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Winter Ball - Arizona Fall League

November 8, 2011

With the World Series having come to an exciting end many fans in the United States will go into somewhat of a 'baseball hibernation'. Well fear not fellow baseball aficionados as there is plenty of baseball this winter IF you know where to find it.

The Arizona Fall League (AFL) is affiliated with Major League Baseball and consists of six teams; the Scottsdale Scorpions, Salt River Rafters, Mesa Solar Sox, Phoenix Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas, and Surprise Saguaros. Different than standard Minor League Baseball, each Arizona League team is stocked with players from several different Major League organizations (which can change year to year). Each team may send players from their Double-A or Triple-A clubs with an option to send two additional players below Double-A. International players are welcome also but they must not have previous obligations to their country's national squad.

The Scottsdale Scorpions are not only the team that contains Red Sox property but are also managed in 2011 by Pawtucket skipper Arnie Beyeler. Boston hurlers Caleb Clay, Brock Huntzinger, Jeremy Kehrt, and Will Latimer will take the mound on southwest diamonds. Backstop Dan Butler, outfielders JC Linares (who missed most of the PawSox season due to an ankle injury) and Alex Hassan join infielders Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Dent.

Patrolling the hot corner in Portland, Pawtucket, and now Scottsdale in 2011, Will Middlebrooks is considered the top prospect in the Red Sox farm system by ESPN and His 18 HR for Portland earned him a promotion to Pawtucket late in the season. (Unfortunately his AFL time is done for 2011 after a sprained hand on November 1st) Along with catcher Ryan Lavarnway, Middlebrooks represents the future middle of the order power bats every team covets. Lavarnway laced up the cleats with Peoria last season in the AFL.

If a former graduate of the Arizona Fall League is named an MVP, Rookie of the Year, league All-Star, Silver Slugger or Gold Glove winner they are hence forth inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame. Nomar Garciaparra, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and former PawSox manager Ken Macha have been enshrined along with Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano, Mike Piazza, and Ryan Howard.