The Twins’ regular season is over, meaning it’s time for the Arizona Fall League to get underway! If you’re not familiar, the AFL is where teams send some of their top prospects to face live competition in the off-season. Not every player is eligible to participate, though—there are certain rules about that, which you can read here.
This year, the Twins have sent seven prospects to play for the Surprise Saguaros, along with players from the Royals, Cardinals, Rays, and Rangers. You can read the full roster for the 2017 Saguaros so far here.
The AFL will go on for a little over a month, with the following important dates:
- October 11th, 2017 — First game for the Surprise Saguaros
- October 21st, 2017 — The AFL Bowmen Hitting Challenge
- November 4th, 2017 — AFL All-Star Game
- November 18th, 2017 — AFL Championship Game
See the full 2017 AFL schedule here.
Anyway, here are the seven Twins prospects participating this year:
Tyler Jay - LHP
You’ve probably heard of Tyler Jay before. Jay, 23, was the Twins’ first round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Though he was a reliever in college, the Twins planned to convert Jay into a starter. That didn’t go well, so the Twins moved Jay back to the bullpen, significantly dropping his value.
Jay has also battled injuries all season, severely limiting his playing time. He started off 2017 in Double-A, but only threw 2.0 innings before going down with injury. Jay returned to action in August, pitching 3.2 innings for the GCL Twins and 6.0 for the High-A Ft. Mrers Miracle. He ended the year with 2.0 innings in Double-A Chattanooga. All combined, Jay posted a 3.09 ERA with an impressive 0.67 WHIP over just 11.2 innings in 2017.
Participating in the AFL should help make up for the time Jay lost to injury this year.
LaMonte Wade - OF
LaMonte Wade is a 23-year-old outfielder the Twins took in the ninth round of the 2015 Draft. Joe Mauer probably likes him because he gets on base a lot. He spent all of 2017 playing for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, where he hit .292/.397/.408 with 22 doubles and 7 home runs.
According to Rhett Bollinger, the Twins really like Wade for his makeup and work ethic.
Chris Paul - 3B/1B/OF
Chris Paul, 24, is a flexible position player who played for the Ft. Myers Miracle this year, posting a .328/.380/.471 slash line with 18 doubles. Unfortunately, Paul was limited to only 64 games due to a wrist sprain, so the AFL will give him a chance to get back some of that missed experience.
Sean Miller - SS/2B/CF/OF
Sean Miller, 23, spent the entire 2017 season with the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle, where he bated .262/.299/.322 with 17 doubles over 122 games. Although he spent most of his time playing shortstop or second base, he also made appearances in the outfield in 2017, including in center. As a good fielder who hasn’t hit too well in his minor league career, the AFL will probably be a bit of a challenge for him.
Andrew Vasquez - LHP
You may remember Andrew Vasquez from our farm reports because he gets a ton of strikeouts! Over a combined 58.0 innings pitched between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Ft. Myers this year, Vasquez racked up 85 strikeouts. He also posted a combined 1.51 ERA and 1.21 WHIP between the two teams.
As a 6’6” left-hander, you might think Vasquez throws hard fastballs, but he’s actually known more for his crazy good curve ball. His time in the AFL this year will help him develop his game and hopefully become and elite reliever at the higher levels.
Ryan Eades - RHP
The Twins drafted Ryan Eades, 25, out of LSU in the second round of the 2013 MLN draft, and has been steadily (and somewhat disappointingly) working his way through the Twins system. While his 3.40 ERA over 87.1 innings pitched in 2017 isn’t terrible, many think Eades has failed to live up to his potential. He started off the year as a starting pitcher, but was moved to the bullpen later in the season where he somewhat struggled.
Eades also spent a lot of time on the DL in 2017, so some more practice in the AFL could be pretty beneficial. Out of all the Twins pitching prospects this year, he;s most likely to get starts in the AFL.
Tom Hackimer - RHP
Tom Hackimer, 23, is a right-handed reliever the Twins took with their fourth bit in the 2016 MLB draft. Though he was a shortstop in high school, he had the chance to make his college baseball team as a pitcher, so he just started pitching. Oh, and he pitches with one of those funky side-arm delivers not unlike Trevor Hildenberger that helps him deceive batters. Here’s some video.
Hackimer spent 2017 between Low-A and High-A, posting an impressive 1.76 ERA with 71 strikeouts over 61.1 innings pitched.
We’ll bring you updates on how the Twins prospects are doing throughout the 2017 AFL. Stay tuned!