Addison Russell, who is the Oakland Athletics‘ No. 1 prospect, leads a group of talented Oakland farmhands headed to the desert to take part in the Arizona Fall League.
The League lasts from early October to mid November, and 60 percent of its participants end up going on to play in MLB. Each of the 30 teams in the majors sends seven prospects to create six composite teams. This fall, Oakland’s prospects will play for the Mesa Solar Sox along with players drawn from the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers.
Russell, who Baseball America dubbed the No. 19 best prospect in all the minor leagues, will be joined on the Solar Sox by Single-A Stockton Ports teammates and relievers Seth Frankoff and Omar Duran. The group also includes Ryan Dull (reliever) and Max Muncy (first baseman) who are both currently playing for the Double-A Midland RockHounds, but also spent time earlier this season out at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton.
The team also sends lefty Jeff Urlaub of Midland and catcher David Freitas who plays for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. A couple of players, who the Athletics sent to play in the prestigious Fall League are in the big leagues now—just not with the Athletics.
Grant Green was flipped to the Angels where he’s now playing second base. Catcher Max Stassi, who was part of the Jed Lowrie for Chris Carter trade, also debuted for the Houston Astros just last week. He got drilled in the face in his second game, though, and is now on the concussion DL.
Which prospects from this year’s class could end up in Oakland first?
Russell is on the fast track after an impressive season in Stockton as a 19-year-old. The No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 draft has racked up 29 doubles, 17 home runs, 10 triples and stolen 21 bases in his first full season as a pro. He’s played smooth defense at shortstop, and since the All-Star Break he’s posted an .993 OPS. Even with the aggressive pace he’s been going out, he’ll start next year in Midland. Once a player gets to Double-A, though, they’re just a phone call from the big leagues.
Frankoff is also worth keeping an eye on. The righty recorded 93 strikeouts in 73.1 innings and in 46 games he never took a loss. It was solid stuff from the reliever, who just turned 25. The No. 27 round pick in 2010 could move fast.
Dull is another right-handed reliever, who posted an impressive strikeouts to innings pitched ratio with 77 in 58 innings. The 23-year-old also tallied 19 saves across three levels, and as a No. 32 round pick in 2012, is flying through the system. He could very well factor into the Oakland bullpen equation as early as next season.
The left-handed Duran continues the trend of relievers with impressive strikeout numbers. The 23-year-old, who was singed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2007, recorded 80 in 50 innings. Double-A would seem to be his first stop in 2014.
Muncy has 23 home runs this year, but 21 came in Single-A (93 games) and two came in Double-A (42 games). The jump from High-A to Double-A is often described as the hardest in the minors as Muncy has found out. The extra work could prove vital for the 23-year-old, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 draft and who plays at one of the deeper positions in the Oakland system.
Urlaub (26) and Frietas (25) are the two most senior players that the Athletics are sending to Arizona. Urlaub has had a less than stellar season in Midland, but he has a history of getting strikeouts. Frietas meanwhile profiles as a backup catcher, possibly as soon as next year. He actually hit better in Triple-A (.267) this year than Double-A (.214).