2023 AFL

The Arizona Fall League is upon us. Here are the bus riders who will be hanging out in the desert this year for the Mesa Solar Sox:

A. J Blubaugh
Ray Gaither
Tyler Guilfold
Jaime Melendez
Miguel Ullola

Miguel Palma (starting tonight batting 8th)

Zach Dezenzo (starting at 3B tonight batting 4th)

Kenedy Corona (starting in CF tonight batting 9th)

Let’s see who’s small sample size will get us irrationally excited. First pitch is tonight at 8:30 Central. Play Ball!


Wow, the AFL sure starts fast. The AAA championship, closing out the MiLB season, was just three days ago!

Thanks Duman.

I have never even heard of the top three guys on your list.

Hoping Dezenzo finds some success that he can carry into next season. Exciting power potential but will he hit enough down the line for it to matter.

Corona excites me bc I’ve read he’s a well above average defender in CF.

A bit on each pitcher -

A. J Blubaugh - Drafted in the 7th round in 2022 out of U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He started 23 at HiA Asheville appearing in 22 games (piggyback system) 4.94 ERA in 85.2 IP with 85 H, 50 R/47ER, 37 BB & 93 K. He moved to Corpus in late August with good results in a small sample. 1.26 ERA in 14.1 IP with just 4 H, 2 R/ER, 8 BB, 19K. The biggest difference is his HR/9 dropped from 1.1 in Asheville to 0.6 in CC.

Ray Gaither was a NDFA out of Dallas Baptist in 2021. He didn’t pitch until May of this year and it looks like they were limiting his workload some. He appeared mostly in late innings in CC. In 30 games, (33.1 IP) he gave up 31 H, while adding 24 Walks. He K’d 36. But he got hot in September - 5 G/4.2 IP, 1 H (2B), 3 BB, 4 K.

Tyler Guilfoil - drafted in 8th rd of 2022 draft out of U. of Ky. Had also played at Lipscomb (which was a rival of my first college - we used to say there was no scum like Lipscomb). He started the year at Low A Fayetteville with good results (2.74 ERA in 18 games/62.1 IP). He walked 28 and K’d 91 and only allowed 2 HR. He moved up to Asheville in August and found it a bit tougher. 4.57 in 21 2 IP with 32 K and 9 BB - also 2 HR. But his last outing OUTSTANDING - 5 IP no hits, 3 BB and 11 Ks against the Rome Braves.

Jaime Melendez - He hasn’t pitched since 4-22-23. Good to see him getting some work before spring training. He just turned 22.

Miguel Ullola - the 21 year old for the DR struck out 116 in 90.2 IP this year in HiA, but also walked 63 in addition to 87 hits allowed. Nine of this 12 HR allowed came at home. Asheville is a hitters park. It will be interesting to see how he does against a more advance line up of hitters.


Thanks for posting this, Steve. I saw the rosters a few days ago and had not gotten around to posting here. I think all three of the position players are really interesting. Palma, in particular, seems to have gotten a lot of good press on his hitting, though he missed a lot of time with injury this year. And among pitchers, it is good to see Melendez get the assignment after he missed most of the year. All five are lower in the pecking order, but have shown well at lower levels of the organization.

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Thought this was Australian Football League, which would be weird cause they just played the grand final.

Plus, it’s a long bus ride to Melbourne.

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That discussion would belong in the Music thread

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Man it sucks rolling through AFL prospect reports and rarely seeing anything about an Astros prospect. Same can be said about entire minor league system for most of this season (especially after Gilbert and the other lefty were dealt for Verlander). Don’t get me wrong. I know why we’re here and I’m cool with it…just bitching because I’ve always enjoyed following the young men (like that Virtual Bob?) as they make their way through our system and eventually on to the big leagues. I guess we had better enjoy next season because the farm looks pretty barren.

If you want someone to look at, check out Luis Baez.

He’s young and still several years away, but based on raw scouting and early results could become a Juan Soto type talent and be all over the top prospect lists by the time the preseason 2025 lists come out.

In fact, the 2023 internation rookie position players, as a whole, where a big improvement over what we have seen in recent years.

There may be as many as half a dozen who make noise in A ball sometime next year.

Thanks. He was one I was worried would get moved at the deadline. I know he is young for A ball but he but he really tailed off after a fast start there.

SO/BB ratio at Rookie: 14/16
SO/BB ratio at Single A: 48/17 - The first month he as 13/7, which wasn’t bad but he went 35/10 the rest of the way. Hopefully he can make some adjustments next season.

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There is something to be said for getting the player to that level where it doesn’t come easy.

When that happens the results may not look good. Part of that is the league adjusting to your success.

If he had just cruised through A ball then I would have worried they wasted a developmental year (unless they promoted him again) by playing him below his needed level.

I am excited to see him adjust and continue to develop.


I will believe that the farm system is barren the next time the Astros fail to promote serviceable MLB talent to the club when they have a need or fail to send prospects to a trading partner to fill a need. The next time that happens will be the first in a decade even though the Astros MiLB pipeline has been disparaged mightily by the pundits as weak/depleted for 5+ years now.


But how old is he?

I think he will be younger than Soto until sometime in 2027.

Playing time and age-for-level are much better proxies for prospect status than performance stats.

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I’ve been lazy and not looked at stats for our guys there. Need to do it. All I have seen is a couple listings on mostly daily email report that BBA sends out. I was really hoping Corona would play well but he hasn’t appeared on the report even once. He is supposed to be a legit CF so if he could bring average offense to the table down the line with the big club that would be a huge plus.

Corona injured a finger in his first AFL game diving back into first base, and missed a few weeks of playing time. He came back about a week ago, so he’s only been in 5 games total and the bulk of them has been playing catchup. He went 3-for-5 yesterday, though.

Dezenzo’s AFL stat line has been middling, but his power is pretty obvious from the highlight videos out there.


He was highlighted in this article this morning

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Well shit, I shoulda just read the article instead of piecing it all together from stat sheets and game logs