Results tagged ‘ Arizona Fall League ’

Down on the Farm: Brian Goodwin

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Of all the names you may hear tossed around in association with the Nationals this offseason, one is of particular interest. In the midst of the potential free agent singings and the large number of returning players on the Nationals roster, few will have as much impact on the decisions made regarding the future of the Washington outfield as a young man who will not turn 22 for another couple of weeks. Perhaps you’ve already heard of Brian Goodwin, but it is safe to say that you will hear much more in the weeks, months and, hopefully, years to come.

Alex Meyer (left) and Anthony Rendon (center) with fellow 2011 draftee Brian Goodwin.

Most Nationals fans have only seen Goodwin once, as one of the two short-in-comparison draftees smiling in the shadow of Alex Meyer at a press conference at Nationals Park last summer. Goodwin is actually 6’1” and a shade under 200 pounds, a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder with the defensive tools to project as a Major League-caliber center fielder. Goodwin began his 2012 campaign at Low-A Hagerstown before skipping a level and finishing at Double-A Harrisburg, a very advanced level for a 21 year-old position player. He swatted 26 doubles, launched 14 home runs and stole 18 bases in 100 total games, posting a combined .280/.384/.469 slash line in his first year of professional ball, showing the promise that made him the 34th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Now Goodwin is showcasing his talents in the Arizona Fall League with fellow farmhands like Anthony Rendon, the third member of that draft class photo. Goodwin blasted his team-leading third home run in just eight games for the Salt River Rafters, where he has posted an encouraging early line of .294/.368/.618 while playing against some of the premiere prospects in the game. He reached base four times in Tuesday’s game, thanks to three hits, including that third home run.

Baseball America had Goodwin ranked as the number five prospect in the Nationals system going into last winter, behind only Bryce Harper, Rendon, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole. In fact, Aaron Fitt and the BA staff stated that Goodwin “has the tools to be an impact center fielder who hits in the top third of a big league lineup.” It was high praise for a player yet to appear in his first professional game, but he has done nothing to dissuade anyone of that projection to date.

With Harper’s ascension to the Major Leagues coupled with Peacock and Cole’s departure in the Gio Gonzalez trade, one figures Goodwin will find himself battling it out with Rendon (who missed a good portion of the 2012 season with an ankle injury) for the organization’s top prospect rank heading into next year. His continued success in the AFL would certainly help those chances, and offer him an opportunity to compete not just with the great talent in the Washington system, but the cream of the crop from around the game.

Spring Into Fall

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The closer you follow baseball, the more you realize how year-round the sport really is. The average American may take notice around Opening Day, then have their fandom tail off as their team is eliminated from contention, perhaps watching the World Series, if they are so inclined. The more passionate follower is more likely to count down the days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, their baseball awareness stretching from mid-February to the end of October. But for the true obsessives (like us), there are compelling games for the Nationals being played even now, as the Arizona Fall League began this week at the Spring Training complexes around Phoenix.

For those unfamiliar with it, the AFL is a prospect showcase, where all 30 Major League teams send some of their top talent, often including players whose regular seasons were limited for whatever reason, to see how they perform in a highly competitive environment. The 30 clubs are combined into six squads, with five MLB teams apiece represented on each. Last year, the Nationals were assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions, with Bryce Harper the most well known representative of the organization. In 2012, they are members of the Salt River Rafters, along with the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Rockies and Blue Jays.

This year’s crop of Nationals prospects includes:

Matt Skole (second from left) was honored as the Nationals 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.

Pitchers 

Aaron Barrett

Paul Demny

Cole Kimball

Ryan Perry

Infielders

Jason Martinson

Anthony Rendon

Matt Skole

Outfielders

Brian Goodwin

We will be conducting a more thorough Down on the Farm report for many of these prospects this offseason, but wanted to give special attention to one – Matt Skole – whom we have already profiled before here on Curly W Live. The 2012 Nationals Minor League Player of the Year, Skole has busted down the Fall League doors, batting .533/.650/.867 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI through his first four games on the circuit. His early success among some of baseball’s elite prospects helps back up the case that his tremendous 2012 numbers were no fluke. The third baseman batted .292 with 28 doubles, 27 home runs and 104 RBI in just 118 games between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac in his first professional season.

