AFL Rising Stars

Now that the World Series is over, fans across the country begin to settle in for a long off-season before Spring Training arrives in February. For fans fortunate enough to visit the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, there is still baseball to be found.

The Arizona Fall League is now in full speed ahead mode. Games began in early October and teams will continue to play through mid-November. I’ve written before about the Arizona Fall League and what you can expect to see at these games.

They are one of the best kept secrets in all of baseball. The level of play is extremely high and the talent on the rosters are some of the best in the country. Besides the daily games played in Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Surprise there are two special games each year.

The Arizona Fall League championship game occurs on November 21 between the two teams with the best record during the season. The second special game is the Rising Stars game. This is an all-star game of sorts where players are invited to play against the best players in the league.

The Rising Stars game was played tonight at the Stadium in Surprise Arizona. The game was to feature overall number one pick Stephen Strasburg on the mound. That did not occur due to a possible pulled muscle in his neck but the 4,550 fans in attendance did not seem to mind.

They were treated to an incredible game that featured four home runs and 24 hits. It was a seesaw game that saw the East stake an early lead only to see the West come back in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were represented at the game by first baseman Brandon Allen. Allen was the player received in the Tony Pena deal that sent Pena to the Chicago White Sox. The Diamondbacks have anointed Allen as their first baseman of the future.

During his time with the Diamondbacks Allen tore up the minor leagues but struggled at the plate and in the field when called up to the major leagues. In the Rising Stars game Allen began as the East’s Designated Hitter.

Allen went 1-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The one hit was a monster home run that scored three for the East team giving them the lead. Towards the end of the game Allen moved from the DH spot to take over first base.

There have never been questions about Allen’s power. Instead it has been his strikeout total that has concerned coaches and scouts. Tonight was a prime example. While he hit a three-run bomb he also showed questionable plate discipline in his two strikeouts.

It is these concerns that are now forcing Arizona to re-evaluate whether Allen will being in the big leagues next year or if they will be forced to look for an alternative at first while Allen works on his swing and defense in Reno.

For one night though Allen showed why the Diamondbacks are high on him as a player. For the fans who came to the game in Surprise they had to leave very impressed at the quality of players that will soon be in the major leagues.

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