Fall league showcases the top prospects in Minor League Baseball
Rochester, Minn. – Starting this week, twenty-nine former Northwoods League players will be competing over the next two months in Arizona against the top players in Minor League Baseball.
There are six teams in the Arizona Fall League: the Scottsdale Scorpions, Mesa Solar Sox, Salt River Rafters, Glendale Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Saguaros. These club names were picked by Major League Baseball as reflective of the Southwestern desert traditions in the state.
Each August, Major League clubs determine the players who will go to Arizona. Each Major League Baseball team sends seven top prospects to the Arizona Fall League. The games are played in six total ballparks that house MLB Spring Training, with select events in additional ballparks.
The roots of the Arizona Fall League go back three decades, when the Major Leagues wanted to create an easily accessed offseason league. With the Arizona Fall League, managers, coaches, scouts, and league officials can be under direct guidance of league and club personnel in league-affiliated ballparks and premier training facilities. The AFL is designed to serve as the ‘finishing school’ of the minor leagues for players, coaches, umpires and aspiring employees.
How good are the players in the Arizona Fall League? Approximately 50 percent of all players named to the 2022 MLB All Star Game in Los Angeles were AFL alums. Twelve out of 20 players in the starting lineups for that game (starting pitchers and DH included) once played in the Arizona Fall League.
The former Northwoods League players and their AFL team are as follows:
Glendale Desert Dogs
INF JT Schwartz – New York Mets AA – La Crosse 2019
OF Jacob Burke – Chicago White Sox High A – Wausau 2021
Mesa Solar Sox
P Nick Hull – Chicago Cubs High A – Mankato 2019
P Trystan Vrieling – New York Yankees Low A – Mandan 2020
INF TT Bowens – Baltimore Orioles High A – Wisconsin Rapids 2020
INF Billy Cook – Baltimore Orioles AA – Thunder Bay 2017, 2018, Wisconsin Rapids 2020
INF Caleb Durbin – New York Yankees AA – Rockford 2019, 2020, Fond du Lac 2021
INF Brett Harris – Oakland Athletics AAA – Kenosha 2020
OF John Rhodes – Baltimore Orioles AA – Fond du Lac 2020
P Gabe Bierman – Miami Marlins High A – Kenosha 2019
P Ike Buxton – Miami Marlins High A – Bismarck 2020, Madison 2021
P Ross Carver – Cleveland Guardians Rookie Complex – Eau Claire 2021
INF Kyle Manzardo – Cleveland Guardians AAA – Willmar 2020
INF Graham Pauley – San Diego Padres AA – La Crosse 2020
OF Jakob Marsee – San Diego Padress AA – Great Lakes 2020, Kokomo 2021, Traverse City 2022
Salt River Rafters
P Tanner Kohlhepp – Detroit Tigers Low A – Eau Claire 2019
OF Justice Bigbie – Detroit Tigers AAA – Madison 2018, 2019, Kenosha 2020
P Andre Granillo – St. Louis Cardinals AAA – Mankato 2020
P Christian McGowan – Philadelphia Phillies High A – Waterloo 2020
P Luke Murphy – Los Angeles Angels AA – Battle Creek 2020
P Jake Sinclair – Washington Nationals AA – Wisconsin Rapids 2019
P Eric Torres – Los Angeles Angels AA – Green Bay 2020
C Caleb Ricketts – Philadelphia Phillies Low A – St. Cloud 2021
INF Carter Howell – San Francisco Giants Low A – Willmar 2021
INF Matt Kroon – Philadelphia Phillies AA – Kenosha 2016
OF Victor Scott – St. Louis Cardinals AA – Fond du Lac 2020, 2021
P Justin Slaten – Texas Rangers AA – Eau Claire 2018
C Michael Trautwein – Cincinnati Reds High A – Lakeshore 2019
INF Nick Loftin – Kansas City Royals MLB – Wausau 2018
More information on the Arizona Fall League can be found here: Arizona Fall League
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff, 340 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (TEX), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website at watchnwl.com and on ESPN+. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.