The Minnesota Twins 2013 Arizona Fall League participants will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs, along with prospects from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. The Twins will be sending seven players to Arizona - four pitchers, two infielders and an outfielder.
A.J. Achter, RHP - As a 46th round pick, the Twins have already gotten more out of Achter than they expected, but a trip to the AFL signifies that they think they can get even more. As a 6'5" reliever, you'd expect Achter to strike out a lot of batters, and he has during his career, coming in at over a better an inning. Two red flags however - he's always been old for his level of competition and those strikeout rates have diminished as he's moved up the minor league ladder. His already 25 and reached Triple-A this season so he could be an up-and-down guy next season. He profiles as a middle reliever.
Zach Jones, RHP - A 2012 fourth-round pick, Jones is like many of the relief prospects we've profiled that are heading to the AFL, posting huge strikeout numbers as a professional but with spotty control. In Jones' case, he's fanned 13.6 batters per nine innings in a year and a half of pro ball, but walked 5.1 per nine over that time, which is simply too much to be successful against better hitters. He got away with it in the Florida State League. The AFL and Double-A next season will be a much bigger test.
Trevor May, RHP - As the main return for Ben Revere last off-season, May was expected to be a part of the Twins rebuilding process. In his first season with the Twins, however, he displayed the same frustrating tendencies that he showed with the Phillies. Simply put, there's no reason a pitcher with May's stuff should have such mediocre production. He's now spent the last two seasons at Double-Aand has a combined 4.69 ERA to show for it. He still misses bats, but not as many as he did at lower levels and not enough to combat all of the free passes he issues. He still looks the part of a mid-rotation workhorse, but he's still yet to put up the performance to match.
Alex Meyer, RHP - Meyer, on the other hand, is meeting the potential many believed he had. Acquired last season as well (from the Narionals for Denard Span), the 6'9" Meyer posted a 3.21 ERA in Double-A this season. He missed about two months in the summer with a shoulder strain, but it's not considered serious and he returned to action to finish the season. The control issues that worried some with Meyer haven't been seen and he's come a long way in being able to repeat his delivery. He has number two starter potential and is a part of the Twins future.
Max Kepler, 1B - It's safe to say that Kepler will be the ony big German named Maximilian in the AFL, or most places he plays for that matter. At just 20 and with just 61 games of full-season ball under his belt, Kepler is one of the most inexperienced players heading to the desert, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him struggle this fall. Still, the jump in competition level will be good for him, and will make up for much of the time he's lost. He's listed as an infielder on the Desert Dogs roster and first base is the only infield position he's played, but having play as a 1B this fall may have been more of a way to squeeze him on the roster than an indication of his future. The Twins have announced no plans to give up on Kepler as an OF.
Eddie Rosario, 2B - Rosario torched the Florida State League this spring, forcing a promotion to Double-A and speeding up his timetable to the majors. After dabbling in the outfield in years past, Rosario has returned to second base full time where his bat has more value and is above-average, however his glove is sub-standard. He profiles as a potential .300 hitter with some pop for the position, and could fit nicely in the top third of the Twins lineup by the end of next season.
Byron Buxton - Scouts are running out of superlatives for Buxton, who emerged this season as the top prospect in all of baseball. There is virtually nothing on a baseball field that Buxton can't do, and he handled two full-season leagues tremendously as a 19-year-old this season. He will be the best player in the AFL, could be in Minnesota by the end of next season at age 20, and could challenge Mike Trout as the best player in the game in a few years.