2019 Arizona Fall League Preview: Glendale Desert Dogs

The 2019 Glendale Desert Dogs are an intriguing group of prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox. Compared to last year, the Desert Dogs are a better team on paper, and hopefully better than their 12-18 record in 2018. Similar to last year, however, the pitching staff for Glendale might be one of the weakest in the league. On the positive side, their infield and outfield have plenty of talent to make up for it.

Pitching Staff

Although lacking a true ace prospect, Glendale has some solid relief prospects that could see the show sooner than later.

For the White Sox, RHP Tyler Johnson has had a decent couple of years as a reliever for the lower levels of the White Sox system posting some good numbers. He mainly relies on a powerful fastball in the mid-90s reaching higher at times. Although Johnson has struggled to find a successful secondary, his slider is the best of them in the mid to low-80s. The White Sox are also bringing in LHP Bernardo Flores. Flores missed a large portion of this year but when he got back finished off strong with 33 Ks in 28 IP and only allowing five walks in as many starts.

As for the Brewers, they’re bringing some interesting talent in LHP Clayton Andrews, LHP Nathan Kirby, and LHP Quintin Torres-Costa. Andrews has had an impressive pro career so far with 131 Ks with 32 BBs in 92.1 IP despite lower velocity. Meanwhile, the other two have been intriguing when healthy. Kirby is a former top pick that has only 83.2 IP since being drafted in 2015. Quintin Torres-Costa is a flamethrower who has struggled with command.

The Cardinals decided to bring RHP Griffin Roberts, RHP Seth Elledge and RHP Kodi Whitley. A former top pick, Roberts has struggled at times but possesses an outstanding slider that could afford him a future in the bullpen. He has struggled so far after a first full year in the minors, with a strikeout to walk ratio of 36/35 allowing 47 ER in 65.2 IP. Elledge is knocking on the doors of the majors after having some promise as a middle relief prospect. He had a decent year at both Double-A and Triple-A, having thrown 67.2 IP allowing only 32 ERs with a strikeout to walk ratio of 75/32.

Bringing the most exciting name to this staff is the Dodgers with RHP Mitchell White, RHP Gerardo Carillo, RHP Marshall Kasowski, and RHP Brett de Geus. White is the player to watch out this staff having the rawest stuff in the group. He throws a sinking fastball in the mid-90s with a curve and slider to complement. White’s been an oft-injured pitcher but flashes SP4 or better when on. Carillo is an interesting name after being signed out of Mexico, the guy has been trending up for the past couple of years with a solid fastball but like White also didn’t have a good 2019. Kasowski has been steadily growing as a guy that gets plenty of Ks, having an insane 177 Ks in 107.2 IP with 66 BB over his minor league career.

Also joining the staff from the Reds are RHP Jordan Johnson, RHP Diomar Lopez, RHP Dauri Moreta, and RHP Cory Thompson.

Pitcher To Watch: Mitchell White (LAD)

Infield and Catchers

This is where Glendale starts to get interesting. Their position players are the key to their success this fall. For the catchers are Tyler Stephenson (Reds), Payton Henry (Brewers), and Ivan Herrera (STL). Stephenson is a defensive and power hitting catcher coming off of back to back mostly healthy years hitting .285 this year with six home runs and 19 doubles. He finished the year with a .782 OPS. However, at times Stephenson has struggled with strikeouts and making contact because of his power first approach. Henry is a bat-first prospect who has grown at the catcher position allowing him to be more comfortable behind the plate. Henry struggled at the plate with a heavy swing and miss problems striking out 142 times this year in 430 AB but makes up for it with extreme raw power that showed more this year hitting 14 home runs and 22 doubles in 2019. Herrera rounds out the catchers as the most advanced hitter in the group having hit .284 in 2019 between Single-A and High-A. Herrera posted an impressive .805 OPS in the MWL, where he spent most of his year. He has some raw power (9 HR) and keeps his strikeouts low (72 Ks in 306 ABs this year).

The corner infield will be highlighted by former top pick Jonathan India 3B (Reds), Gavin Sheets 1B (CHW), and Elehuris Montero 3B (STL). India is the most popular name on the list and for good reason.The third baseman was a top pick coming out of Florida and has gotten better over time. Outside of the initial struggles last year, India flashed average power and hit .270 this year in Double-A after spending time in the pitcher friendly FSL.

Sheets is an often overlooked talent in the White Sox deep system. Sheets’ biggest questions going into the year were if he could tweak his swing enough to be able to match the power needed at the position and he has proved as such. He hit a career-best 16 bombs this year at Double-A with 83 RBI in 464 AB. Although he has had an increase in strikeouts, Sheets makes up for it with his increase in power.

