The 2015 Arizona Fall League rosters were announced on Tuesday afternoon and the Pittsburgh Pirates will be sending seven players this season. The list includes:

C Reese McGuire

CF Austin Meadows

SS Adam Frazier

LHP Steven Brault

RHP Tyler Eppler

LHP Cody Dickson

RHP Brett McKinney

This is just the submitted list and it could change before the season starts. Last year, Nick Kingham was on the list of players going in late August. In October, he was replaced on the roster by Angel Sanchez. The league starts play on October 13th and the Pirates’ players will be on the Glendale Desert Dogs this season, switching from Scottsdale, where they were the last few years.

Austin Meadows is hitting .309/.356/.410 in 120 games for Bradenton this season. He is fourth in the FSL in average and fifth in OPS. He leads the league with 156 hits and he’s second with 71 runs scored, doing all of that as one of the youngest players in the league.

Reese McGuire is hitting .255/.300/.296 in 96 games with Bradenton. He was recently voted the best defensive catcher in the FSL and he too is one of the youngest players in the league.

Tyler Eppler missed the first half of this season due to elbow soreness. Recently, he has started dominating for Bradenton, going 26.2 innings over his last four starts without an earned run. On the season, he has a 2.58 ERA in 66.1 innings, with a 1.09 WHIP and 46 strikeouts. The extra time in the AFL will allow him to make up for some of the innings he missed.

Cody Dickson has struggled at times with command, which had led to a rocky season. For Bradenton, he has a 4.01 ERA in 137 innings, with 92 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP.

Adam Frazier also missed time at the beginning of the year with a finger injury. He will get a chance to make up some at-bats and possibly get better acclimated to positions other than shortstop. He has played third base, left field and center field this season. He has also played second base in the past. Frazier is the Eastern League leader in batting with a .327 average. He has a .796 OPS, which is the ninth best in the league.

Steven Brault has been one of the best pitchers in the minors over the last six weeks, posting a 1.10 ERA in his last nine starts. Splitting the season between Bradenton and Altoona, he has a 2.56 ERA in 147.2 innings, with 120 strikeouts, a 1.16 WHIP, a .234 BAA and a 1.47 GO/AO ratio.

Brett McKinney has split the year between Bradenton and Altoona, having much more success at the lower level. The 24-year-old reliever has a 5.92 ERA in 51.2 innings, striking out 52 batters. His ERA was 3.42 with Bradenton and he had nine saves before being promoted.

UPDATE 3:45 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…

Teams don’t always send their best prospects to the AFL, but this is not one of those cases. Meadows and McGuire are guys who will rank in a lot of top 100 lists next year, and are already considered two of the top prospects in the game. Brault and Eppler have emerged as very interesting starting pitching prospects this year. Frazier has emerged as a future super utility guy, with some outstanding hitting in Altoona. Dickson is an interesting starting option who has dealt with command issues, while McKinney is a hard throwing right-hander who could be a legit relief prospect in the future.

The thing about this group is that there aren’t really any organizational players. You’ve got two of the best prospects in the game, a few guys who are top 30 prospects in the system, and everyone has a real shot of reaching the majors in some capacity. There have been other groups that have been stronger at the top (last year with Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell), but this might be one of the strongest and most interesting groups the Pirates have sent in recent years.

On a site-related note, I’ve always wanted to go cover the AFL in the past, but the old revenue model prevented that from happening. Under the subscription model, I was hoping to add that coverage in the off-season. This group makes that trip even more of a priority. I can say with near certainty that I’ll be making it out to Arizona this fall in order to get some live coverage of these guys, and more importantly since this is a showcase league, get a feel for how they’re viewed outside of the organization.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. How are clubs selected to partner with each other for the AFL teams? Do they form their own alliances; are relationships rotated; or is it set by rule?

  2. Having McKinney going to the AFL seems a little odd – he doesn’t seem like much of a prospect, given his age and stats in AA. He’s been pretty bad in Altoona.

  3. I have been down this path before, and I will keep treading it. Why would Jose Osuna not be included? Why is he not a top ranked prospect? He has hit at every level even though he was young for each level. He is young for AA and still hitting. His defense has been praised. What is the big wart that SCOUTS are saying is wrong with him. I have watched games on milb that he has played in, and see a damn good player getting ignored so I am not scouting by stats alone.

    • How do you figure he’s being ignored? The fact that he’s in AA at such a young age, and getting playing time, means he’s highly thought of. There could be all kinds of legit reasons he doesn’t go to AFL. It’s a long season, and a little rest doesn’t hurt. Plus, with Bell starting in AAA next year, he’s going to get some more AA experience. Why fast track him when there’s no where for him to go. They can take their time and it’s far from ignoring him.

    • Definitely could see him starting the year there, although his placement at the beginning of the year might have more to do with space, rather than where he should be. I think he earned it and he’s put in enough starts, with one more to go, plus a possible playoff start

    • I don’t see anything holding Meadows back, but McGuire could return due to his bat. His defense is ready, so that may get him there to start the year. Right now I’d say it’s 50/50 and the decision probably won’t be made until early spring

    • It should be fun to see what Mcguire does against premium velocity this Fall.

      At some point, they’re going to have to put the breaks on his development until either the body or the swing catches up to the glove. He’s shown enough poor contact at this point that it’s clear something has to change.

      • I agree with the McGuire assessment.

        …just not really sure at what point the slam the brakes on. My gut is that he starts at AA next season. But I also think, unless he takes a drastic leap forward, he’s going to end up spending more than a season there.

        As he’ll only be 21 when the season starts, it’s not as if that’ll make him an old-timer when he makes his debut in 2017/18.

      • I am hoping a winter of getting stronger will help. Two full seasons of ball for a 20 year old is great but it is a lot of grind for a catcher. He’s still listed at 180. I think some filling out could occur with him in the next 6-7 months. Meadows too, who is slightly younger. Can’t wait to see what he does. He’s on the fast track already. He could be on the bullet train soon with a big fall. He’s so good. He impresses me like cutch did at that age. Great thing about meadows is there isn’t a need to rush him. The catching situation is squared away nicely.

      • Look what an extra year in Bradenton has done for Jhang behind the plate. He was dreadful at the dish last year and now is flirting with Meadows for the team lead in batting average while showing off a bit more pop, highlighted by last night’s walk-off shot.

        Not saying he’s destined for the same kind of improvement, but if it’s similar then watch out because he’s hitting much better this year than Jhang did in 2014.

    • Pirates had eight last year, Bell, Gamache, Diaz, Glasnow, Sampson, Rodriguez, Harlan and Sanchez. Teams are required to send six players, that’s the only rule

  4. John: is Clay Holmes still in play, or is his injury season-ending? I would think the Pirates might want to get him another 15-20 competitive innings if they could, leading into next season.

  5. John – was Taillon a consideration for this list since he essentially lost all of his 2014 and 2015 with the exception of some extending spring training? I’ve been telling Lee that Taillon will have the innings under his belt for a 2016 Summer Call Up and I’d rather not be wrong.

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