Make sure to check in to Curly W Live on Wednesdays throughout the offseason for more on many of the Nationals rising stars. And if you’d like to keep up with the AFL on a daily basis through the end of the season in mid-November, check out the home of the league here, complete with scores, stats, stories and more.

Down on the Farm: Zach Walters

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One of the names flying under the radar a bit in the Nationals Minor League system is switch-hitting infielder Zach Walters. Rated as the organization’s 12th-best prospect by MLB.com entering the season, Walters was acquired straight up from Arizona for right-hander Jason Marquis shortly before the 2011 non-waiver trade deadline. Originally a ninth-round selection from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft by the Diamondbacks, the infielder had not played above the Low-A Midwest League until coming over to the Nationals organization. That didn’t stop Washington from immediately promoting Walters to High-A Potomac, where he finished out the year with solid numbers, earning himself a call to the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase.

Walters had moved up two levels in the Nationals system this year.

That performance earned him a couple of auditions as an extra man, joining the big league club for a few Spring Training games this March. On one notable occasion, Walters accompanied the club on a trip to St. Lucie to play a night game against the New York Mets. After entering the game off the bench in the late innings, Walters made a highlight-reel diving stop up the middle, capturing the attention of the press corps. However, shortly afterward he broke the hamate bone in his right hand, costing him the end of his spring and the first couple weeks of his season.

“It’s been a struggle,” explained Walters of the injury that stalled him early in the year. “Being hurt, you want to get back on the field as quickly as possible, even when you aren’t ready sometimes.”

The Cheyenne, Wyoming native got off to a slow start as he rehabbed from the injury, opening the year just 1-for-22 with 10 strikeouts at Potomac. But he recovered nicely and had a nine-game hitting streak going when he was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg in mid-June. The infielder continued to produce with the Senators, posting a .293/.326/.518 slash line with 21 of his 48 hits going for extra bases in his 43 games played, all at shortstop. That was enough to earn him a second in-season promotion to Triple-A Syracuse, where he is currently playing. Once he processed his time on the Disabled List, Walters was able to make the most out of the experience.

Walters’ versatility compares to Steve Lombardozzi, while his athleticism is reminiscent of Ian Desmond.

“I feel like it was a blessing in disguise,” he says of his early-season speed bump. “I got a chance to go over some little things and really appreciate being out here on the field.”

Still just 22 years of age, Walters does not have any one particular skill that jumps off the page, but he is solid across the board. Standing an athletic 6’2” and just under 200 pounds, the University of San Diego product’s best trait might be his maturity, both on and off the field. While his skill set and versatility profile more like Steve Lombardozzi’s, his build and athleticism are more evocative of that of current Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond. That combination of a solid work ethic, combined with an appreciation for his new organization have helped Walters move quickly through the system and raise his stock as a prospect.

“I’ve been thankful for everything this year,” said Walters. “It hasn’t been ‘work’ at all.”

30 Players in 30 Days: Bryce Harper


Bryce Harper 3.JPGBryce Harper has been labeled the Lebron James of baseball. So in case you didn’t watch “The Decision: Part II,” Bryce Harper is taking his talents to the desert and
will join the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. It was a decision–influenced by Harper’s talent–and made by General Manager Mike Rizzo and his staff because they didn’t want him to be idle for the next two months after he held own in the Instructional League. Yeah, there are drawbacks but Rizzo believes the benefits will easily outweigh the possible cost: struggling.

