Now that game seven of that epic World Series is behind us, the feeling of “no more baseball” is starting to set in. There are no more major league baseball games for another five or so months.
But that doesn’t mean we have to go into hibernation and dream about what the Rays could have done if they had kept Tim Beckham, who carried the Baltimore Orioles for almost an entire month while the Rays struggled, or if Kevin Kiermaier stayed healthy to provide a full 6 fWAR season of elite center field defense and an ever-improving plate approach.
No, we don’t have to ponder those questions because there is still baseball being played.
The Rays have prospects in various leagues all throughout the regular off season where they can whet our palettes for next season. (Or maybe they are working on their plate approach, or glove work, or fastball command, or something silly like that, but I think it is mostly to keep us sane until pitchers and catchers report in February).
The various off season leagues and prospects that will be playing in them (or already are) are listed below:
Arizona Fall League
This league started 10 October with the Rays sending three position players and four pitchers to the Surprise Saguaros. Coincidentally, their All Star Game, called the AFL Fall Stars Game, is today, and airing on the MLB Network. The Rays have up-and-coming second baseman/slugger Brandon Lowe in the contest, so you can catch a glimpse of him starting at 8pm EST. He has big shoes to fill as last year’s AFL ASG MVP was none other than the Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell, who dazzled on national television with 5 strikeouts and no hits allowed in 2 innings pitched.
Other players in the league include 3B slugger Kevin Padlo, converted catcher Brett Sullivan, and pitchers Spencer Jones, Benton Moss, Roel Ramirez and Burch Smith. The league ends with the championship game on 18 November.
Australian Baseball League
Starting 16 November and running through 27 January, the ABL is one of the longest off season leagues. Players can amass more than 200 plate appearances, making it a good choice for younger players who may have missed time to injury.
Last year, the Rays helped the Brisbane Bandits win the championship with 3B Kevin Padlo, C David Rodriguez and CF Thomas Milone. This year, they are sending 2015 first round draft pick OF Garrett Whitley, OF Jake Fraley, INF Mike Brosseau and (another) converted catcher Zac Law to the Perth Heat to get some work in. Also, former Rays top prospect Delmon Young has signed with the Melbourne Aces and will be playing with them this off season.
Notable prospects assigned to Latin-American leagues include position players RF Eleardo Cabrera, OF Cade Gotta, SS Luis Rengifo, C David Rodriguez, and OF Jesus Sanchez. Notable pitchers include LHSP Genesis Cabrera, RHRP Diego Castillo, and RHSP Jhonleider Salinas. Most of these leagues begin in early October and in mid to late December.
Here is a great tracker that shows all of the players in the Rays organization that are playing in the off season and their stats, updated daily, condensed into one page.