The season is almost over.
We know this because we are already bracing for six months without everyday baseball after the announcement that a bunch of kids will be playing in the desert this fall.
This year, the Phillies will be joining the Mets, Angels, Yankees, and Giants to form the Scottsdale Scorpions. MLB.com's prospect people are reporting that there will be over 20 Top 100 prospects in the league this year, and the Phillies will be sending none of them. More than that, it seems they may only be sending one Top 30 prospect to play this year. Now, this doesn't mean they are sending no one to the desert--here are six guys that you should probably know about, since many of them have a chance to put on a major league uniform at some point.
AFL games will kick off on October 11.
Victor Arano, RHP, Age 21
Clearwater: 63.0 IP 52 H 2.29 ERA 15 BB 71 K
Reading: 13.2 IP 9 H 1.98 ERA 2 BB 19 K
Arano is one half of the trade that sent Roberto Hernandez to Los Angeles. After spending the winter dominating in the bullpen for his hometown team in Mexico, the Phillies moved Arano full time to the bullpen this season. Everything has improved for him: his fastball was up to 95-97 this past week and his breaking ball has become more slider-like and given him a bat-missing option. His change-up is no longer a big part of his arsenal, but his ability to throw strikes has remained. Arano is not Rule 5 eligible this winter, but more innings could get him closer to impacting the Phillies' bullpen in 2017.
Brandon Leibrandt, LHP, Age 23
GCL: 4 GS 15.2 IP 14 H 2.30 ERA 4 BB 13 K
Clearwater: 5 GS 22.0 IP 14 H 1.64 ERA 9 BB 19 K
Leibrandt was the Phillies' 6th round pick in the 2014 draft, and was seen as a fast moving command/control lefty. He saw a tick up in velocity last year, but that only puts him at 88-90. He has a good change-up and will show a breaking ball as well. Leibrandt missed most of the year due to injury, which is why he is in Arizona to try and get back on track as a back end starter.
Miguel Nunez, RHP, Age 23
Clearwater: 8.1 IP 6 H 3.24 ERA 0 BB 13 K
Reading: 44.1 IP 40 H 3.25 ERA 28 BB 49 K
The Phillies signed Nunez back in 2010, he would then miss 2011 and 2012 before surfacing in 2013 with Lakewood. Last year he started transitioning to the bullpen and this year he has taken a big step forward.
Nunez is routinely throwing 95-96 and he mixes in a curveball and splitter. His control has been spotty in Reading, but he can be overpowering at times. Nunez is a minor league free agent after this year, so the Phillies need to figure out whether they should protect him or if Nunez is auditioning for a league of teams.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Age 22
Clearwater: .293/.360/.411 3 HR 26 SB
Reading: .267/.295/.336 1 HR 3 SB
The Phillies' second round pick in the 2015 draft is on the fast track for the majors. He has hit some bumps in AA (5 BB to 31 K in 32 games), and he will need to iron them out to reach the majors in 2017. Kingery plays solid defense with good speed; he doesn't have much home run power, but he can spray doubles. The key to watch, though, will be the plate discipline.
Mitch Walding, 3B, Age 23
Clearwater: .280/.372/.440 10 HR 2 SB
Reading: .238/.368/.413 3 HR 1 SB
Walding got the second highest bonus of any player in the Phillies 2011 draft (behind only Larry Greene Jr.). He has struggled at the plate since, but this year he has made some adjustments to his swing and approach that unlocked some of his raw power. Walding still strikeouts a bit much, and even the improved power is slightly below what you may want at third base, but he is a good defender and has the raw tools to be something at the majors. Walding will be Rule 5 eligible for the second time this offseason, but this trip is more about getting him more playing time than worrying about if he should be protected.
Andrew Pullin Aaron Brown, OF, Age 23
Clearwater: .304/.402/.391 2 HR 3 SB
Reading: .225/.318/.371 3 HR 2 SB
Brown will be making his second fall league trip due to a player injury, this time replacing Andrew Pullin. Brown struggled with Reading to open the year, before going down with injury. He is back in AA now and had been hitting the ball well for Clearwater prior to the promotion. At his best, Brown plays a good center field or excellent right field with solid power and decent speed. At his worst, Brown can be stiff at the plate and strikeout at a high rate while not tapping into his power. There is room for Brown to be a solid fourth outfielder, but he will need to get back on track soon.