Harper proved he can play in the Florida Instructional League. He batted.319 (15-for-47) with four doubles, a triple, four homers, 12 RBI and seven walks. Harper–who led Washington’s Instructional League squad in homers, RBI and walks–posted .407 on-base and .702 slugging percentages en route to a stellar 1.110 OPS (OBP+SLG).

Now, this isn’t the Instructional League–the AFL offers the top-talent that is knocking on the door of the Majors–but Rizzo isn’t concerned.

“There is a high level of baseball going on,” Rizzo said. “Two months of this guy working out, practicing and playing will only benefit him. He is going to be fine in the [AFL].”

To ease Harper into the action they will restrict his playing time. He will join his new club on Tuesday as a member of the Scorpions’ Taxi Squad. Translation: he will work out, travel and dress normally as do members of Scottsdale’s active roster but he will only be eligible to participate in games twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Harper will also be eligible to replace Nationals farmhands on Scottsdale’s active roster due to injury.

Part of the incentive to send Harper to Arizona is that he will be able to work extensively with Manager Randy Knorr, considered one of the best teachers in the Nationals organization, to learn the intricacies of right field. He will also work with Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein to refine his swing.

“He’s 17 years old and he doesn’t even turn 18 until Saturday,” Rizzo said. “He is very excited. What I had to decide on was: ‘Is he going to be over his head in the AFL?’ It’s a very advanced league, but I think he is going to handle it. It’s going to be very valuable to him.”

While this may seem like it is putting him on a fast track to the Majors, it isn’t. He is still expected to start the season in Single-A.

“He is going to A-ball, make no mistake about it,” Rizzo added. “He is not going to be a rushed guy. We are going to let his performance and development dictate where this guy goes.”

In other news not Harper, here are a few Nationals farmhands who performed at high levels during the just-completed Instructional League: outfielder Tyler Moore (.550, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 11 RBI), catcher Sandy Leon (.429), outfielder Eury Perez (.357, 3 stolen bases), infielder Steven Souza (.345, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 RBI), righthander A.J. Morris (0.00 ERA in 4 games, 7 strikeouts in 5.0 innings), lefthander Sammy Solis (0.00 ERA and 9 strikeouts in 9.0 innings spanning 3 games), righthander Ryan Mattheus (1.35 ERA and 6 strikeouts in 6.2 innings) and lefthander Robbie Ray (2.53 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 10.2 innings spanning 4 games).

The Storen Identity – 11/13

Drew Storen, 22, is now playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and is writing for Notes for NatsTown. Be sure to follow the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft as he writes for Notes from NatsTown and gives you an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the AFL and his climb to the Major Leagues. Here is his post…

 

As I mentioned on my twitter, my mother informed me that I needed to blog. I guess I had been caught up in the AFL Rising Stars game and the regular games and haven’t gotten around to it. So here’s my little update on life down here in Phoenix:

 

Last weekend was the Rising Stars game. It was a great honor to play in it, and was a lot of fun to watch and play with such elite players. I did get the loss in it, giving up a two run home run. It is not something that haunts me or anything, I know it’s part of the gig. I am big on not getting too happy or too down depending on how my outings go. That is something I learned at Stanford, it’s a long season and if you ride on the emotional roller coaster of getting too up or down, you will implode. It wasn’t the first home run I have given up, and certainly won’t be the last.  It is key for me to learn from each outing, whether positive or not, and to make adjustments next time out.

 

We are moving into the last week of the season here in the AFL. It seems like we just got down here. We have a chance tomorrow to clinch a spot in the final game, to help keep the Phoenix Desert Dog championship streak alive. nascar c.jpgHopefully I can find my way in there and help us clinch it.

 

Sunday I am going to the NASCAR race down here in Phoenix. It is something I am excited about. Being from Indianapolis, I have seen my share of races at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I have seen IRL, F1, and NASCAR there, so it will be awesome to see racing at a different venue.

 

There’s my quick update, I will throw another one up later this week to update the D-Dogs quest and NASCAR experience.

