David Adams (2B/3B) will also take some hacks in Scottsdale this fall, in an attempt to catch him up after what amounts to two lost seasons. Adams played only 39 games in 2010 and 29 in 2011, as he recovered from an ankle injury that famously resulted in the disintegration of the Jesus Montero-Cliff Lee trade with Seattle. It has been a long road back for the highly touted infielder, but he seems well on his way back after a strong showing in Trenton this year. He is hitting .309/.390/.456 with eight homers over 84 games. The AzFL has often been used to give players changing positions extra time in their new spot, and that might also be the case with Adams. After playing second base for virtually his entire professional career (he played third for fourteen games in Charleston in 2009), Adams has been at third since July.
Slade Heathcott (OF) will also head to Arizona this fall, after a pair of shoulder surgeries slowed him down. Heathcott has yet to get more than 300 at bats in a season, so the AzFL will be a good place for him to extend his season. It was June before Heathcott made an appearance in a game this season, but he has looked very good in Tampa and has gotten better as the season progressed. His off-field problems have long been the subject of conversation and an on-field brawl last season didn’t help, but he looks like he is maturing and has kept the focus on his playing this season. He has dominated the Florida State League this August, hitting .379/.438/.517 so far and stealing ten bases.
The Yankees will likely send four pitchers to Scottsdale as well, though those names have not been finalized. Via Josh Norris, Zach Nuding, Tom Kahnle, Mark Montgomery, Branden Pinder and Preston Claiborne are all in the running. Claiborne played in the AzFL last season, along with Daniel Burawa who could return as well if healthy. Personally, despite the obvious intrigue that would come of seeing Montgomery in the majors this September, I think it would be great to see him in the AzFL. The Yankees’ 11th round pick in 2011 has moved through the minors very quickly, and it has been well-deserved, but between 2011 and 2012 he has appeared in a total of 71 games and thrown just 90.2 innings. Some time in Arizona may be a great way to keep him on the fast track while being a bit cautious.
For those unfamiliar with the Arizona Fall League, it is an interesting off-season league that showcases some of the best talent that is closing in on the big leagues. The league is made up of six teams and the regular season begins October 9th and ends November 15th. Each team is required to send seven players and only Triple-A or Double-A players are eligible, though two players from Class A+ may be allowed as well. A player cannot have more than one year of active Major League service (or two years total), unless the player was picked in the most recent Rule 5 Draft. The rosters in the AzFL have 35 players with 20 pitchers allowed, though only 15 are eligible in any given game.