A Trip to Salt River Fields PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Saturday, 18 October 2014 23:31

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort is the tremendous spring training facility used by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies developed in Scottsdale on the Pima Indian reservation land that is just across the loop 101 freeway from Talking Stick.

It is a tremendous spring training venue which has drawn record crowds and thus a very good venue for an AFL team. It is also wired with all the newest tech toys which is why the time saving measures being tested by MLB to speed up the pace of major league games are tested only at Salt River. Last night’s game was just the third AFL game to have a clock on the pitchers but there were no infractions as not only does the measure just require the pitcher to be set but the young pitchers are getting used to it and most of the players like the pace of the games. "I like it," said Eddie Rosario, an excellent prospect from the Minnesota Twins commenting on the new, sped-up game. "Very nice, very nice."

Rosario liked everything about the 3-3 11-inning tie between the Peoria Javelinas and home town Salt River Rafters, going 3-for-6 with a run scored and two stolen bases.

The best hitters from the Javelinas were young Royals shortstop Raul Mondesi, who had a double and triple in his 2-for-5 line with a run scored and a stolen base, and Jordan Smith (OF/CLE), who was 2-for-4 with a single and a double for Peoria.

On Thursday, I was at Surprise Stadium to see the visiting Scottsdale Scorpions play the Surprise Saguaros – a pair of 5-4 teams, but Scottsdale is two games behind the Salt River Rafters in the East Division while the Saguaros lead the West Division by two games.

The headline for the game might well have read “Bird Takes Flight in Surprise” as Yankee prospect Gregory Bird hit two long home runs to the centerfield berm, a two-run blast and a solo shot. Fortunately for the home team, those were the only three runs the Scorpions produced. Meanwhile, the Saguaros scored seven runs on nine hits in their eight at-bats. Patrick Kivlehan (1B/SEA) was 2-for-4 with the only home run for the Surprise squad who scored their two first inning runs on three Scorpion errors.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 22:38
AFL Broadcast Schedule - Thursday & Friday PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 16 October 2014 14:17

Thursday and Friday’s Arizona Fall League games from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick will be streamed live online via the following outlets:

The websites of the big league affiliates of the Rafters and the visiting Glendale Desert Dogs (Thursday) and Peoria Javelinas (Friday) which would be Astros, DBacks, Rockies, Marlins, Twins, Brewers, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, Braves, Cardinals, Indians, Royals, and Rays.

Both nights’ broadcasts will begin at 9:30 PM ET and will feature live video and audio by Dan Acheson of the AFL.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 October 2014 14:33
Week Two in the Arizona Fall League PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 16 October 2014 12:40

Early week two highlights involved two pitchers previously mentioned in this blog last week.

On Monday night Kyle Zimmer (RHP/KC) fanned eleven Desert Dogs at Camelback Ranch Stadium in five shutout innings. The game which went the maximum eleven innings ending in a 2-2 tie saw thirty two Dogs and Javelinas strike out.

On Tuesday Mark Appel (RHP/HOU) was even better than his first start hurling four shutout innings with just one hit and two walks while striking out six Surprise Saguaros. Appel was also a historical footnote as the first AFL pitcher who had a ball called him for not delivering the first pitch of an inning within the new guidelines being tested here this fall.

I was in Surprise Tuesday as the Peoria Javelinas hosted the Glendale Desert Dogs – rolled over might be a better term as the Javelinas managed just three singles against six Glendale pitchers in getting shutout 9-0. Tim Anderson (SS/CWS) was 3-4 for the Desert Dogs with a double and two singles and scored two runs. Steven Moya (OF/DET) previously mentioned had a bases loaded triple amongst his four RBI while going 2-5.

On Wednesday the Javelinas faced the one win Mesa Solar Sox but a strong outing by starting pitcher C.J. Edwards (RHP/CHC) – three shutout innings with just one hit and one walk with three strikeouts getting the Sox started on a 5-2 win. Back to back doubles by Cal Towey (3B/LAA) and Addison Russell (SS/CHC) put the first two runs on the board in the second inning. By the way for those of you in NL only leagues, Russell made an appearance at second base this week – we will have to see if the Cubs want to increase their infield flexibility by moving him there next spring. Oakland fly chaser Boog Powell (no relation) hit his second home run in two days, this one a 400 foot shot over the right field bullpen on to the berm with two runners aboard.

And congratulations to the AFL players of the week from Week 1:

Cincinnati outfielder Jesse Winker hit 455 in the first week of play with a home run, two doubles, and seven RBI to take down the award for hitters.

Jake Reed (RHP/MIN) who was drafted in the fifth round in June by the Twins out of Oregon played in two levels this summer with a combined 3-0 with eight saves, an ERA of 0.29 and thirty nine strikeouts while walking just three in thirty one innings pitched. In the first week of AFL play Reed had a win and a save in three shutout innings for the Salt River Rafters giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out five.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 October 2014 08:01
Lured By the Pitching Matchup PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 09:52

\Monday was the last day of my three-day weekend in the AFL but I was lured to the ballpark by a marquee pitching matchup – Archie Bradley (RHP/AZ) of the Salt River Rafters against Taijuan Walker (RHP/SEA) of the Surprise Saguaros.

