was picked in the 27th round in 2013. Keller was picked in the 22nd round of the same draft. If either turns into anything, they are heavily beating the odds.
There may still be a name or two yet to trickle out. Last year, the Orioles sent seven players to the AFL, including current Orioles Mychal Givens and Dariel Alvarez and the since-traded Zach Davies, who will be making his MLB debut for the Brewers tomorrow night. Each of the other teams contributing to the Javelinas are also sending seven players.
Hunter Harvey has been mentioned as a likely AFL addition when he's fully throwing again, so don't be surprised if he gets added to that roster.
If both Harvey and Sisco are playing in the AFL, it'll probably be worth keeping tabs on their progress. That's two of the Orioles' top three prospects right there.
Both of those guys make sense as AFL candidates. Teams often send players who missed significant time due to injury, or who could use more experience for other reasons. Harvey essentially missed this entire year. Sisco missed a little time with injury and is a player for whom more experience catching will probably help regardless.
Other times it's useful to evaluate players who must soon be added to the 40-man roster or face Rule 5 draft exposure, though that's not the case for any of the players the O's will be sending this time around. Marin, a 2012 high school draftee, won't be eligible for the Rule 5 until next year. The others are all 2013 draftees with 1-2 more years to go until they need to be on the 40-man.
Not all teams send all of their top prospects. Of MLB.com's top 100 prospects, only nine are currently appearing on AFL rosters. Harvey would make ten. Last year, 20 of the top 100 prospects were on AFL rosters. That could make for a slightly weaker league this year, but for players who've never gotten above A-ball, it's still a challenge they haven't faced before and the team can use that in evaluating them.
The league starts play on October 13 and plays games Monday-Saturday through November 19, with the "Fall Stars" game taking place on November 7.