Arizona Fall League Baseball update
The season is under way for the Arizona Fall League, a six-team showcase of top minor league prospects who play a seven-week schedule at Phoenix-area spring training ballparks.
All 30 of the Major League Baseball organizations are represented in the Arizona Fall League. Each of the six AFL teams is affiliated with five major league clubs.
The Arizona Fall League consists of the following teams:
A majority of the players in the fall league competed at the Class AA level this past spring and summer, while others played at the Class AAA and Class A levels. A few AFL players, such as pitchers Max Scherzer from the Diamondbacks and Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox, have major league experience.
The 2008 Arizona Fall League schedule began Tuesday, Oct. 7. The Peoria Saguaros jumped out to a 4-0 start during the season's opening week, earning a 7-5 victory over the Peoria Javelinas on Oct. 10 to remain unbeaten.
Also on the sunny, 85-degree Friday afternoon, the Mesa Solar Sox defeated the visiting Surprise Rafters, 9-5, as a crowd of 290 fans at Mesa Hohokam Park watched Solar Sox center fielder John Raynor hit for the cycle.
Raynor, a Florida Marlins prospect who played this summer for Class AA Carolina, led off the game for Mesa with a home run over the left-field fence. The 24-year-old right-handed batter hit an RBI triple down the left-field line in the second inning, drove in another run with a single to left field in the third and completed the cycle with a double to left field in the eighth.
For the game, Raynor went 4 for 5 to raise his batting average to .462.
The Solar Sox pounded Surprise pitching for 16 hits, including five in the second inning when they scored four runs. Left fielder Jeremy Slayden, a Philadelphia Phillies prospect, crushed a two-run homer to left-center field during the second-inning outburst.
Trailing 5-0 heading into the third, Surprise tied the game with a five-run rally. Third baseman Wes Hodges, a Cleveland Indians prospect, lifted a three-run homer over the left-field fence, and right fielder Joe Dickerson, from the Kansas City Royals organization, followed later in the inning with a towering two-run shot to right field.
Mesa answered by scoring twice in the bottom of the third, when Raynor drove in the go-ahead run with his RBI single.
Surprise catcher Matt Wieters, a Baltimore Orioles prospect, reached base in his first three times at bat. With a first-inning single and walks in the third and fifth, Wieters extended his streak of reaching base to 10 consecutive plate appearances. Wieters' streak ended when he flied to left field in the seventh.
Wieters entered the Oct. 10 contest with a .714 batting average. After going 1 for 2 with two walks, his average stood at .667 for the first four games of the fall season.
By Tom Kessler
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