The 2015 Arizona Fall League rosters were announced on Tuesday afternoon and the Pittsburgh Pirates will be sending seven players this season. The list includes:
C Reese McGuire
CF Austin Meadows
SS Adam Frazier
LHP Steven Brault
RHP Tyler Eppler
LHP Cody Dickson
RHP Brett McKinney
This is just the submitted list and it could change before the season starts. Last year, Nick Kingham was on the list of players going in late August. In October, he was replaced on the roster by Angel Sanchez. The league starts play on October 13th and the Pirates’ players will be on the Glendale Desert Dogs this season, switching from Scottsdale, where they were the last few years.
Austin Meadows is hitting .309/.356/.410 in 120 games for Bradenton this season. He is fourth in the FSL in average and fifth in OPS. He leads the league with 156 hits and he’s second with 71 runs scored, doing all of that as one of the youngest players in the league.
Reese McGuire is hitting .255/.300/.296 in 96 games with Bradenton. He was recently voted the best defensive catcher in the FSL and he too is one of the youngest players in the league.
Tyler Eppler missed the first half of this season due to elbow soreness. Recently, he has started dominating for Bradenton, going 26.2 innings over his last four starts without an earned run. On the season, he has a 2.58 ERA in 66.1 innings, with a 1.09 WHIP and 46 strikeouts. The extra time in the AFL will allow him to make up for some of the innings he missed.
Cody Dickson has struggled at times with command, which had led to a rocky season. For Bradenton, he has a 4.01 ERA in 137 innings, with 92 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP.
Adam Frazier also missed time at the beginning of the year with a finger injury. He will get a chance to make up some at-bats and possibly get better acclimated to positions other than shortstop. He has played third base, left field and center field this season. He has also played second base in the past. Frazier is the Eastern League leader in batting with a .327 average. He has a .796 OPS, which is the ninth best in the league.
Steven Brault has been one of the best pitchers in the minors over the last six weeks, posting a 1.10 ERA in his last nine starts. Splitting the season between Bradenton and Altoona, he has a 2.56 ERA in 147.2 innings, with 120 strikeouts, a 1.16 WHIP, a .234 BAA and a 1.47 GO/AO ratio.
Brett McKinney has split the year between Bradenton and Altoona, having much more success at the lower level. The 24-year-old reliever has a 5.92 ERA in 51.2 innings, striking out 52 batters. His ERA was 3.42 with Bradenton and he had nine saves before being promoted.
UPDATE 3:45 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…
Teams don’t always send their best prospects to the AFL, but this is not one of those cases. Meadows and McGuire are guys who will rank in a lot of top 100 lists next year, and are already considered two of the top prospects in the game. Brault and Eppler have emerged as very interesting starting pitching prospects this year. Frazier has emerged as a future super utility guy, with some outstanding hitting in Altoona. Dickson is an interesting starting option who has dealt with command issues, while McKinney is a hard throwing right-hander who could be a legit relief prospect in the future.
The thing about this group is that there aren’t really any organizational players. You’ve got two of the best prospects in the game, a few guys who are top 30 prospects in the system, and everyone has a real shot of reaching the majors in some capacity. There have been other groups that have been stronger at the top (last year with Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell), but this might be one of the strongest and most interesting groups the Pirates have sent in recent years.
On a site-related note, I’ve always wanted to go cover the AFL in the past, but the old revenue model prevented that from happening. Under the subscription model, I was hoping to add that coverage in the off-season. This group makes that trip even more of a priority. I can say with near certainty that I’ll be making it out to Arizona this fall in order to get some live coverage of these guys, and more importantly since this is a showcase league, get a feel for how they’re viewed outside of the organization.