The Storen Identity – 10/30

Drew Storen might not be Jason Bourne but he is special. He can’t fend off 30 people at once, dodge bullets or drive a car like Jeff Gordon during a high speed chase while weaving in and out of oncoming traffic. Well, he might be able to do all that… he doesn’t know. He hasn’t tried. He won’t need to if he continues to sit batters down the same way Bourne puts bad guys on their back. They are one in the same, two people extremely good at what they do. Storen saves games and Bourne saves humanity. Here is his post from the AFL…

 
Storen AFL 044.JPG
In an attempt to make this a more frequent publication, I am throwing up a little post here to cap off a chilly week down here in Arizona. Keep in my mind, “chilly” is a relative term, the mornings here have been mid-40’s and highs in 60’s during the day. It is kind of a nice change from the extreme heat of the past few weeks, but I am ready for the infamous Arizona dry heat to return.

 We lost a close one today with Peoria, almost making a big comeback in late innings. Fellow National Chris Marrero hit a home run to dead center that stayed about 10 feet off the ground the entire time. It was like he was playing darts with the batters eye in center field.  I tossed the rock around a little in the bullpen in case we tied the game up, but I did not end up going in. Hopefully I can find my way to the bump tomorrow for some work. I have stayed in the closing role since I have been down here. I love the role and am glad things have worked out as they have where I can stay down there and come in during the pressure situations. It is also cool to be teammates with other closers/late inning relievers from other organizations. It is fun to watch them throw on days I have to rest. I also pick their brain about throwing at different levels and in different leagues.

 With Halloween tomorrow, I only find it appropriate to reveal some disguises from the past. Being from Indianapolis and having no real hometown MLB team to root for, I was a combination of a White Sox, Reds, and Mariners fan when I was little. Naturally, I rocked the Chris Sabo get-up for at least one Halloween. I believe I wore swimming goggles instead of the Rec Specs, so complete authenticity was not reached, but a good effort nonetheless.  Another year, I wore my dad’s high school football uniform and referred to myself as a “Dead/Ancient Football Player”. Looking back, that may have not made my dad feel too young.

 Thanks for stopping back, I’ll throw something else up early next week to update the baseball happenings around here, but also share some of the best costumes of the weekend.


 
Storen AFL 045.JPG
 
Storen c.jpg 

The Storen Identity – 10/27

Drew Storen, 22, is now playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and is writing for Notes for NatsTown. Be sure to follow the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft as he writes for Notes from NatsTown and gives you an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the AFL and his climb to the Major Leagues. Here is his third post… (Post ONE… Post TWO)

 


090909-161 drew storen c.JPGThanks for checking back in. Sorry I don’t post more; I am usually pretty exhausted once I get back from the field. Things are pretty much the same, our offense keeps going on a tear, and we keep trucking towards getting another ring for the Desert Dogs. Seems like every day we have someone else step up in a key spot and get a big hit for us.

 

Strasburg threw again today and was dominating again. Glad to see him bounce back and stay confident. He is obviously an extremely talented player, but also very cerebral and has the ability to step back and make the necessary adjustments to be successful.

 

In my free time this past week, I have been able to have a little bit of fun. I am a country music fan, so I got to go see Lady Antebellum here at the Phoenix State Fair. It was actually my first country concert and I went with a few guys on the team so it was very cool. I also had a chance to go eat at one of my favorite places this weekend, Fogo de Chao, and if you’ve been before, you know how great it is.

 

It’s crazy to think the end of next week is the halfway point of being down here, it seems like we haven’t been down here very long. I guess that is what happens with a 35 game schedule.

 

A lot of people ask what it is like to play with guys from other organizations. It is a lot of fun, the baseball world is very small and one way or another you have a connection with someone else just because of a common friend or teammate. Along the same lines, there is a chance you will play with or against them at another point so it’s cool to gain new friendships and meet new guys that you could be seeing down the road.

