Arizona Fall League Championship Game PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 10 November 2014 12:15

The Championship game is this Saturday, November 15 at Scottsdale Stadium at 3:08 PM ET and will be shown live on the MLB Network.

What I can’t tell you is which two 2014 AFL teams will play for the championship. The Salt River Rafters opened a 2.5 game lead on the surging Mesa Solar Sox on Saturday, so they are likely to be the East Division winner. But in the West Division, the Surprise Saguaros have just a half game lead over the Peoria Javelinas and the Glendale Desert Dogs are 2.5 games back with just four games left to play.

Surprise and Peoria will play each other twice this week at home while they both play one game each against Mesa and Salt River on the road.

If you did not watch the AFL Military Appreciation game on Saturday night on MLB Network, you missed several terrific performances. First, Surprise starter Justin Hancock (RHP/SD), who entered the game with an ERA of 8.25, pitched four no-hit innings to get the win and the relievers didn’t give up a hit or run until the sixth inning.

But the stars of the game were three Saguaro hitters:

Nick Williams (OF/TEX) gave the Saguaros the lead in the bottom of the first inning, swatting a long fly ball double to center field. Williams would add an RBI single later in the game.

Trea Turner (SS/SD) was 5-for-5, scoring four runs, knocking one in and adding a stolen base. You haven’t seen his name a lot in game recaps because as a “Taxi” player, he plays only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But if you looked at my pre-season team previews, you saw that Turner was graded 80/80 for speed prior to the draft in June where the San Diego Padres made the North Carolina State teammate of pitcher Carlos Rodon their first round pick. If Surprise can get to the LCG on Saturday, you may have another chance to see him run.

Hunter Renfroe (OF/SD) put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth inning with a grand slam which gave the Saguaros a 10-2 lead. And the home run to left field was a laser shot no doubter that had the crowd buzzing. Not to mention the press box. For the game, Renfroe was 2-for-4 with five RBI.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 22:34
Peoria Javelinas Face Uphill Struggle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 26 October 2014 00:00

The Peoria Javelinas entered Friday’s AFL contest versus the Mesa Solar Sox with just a 3-10 record, and after the first inning, it looked like they were headed for their 11th loss as starting pitcher Dylan Baker (RHP/CLE) allowed a walk, single, single, walk, single, sac fly and walk before being pulled. The four-run first should have looked huge for Solar Sox SP Felipe Rivero (LHP/WAS) despite his 8+ ERA entering the game.

But after a 1-2-3 first inning, Rivero went on his own binge in the second, allowing a single, double, single, walk, hit batsman, single and wild pitch, and those five runs made him the losing pitcher as the Javelinas added two more runs in both the fourth and sixth innings en route to a 9-4 win. Unfortunately, that still finds the team last in wins and on pace to set records for the fewest runs scored and lowest team batting average in AFL history.


AFL Week 2 Honorees

Yankee prospect Greg Bird (1B/Scottsdale) was the AFL Hitter of the Week for Week 2. In four games, Bird hit .353 with a .421 on-base percentage, .706 slugging percentage, 1.130 OPS, two home runs, five RBI, a pair of walks and three runs scored.

Entering this week's play, the first sacker was hitting .368 overall and was tied for the league lead in home runs (three), RBI (10) and extra-base hits (six), and he was second in slugging percentage (.684) and hits (14).

The Pitcher honors for Week 2 went to Royals pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer (Peoria). Zimmer made two starts for the Peoria Javelinas, giving up no runs on two hits in six innings while walking two and striking out 12. In three starts overall in the Fall League, he was 0-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 9 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits with four walks, 15 strikeouts and a .156 opponent's batting average.

