Look who’s back!
I’ve been in the Dominican Republic for a month. It’s nice here, if too humid for a native Northern Californian. I also have much more time than I anticipated, so I decided to fill the void by providing a weekly digest of winter leagues action.
You will get coverage of Giants prospects in the Arizona Fall League, all the MLB-affiliated Caribbean Leagues (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Venezuelan), the Australian League, and a few off the beaten path leagues: the Colombian League and the Nicaraguan League.
Only one game has occurred among these leagues, when the AFL started up on Tuesday. It’s been raining here all day and ruined my planned beach day. I’m stuck inside and bored out of my freaking’ gourd, so here I am to write about fall/winter league ball.
For those who don’t know about the AFL, it’s the premier minor league showcase for MLB. Teams send their best (in theory) prospects to the six-week league, where the prospects are split into six teams with five organizations sharing each team.
I say best prospects in theory because sometimes that’s not always the case. I covered the AFL for about 10 days in 2007 for SF Dugout and the Giants sent guys like Nate Schierholtz, Brian Anderson (remember him?), Sergio Romo, Manny Burriss, Eugenio Velez…and Scott Munter. This was about a year after Munter’s bowling ball sinker stopped being effective.
The 2011 Scottsdale Scorpions have infielders Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik, pitchers Austin Fleet, Steven Harrold, Darryl Maday, and Seth Rosin and outfielder Gary Brown on their roster.
The Scorpions house prospects from Giants, Angels, Nationals, Phillies, and Red Sox, meaning there are some pretty high profile dudes on the roster along with the Giants prospects: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Matt Purke, Jean Segura, and Tyson Gillies are all guys I’ve written about or watched closely at some point in my career.
Grizzlies hitting coach Ken Joyce is there too, serving in the same capacity as he does for Fresno.
Also the league changed the name of the Surprise Rafters to Salt River Rafters, which makes a hell of a lot more sense. I always thought the previous name was silly: “Surprise! We’re rafting!” Although now the Surprise team is the Saguaros, named after the giant cactuses native to the Phoenix area, which is no better than surprised rafters. In fact, a surprise cactus does not sound pleasant.
Brown had one of the two hits for the Scorpions in their first game, a triple. Fleet and Harrold both got into the game in relief. Fleet pitch a scoreless inning and the Saguaros hung two runs on Harrold in 1/3 inning.
The other leagues begin at different intervals this fall. Here’s a quick schedule if you want to keep tabs on the circuits. Also, the Colombian League’s website is teamrenteria.com. Apparently our old friend Rent is a major investor in his country’s winter league.
|Australian League||Nov 3-Jan 22, 2012|
|Dominican League||Oct 14-Dec 21|
|Mexican Pacific League||Oct 11-Dec 30|
|Puerto Rican League||Starts Nov 4|
|Venezuelan League||Oct 12-Dec 30|
|Colombian League||Oct 22-Jan 30|
|Nicaraguan League||Starts Oct 28|
Oh and the final insult for me: this year the Caribbean Series is in Santo Domingo, held at Estadio Quisqueya, not too far from my apartment in the National District. The tournament is the first week of February, two months after I return to the States.