Posts By Dave Roberts
The 2013 edition of the Arizona Fall League ended Saturday afternoon as the Surprise Saguaros, winners of the AFL West, matched up against the Mesa Solar Sox, winners of the AFL East, in the AFL championship. In the end, Surprise emerged the champions of the AFL by defeating Mesa 2-0 giving a few Indians prospects the honor of being the part of a championship squad.
The Indians’ bats shined all through the AFL, especially outfielder Tyler Naquin and second baseman Joe Wendle. Both were given the honor of playing in the championship game because of their stellar play throughout fall ball. Naquin led the AFL in hits with 39 and fourth in RBIs with 18. Combined, Wendle and Naquin scored 30 runs and drove in 30 RBIs in the 28 games their shared spots in the lineup.
Just a week remains in the dessert as the minor leaguers take in their last breath of professional baseball for a while. The Indians’ prospects continue to perform well as members of the Surprise Saguaros. They stand at a record of 16-9, four games ahead of Glendale for first place in the AFL West division.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin has enjoyed a stellar Arizona Fall League. Thus far as he leads all the AFL in hits with 35 and tied for second in RBIs. Naquin participated in the Fall Stars game as the Indians lone representative on the AFL West club. He went 1-4 with a triple, run scored and a walk as the AFL West outslugged the AFL East 9-2 on November 2. Second baseman Joey Wendle has been on a tear recently as well including a game on November 7 against Peoria where he posted a 2-4, with a home run, three RBIs, and a run scored.
As the Arizona Fall League, wraps up its third week of play in the dessert the Indians prospects and their squad, the Surprise Saguaros, stand at a record of 8-6, a game ahead of Glendale for first place in the AFL West division.
For the Indians, the minor league bats clearly are having the better fall ball experience. Outfielder Tyler Naquin leads all the AFL in hits with 18. Naquin also has a league-leading 12-game hit streak going into today. During an October 22 game against the Mesa Solar Sox, Naquin and second baseman Joey Wendle combined for three hits, two runs, and three RBIs in a 4-2 victory.
As the Arizona Fall League wraps up its second week of play in the dessert the Indians prospects and their squad they are a part of, the Surprise Saguaros, stand at a record of 5-4, a game and a half out of first in the AZL West division.
In the early going, there have been some shining moments for the Indians prospects thus far. On Friday afternoon, outfielder Tyler Naquin, shortstop Tony Wolters, and second basemen, Joey Wendle combined for six hits, three runs, and three RBI in their 11-9 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox, the last remaining undefeated team in Arizona.
The Arizona Fall League enters its 21st season this October. The league is comparative to graduate school for minor league prospects. Six teams are cobbled together with promising prospects from major league ballclubs. Each organization is tasked with choosing a few select prospects they feel could truly benefit with the extra playing time at a higher level.
This years’ AFL features 24 of Major League Baseball’s top 100 minor league prospects, which should give an idea of just how talented the playing field is. The Cleveland Indians have seven players in this years’ AFL: pitchers Shawn Armstrong, Trey Haley, Jeff Johnson, Will Roberts along with catcher Tony Wolters, infielder Joe Wendle, and outfielder Tyler Naquin are all members of the Surprise Saguaros. Indians minor league pitching coach Steve Karsay is also a member of the Saguaros as a coach. The Indians also contributed a catcher Jake Lowery to the Peoria Javelinas.
The Indians and Royals resumed their respective late season playoff pushes on Tuesday night in game 2 of a three game series. With two of the best pitching staffs in the American League squaring the game shaped up to be just that a battle of the arms but the Indians managed to come up big when it counted and win 5-3.
It is common knowledge that the Indians have one of the easiest September schedules of any of the American League playoff contenders so this rubber match between the Mets and Indians was important. Unfortunately, the Tribe could not capitalize when the time called for it and the Mets were able to scrounge together enough hits to knock off the Indians 2-1.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers celebrated their 15th season of playing baseball in Niles, Ohio this season and although it did not end in a playoff berth, it did provide for a fun and interesting season of minor league ball. The Scrappers for their part finished with a record of 30-44, good for fifth in the Pinckney Division, a half game better than the 2012 squad even in the midst of a streaky season where they set the franchise record for a losing streak at 12 games. Overcoming a tough string of losses like that is a testament to all the kids who suited up in a Scrappers uniform and their dedicated staff.
Even though this sets a second straight losing season for the club, the fans have still showed up to the gate for some summertime fun as the overall attendance marked climbed over 104,000.
On a night where pitching seemed to dominate things one key play stood out as the Indians fell to the Braves 2-0.
In the first of a very important nine straight games against playoff contenders, the Indians suited up Tuesday night in the first of a three game series with the Atlanta Braves. Toeing the rubber for the Tribe was youngster Danny Salazar opposite another young arm Alex Wood for the Braves.
Michael Bourn led off the game with a single against his former team and advanced to second when Carlos Santana drew a two-out walk but Wood dodged the bullet when he managed to get Mike Aviles to pop out to short.
Minor league baseball is a huge element of professional baseball. These teams serve the purpose of providing avenues for young ballplayers from all over the world to continue to develop their playing skills in a professional environment with the hopes of one-day stepping foot onto the big league stage. For the thirty teams of major league baseball this provides them the ability to invest in dozens of young players with the hopes of investing in the future of the franchise for years to come.
Aside from the baseball side of things, the 160 teams of minor league baseball allow for fans all over the country that may not be in close proximity to a big league club to catch professional game. Of course in a competitive sport, winning is important but at the minor league level most fans are not necessarily invested in the team’s record as they would with the big league club. The job of the minor league franchises is to create a fun family environment for all to enjoy.
The traditional story of how a young kid starts playing baseball is when the kid reaches the right age their parents register him for Little League and the rest is history. For Scrappers righty Dace Kime, it was more a fortunate accident that started it all.
“I was three years old when I went and watched my brother’s t-ball team play, he was five years old at the time,” Kime said. “They were a player short so they invited me out there to go ahead and play with them and it pretty much went from there.”