AFL in the World Series
It’s the 5th inning of Game 4 of the World Series as I write this, and it dawns on me that this is a perfect opportunity to show how successful the AFL has been in generating quality Major League players. We’ve mentioned the nearly 1,200 AFL alums who have logged big league time, but it’s interesting to note that both the Astros and White Sox have several former Fall League participants playing important roles in the Fall Classic.
Let’s start with the Astros, even if they’re all but done. The guy on the mound tonight (and throwing up zeroes to this point), Brandon Backe, played for Maryvale back in 2001 when he was still in the Devil Rays’ system. Starting shortstop Adam Everett, who helped keep Backe’s shutout intact with that wonderful barehanded play in the sixth, called Mesa his home during the 1999 AFL season. Perhaps Mike Gallo (a two-time AFL player in 2002 and 2003) will come in out of the bullpen and Chris Burke (ended with Team USA in 2003) will pull off some more postseason heroics. Willy Taveras used his time in Scottsdale just a year ago to prepare himself for his possible Rookie of the Year campaign (he’d get my vote if I had one, but I digress).
In the other dugout, perhaps the best player throughout the postseason is an AFL alum. Joe Crede played in Phoenix back in 2000. Closer Bobby Jenks made two appearances in Arizona, as a starting prospect with the Angels, in 2001 and 2002. The other Everett, Carl, was a Yankee farmhand when he played for Phoenix in 1992. Back in 1997, the Mariners sent a Minor League starter by the name of Damaso Marte to Peoria. He moved to the pen a few years later, the role he’s in now for the ChiSox. Shortstop Juan Uribe played for Peoria in 2000 when he was still part of the Rockies organization.
So 10 players in the World Series. Not too shabby, huh?