On a beautiful, sunny 84 degree day, things went well for the first two innings. Bradley hit a batter and gave up a single but that was it as he was throwing easily, hitting 95-97 on the stadium radar gun with his curve resting at 80-81. Walker easily matched that, giving up just one walk while resting at 97 with a better curve at 74-76.

In the top of the third, Walker hit a batter and gave up a single to Byron Buxton (OF/MIN), with one run scoring on a force out. Bradley was not as sharp, giving up two singles, a walk, a sac fly, another walk and another single to plate three runs. That was Bradley’s last frame and the totals were 3 IP, 5 hits, one walk, three earned runs and three strikeouts.

Walker pitched through the fifth inning, giving up just the one run, two hits and two walks while striking out six Rafters. Alas, the Surprise bullpen would surrender Walker’s 4-1 lead and win by allowing the Rafters to score six runs in the top of the seventh inning. Two of those runs came in on Pete O'Brien’s (C/AZ) third homer in his first six games.

At least I saw a few good innings from two young pitchers we will see on fantasy teams for many years.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 October 2014 08:01
AFL Week 1 Review for Peoria Javelinas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 12 October 2014 00:28

As noted in my opening day column the Javelinas (prospects from the Royals, Braves, Cardinals, Indians, and Rays) eked out a 5-4 win over the Surprise Saguaros who share Surprise Stadium for home games.

The Javelinas have had quite an elevator ride in their first week of play. Wednesday they played the Saguaros again, this time as the home team and lost 8-2 in a game that was never close as starter Jaime Schultz (RHP/TB) was rocked for three runs in the first inning and two more in the second. Meanwhile Saguaro starter Keith Couch (RHP/BOS) was good enough giving up two runs on four hits but no walks in four innings. Two Cincinnati prospects led the Surprise offense as Kyle Waldrop (1B/CIN) was 3-5 with two RBI and a run scored and Jesse Winker (OF/CIN) homered in a 2-3 day with two RBI and two runs. Boston outfielder Rusney Castillo was 2-4 and scored two runs from the leadoff spot but did seem a little anxious with many of his swings. Rangers’ outfielder Nick Williams was 2-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Raul Mondesi (SS/KC) was 2-4 with a double and a single and showed his quickness – definitely high on any long term list.

On Thursday the Javelinas were the home team hosting the Scottsdale Scorpions (Giants, Mets, Phillies, Pirates, and Yankee farmhands). This was a good day of the Javelinas as they jumped out to a four run lead over the Scorpions treating Scottsdale starter Ryan O’Sullivan (RHP/PHL former Angel sent to Philly for Joe Blanton) to five hits and four runs on five hard hit doubles in the first inning. They would finish with seven doubles in the game – ten is the AFL record. The star in the eleven run outburst was Indians top prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor who had a double, single, and long HR (went over the RF bullpen onto the berm so 400 feet easily) in the first three innings. He couldn’t manage the cycle, getting a single in the fourth inning and finishing 4-for-6 with two RBI, two runs and a stolen base. Javelinas starter Aaron Northcraft (RH/ATL) had a strong three innings giving up just one single and one walk in his three innings.

The Javelinas West division lead, tied at 2-1 didn’t last long as they were on the wrong end of the lopsided score in their Friday matchup versus the Salt River Rafters (Diamondback, Rockie, Marlin, Twin, and Astro prospects). The game started with a great duel between visiting SP Jayson Aquino (RH/COL) and the Javelinas Tyrell Jenkins (RH/STL) who both threw four very impressive shutout innings. But in the top of the fifth inning the Rafters erupted for 11 runs off three Javelina pitchers on eight hits and five walks capped off by a 400+ foot grand slam over the RF bullpen by the hitting star of this game, Andrew Halpin (OF/HOU) who was 4-for-5 for the game. At least Aquino got the W for his four one- hit innings with no walks and three strikeouts, while Jenkins who gave up just four hits while striking out four had to wonder what would have happened if he could have pitched one more frame.

Saturday night the Javelinas played their first game out of Surprise, traveling to Mesa to play the Solar Sox (Cubs, Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays, and Nationals) in an evening tilt. They lost 6-3, the only offense coming from Tony Wolters (C, CLE) whose bases loaded double in the top of the seventh inning scored all three runs. With the loss the Javelinas finish the first week one game behind the Saguaros in the West Division.

PS – while I normally only write about games and players I have seen live, I will occasionally add a comment about a noteworthy performance that happened in another game. While there may have been more the one I think most fantasy players would be interested in was Houston SP Mark Appel’s start this week in which the pitched three shutout innings giving up only one hit and one walk.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 October 2014 08:02
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