Off and running in the AFL

Gotta love this time of year, with the start of winter leagues, especially the Arizona Fall League. They are two games in — looks like Scottsdale’s running away with it, huh? — and high time I start blogging about what’s going on there. (The big news, of course, is that Bryce Harper will be there on Scottsdale’s taxi squad)

Every fall, I make the claim that I’m going to try and pick a Star of the Day each day (at least weekdas) of the AFL. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s worth at least giving it a shot, right?

Since two days have passed, we’ll just do one for the two games. While many hitters have

Michael_Taylor.JPG

gotten off to good starts — Ryan Adams went 3-for-3 yesterday to improve to 4-for-7 with a homer and five RBIs, as an example — but the first Star of the Day(s) has to go to Michael Taylor in the A’s organization. The outfielder who went from the Phillies to the Blue Jays to the A’s during the whole Roy Halladay trade extravaganza has shown the power he was known for, but was missing during the 2010 season, so far. He’s homered in both games and gone a combined 5-for-8 with the two homers, four RBIs and 12 total bases (for a 1.500 SLG). He’s even swiped a base.

Pitchers, obviously, have only gone one game, at best, but several have started out well in a league that is notoriously hitting-friendly. Casey Kelly (you can follow him on Twitter @caseykelly23) is the only one to go four innings, allowing just two unearned runs. Brad Holt, Carlos Hernandez, Alex Cobb and Josh Collmenter all went three scoreless in their debuts.

In case you haven’t checked them all out yet, we’ve got a number of prospects blogging from the AFL this year. Here’s the menu for your perusal (all have been pretty active, so check early and often for updates!):

Please read them and leave them comments. Interactivity is the name of the game!

Finally, before I go, there’s something important I want to promote. I did it last year, so for those of you who come to B3 often, they’ll know all about the Joe Niekro Foundation. Natalie Niekro, Joe’s daughter, started it to raise funds for research and to raise awareness about brain aneurysms. Part of that effort will be the second annual Aneurysm Awareness Week in the Arizona Fall League, Oct. 26-30. In addition to having lots of information and appearances in parks during the week to let AFL fans know about aneurysms and the work the foundation is trying to do, a number of pitchers will be doing their part to raise some funds. Here’s how it works:

Joe Niekro played for seven teams over the course of his illustrious career. For the week of Oct. 26, the strikeouts for the pitchers in the AFL from each of those seven organizations will be tallied. Not only has the foundation found a donor to donate $36 per strikeout for the week, but most (I’m working on getting them all) of the teams have committed to making similar donations (You can donate to the foundation by clicking here.).

I’ll be pushing this a lot, especially as we get closer, but if you want to have a rooting interest, here’s a list of the pitchers from each organization who’ll be helping to strikeout aneurysms. And I tell you what, lets get some fan interest going here — the organization who gets the most votes — leave your rooting interest in comments — will get a donation in their name by yours truly. So get behind your team and help raise funds for this worthy cause:

Cubs: David Cales, Chris Carpenter, Jake Muyco, Kyle Smit
Padres: Brad Brach, Erik Davis, Colt Hynes, Alexis Lara
Tigers: Brooks Brown, Matt Hoffman, Chance Ruffin, Brendan Wise
Braves: Michael Broadway, Kyle Cofield, Erik Cordier, Cory Gearrin
Astros: David Carpenter, Kyle Greenwalt, Matt Nevarez, Pat Urckfitz
Yankees: Manuel Banuelos, Craig Heyer, George Kontos, Ryan Pope
Twins:   David Bromberg, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson, Kyle Waldrop

1 Comment

There is a typo that I am sure you want to fix in the leading line of your article on Jake Westbrook’s surgery on stlcardinals.com. I saw it yesterday afternoon, and I was shocked it was still there this morning.

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