The Arizona Fall League has been going for a few weeks now, and on Wednesday, the rosters were unveiled for the league's annual Rising Stars game. The game will be played at 8 pm eastern on MLB Network and MLB.com this Saturday, and this is pertinent to Red Sox fans for two reasons: Bryce Brentz and Michael Almanzar.
Both of these Red Sox farmhands and AFL participants were named to the West Division roster in the AFL showcase of young talent. Brentz, one of MLB.com's top 100 prospects (#70), the eighth-ranked prospect in the system courtesy of Baseball America, and the #6 prospect by way of Sox Prospects, is not a surprise to make the squad. He's Boston's best prospect in the league, and has hit .304/.385/.435 in his 12 games and 46 at-bats in the AFL. Offensive number tend to be inflated in that league, but with Brentz, it's good to see him drawing some walks -- he's picked up five in 51 chances at the plate.
Almanzar is nowhere near as exciting as Brentz, but he had a sneaky good season. He hit .300/.353/.458 with High-A Salem, but as a follow-up to a .182/.223/.245 stint at the level over 61 games in 2011, that looks pretty great. The 21-year-old is getting more play in the AFL, and while he hasn't made the most of it (.235/.328/.275), he was still named to the Rising Stars' squad. Almanzar was formerly a top prospect in both the GCL and the New York-Penn League, but hasn't been rated since 2009. Sox Prospects currently lists him as the #51 prospect in the Red Sox system.
Brentz is one in a line of Red Sox prospects who were close to the majors and assigned to the AFL. Will Middlebrooks was in a similar situation in 2011, and was sent to Arizona -- he too made the Rising Stars roster. In 2010, Ryan Lavarnway was the hitter who received that recognition. Following this logic, it's possible that Brentz will get some time in the majors in 2013 eventually, either through necessity or because he forced his way in. Here's hoping for the latter -- Brentz could use the time in Triple-A, as, despite his promise, there are still visible holes in his game and approach.