In case you haven’t noticed, there are several of us here at ThinkBlueLA who closely follow the Dodgers minor league affiliate teams – very closely, in fact.
That’s simple – because they are the future of the Dodger organization, ether they themselves or veteran players who are acquired through trades for them. As such, how can any serious Dodger fan not be interested in what goes on down on the farm?
With all of the Dodgers minor league teams having concluded their respective seasons this past week and with their playoffs concluding this coming week, minor league baseball will soon come to a screeching halt until next season – with one huge exception – the Arizona Fall League.
Created in 1992, the AFL (as it is more commonly called), is a minor league baseball league that bridges the gap between the end of the regular minor league season and the popular Caribbean Winter Leagues, of which there are several.
There are six teams in the AFL: Scottsdale Scorpions, Mesa Solar Sox, Salt City Rafters, Glendale Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Saguaros. These six teams are divided into two divisions, East and West.
Each MLB team sends six top prospects to the Arizona Fall League, 180 players total. The games are played at the spring training homes of the Giants (Scottsdale), Mariners and Padres (Peoria), Cubs (Mesa), Royals and Rangers (Surprise), D-backs and Rockies (Salt River Fields), and for the first time the Dodgers and White Sox (Glendale). The Dodger prospects will, of course, be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs at Camelback Ranch.
Although most AFL players come from the Double-A and Triple-A levels, each team is permitted to send one player from below the Double-A level; however, there is an exception to this rule. Because so many pitchers are needed for the AFL and because not every team sends catchers, additional catchers are needed, several of whom come from the lower levels (with approval from the AFL, of course). This is a huge factor for the Dodgers minor league affiliates this year because both Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes catchers Chris O’Brien and Pratt Maynard will be joining their teammate and 2012 Dodgers first-round draft pick Corey Seager in the AFL this season. Although a shortstop by trade, Seager can also play third base and second base and was promoted to the Quakes from the Dodgers Low Single-A Great Lakes Loons on August 2. At 19 years old, Seager was the youngest player in the California League and will most likely be the youngest player in the AFL.
The three Quakes players will be joining outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez from the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and Quakes coach Johnny Washington, who will serve as the Desert Dogs hitting coach.
Managing the Desert Dogs will be Double-A New Britain Rock Cats (Twins) manager Jeff Smith and the pitching coach will be Tom Browning. Longtime Dodger fans are very familiar with Browning, as he threw a perfect game against the Dodgers on September 16, 1988 at Riverfront Stadium while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Arizona Fall League play begins on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 and concludes on Thursday, November 14, 2013. Individual game tickets are available for purchase on the day of the games at the stadium box office one hour prior to game time. Ticket prices are: $7 – Adults, $6 – Seniors (55+) and Children (17 and under) and $4 per ticket for groups of 20 or more.
The Rising Stars Game, the AFL’s version of an All-Star Game, will take place on Saturday, November 2, and if there is any knock on the AFL this would be it. At last year’s Rising Stars Game, the players selected to participate were the big name prospects and not necessarily the guys who did well during the first half (or so) of the AFL season. That being said, it’s the big name prospects who most people come to see anyway, so I get that, but only to a certain point. Last year, Lookouts second baseman Rafael Ynoa was among the AFL’s leading hitters, yet he was snubbed for the Rising Stars Game.
Regardless, if you are a die-hard baseball fan, especially a Dodger fan, there is no good reason not to check out the AFL… well, maybe one good reason – watching the Dodgers play in the 2013 World Series. But even then, there are still two weeks of AFL play after the World Series ends, so there is no good reason not to check it out.
For more information about the Arizona Fall League, check out their website: Arizona Fall League