Arizona Fall League To Feature I-70 Prospects

On October 12th, for the 19th year, the Arizona Fall League will begin play. Players from all over Major League Baseball’s thirty franchises will gather in the Phoenix area to play for just over a month, with the championship game slated to be played on November 20th at Scottsdale Stadium. The teams of the AFL will build rosters from primarily Double-A and Triple-A players, with a few players from below the Double-A level rounding out the 35 man rosters. Each Major League franchise is required to send seven players from their system to play in the AFL in 2010.

I-70 Baseball was founded to bring a central location for Cardinals and Royals fans to gather, communicate, read team news and get a peek at the two Major League Franchises in Missouri. While many of our fans enjoy the back and forth of rooting for the team from their side of the state, the Arizona Fall League provides the opportunity for I-70 fans to unite. The Cardinals and Royals, as well as the Brewers, Rangers and Tigers, provide the players that make up the roster for the Surprise Rafters.

The Surprise Rafters, as well as the majority of the AFL, have announced the bulk of their roster for 2010. Here is a breakdown of the various players from the I-70 teams that will take the field for the Rafters later this year.

Derrick Robinson – Outfield
Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Double-A, Royals)
Derrick was drafted out of high school as the Royals 4th round selection in the 2006 draft. A talented defensive back with blazing speed in High School, Derrick stepped away from a letter of intent to play football for the Florida Gators in order to begin his professional career for the Royals organization.

Speed does not always translate easily to the field however, and Derrick found himself struggling to play the game at a high level of competition. A strong work ethic has shown that the young man was willing to prove himself at each level as his career produced. He has become an intelligent base stealer that has put his talents to use in the field as well as on the base paths. Throughout his short career, he has successfully adjusted at the plate to create less strikeouts, a higher on base percentage and a large number of stolen bases. A player that projects as a future lead off hitter for the franchise, he will continue to work on his abilities at the plate in Arizona this fall.

Adron Chambers – Outfield
Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A, Cardinals)

Adron was picked up by the Cardinals in the 38th round of the 2007 Amateur Draft. Adron has showed a large amount of promise in his rise through the Cardinals system the last few years. A speedy outfielder with power to all fields, Adron has shown the ability to hit the ball to all fields and use his speed to create extra base hits at the various levels of play. In 2010, Adron has shown some flashes of power at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels for the franchise, developing a home run stroke to go with his normal output of doubles and triples. His rising RBI totals, On Base Percentage, and Batting Average, paired with his decreasing strike out rate, have scouts and fans anxious to see what performance level he displays in the highly competitive Arizona Fall League this year, which could provide a preview to the team’s Spring Training plans and what Memphis fans can look forward to in an entire season in 2010.

Tony Cruz – Catcher
Springfield Cardinals (Double-A, Cardinals)
Tony Cruz was drafted in the 26th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Cardinals after being drafted previously in the 42nd round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers before electing to attend college. Cruz is a player of interest to Cardinals fans for various reasons. He is one of a crop of very talented catchers in the organization at this point that seem to be developing towards the goal of either playing for another franchise or becoming a back up to cornerstone Yadier Molina. That being said, Cruz is doing everything right in his progress up the food chain. His defense has steadily improved, he is gaining praise for his work with his pitching staff and he has developed a strong bat that does not rack up a lot of strikeouts. Look for Cruz to continue to hone his defensive skills in Arizona while also trying to show that he can provide a power stroke against some of the best pitching around while he has the opportunity. The Cardinals are creating a log-jam of sorts at the catcher position, and Cruz will get the opportunity to showcase his talents with all of major league baseball watching.

Salvador Perez – Catcher
Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A, Royals)
Young catchers are not supposed to hit as well as Salvador Perez. Perez was signed at 16 years old as an Undrafted International Free Agent as part of an initiative by Dayton Moore to expand the franchises presence with International players and rebuild a barren position within all levels of the organization at catcher. He has developed well through the system, despite hiccups that were obviously expected from a young player. This season at High-A ball, Perez has successfully thrown out 43% of would be base stealers while continuing to hit at the level the team has come to expect. Look for Perez to work on working counts a little better, drawing more walks and how to handle a pitching staff a bit more professionally in the future. If things go well in the AFL, I would expect Perez to get a solid look at Double-A ball in 2011.

Pete Kozma – Shortstop
Springfield Cardinals (Double-A, Cardinals)
A former first round pick of the Cardinals in 2007, Kozma is a very talented individual who is struggling to find his identity. A player who has shown, at times, a superior defensive ability, better than average speed, a solid contact bat, and above average power for a middle infielder, he has very seldom shown all of these things consistently. The Cardinals will send Kozma to the AFL where they sent Daniel Descalso last year, in hopes that he can begin to develop the consistency and production they will need in order to depend on him in the future in the middle infield of the franchise. Second base and short stop are two positions that have become positions of focus in the organization and most everyone in the organization hopes that Pete Kozma can help become one of the solutions.

