The season is winding down, meaning the 2018 Arizona Fall League is right around the corner! Today, the Twins announced the eight prospects they plan to send down south this year: Brent Rooker, Jaylin Davis, Travis Blankenhorn, Hector Lujan, Alex Robinson, Devin Smeltzer, Luke Raley, and Griffin Jax.
These eight bright-eyed and bushy-tailed prospects will be playing for the Salt River Rafters, who’ll be managed by the Twins’ current Double-A manager Tommy Watkins. The Rafters (or are they River Rafters?) will also include prospects from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, and Washington Nationals . The entire roster will eventually be available here.
Below is a little more on each of the eight players the Twins are sending to the desert in 2018.
Brent Rooker - 1B
Drafted by the Twins in 2017, Rooker is probably the best-known name heading down south for Minnesota this fall. He’s made his way through the organization fairly quickly on account of being an older (he’s 23) college player and smashing the beans out of the ball. Through 125 games in Double-A this season, the righty first baseman is hit .258/.335/.477 with 22 home runs and 32 doubles.
Jaylin Davis - RF
Though the Twins didn’t draft Davis until the 24th round in 2015, Davis probably would have gone higher had he not suffered an injury in college ball. Davis spent the 2018 season split between High-A — where he hit .271/.354/.397 over 199 ABs — and Double-A, where he did even better, hitting .283/.351/.443 over 219 ABs.
Travis Blankenhorn - 3B
The Twins drafted Blankenhorn out of high school in the third round of the 2015 MLB draft. The 22-year-old infielder spent all of 2018 in High-A, where he hit .231/.300/.390 with 11 home runs over 428 ABs.
Hector Lujan - RHP
Like Davis and Blankenhorn, Lujan was also taken by the Twins in the 2015 MLB Draft. The right-handed relief pitcher spent all of 2018 with the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle, where he had a 2.42 ERA with 66 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP over 70.2 innings pitched.
Alex Robinson - LHP
Okay, fine, here’s another 2015 draftee. The Twins snagged this one in the fifth round, and he spent all of 2018 in High-A — or, at least, all of 2018 when he wasn’t injured. A couple stints on the DL limited the 24-year-old lefty to only 34.1 innings, over which he managed a 4.98 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP. Here’s to hoping Robinson stays healthy and can make up some inning in the AFL.
Devin Smeltzer - LHP
Here’s one of the guys the Twins got from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier trade earlier this year. The Dodgers originally drafted Smeltzer, 22, in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He’s spent all of 2018 in Double-A for the Dodgers and Twins, where he has a combined ERA of 4.61 over 93.2 innings. Though he was used as a starter in the Dodgers system, he’s only pitched in relief for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Luke Raley - OF
Here’s the pother guy the Twins got from the Dodgers in the Dozier trade, and also what most consider the biggest part of the deal. Raley is a 23-year-old outfielder the Dodgers originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. He has also spent all of 2018 in Double-A for the Dodgers and Twins, hitting a combined .276/.354/.475 with 20 home runs over 463 ABs.
Griffin Jax - RHP
Saving the best name for last, Jax is a right-handed pitcher originally drafted by the Twins in the third round in 2016. He started thirteen games for the Ft. Myers Miracle in 2018, posting a 3.28 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP over 85.0 innings. In 2017, Jax was limited to only 31.0 innings due to be called into active duty by the Air Force in late July. The AFL will give Jax some extra time to make up those innings and continue his development.
Who are you most excited to see this year in the Arizona Fall League (or do you not care at all)?