Appel, Ruiz and Velasquez headline Astros’ AFL contingent
Former No. 1 overall draft pick Mark Appel and fellow right-handed pitcher Vincent Velasquez and third baseman Rio Ruiz headline the Astros’ contingent of prospects who will play in the Arizona Fall League this year.
Joining Appel, Velasquez and Ruiz on the Salt River Rafters team are left-hander Mitch Lambson, right-hander Tyson Perez, catcher Tyler Heineman, infielder Joe Sclafani and outfielder Andrew Aplin. Sclafani is a member of the taxi squad, which means he’s activated on only Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Appel, who missed all of Spring Training and the early part of 2014 while recovering from an appendectomy, struggled at Class A Lancaster before being moved up a month ago to Double-A Corpus Christi, where he’s pitched better.
Appel is ranked by MLB.com as the team’s No. 2 prospect. Velasquez (eighth), Ruiz (ninth) are also ranked in the Top 20.
The Rafters, who will play home games at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, included prospects from the Astros, D-backs, Marlins, Rockies and Twins. The six-team league, which is owned by Major League Baseball, plays Monday through Friday beginning Oct. 7.
Each Major League team is required to provide seven players to the AFL as long as they are Triple-A and Double-A players who were on Double-A rosters no later than Aug. 15. Each team can also send two Class A Advanced players, in addition to the current allowance of two “A-exempt” players (who are under contract as of Aug. 15).
Foreign players are allowed as long as the player is not on his native country’s primary protected player list. No players with more than one year active or two years total of credited Major League service as of Aug. 31 (including disabled list time) are eligible, except a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft.