Though many of the members of the Texas Rangers organization will play in a variety of winter leagues after their regular season is over, only a few will participate in the MLB-partnered Arizona Fall League. An interesting mix of prospects, rehabbers, and random roster members, the Fall League kicks off October 7th, playing in the spring training stadiums maintained by clubs across Arizona. Each major league organization can send up to seven full-time players, mostly from the Double A and Triple A levels, though occasionally a team will send someone from their high-A team, such as Sam Wolff, one of the current six members representing the Rangers.
As of right now, the Rangers will send four pitchers and two position players (along with a pitching coach, Jeff Andrews) to join the Surprise Saguaros in October, though some rotation through the approximately month-long season is to be expected. Teams tend to use the AFL as either extra rehab time for players coming back from injury, a few more innings for pitchers in a controlled environment, and as a place to get hitting prospects a few more at-bats against fairly quality competition, and the Texas contributions are no different.
Righty reliever Lisalverto Bonilla will join the Saguaros from Triple-A Round Rock, where he's had a rocky year despite the raw stuff he works with. One of the system's changeup artists, Bonilla could be pitching for his 40-man spot, as the Rangers will need to make room during this offseason for the 60-day DL members and any prospect they want to protect from the Rule 5 draft. In his 38 games with the Express, Bonilla put up a 4.39 ERA, striking out 86 and walking 24. Oddly, he started to have more success a few weeks ago when the club started to use him in more of a long relief/spot start role.
Cody Kendall and Sam Wolff will be the Rangers' "below-Double-A" representatives, both hailing from the high-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Kendall, a 24-year-old reliever, has had good results at both his stops this season, and could start with Frisco next season. Wolff was the Rangers' sixth round pick in 2013, a college pitcher advertised as a potential quick mover in relief. The organization moved him into a starting role in 2014, however, and Wolff has acclimated well to the change. A short stint on the disabled list meant Wolff missed a start or two, and this AFL assignment is likely meant to get the 23-year-old a few more innings before the winter.
Frisco bullpen arm Josh McElwee is currently listed for the Saguaros, another solid arm putting up better numbers in the second half of the season. McElwee struggled with the low-A Crawdads, but found his stride with Myrtle Beach and has yet to allow a run in his brief time with Frisco.
Pat Cantwell and Nick Williams are the only position players representing Texas, and both will likely finish the regular season with the Frisco RoughRiders. Cantwell and Williams have impressed this season, with Cantwell carving out a spot as one of the top defensive catchers in the organization, and Williams showing off his bat speed and natural hitting talent all the way up to Frisco. Cantwell has improved offensively this season, hitting .255/.349/.316 with the RoughRiders, better than he did in Myrtle Beach last season, but he still has room for improvement, especially in accessing his strength while hitting. Williams hasn't faced a lot of challenges, putting up impressive numbers at all his stops, but needs consistent work on his approach at the plate and his discipline, along with his fielding.
Of these players, only Bonilla is likely to have any kind of 40-man roster implication, but their continued development will be interesting to watch.