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Baz, Hernandez highlight deep Rays 2019 Arizona Fall League contingent

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After getting a cup of coffee in the Arizona Fall League last year, Ronaldo Hernandez will be back this September.

MiLB: AUGUST 10 Florida State League - Stone Crabs at Tarpons Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wednesday, preliminary Arizona Fall League rosters were announced. The annual prospect showcase begins earlier this season, on Sept. 18.

Rays prospects were assigned to the Salt River Rafters, where they’ll be joined by prospects from the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Marlins, and Twins. Princeton pitching coach Jim Paduch is on the staff.

All stats are through games on Aug. 27.

RHP Shane Baz (2.87 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 24.5 K%, 11.0 BB% in 75 13 IP for Class-A Bowling Green)

Baz is one of the most talented pitching prospects assigned to the notorious hitters’ league this fall. Coming from A-ball, he’s going to be facing the most experienced hitters he’s ever seen. Pitching leaders in the AFL tend to top out around 20 innings, so he’ll be going over 100 for the entire season if he gets starts for Salt River.

C Ronaldo Hernandez (.264/.299/.395, 15.1 K%, 4.0 BB% in 424 PA for Class A-Advanced Charlotte)

Even though he missed some time earlier this season on the inactive list, Hernandez will actually finish this season with roughly as many plate appearances as last season. This offseason, the Rays will have to decide whether to add him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

OF Josh Lowe (.248/.337/.433, 26.1 K%, 11.3 BB% in 505 PA for Double-A Montgomery)

Lowe is one of the best athletes in the organization, and this has been the best season of his pro career. He’ll almost certainly eclipse 30 steals for the first time, and his 17 home runs have more than doubled his previous career high. His defense in the outfield remains impressive.

RHP Drew Strotman (6.55 ERA, 2.36 WHIP, 20.0 K%, 16.4 BB% in 11 IP for Class A-Advanced Charlotte)

Strotman was one of the organization’s many prospects who needed Tommy John surgery last year, and he just returned to game action fairly recently. Prior to his injury, he had a promising start to his career and established himself as a top-20 prospect in the organization. It’ll be good for him to throw some more innings.

RHP Alex Valverde (4.29 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 22.7 K%, 7.7 BB% in 65 IP for Class A-Advanced Charlotte)

Valverde had a rough season in Bowling Green’s rotation last year, but he’s been a little better in relief for Charlotte. His strikeout rate is up, and his walk rate is down. He does have a tendency to allow home runs, so the AFL will be a test for him.

SS Taylor Walls (.274/.349/.449, 18.6 K%, 10.9 BB% in 404 PA for Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery)

Walls started his season slightly late due to an injury and then quickly went on the injured list, so going to the AFL will help him make up some of those lost plate appearances. Since he returned from that injury, he’s stayed on the field and solidified his prospect status. He’ll also get a chance to play more games at second base and third base.