The Astros have announced the seven players they will be sending to the Arizona Fall League this year. The Mesa Solar Sox begin AFL play on October 9 and will be comprised of players fro the Houston, Baltimore, Detroit, Cubs, and Dodgers organizations. Each team is required to send a minimum of seven prospects to play in the league that has become a showcase for future big-leaguers.
The Astros will be sending pitchers Jarred Cosart, Chia-Jen Lo, and Alex Sogard along with position players Bobby Borchering, Jiovanni Mier, Jonathan Singleton, and George Springer. The Mesa squad will be managed by another member of the Astros organization, Lancaster skipper Rodney Linares.
Cosart, the organization’s top pitching prospect, has been slowed by recurring blisters on his pitching hand this season. Jarred has been limited to 19 starts and made his first appearance out of the bullpen when he returned from the D.L. last week. The Astros want to get a longer look at Cosart this Fall and hope that the blister problems become a thing of the past.
Chia-Jen Lo pitched 17 innings at High-A Lancaster this season after missing almost all of 2011 with Tommy John Surgery. The 26 year-old righty from Taiwan has a mid-nineties fastball and a plus curve. He projects as a possible late innings reliever and could be ticketed for AAA next season if he performs well in Arizona.
Sogard, another lefty, quickly advanced to AA after starting the season at Lancaster. Alex is an extreme ground ball pitcher. In 32 appearances at Corpus Christi covering 51 & 2/3 innings Sogard has allowed only two homeruns.
Borchering was acquired from Arizona in the Chris Johnson trade this July. The switch-hitting 21 year-old has shown some power at AA but has a 30% strikeout rate in 97 at-bats with the Hooks. The Astros have moved Borchering back to 3B after Arizona had him in the outfield for the majority of the last two seasons.
Mier, who just turned 22, was the Astros first round pick in the 2009 draft. A shortstop from Bonita High School near San Diego, Mier has yet to live up to expectations in the minors. Jio missed some time with an ankle injury this season and the Astros want to get him some more playing time. Mier needs to show he is ready to advance to AA Corpus Christi next season.
Jonathan Singleton and George Springer are also top prospects in the Astros system. Singleton spent all of 2012 in Corpus Christi and led the Hooks in several offensive categories. Springer joined Singleton in Corpus after putting together a monster season at Lancaster. Another first round pick, Springer is a five tool talent out of the University of Connecticut.
Last season the Astros were affiliated with the AFL Champion Salt River Rafters. Dallas Keuchel, Jacob Goebbert, Jason Stoffel, Josh Zeid, Chris Hicks, Kody Hinze, Jay Austin, and Jason Castro were all members of the championship squad.