Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets is the Arizona Fall League. Beginning in 1992, Major League Baseball created a winter league where teams could send their best prospects to play a short season against elite competition.
Six teams make up the Arizona Fall League. The Mesa Solar Sox (Angels, Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, Twins), Phoenix Desert Dogs (Athletics, Blue Jays, Nationals, Orioles, Rays), and Scottsdale Scorpions (Diamondbacks, Giants, Phillies, Pirates, Rockies) make up the East division while the Peoria Javelinas (Brewers, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers, White Sox), Peoria Saguaros (Astros, Braves, Indians, Padres, Reds), and Surprise Rafters (Cardinals, Mets, Rangers, Royals, Yankees) make up the West division.
Each Major League Baseball team can send up to seven prospects to the AFL to fill out the 35-man rosters. Additionally teams can send “Taxi Squad” players who are eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Today marked the midway point to the AFL season. As such the league held its annual Rising Stars game, which is an all-star game of players.
Two players and one coach represented the Arizona Diamondbacks on the East squad. Hitting/First Base Coach Alan Zinter received the nod being on the coaching staff of the East leading Scottsdale Scorpions. The Diamondbacks player representatives were center fielder AJ Pollock and right fielder Marc Krauss.
Pollock missed the majority of the 2010 season after suffering an elbow injury in the spring breaking the growth plate. He returned late in the year and lit up the instructional league with his bat.
That success at the plate has carried on in the AFL. Pollock has appeared in 11 games amassing 45 at bats. He is hitting .333 with five doubles and six stolen bases. In the Rising Stars game Pollock played DH had hit the ball hard in each of his at-bats. The box score will show him going 0-4 but he hit the ball extremely hard just right at someone.
Krauss was the starting right fielder for the East team and showed why the Diamondbacks have high hopes for him in the very near future. At the plate Krauss went 1-2 including a double off the pitcher’s foot.
Yes you read that right. The ball went back up the box striking the pitcher on the foot and going straight into the air. It then got past the second baseman into shallow right field. Krauss was running hard out of the box and when he saw the ball get past the infielder he took the extra base.
That was not the only highlight for Krauss. In the second inning Ryan Lavarnway attempted to score on a ground ball hit by Eric Thames to right field. Krauss came up throwing and although he missed the cut-off man, his throw was perfect gunning down Lavarnway for the second out of the inning.
Overall the game was well played with the West winning on a walk0ff home run by Leslie Anderson of the Peoria Saguaros. If you haven’t made it out to an Arizona Fall League game yet I highly recommend it.
There are some great players in this league and every game offers a glimpse at some of the games emerging stars.