 


storen goatee.jpgSince the last entry, I had a defeat in my life. I lost in the goatee contest. Since I had been down here, I told Strasburg (Since all through college he had the Big League goatee) that I could grow a bigger and better one. After using my mirror and seeing that it was not a good look, and the inability to properly maintain it, I seceded from the challenge. Tough loss but I think I can bounce back.

 

Thanks for checking in, please shoot me questions via the comments section below or on my twitter, I am here to please the readers, so whatever you want to know… please ask!

 

 

The Storen Identity – 10/19

Drew Storen, 22, is now playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and will be writing for Notes for NatsTown. Be sure to follow the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft as he writes for Notes from NatsTown and gives you an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the AFL and his climb to the Major Leagues. Here is his second post…

 

Alright I am back again, thanks for all those who read and responded with your comments after the first entry! One comment alluded to intro/warm-up music. The warm-up/intro music is a new cultural aspect to professional baseball that is becoming more of a big deal each day. When I was at Stanford, I used “Rock You Like A Hurricane” for the first month or so of my freshman year, then changed to “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” shortly after and used that for the rest of my stay at school. I’ve only been able to pick my warm-up music for one of my stops in Pro Ball so far, in High-A Potomac. I used WWE’s Triple H’s intro music (Minus the water spray for those wrestling fans out there) for a game until I switched back to “Long Cool Woman.” I guess for now I will stick with that, but I am always open to suggestions. 

 

I just got back from our game in Peoria in time to see the Angels pull out a victory in extras. We continued our quest for another Desert Dog championship ring today by defeating the Saguaros of Peoria. In my one inning, I faced my former Stanford teammate Jason Castro. It was tough to throw to a guy who spent a whole season calling your outings; I almost changed my approach in an attempt to get him out. He prevailed by drawing a 3-2 walk. One thing I have learned about these day games is not to fall into the trap of snacking on the leftover chips and soda from the pregame meal. We wait to eat until we get back to our home clubhouse, but after the first road day game, I succumbed to my hunger and crushed some chips and soda left over from the pregame sandwiches and chips. At first it was replenishing, but quickly changed about 10 minutes following as my stomach felt Cheetos and Coke was not proper post-game fuel. Since baseball is a game of adjustments, I waited today until we got back and fortunately missed out on the stomachache.

 


strasburg afl 1.jpgI haven’t blogged since Strasburg threw Friday. The results are pretty self-explanatory… he was pretty filthy. It is almost unfair to watch someone throw 96 to 99 mph with control and movement. My left thumb is witness to the movement on his ball–it’s been a little tender as of late thanks to our pregame throwing. (Photo: Strasburg throws a pitch in his first AFL start.)

 

We had our first Sunday off day yesterday, and it was nice to get a little break. Having a weekly off day is a lot nicer than having the sporadic ones intertwined into the regular season. I went to Tucson to visit a good friend from high school and got a little taste of Arizona culture. My buddy and I went to Lil Abner’s outside of Tuscon where we got some awesome steak and ribs, with a little side of live Bluegrass music. If you are ever in that area, I definitely suggest checking that out.

 

I’m off to a night full of sleep and bottled water, we have another day game tomorrow at home. Thanks again for checking in!

 

The Storen Identity – 10/16

Drew Storen might not be Jason Bourne but he is special. He can’t fend off 30 people at once, dodge bullets or drive a car like Jeff Gordon during a high speed chase while weaving in and out of oncoming traffic. Well, he might be able to do all that… he doesn’t know. He hasn’t tried. He won’t need to if he continues to sit batters down the same way Bourne puts bad guys on their back. They are one in the same, two people extremely good at what they do. Storen saves games and Bourne saves humanity.

