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No. 5 prospect Diaz leads Dodgers' AFL squad

Organization sending 8 to Desert Dogs for upcoming season
MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- Eight Dodgers farmhands, led by outfielder Yusniel Diaz, are set to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the upcoming Arizona Fall League. Initial rosters were released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday.

The Arizona Fall League, which begins play on Oct. 10, is a "finishing school" for prospects who are close to the Majors. Generally speaking, if a team sends a player to the Fall League, it's an indication that the club thinks he has the chance to contribute in the big leagues in the near future. In other words, it's generally a short leap from the AFL to MLB.

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PHOENIX -- Eight Dodgers farmhands, led by outfielder Yusniel Diaz, are set to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the upcoming Arizona Fall League. Initial rosters were released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday.

The Arizona Fall League, which begins play on Oct. 10, is a "finishing school" for prospects who are close to the Majors. Generally speaking, if a team sends a player to the Fall League, it's an indication that the club thinks he has the chance to contribute in the big leagues in the near future. In other words, it's generally a short leap from the AFL to MLB.

View Full Game Coverage

2017 Arizona Fall League rosters

The 20-year-old Diaz is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Dodgers' No. 5 prospect and No. 85 in MLB. He was signed out of Cuba and is hitting .283 with nine homers and 46 RBIs this season while splitting time between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa.

In addition to Diaz, the Dodgers' prospects listed are pitchers Isaac Anderson, Michael Boyle, Andrew Sopko and Shea Spitzbarth; catcher Will Smith and outfielders Matt Beaty and D.J. Peters (taxi squad).

Anderson, 23, is 0-9 with an 8.85 ERA pitching at three levels this year. Boyle, 23, is 5-6 with a 5.06 ERA at Rancho Cucamonga. Sopko, 23, is 4-6 with a 4.09 ERA at Tulsa. Spitzbarth, 22, is 4-4 with a 2.57 ERA splitting time between Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa. Smith, 22, is ranked the club's No. 8 prospect. He is hitting .232 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs at Rancho Cucamonga, having returned from a broken hand. Beaty, 24, is ranked the club's No. 30 prospect and is hitting .324 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs at Tulsa. Peters, 21, is ranked the club's No. 17 prospect. He is hitting .275 with 24 homers and 76 RBIs at Rancho Cucamonga.

Arizona Fall League reveals 2017 rosters

Connor McGuiness, pitching coach for the Dodgers' Class A Great Lakes affiliate, will be the Desert Dogs' pitching coach.

"The 30 Major League organizations have assigned an array of promising prospects to the Arizona Fall League as always," AFL director Steve Cobb said. "Approximately 60 percent of them will reach the Major Leagues. Fans can enjoy watching the next big leaguers from the comfort of six of Arizona's state-of-the-art Spring Training stadiums."

Complete Arizona Fall League coverage

Hundreds of future Major League All-Stars have come through the Fall League since its inception, including Mike Piazza, the first AFL alum to get enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There have been 27 Rookie of the Year Award winners and 16 MVP Award winners who put the finishing touches on their Minor League development in Arizona over the two and a half decades of the league's existence.

The AFL is owned and operated by MLB and plays a Monday-Saturday schedule. The championship game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Scottsdale Stadium. The 12th Fall Stars Game is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, at Salt River Fields. Game times are 12:35 p.m. and 6:35 p.m. MST, with some noted exceptions in the schedule.

The Fall League's six venues remain Camelback Ranch-Glendale (Glendale Desert Dogs), Peoria Sports Complex (Peoria Javelinas), Salt River Fields (Salt River Rafters), Scottsdale Stadium (Scottsdale Scorpions), Sloan Park (Mesa Solar Sox) and Surprise Stadium (Surprise Saguaros).

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Beaty, Yusniel Diaz, Will Smith