Seven top Royals prospects will continue their seasoning in the Arizona Fall League – a proving ground for many Double and Triple-A stars on their way to the big leagues.
Minor League pitchers Jeremy Jeffress, Bryan Paukovits, and Brendan Lafferty, and position players Clint Robinson, Christian Colon and Wil Myers will join Royal reliever Nate Adcock as members of the Surprise Saguaros, which will begin play Oct. 4.
The teams in the AFL are made up of selections designated by big leagues. The season is highlighted by a Rising Stars Game on Nov. 5, and culminates with a championship game on Nov. 19.
The AFL season will be headlined by Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, the top two prospects in the minors this season. The league is a launching pad for players on the verge of the majors. Often players in the league are just a few months from a call-up, as certainly Trout is.
Trout, of course, saw some action this season with the California Angels, as did Adcock, who spent all season in KC as a Rule 5 selection.
In fact, of the seven Royals who played in the AFL last season, four are now in KC – Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy, Johnny Giavotella, and Salvador Perez. Other participants last fall were Robinson, Mike Montgomery, and Brandon Sisk.
A non-Royal who garnered lots of attention in the league last fall was Jeffress. As a Milwaukee Brewer prospect prior to the Zack Greinke trade, Jeffress made headlines by registering 101 mph on fall-league radar guns.
For Adcock, the league will provide a chance to gain additional experience. Plucked from the Rule 5 ranks in the offseason, Adcock has been used sparsely by KC.
Myers is the headliner of the Royals prospects. Converted to the outfield and slowed by an injury this season, Myers is still considered on of the top hitters in the minors. His .260 average with just seven homers is below what what expected, but a good fall season could give him a jump start for next spring.
The Royals’ top pick in the 2010 draft, Colon’s reputation could be helped by a solid fall. With a .255 average and eight homers, Colon is looking all too much like a bust in the early going.
Jeffress has regressed after making the Royals’ bullpen in April. A demotion to Omaha didn’t help, and he wound up falling to Northwest Arkansas, where he is still trying to harness his potential.
Robinson might hope to attract the attention of other big league teams in the fall league. Robinson continues to destroy minor league pitching. Currently blocked by Hosmer and Billy Butler, the best he could hope for might be a trade.
Paukovits and Lafferty, both in their mid-20s and still in the lower levels of the minors, hope to accelerate their advancement in the fall league.