Rounding out the corner infielders is Elehuris Montero. Montero had a poor year in 2019 where he missed a large amount of time and hit .188 with an OBP of .235 featuring 74 strikeouts in 224 AB. Before this year, Montero had won Midwest League MVP after hitting .322 with a slugging percentage of .529 and .910 OPS. In 2019, Montero had surgery for a broken hamate bone in his hand. Some extra reps may bring Montero back to his old self. The Brewers are also bringing David Fry, a power-hitting prospect that hit a stellar 29 HR already in two years of professional ball.

In the middle of the infield is Omar Estevez SS (LAD), Devin Mann 2B (LAD), Jose Israel Garcia SS/2B (Reds), and Kramer Robertson UTL (STL). Estevez started out struggling then exploded, and kept it going in 2019 after hitting a cool .292 with .784 OPS in 2019. He has also shown an increase in power with six home runs this year. Devin Mann is a powerful prospect that has played 2B but mostly fits in the corner spots as well but I could see him playing both positions. Mann had a stellar 2019 blowing up with 19 home runs, hitting .278 with a .854 OPS. Both of the Dodgers make for intriguing prospects to watch for this fall. Garcia took some time to adjust to the Midwest League in 2018 and never looked back since. Placed in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, Garcia hit .280 and slugged .436 with eight home runs and 15 steals. Finally, Kramer Robertson is a utility man in the Cardinals system. Kramer has gotten progressively stronger hitting for more power (11 HR in 2019) meanwhile walking more (66 BB in 2019) as well.

INF/C to watch: Johnathan India 3B (Reds)


Outside of a fairly good Infield, the outfield might be even better for Glendale. The very talented prospects coming to play for Glendale include Dylan Carlson OF (STL), Tristen Lutz OF (MIL), Pablo Abreu (MIL), Blake Rutherford (CHW), Stuart Fairchild (Reds), and Jeren Kendall (LAD). Carlson is a hot name currently after an explosive finish to the year hitting .361 with an OPS of 1.098 when he was called up to Triple-A in August. Carlson broke out when he reached Double-A this year, hitting 21 homers and doubling his stolen bases with 18 in Springfield. If Carlson has a good fall and spring it is possible that Carlson could be playing in St. Louis early next year.

Lutz a former top pick for the Brewers has posted almost identical numbers from 2018 to 2019, including the same numbers in home runs (13), walks (46), and even triples (3). Lutz has shown that he can hit for power and consistency and will look to try and repeat that in Arizona. The other Milwaukee outfielder, Pablo Abreu, missed the majority of the year due to injury but has come back recently with only 41 games under his belt. Abreu has shown previously that he can hit with some pop and smart having shown an OPS above .700 in his last two years before 2019.

After being traded to the White Sox as part of the Todd Frazier deal, Blake Rutherford has been hitting well. Outside of a less-than-stellar run in Single-A, Rutherford hit .293 and .265 back to back years. Rutherford has not had the best of years in 2019, especially compared to 2018, but he still put up pretty good numbers. His main problem is swing and miss. Since joining the White Sox, Rutherford has increased his strikeouts by around 20 in both years, with 118 this year at Double-A. A good showing at AFL may highlight or quiet down the worries with his ever-growing strikeouts.

From the Reds system and the next outfielder for Glendale is Stuart Fairchild. Fairchild has shown some talent with a .750+ OPS in every year of his professional career with a career AVG of .272. He showed some real strikeout issues in 2018 hitting 128 K but has since lowered that down by a third down to only 83 K in 2019. Fairchild has good pop to all fields having hit 12 home runs and 29 doubles this year at Single-A Advanced and Double-A.

Finally, the Dodgers’ recent high pick Jeren Kendall is the final outfielder making the trip to Arizona. Kendall has struggled the last two years at Single-A Advanced hitting .215 in 2018 and .219 in 2019. The main reason for Kendall’s low average has to do with his propensity to strike out. He’s whiffed 158 times in 2018 and 147 times in 2019. However, part of that comes with his preferred power approach, having hit 31 HRs in the past two years and can be seen in his GO/AO career ratio of 0.70. Which at the same time is workable but unfortunate because Kendall has crazy speed. In the past two years, Kendall has 61 steals only being caught 21 times. If Kendall can work on bettering his approach and increase his OBP, he will be able to use his elite speed on the basepaths to create more runs and increase his value.

Player to Watch: All Of Them