The Philadelphia Phillies have sent six players to the prestigious Arizona Fall League which begins on October 3rd. The players, all of whom spent time on the Reading Fightin Phils roster, will represent the Surprise Saguaros during the month-long season. The Arizona Fall League features top prospects from every affiliation.
The Philadelphia Phillies have sent six players to the prestigious Arizona Fall League which begins on October 3rd. The players, all of whom spent time on the Reading Fightin Phils roster, will represent the Surprise Saguaros during the month-long season. The Arizona Fall League features top prospects from every affiliation. It is a well-known springboard for top young players to make big impacts for their Major League teams in the near future.
The Saguaros roster will also feature players affiliated with the Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, and Pittsburgh Pirates. The fall season runs from Monday, October 3 to the Championship game on Saturday, November 12. There will be a Home Run Derby on Nov 5 and a Fall Stars Game on Nov 6.
The Phillies are sending three position players out to Arizona. Carlos De La Cruz, along with #5 prospect Johan Rojas and #17 Jhailyn Ortiz will make the cross-country trek. The team will also showcase three pitchers, all relievers: #11 RHP Francisco Morales, RHP Brett Schulze and lefty Taylor Lehman.
Carlos De La Cruz had a breakout season after a late-summer call up to Double-A. With Reading he batted .278 with 42 hits, including 12 doubles and seven homers, in just 38 games. In totality, De La Cruz recorded a .271 average with 22 doubles and 17 homers (10 more than any prior season of his). He split time between all three outfield positions and even tried his hand at first base boasting an impressive .992 fielding percentage. The 22-year-old was signed as a free agent in 2017 out of Yonkers, New York.
Johan Rojas also shined upon his promotion to Reading in July. There he held a .260 average with 61 hits in 62 games. Rojas smacked a season-total of 20 doubles, seven triples, and seven homers. He played 130 games between two levels, the most of any player in the Phillies farm system. Rojas stole 62 bases in 67 attempts this season. This is almost double the amount of any other year in his career and double any other player in the organization. He’s the first Phillies minor leaguer since 2009 (Anthony Gose, 76) to steal more than 50 bases in a season. Rojas can play all three outfield positions exceptionally well, covering more ground and getting to more balls than most of his competition. The 22-year-old was signed as an international free agent in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic.
Jhailyn Ortizlaunched a team-leading 17 home runs this season for the Reading Fightin Phils. Two of his homers were grand slams and he even recorded a long ball against Max Scherzer in a rehab stint. Ortiz recorded a career-high 106 hits with 25 doubles. The righty finished the season batting .238 driving in 61 runs and scoring 67 of his own. He played in 119 games for the R-Phils, the 2nd most out of Phillies minor leaguers. Ortiz was named Eastern League Player of the Week from May 10-15, 2022 where he held a .417 batting average with 10 hits, two doubles and three homers. The 23-year-old was signed as an international free agent in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic and is currently on the Phillies 40-man roster.
Francisco Morales, 22, made his big-league debut amidst his time with Reading and Lehigh Valley. Morales began the season with the R-Phils before getting the call up to Philadelphia on May 9. In his first appearance, the righty threw two clean innings of work, striking out three. Morales totaled five Major League frames. He pitched well in Double-A with a 1.48 ERA in 30.1 innings. He struck out 54 batters, 47% of all those he faced. With the Iron Pigs, he made 22 appearances for a 9.58 ERA. Morales was signed as an international free agent in 2016 out of Venezuela and remains on the Phillies 40-man roster.
Brett Schulze had a promising season out of the bullpen after recovering from Tommy John surgery early on. The righty pitched in four different levels, with most time in High-A Jersey Shore. Schulze received the call up to Double-A to finish out the season in September. He threw 25.2 innings for a 3.16 ERA allowing just nine earned runs in 22 appearances. Batters hit just .194 against him as he struck out 34 of them. The 24-year-old was drafted in the 7th round in 2019 out of the University Minnesota.
Taylor Lehman, a product of Penn State University, had a banner year after transitioning to the bullpen full time. Lehman also spent the early parts of the summer recovering from Tommy John surgery. The southpaw moved up through the levels during his rehab assignment, finishing out his season with the R-Phils. He combined for a 2.93 ERA in 21 appearances. Lehman received six game opening assignments and flourished in that role. In 27.2 innings pitched, he struck out 31 and held batters to just a .182 average. He walked only eight. Lehman, 26, was signed by the Phillies in June of 2018.