Summertime in November
First off, I have to apologize. It has been too long. I have been a bad blogger… and by that I mean I haven’t been doing much blogging at all.
So I’m back! Here we are in November, and it’s like 60 degrees outside. I’m pretty sure the Quad Cities didn’t get the memo saying it’s supposed to be snowing by now. I say we all help keep the secret and see how long it lasts…
But while the baseball season we are all familiar with is in hibernation, there is a lot of good ball being played in winter leagues right now. For those of you who are as nerdy as I am when it comes to the minor leagues, I highly recommend following Jeff Luhnow on Twitter. I don’t think there are too many big league farm directors out there tweeting from the stands, but Jeff has got some great real-time scouting updates from wherever he may be at the moment.
Most recently, that was at the Arizona Fall League, where eight of his Cardinals farmhands (six of which are former QC’ers) are playing for the Surprise Rafters. OF Tyler Henley is leading the way with a .310 average and a .524 slugging percentage through 12 games, following up a great season in Double-A with a strong fall league. C Bryan Anderson (.265) and RHP Mike Parisi (2-1, 3.50) are both making up for lost time after their 2009 regular seasons were primarily lost to injury. For those two, just having them on the field and staying healthy is the important thing. OF Daryl Jones is also out there doing his thing, although the exciting prospect is off to a bit of a slow start.
But the AFL is as loaded this season as it has been in recent memory. The top two picks in the 2009 draft – RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-1, 5.28) and OF Dustin Ackley (.295) – are both making their pro debuts in Arizona this fall. They are joined by four other college picks from the Top 15 of the June draft, including No. 7 LHP Mike Minor (1-0, 2.31), No. 8 RHP Mike Leake (0-2, 2.31), No. 10 RHP Drew Storen (2-0, 0.93, 2 sv) and No. 12 RHP Aaron Crow (0-2, 7.94).
Former Peoria Chiefs lefty Donald Veal may be offering the most surprise, shaking off a reputation of wildness and leading the league with a 0.54 ERA to go along with a 3-0 record and more than a strikeout per inning. OF Grant Desme was a Kane County Cougar this past season, but is leading the AFL with 10 homers – double his closest challenger – and hitting .370 in the prospect-laden league.
No doubt, the Arizona Fall League is a great test to see where prospects stack up to the best in the game. Many of these names will be coming to a big league ballpark near you in 2010 and 2011. And it’s always a blast to see these guys working their way up!