The Arizona Fall League starts today out in the dessert and several other Winter Leagues are already underway. The Arizona Fall League is probably the most glamorous of all the Winter Leagues due to the fact it is normally a who’s-who of top prospects from all 30 MLB teams. Let’s just run down the list of who will be in Arizona for a few extra weeks of fun in the sun. Well the top two picks from this summer’s draft will be there with Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals) bringing his millions of dollars and 100-MPH fastball. No. 2 pick Dustin Ackley will be there representing the Seattle Mariners. Including Strasburg and Ackley, five of the first 10 picks from last summer’s draft are scheduled to be in Arizona. The Giants uber-catching prospect Buster Posey will be there. The Marlins are sending Andrew Miller in hopes of getting the big lefty back on track. The Kansas City Royals top prospect Mike Moustakas will play third for the Surprise Rafters. Former Ole Miss Rebel and Collierville, TN-native Zach Cozart will represent Cincinnati. And all those guys are just a few of the best, future big leaguers.
So if this the best-of-the-best prospects league, who are the Cardinals sending? Since the Cardinals traded four of their Top 10 prospects from last year fans will definitely see some new, yet familiar faces wearing the Birds on the Bat while playing for the Surprise Rafters this fall. The players the Cards have slated on the Rafters Opening Day Roster are below along with their position and the highest level they reached in 2009.
- Gary Daley – RHP – Double-A Springfield - Daley pitched in just nine games, all in relief, for the S-Cards this past season going 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA. The right-hander didn’t make his debut until August 19 for Springfield after starting the year with Single-A Quad Cities, where he went 4-3 with a 6.93 ERA in 32 games, 10 starts. Daley was the Cardinals third round pick out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2006.
- Scott Gorgen – RHP – Double-A Springfield - Gorgen reached Double-A in just his first full year of pro ball after being a fourth round pick out of California-Irvine in 2008. The right-hander went 4-5 with a 5.20 ERA in 11 starts for the S-Cardinals after posting a 3-5 record with a 2.93 ERA in 14 games, 13 starts, for Single-A Palm Beach. Gorgen’s twin brother was a 16th
round pick of the Rays last year.
- Mike Parisi – RHP – Single-A Palm Beach - Former Redbird Mike Parisi will be one of very few guys in the Fall League with MLB experience. Parisi pitched in 12 games, two starts, for St. Louis in 2008 before blowing out his elbow in a game with Memphis at Sacramento in early August. The right-hander missed almost all of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- Adam Reifer – RHP – Single-A Palm Beach - Reifer racked up 21 saves in 54 games for the Cardinals this past summer going 4-7 with a 4.47 ERA along the way. In his first full year of pro baseball Reifer followed up a stellar 2008 when he was tabbed the third-best prospect and best pitching prospect in the New York-Penn League after punching out 41 batters in 30.1 innings.
- Bryan Anderson – C – Triple-A Memphis - Anderson is another former Redbird scheduled to get some extra at-bats in the Fall League after missing significant time due to an injury. Anderson was the ‘Birds starting catcher before going down with a shoulder injury sustained in a collision at the plate in late June. The California-native is still considered one of the Cardinals best prospects but needs to use the Fall League to vault into 2010.
- Daniel Descalso – 2B – Triple-A Memphis - The Arizona Fall League will be the icing on the cake to an amazing 2009 campaign for Descalso. After crushing the Texas League for a .323 average and 26 doubles in 73 games, Descalso was promoted to Memphis for 46 games before joining Team USA for their gold medal run in the World Cup. He’ll share the Rafters infield with Team USA teammate Ike Davis from the New York Mets organization.
- Tyler Henley – OF – Double-A Springfield - Henley just wrapped up the best season of his young career leading Springfield with a .303 average and 31 doubles in a career-best 123 games. The former Rice star hadn’t even played in 123 games in his two previous years as a pro until this past summer. Henley is on the taxi squad for the Rafters, which means he is only active on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Daryl Jones – OF – Double-A Springfield - Jones has been one of the Cardinals top prospects since he was drafted in the third round out of high school in 2005. However, since then his career has been up-and-down until 2008 when he was named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year. Jones will be making up some at-bats this fall as well after missing a lot of time in the second half of the season with a leg injury.
Other former Redbirds playing ball this fall are Jon Jay, who is hitting .400 in four games for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League, and Fernando Salas, who has turned in 1.1 scoreless innings for Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the Mexican Pacific League. Naranjero translates to orange seller in case you were wondering. Follow us on twitter (@memphisredbirds) and check back here for updates on our Boys of Fall. You can also follow the Arizona Fall League games pitch-by-pitch over on MiLB.com. Games start at 1:35 p.m. CT so if you’re bored at work or like us and get to say it’s part of your job check it out.