The initial Arizona Fall League rosters were announced today, and the Tigers look to be sending six players if all goes well. On the pitching side of things, you'll have no-hit hero Thad Weber and relievers, Robbie Weinhardt and Cody Satterwhite. Tigers swinging the bat for Peoria will be Scott Sizemore (again) and Cale Iorg up the middle and Ryan Strieby, who is heading to Arizona as an outfielder.
There aren't really any surprises here as far as I'm concerned. Weinhardt announced his inclusion on Facebook (thanks Billfer) and the other guys are promising prospects. The only one that I find even a little surprising is Ryan Strieby, and that's only because I thought he might need the offseason to address the problems he's had with his wrist the last couple seasons.
Of course, that's still a possibility. These initial AFL rosters usually change quite a bit before the teams actually take the field. There is some bad news in all this for the Tiger position players heading to this offseason league of prospects. Stephen Strasburg is going to be pitching for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
The thing I like about this season's selections is there isn't really a dog in the bunch. Thad Weber is probably the furthest thing from a prospect among the six and he's going to pique people's interest because of the no-hitter. That's a little silly - judging him on one fantastic game - but do you know how many times people asked about Guillermo Moscoso just because he threw a perfect game in Oneonta?
That's not to disparage Weber, though. For the most part, he's produced since he was drafted last year and hopefully he can take some momentum into the league after his peripherals sagged a bit once he got to Erie.
In Robbie Weinhardt and Cody Satterwhite, you have strong bullpen arms who should be knocking on the door to the majors next year. There's no question they were among the "ten bullpen arms" Dombrowski thinks will throw in the majors. It'll be interesting to see how they do against top competition in what is usually an environment that favors hitters.
Among the position players, introductions probably aren't necessary. Ryan Strieby is going to win the Tigers' Minor League Player of the Year unless they have a problem with giving it to the same player two years in a row. The Tigers have certainly noticed the big bat and that's why they're sending him as an outfielder. They'd prefer not to have him sitting on the bench waiting behind a certain other right-handed power hitting first baseman.
Cale Iorg has struggled at the plate this season, but Dave Dombrowski made sure everybody knew who he was last offseason when he said the kid was going to be a star - and soon. Hopefully, the desert air will stir his bat so it can catch up to the glove that has been named Baseball America's Best Defensive Shortstop in the last two leagues he's played.
Finally you have Scott Sizemore. If he's not already the best known of the six, he may be soon. More than a few people expect him to have a shot at the Tigers' starting second baseman job next year. Of course, if he's the reason the Tigers let Placido Polanco walk, fans will want to see results. The good news is he's given us no reason - between Erie and Toledo - to suspect he's not up to the task.
This article also appeared at my Tiger minor league website, Take 75 North, where I just did a recap of the previous week's action in the minors.
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