Sunday, November 07, 2004

Checking up on the Fall League

Today we are going to take a quick look at what a few of the Twins prospects are doing in the Arizona Fall League. The league consists of 6 teams, each with a 30 man roster made up of 6 prospects from each team in baseball. It is pretty competitive with many of the best young prospects playing there as a stepping stone to the majors in the coming years. Here are the rules for whom can play, as stated on

All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, provided the players are on at least a Double-A level roster no later than Aug. 1.
One player below the Double-A level is allowed per Major League team.
One foreign player is allowed; as long as the player does not reside in a country that participates in winter ball, as part of the Caribbean Confederation or the Australian winter league.
No players with more than one year of credited Major League service as of August 31 are eligible; except a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft.
To be eligible, players on Minor League disabled lists must be activated at least 45 days before the conclusion of their respective seasons.

The Twins prospects play on the Grand Canyon Rafters, who currently have a record of 12-13. Here are the Twins Hitter's individual stat lines;

Jason Bartlett, SS .333AVG 45AB 10R 3RBI .378SLG .400OBP

Rob Bowen, C .279 AVG 43AB 4R 4RBI .349SLG .367OBP

Kevin West, OF .308AVG 26AB 8R 3RBI .423SLG .333OBP

Comments: Bartlett has also made 3 errors in 11 games, which is probably a little high. It is good to see he is getting on base and scoring runs though. Bowen, also is currently hitting at a higher clip then he showed during his time in both the majors and minors this past season. West replaced Jason Kubel on the roster after Kubel injured his knee. Obviously, it is hard to tell from stats how exactly they are playing but overall these are good numbers to see.

Twins Pitching Stat Lines;

Scott Baker 0-1 3.10 ERA 5G 20.1IP 4BB 19K

Jesse Crain 1-0 2.00ERA 7G 9.0IP 1BB 11K

J.D. Durbin 1-1 4.35ERA 5G 20.2 IP 9BB 26K

Comments: Both Durbin and Baker are in the rotation for the Rafters. The K/BB ratio is pretty good for all three. Durbin has been pretty hard to hit with a .231 opponents batting average. Crain has been better with a .156. Overall the Twins have to be happy with this performance despite a limited sampling. Durbin leads the league in strikeouts with 26. Crain, surprisingly, has yet to record a save.

Other Prospects of Note Playing in the League:
Mark Teahan, Ryan Howard and Rickie Weeks are all in the top 10 in batting. Huston Street leads the league with a .64ERA and 4 saves, Billy Keppinger leads with 4 Wins and Bobby Bradley leads the league with 23.1 innings pitched.

By Comparison;
Players who played in the fall league last year for the Twins included Rob Bowen, Jake Mauer, Terry Tiffee and pitcher Boof Bonser. Tiffee was the only one to make a real impact in the majors last season. In contrast, players like B.J. Upton, Dewon Brazelton, David Wright and Nick Swisher all played in the Arizona Fall League last year and went on to make contributions to their major league teams during the season. Not the most impressive group but proof it is a league made up of future stars.

For a team like the Twins where player development is such a big part of what makes the team successful, the Arizona Fall League is an invaluable place for players to progress. So far the returns this year have been encouraging (if you overlook the early injury to Kubel). Their team is in second place and while the Twins decide who to bring back from last year’s team, players such as Durbin and Baker are playing for the chance to replace them.