Johnny Giavotella – Second Base
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A, Royals)
Johnny Giavotella joined the Royals after being drafted in the second round of the 2008 Amateur Draft and began his climb to the Major League level almost immediately. A young hitter who also handles the field well, Giavotella has shown that he will do one thing at every level, hit. In three seasons he has put up a career .293/.369/.416 slash line and never struck out more than 63 times in a season. If there is one thing that the Royals hope to see develop in the Fall League it would be for Giavotella to discover the power stroke that he has shown at times during his development. He has gap power and the speed to make him dangerous in that aspect and projects as a solid, typical number two hitter at the Major League level.

Eric Hosmer
Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Double-A, Royals)
If the Cardinals are creating a log jam at Catcher with players like Tony Cruz, the Royals are achieving the same thing at first base with players like Eric Hosmer. The third pick overall in the 2008 Amateur Draft, Hosmer has shown the ability to hit for a moderate level of power while posting a high batting average and showing solid gap power and speed to boot. He dominated High-A Ball pitching in the early part of this year and was promoted to Double-A where he would level off but still show why the team believes in him. With the players ahead of him on the depth chart in Kansas City’s organization, Hosmer may be in the Arizona Fall League to display his talents, work on his defensive skills, and possibly find the organization that will lead to his Major League career.

Brian Broderick – Starting Pitcher
Springfield Cardinals (Double-A, Cardinals)
Brian Broderick was brought into the Cardinals organization as a low risk pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft in round 21. The young righty went straight to work spending time in High A and Double A Ball in 2009 and 2010. A groundball pitcher that seems to fit right into the mindset of the organization, his stuff is not over-powering yet is very effective. He relies on his defense heavily to produce results in his pitching line. Look for the talent in the Arizona League to show just what this young man is capable of, what he brings to the table, and to give him the opportunity to show his craft in October as well as in March next year.

Danny Duffy – Starting Pitcher
Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Double-A, Royals)
Perhaps the most interesting prospect heading to Arizona, Danny Duffy is a dominant left handed pitcher in the Royals organization. You see, Duffy was the third round pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft, was the Royals minor league player of the year in 2008, participated in Major League Baseball’s All Star Weekend in 2009’s Futures Game, and flat dominating his way through the minor leagues. Then, during Spring Training this year, Duffy stepped away from baseball for personal reasons never fully explained. He has since returned and never fully lost a step. Averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.7 walks over nine innings, Duffy has shown the brilliance the Royals hope he continues to show. With a great showing in Arizona and a solid showing in Spring, Duffy may find himself heading north to Kansas City in 2011 to help anchor the rotation.

Blake King – Relief Pitcher
Springfield Cardinals (Double-A, Cardinals)
Blake King may be the player that can most identify with the Cardinals season. An up and down pitcher who has yet to find his groove in his career, King was a late draft pick in 2005 that has never fully materialized. In an organization that has sped prospects through the system for the last few years, Blake King has struggled to find his way out of Double-A Ball in Springfield. A relief pitcher that has shown signs of brilliance, it is quite possible that King is being sent to Arizona as a last resort of sorts. It is time for the young man to find his way or accept the fact that the minor leagues may be all that he ever realizes.

Patrick Keating – Relief Pitcher
Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Double-A, Royals)
Are you looking for the polar opposite of Blake King? You have found it in Patrick Keating. A low level draft pick that has shown promise to his organization, Keating found his way to the Double-A level in only his second professional season. A dominating closer that is showing durability and dominance throughout his young career, Keating will be working on control in the Arizona Fall League. The young man has put together an impressive amount of strikeouts, but is walking a few to many players as well. Should he get his walk ratio down from it’s current level of 3.6 per nine innings and maximize his strikeout per nine inning ratio beyond it’s current level of 12.3 and the Royals may have the dominant setup man they will need in the next few years.

Mike Montgomery
Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Double-A, Royals)
Mike Montgomery rounds out the initial announcements of players on the Arizona Fall League rosters from the I-70 teams. A first round draft pick for the Royals in 2008, Montgomery has been on the fast track to join the big club in a hurry. Montgomery has found himself starting games in Double-A this season, and doing so very well. While he has been dominant at times, it will most likely be this facet of his game that he will look to sharpen in Arizona this fall. He will look to continue his work at producing ground balls and look to sharpen his pitch selection and develop further into the dominant, consistant strikeout pitcher that he has shown he can be at times in the minor leagues.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on
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5 thoughts on “Arizona Fall League To Feature I-70 Prospects

  1. It looks like you were too tired to research Blake King’s stats for the last 2 years and just put in some words based upon old research. King had a good year last year and was voted to have the best slider in the Cardinal organization and this year he was solid all year with a 2.91 ERA. Luhnow speaks very highly of King and so do the other coaches and manager for Springfield. I hope that King doesn’t look at this opportunity as a punishment for being a failure in professional baseball as you so eloquently put it.

    1. Kelley,

      Thanks for dropping by and reading our work, we greatly appreciate it.

      I did not imply, however, that the Fall League was punishment for Blake King. I agree with you that he has had a very productive year and has hopefully found the potential that the Cardinals know exists in the young man.

      I simply stated that his assignment to the AFL may in fact be a chance for him to prove that this year was the exception to his own rule. It is time for Blake to show that he can be a productive big leaguer or accept his role as a minor league relief pitcher. Fact is, most players that have been in the organization for five plus years do not get assigned to the AFL to see what they can do at that level of competition.

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