The San Francisco Giants have announced four players they will be sending to Arizona for the onset of the 2016 edition of the Arizona Fall League. Catchers Aramis Garcia and Eliezer Zambrano will join third baseman Ryder Jones and outfielder Hunter Cole as members of the Scottsdale Scorpions.
This year's Scorpions will be comprised of players from the Angels, Yankees, Giants, Phillies and Mets. Greg Bird (Yankees) put on a show from the Fall League two years ago with a number a mammoth home runs while also earning MVP honors, but missed the entire 2016 season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He was expected to play a role in New York once again this year before going down, so this little bit of extra playing time should serve him well before spring training next season.
Taylor Ward is the Angels highest-ranked prospect making the trip to the desert, and figures to see some extra time behind the plate. With four catchers on the roster, both Zambrano and Tomas Nido (Mets) will serve as taxi squad (plays Wednesdays and Saturdays only) while Ward and Garcia will see regular time.
As for the Giants players on the roster, here is how their 2016 seasons have looked along with their highest level and their cumulative stats:
For Garcia and Zambrano, this is an opportunity to collect some extra work behind the plate. Garcia, 23, spent the majority of the season on the disabled list with a facial fracture after taking a knee to the face sliding into second in May. After the reshuffling of the Giants farm system at the trade deadline, MLB Pipeline has Garcia ranked as the team's number six prospect. He was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft and is projected by Pipeline as a potential .260 hitter with double-digit pop.
Zambrano, 29, has spent at least parts of every season since 2010 in Double-A Richmond, but has yet to progress to Triple-A. He played in just 33 games this season and of those 33, only 21 saw him record more than one at-bat. Zambrano is Rule 5 eligible, and the Giants could be hoping that he has a good fall league to showcase him a bit in order to work out a trade before the draft in December.
Ryder Jones, 22, is another Giants second round pick joining the roster. Drafted in 2013, Ryder has made the slow and steady climb up the minor league ladder each year. In 59 more at-bats this season with the Flying Squirrels, Jones has struck out two fewer times than he did last season with San Jose, which is a positive sign. August saw Jones have arguably his best month since April, batting .259 while homering four times. He has seen time at both first and third this season and back in 2014 even saw 34 games at shortstop with Augusta.
Finally, 23 year old Hunter Cole, who is ranked number 23 by Pipeline, has played all over the diamond in his pro career but has settled into right field in 2016. When he was drafted, the Giants started him off at third, first and in left. The following year (2015) he logged most of his time in right field, but also appeared in 25 games between Augusta and San Jose at second base. He has yet to play in Triple-A, so this could be the Giants way of speeding up his clock to the big leagues just a bit, especially given the injuries of Hunter Pence this season, and the impending free agency of Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco this winter. Having another outfielder ready to deal with potential injuries next season could make a big difference with the team's playoff aspirations.
Fall League action starts up on October 8 with the Bowman Hitting Challenge, and games start on Tuesday the 11th with the Scorpions taking on the Desert Dogs in Glendale to open the season.
Note: Not all of the pitchers have been announced for this team just yet, and according to Baseball America, San Francisco will be sending four pitchers to help fill out the Scottsdale roster.null