 

The 22 year-old is now playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and will be writing for Notes for NatsTown. Be sure to follow the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft as he writes for Notes from NatsTown and gives you an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the AFL and his climb to the Major Leagues. Here is his first post…

 

Friday, October 16th

First off, thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog, hopefully you can get a good idea on what is going on down here in the Arizona Fall League and my experiences in it.  If you would like to know anything specific or have any suggestions for the blog please feel free to post a comment in the comment section or “tweet” me. My twitter is at twitter.com/drewstoren.

 


061009-236 drew storen.JPGJust a little background on me, I am down here playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, along with other members of the Nationals organization (Stephen Strasburg, Chris Marrero, Sean Rooney, Danny Espinosa, Jeff Mandel and Josh Wilkie). And in case you are wondering, since we do have “dogs” in our team name, they do feel obligated to play “Who Let the Dogs Out” before the first inning. I was hoping that song would be retired/banned by now, but clearly that is not the case. I spent the week and a half prior down in Viera, Fla. at the Nationals Spring Training complex for instructional league. It was a good prep for coming down here. The heat and humidity down in Florida makes the dry heat of Phoenix much more bearable. Nonetheless, the heat down here is still intense, therefore SmartWater has become a big investment for me in my short occupancy.

 

We have guys on our team from the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, A’s and two guys from Japanese professional baseball. I have learned a lot from the Japanese players already in the first week of being around them. The first thing is that the jerseys, gloves, cleats and even the belts they wear have a lot of flare and is definitely something I am a huge fan of. The gloves they have are not ones you can get in the US. The gloves are bright colors (which I am a huge fan of as well) and they have their own personal logo stitched on them (i.e. the “TW” logo for Tiger Woods).  They rock the patent leather belts and socks with individual toe slots (something I have on my list to go out and get).  It’s pretty cool to see how they go about their business and to learn new pitches from them, even if they are just ones you throw for fun when playing catch. 

 

So far we are 2-1 on the year, winning last night against the Scottsdale Scorpions.  We had a great offensive night in a stadium which the only way to hit it out to center field is with a 3 wood (430 feet with about a 30 foot batters eye). Tonight we play the Scorpions at home with Strasburg on the mound. It is going to be fun to see how many people come out to see him.  If you are in the area, you should definitely head out because it is a lot of fun to watch him throw.

 

Before I head out, I will run you through what a daily schedule is for us down here. On a day like today, we have a 6:35 p.m. contest so pitchers will be on the field around 3 p.m. or so to stretch and throw. We do that and then some running/abs and then shag BP. We get done with all of that at about 5 p.m. and go in to change and get some pregame spread.  After some pregame spread usually mixed with Cash Cab or any ESPN programming, we head out for the game.  

 

It’s time for me to run out to the ballpark, but I just wanted to kick start this blog. Like I said–feel free to give me feedback as to what you would like to hear about.  I will try to get something up pretty frequently. Thanks for reading!

 

Strasburg Highlights AFL Roster


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The rosters were announced today for the Arizona Fall League (AFL), a league for each organization’s top prospects. Washington prospects will join farmhands from the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Rays and Toronto Blue Jays on the Desert Dogs roster. Additionally, Harrisburg Head Athletic Trainer Atsushi Toriida will serve as one of the trainers for the Desert Dogs. The AFL, regarded throughout professional baseball as the “finishing school” for Major League Baseball’s top prospects, begins its 18th season on Tuesday, October 13.

 

The No. 1 and No. 10 overall picks–Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen–highlight the Nationals’ prospects for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. It will give Storen and Strasburg an opportunity to form a bond that may appear at Nationals Park next year. 

 

“I’m excited,” Storen said to mlb.com. “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the future. It’ll be great to meet him and see him throw. I hope I’ll be able to close his games and hopefully it’ll be the first of many I get to do that.”

 

Catcher Derek Norris, shortstop Danny Espinosa and first baseman Chris Marrero will join them. Strasburg arrives in Florida at the end of the week to begin his pitching routine and should be set for the AFL. Storen continues to climb the Minor League ladder but GM Mike Rizzo has said he won’t be a September call-up.

