Piscotty, Ramsey headline Cards AFL invitees

2012 first-round picks Stephen Piscotty and James Ramsey to lead seven St. Louis Cardinals farmhands into the 2013 Arizona Fall League.

Major League Baseball's premier prospect showcase, the Arizona Fall League, will be getting season number 21 underway with a schedule that begins on Tuesday, October 8.

Seven St. Louis Cardinals farmhands are among those on preliminary rosters announced Tuesday. The selections are young in experience with no players from Triple-A Memphis. The organization is going heavy on left-handed pitching, with three.

They include, from:

Triple-A Memphis: none

Double-A Springfield: Pitchers Anthony Ferrara, Lee Stoppelman and Dean Kiekhefer (all lefties) and outfielders Stephen Piscotty and James Ramsey.

A-Advanced Palm Beach: Pitcher Sam Gaviglio and infielder Jacob Wilson.

Cardinals senior special assistant to the general manager Gary LaRocque commented on the selections. "We are very pleased with how the rosters played out and we are looking forward to the Arizona Fall League as we always are," he noted.

All seven Cardinals prospects will suit up with the Salt River Rafters and will have a familiar face awaiting them. The club's manager will be Springfield Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt. Salt River will be staffed with players from the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Rays and Rockies.

Shildt wll be assisted by hitting coach Ozzie Timmons (Double-A, Rays) and pitching coach Darryl Scott (Double-A, Rockies).

Participating organizations provide seven to eight players each, typically made up of four pitchers, three position players and one taxi squad member. Of the seven regulars, three players are to be sourced from Double-A and above, two players are to be from the A-Advanced level with the other two from any level of play. With 35 to 40 active players, including 20 pitchers, players can be rotated to avoid excessive fatigue.

Piscotty has been designated as the Cardinals' priority player, assuring him of regular playing time, typically at least two of every three starts. Gaviglio will be the Cardinals' member of the Rafters' five-man rotation, with the three lefties serving in a relief role. The Cardinals have not yet designated an eighth participant, a taxi squad player who is restricted to Wednesday and Saturday play only.

The six-team circuit will feature action each Monday through Saturday afternoons (and occasionally evenings) through November 14 with the one-game championship on November 16. Games are held in five spring training stadiums around the Phoenix metropolitan area, as two teams call Surprise home.

As always, I will be reporting first-hand from Arizona on the Cardinals prospects competing in this year's AFL and plan to attend the league's Fall Stars Game on Saturday, November 2. The game will also be televised nationally on MLB Network as will the league final.

Link to Salt River Rafters roster.

Link to Salt River Rafters schedule.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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