Each offseason, Major League Baseball aims to put together an easily accessible offseason league where some of the game's best prospects get the opportunity to play additional baseball, usually in an effort to continue their development, or get some reps in coming off of major surgeries.
The Arizona Fall League, AFL for short, consists of six teams made up of eight prospects from each of the 30 MLB teams. For the Blue Jays, their young prospects will play on a team called the Surprise Saguaros, which consists of prospects from the Royals, Reds, Rangers and Brewers systems as well.
Here are the names of who will be representing the Blue Jays in the 2023 Arizona Fall League.
- LHP Ricky Tiedemann (No. 1 prospect per MLB.com)
- RHP Conor Larkin (unranked)
- RHP Trent Palmer (unranked)
- RHP CJ Van Eyk (unranked)
- RHP Fitz Stadler (unranked)
- INF Damiano Palmegiani (No. 18)
- OF Will Robertson (unranked)
- OF Dasan Brown (No. 29)
As a bonus, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, a minor league pitching coach in the Jays system, will function in the same role for the Saguaros. Also joining the staff from the Blue Jays is Roelvis Vargas, an athletic trainer.
Tiedemann, 21, spent some time on the injured list this year and is undoubtedly going to use these innings to try and build himself up for a considerable workload next season. The southpaw has struck out over 17 batters per nine innings this year in the minor leagues, which is simply incomprehensible. He's going to be a legitimate ace for the Jays down the line.
Larkin, 24, spent his entire season pitching out of the Vancouver Canadians' bullpen. The right-hander posted a 4.30 ERA in 35 outings and 46 innings of work, striking out 57 batters and walking 21. Notably, he allowed just two home runs all season and earned three saves as well.
For Palmer, 24, this AFL stint is going to be used as some additional innings for a pitcher that missed the vast majority of the 2023 season due to Tommy John surgery in August of 2022. At the tail end of the year, he made a total of four appearances between the FCL Blue Jays and Single-A Dunedin, posting a 2.35 ERA with eight strikeouts and seven walks in 7.2 innings of work. Per a few different sources in the Blue Jays' organization, Palmer is going to be a name to watch in 2024.
Van Eyk, 25, missed all of 2022 with injury and made just 12 appearances this year between the FCL, Single-A and Double-A. In that time, he posted a 3.67 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 12 walks in 34.1 innings of work.
Stadler, 26, was an 18th-round draft pick of the Blue Jays back in 2018 and also missed all of last year due to injury. At full health this season, he made 30 appearances between two minor league levels, posting a 3.96 ERA with over 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Palmegiani, 23, is a corner infielder with light tower power. He hit 22 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this year with a combined 87 RBI and an OPS of .836. First base feels like the long-term home for him on defense but if he can continue to rake like he has in the high minors, he's going to be a special player for the Blue Jays.
Robertson, 25, has been grinding away in the minors since his fourth-round selection in the 2019 draft by the Jays. He topped the 100-game plateau this year for the first time in his career and showed some steady improvements, particularly in the power department. In 103 games for Double-A New Hampshire, he hit 25 doubles and 19 home runs with 57 driven in and an OPS of .810.
Then there's Brown, the 21-year-old Canadian. Clearly, the Jays like what they see from him as he had previously participated in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and is now getting additional reps in the AFL. He took a bit of a step back at the plate this season, hitting just .218 with a .624 OPS in 107 games for High-A Vancouver.