The Arizona Fall League is underway in the warmer climate of AZ. You may not recognize the teams with names like the Surprise Saguaros and the Scottsdale Scorpions, but this league is a 'tune up' for many younger rising star players each year and this year the Phillies are sending up another group of players.
Tonight, Ryan Howard, yes our first baseman from the Phillies, will be inducted into the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame, and receive a bronze plaque commemorating the event in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Let's get a preview of this year's group of players that the Phillies are sending to the AFL from MLB Prospect Watch
Here is their preview of players from the Phillies that was published a couple days ago on the website here, published with permission.
Arizona Fall League Preview - Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies 2013 Arizona Fall League participants will be playing for the Peoria Javelinas, along with prospects from the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals. The Phillies will be sending six players to Arizona - four pitchers, a catcher, and an outfielder.
Ken Giles, RHP - The 2013 season was a return visit to High-A Clearwater (although it was more of a partial season), but it was more of the same for Giles. He strikes out a ton of of batters but it's done primarily with his fastball velocity. He also walks a ton of batters. Thanks to his limited time on the mound due to injuries both as a pro and in college, what Giles really needs right now is innings, making the AFL a good place for him.
Mike Nesseth, RHP - Simply put, 25-year-olds who spent most of the season in Double-A are rarely prospects and pitchers who 4.5 batters per nine innings never are.
Kyle Simon, RHP - Simon came over to the Phillies last season when they sent Jim Thome to the Orioles, and the Phillies immediately made him a reliever. The move worked out well last year, even after a jump to Double-A, but this year, it didn't go as planned. In his first full season as a reliever, Simon returned to Double-A yet his strikeout rate plummeted dangerously low and his walk rate jumped to a career high. His ERA was representative of these struggles. There's definitely potential in his arm - most likely a middle reliever - and he has a chance to redeem himself from a down year this fall.
Austin Wright, LHP - Wright has worked as a starter as a professional, but those days may be numbered. His peripheral numbers have all declined as he's moved up within the Phillies organization, to the point where he walked almost as many hitters as he struck out this season. His left-handedness and curveball give him a chance to be a nice reliever, even against better competition.
Cameron Rupp - If you've been following the wreckage that is the final months of the Phillies 2013 season then you're familiar with Rupp, who has seen some time with the big league club this September. He's more than likely a backup catcher in the majors, but with some decent pop in his bat, he could have a long major league career. The Phillies may be moving on from Carlos Ruiz this off-season, and while Rupp isn't the long-term answer for the organization, he'll have a chance this fall to prove that he can handle the job at least for the short-term.
Kelly Dugan - When the Phillies used their first pick of the 2009 draft (second round), they anticipated that he would eventually develop moderate power to go along with his athleticism. After a few years of patiently waiting, the Phillies were rewarded this season with a 20-homer season by Dugan, during which he reached Double-A. While his power was distributed evenly between Clearwater and Reading, his approach at the plate was dramatically different, with his patience abondoning him after his promotion. He's not the most patient hitter in the first place, but after walking around 10 percent of the time (on par with his career norms) in High-A ball, he walked just five times in 56 games in Reading, leading to a .299 on-base percentage. The power production was a great sign, but he'll have to get back to having a decent walk rate against advanced pitching to continue moving up the ladder.