 

“I want to keep building off what I’m doing now, making adjustments and getting better each outing,” Storen said. “I hope to put myself in position to help out the Nationals at a higher level next year.”

 

Storen: He has fired scoreless ball in 8.0 innings of work and recorded a save in each of his six appearances since joining the Senators on August 11. Before reaching Double-A, Storen went 1-0 with two saves and a 1.80 ERA (2 ER/10.0 IP) in seven Carolina League games with Potomac. Prior to joining the P-Nats on July 19, he struck out 26 and did not walk a batter in 14.2 innings (11 games) with Single-A Hagerstown. Overall, the Stanford University product has fanned 43 and walked just seven in 32.2 combined innings (24 appearances) with Harrisburg, Potomac and Single-A Hagerstown.

Norris: He leads the South Atlantic League with 215 total bases and 79 walks. His 23 home runs and .410 OBP are both tied for the league lead with Lexington’s (Astros) Brian Pellegrini. The 20-year-old paces all catchers in professional baseball in homers and RBI (78). He has reached base safely via hit (119), walk (79) or HBP (8) 194 times in 117 games (1.76 times per contest). Norris was a 2009 SAL All-Star selection and he entered the season rated as the No. 6 prospect and top overall catching prospect in Washington’s system by Baseball America.

Espinosa: After hitting just .219 (21-for-96) in 27 games during July, he is batting .312 (24-for-77) in 23 August contests. Espinosa leads the Carolina League with 81 runs scored and ranks among the league leaders in walks (2nd, 68) and OBP (5th, .374). Espinosa entered the season as the Best Defensive Infielder among Nationals prospects according to Baseball America. He was selected in the 3rd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Long Beach State University (CA).

Marrero: The 21-year-old is hitting .393 (11-for-28) with four doubles, five RBI and six runs scored in his first eight games at the Double-A level. Marrero hit .287 (119-for-414) with 21 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 65 RBI, 42 walks and 58 runs scored in 112 contests with Potomac. At the time of his promotion to Harrisburg, he ranked among the Carolina League leaders in hits (3rd), total bases (3rd, 192), home runs (5th), slugging percentage (5th, .464) and batting average (t-5th). Marrero was Washington’s first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

If you need a brief history on the AFL: right from the website

 

Makeup of the AFL

- There are six teams in the Arizona Fall League: the Scottsdale Scorpions, Mesa Solar Sox, Peoria Saguaros, Phoenix Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Rafters. These club names were picked by Major League Baseball as reflective of the Southwestern desert traditions in the state.

- The teams are broken into two divisions, East and West. Each Major League Baseball team sends six top prospects to the Arizona Fall League, 180 players in all. The games are played in the Spring Training ballparks used by the Giants, Mariners, Padres, Cubs, A’s, Royals and Rangers.

- How good are the players in the Arizona Fall League? The 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh featured 25 AFL alums, including first-time All-Stars David Wright, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

- Each August, Major League clubs hold a position draft to determine the players who will go to Arizona. Most are Double-A and Triple-A Minor League players. Each club can opt to send one player considered a Class A player.

 

History of the League

 

The roots of the Arizona Fall League go back several years, when the Major Leagues wanted to create an easily accessed offseason league. A concern was that some of the best ballplayers left to play winter ball out of the country, such as in the Caribbean and there was no way to monitor them.

 

If Major League Baseball created a league that it could govern and monitor, it would be better organized. If a player was injured, proper care and treatment would be on-hand. With the Arizona Fall League, managers, coaches, scouts and league officials could participate.

 

“That was the beauty of this,” says Steve Cobb, AFL executive vice president, “and that seemed to be one of the unifying factors for all the clubs. They created a Fall League where all of their personnel would be involved, with reduced travel and immediate accessibility on the part of scouting.”

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