Unfortunately, Zimmer, the Royals #2 prospect as listed by, could not get loose in his next start and was pulled after the first inning and taken off the Javelinas roster two days later so Zimmer can rest and hopefully avoid any more shoulder problems. He was scheduled to pitch in the Venezuelan Winter League following the AFL but that is clearly a question mark at this point.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 October 2014 08:51
Remaining Arizona Fall League Broadcasts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 11:10

Below are the 2014 Arizona Fall League games that will be broadcast on MLB Network and/or streamed on live from Salt River Fields, where Major League Baseball's Pace of Game Committee is testing rules such as a 20-second pitch clock and time limits on inning changes and pitching changes.

Oct. 30 - Surprise at Salt River
Watch live on at 9:35 p.m. ET/6:35 MST
Oct. 31 - Scottsdale at Salt River
Watch live on MLB Network and at 3:35 p.m. ET/12:35 MST
Nov. 4 - Mesa at Salt River
Watch live on MLB Network and at 8:35 p.m. ET/6:35 MT
Nov. 6 - Mesa at Salt River
Watch live on MLB Network and at 8:35 p.m. ET/6:35 MT
Nov. 8 - Mesa at Surprise (Military Appreciation Game)
Watch live on MLB Network at 8:05 p.m. ET/6:05 MT
Nov. 15 - AFL Championship Game at Scottsdale Stadium
Watch live on MLB Network and at 3:08 p.m. ET/1:08 MT

In addition, the Fall Stars Game featuring Arizona Fall League All-Stars from the East and West divisions will play at Salt River Fields at 8 PM ET on Saturday November 1, which will be shown on the MLB Network.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 10:06
AFL Loses Key Pitching Prospect PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 20 October 2014 11:15

On Saturday, one of the best young pitchers in baseball said goodbye to the rest of the Arizona Fall League season. Seattle’s Taijuan Walker, who is reportedly completely healthy, was scratched from his start because, according to club officials, Walker decided he needed to return home.

In Surprise Stadium, Kansas City RHP Kyle Zimmer, who was limited this year by injuries to just four plus innings, pitched a scoreless first inning, walking just one batter and striking out one in 21 pitchers. Zimmer left for the Javelinas dressing room with a Royals trainer during the bottom of the inning. According to Javelinas officials, Zimmer reported that he just couldn’t get loose. We will see if he can take his next scheduled start. Zimmer had planned to play winter ball in Venezuela after he finished in the AFL.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 22:29
Appel Shining in Arizona Fall League PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 20 October 2014 00:00

Mark Appel was a very good pitcher at Stanford University and drafted in the first round in 2012 after his junior year. Appel made the decision to return for his senior year and in the 2013 MLB First Year Player draft (as Bud Selig would say), he was the first overall pick by the Houston Astros.

Appel’s first 38 professional innings featured a 33-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio but otherwise not eye popping numbers. In 2014, Appel started at High-A Lancaster, a very unfriendly pitching venue (as is most of the California League), and predictably did not have great numbers. He was then promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi where he improved somewhat. Still, the best stat was his K/BB ratio which was a combined 78-to-24 in 83.3 innings pitched. Still, we knew the 6’5” righty was better than the ERA and WHIP numbers from his first few stops suggested.

Today was Appel’s third AFL start. In his previous two starts, he had pitched three then four shutout innings but his record was 0-0, just like his ERA. In Surprise Stadium, Appel threw five shutout innings, giving up just two hits with no walks and four strikeouts and was the winning pitcher in a 4-2 Rafter win over the Javelinas.

While I knew Appel had given up just the two hits in facing just 17 batters, I didn’t realize until Francisco Lindor’s third at-bat in the 6th inning when he lined a single to centerfield that he had the only two hits off Appel. Lindor finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and two singles, a run scored and a stolen base from the leadoff spot for Peoria.

The Rafters leadoff hitter was Minnesota outfielder Byron Buxton, who was 1-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and a stolen base. Buxton and Arizona Diamondback third baseman Brandon Drury had the only RBIs for the Rafters as they scored their first two runs in the first inning on four walks and a two-run throwing error by Javelinas catcher Justin O’Conner.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 October 2014 08:52
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