The 2012 Arizona Fall League will begin today, so let's take a look at the players who will continue their 2012 campaign in the Grand Canyon State . Before we look at the upcoming season, however, let's reflect back on last year how the Dodgers' AFL players from 2011 fared in 2012. A year ago the Dodgers sent 9 guys to the AFL, and 3 of those players spent time in the MLB in during this past season. Stephen Fife made the biggest contribution as he stepped into the Dodgers rotation on 5 different occasions, mostly as an injury replacement. Fellow pitcher Josh Wall also got a taste of the big leagues with a handful of relief appearances, while Alex Castellanos struggled through 22 at bats for LA. Of the remaining players from the 2011 AFL team that didn't make it to the big leagues, a couple took a step back in 2012 (Griff Erickson and Jake Lemmerman), a few had decent seasons (Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Kyle Russell, and Cole St. Clair), and one continued to shine (Steven Ames).
This year's Dodger prospects will all be part of the AFL team named the Mesa Solar Sox. Other organizations sending players to the Solar Sox are the Orioles, Cubs, Tigers, and Astros, and some of the notable prospects from these other teams are Nick Castellanos, Javier Baez, George Springer, and Jonathan Singleton.
AFL Dodger Pitching Prospects
Chris Reed - LHP - 22.25 years old - This roster spot was originally for Paco Rodriguez, but after using him throughout the month of September the Dodgers thought better of sending him to the AFL and wisely gave the spot to Reed. Due to a variety of minor injuries Chris only threw 70.1 innings in his first full professional season, so this should allow Reed to make up for some lost time. As a lot of teams don't send their top young pitching prospects to the AFL, Reed should get plenty of attention in Arizona.
Andres Santiago - RHP - 23 years old - Santiago was one of the Dodgers most impressive breakout pitching prospects in 2012, and he'll look to continue his recent success in the AFL. Andres was drafted by the Dodgers back in 2007 as a 17 year old, and since then he's made steady progress through the system. After posting a sub 4 ERA in the hitter friendly California League with more than a strikeout per inning, Andres actually lowered his ERA to 2.77 in AA and continue to rack up the K's. He's definitely someone to watch as we head into 2013.
Onelki Garcia - LHP - 23 years old - Garcia was a late addition the AFL roster, and the 2012 3rd round pick is a bit of a mystery as he made just one regular season appearance in 2012. If you include the playoffs, however, Onelki struck out 11 batters in just 5 innings and by all accounts looked very good in doing so. The AFL should be the perfect place for Garcia to make up for lost time, and if he continues to succeed he could be a fast mover for the Dodgers.
Eric Eadington - LHP - 24.5 years old - For a non drafted free agent, Eadington has done very well for himself. After turning some heads in the Rookie Leagues in 2011, Eric continued his success in Class A before meeting his match in AA. Even though he had a 5.73 ERA for the Lookouts, the fact that he even made it to the Southern League in just his second professional season is quite impressive, and the fact that he is a hard throwing lefty makes him even more attractive for an organization that his short on lefty handed relievers.
Red Patterson - RHP - 25.25 years old - Patterson made the transition from the rotation to the bullpen in 2012, and overall his conversion went pretty well. While he struggled a bit in the middle of the season (June and July), he was extremely effective in April, May, and August which resulted in an ERA and FIP of right around 3.00. He proved to be quite durable as he ranked third on the Lookouts with 47 appearances, and he struck out more than a batter per inning. While he'll be one of the older players on the Solar Sox at 25, he is at a perfect age to help out the big league club as soon as next season.
AFL Dodger Hitting Prospects
Griff Erickson - C - 24.5 years old - A year ago I was singing Erickson's praise in this very same AFL preview, but after an ugly 2012 performance for the Lookouts Griff has seen his prospect status drop significantly. The switch hitting catcher batted just .234 in the Southern League, and after crushing 13 homers in 2011, he connected on just 3 long balls in 2012. That being said the 24 year old still showed solid plate disciple as he walked almost as much as he struck out, and he also showed great defense behind the plate as he made just 3 errors all season long.
Rafael Ynoa - INF - 25 years old - Ynoa was probably the Dodgers biggest surprise on the AFL roster given that he typically isn't considered to be much of a prospect, but after watching Elian Herrera make his big league debut in 2012 I guess you have to believe that anything is possible. Rafael played all of last year in the Southern League, and while he didn't hit a homer and had an OPS of just .715, he did steal 23 bases and had a very solid strikeout to walk ratio. He's also received high praise for his defense, and with the Lookouts he split his time between shortstop and 2nd base.
Joc Pederson - OF - 20.5 years old - The second youngest player on the Solar Sox (only 2012 9th overall pick Javier Baez is younger), Pederson will look to continue his torrid 2012 season which earned him the Dodgers minor league player of the year award. After an MVP type season for Ogden in 2011, Joc got off to a relatively slow start for the Quakes this past year. But from July on he slugged 15 of his 18 homers and had an OPS above 1.000. He made his AA debut in the Southern League playoffs, and that should be where he starts the 2013 season even if he if he struggles in the AFL.
Yasiel Puig - OF - 21.75 years old - Puig will likely be one of the most talked about players in the AFL as scouts from across the country will try and determine if he was worth the Dodgers' $42M investment. Puig has already turned quite a few heads after an impressive 23 game debut in 2012, although he's also already received some criticism for his somewhat lackadaisical attitude. It's uncertain as to where he fits into the Dodgers' long term plans, but if he hits like a $42M player then I'm sure Los Angeles will find a spot for him sooner rather than later.