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Random Musings on the Arizona Fall League

If you enjoy following the Brewers minor-league system (or if your ideal baseball game is an 11-10 slugfest), the Arizona Fall League might be of some interest to you. The league was designed to be a sort of “finishing school” for top prospects, and is a popular destination for both professional and amateur talent evaluators. Of course, the thin air of Arizona and teams’ unwillingness to work their young pitchers further into the winter has created a secondary reputation of sorts: crazy stupid good offensive numbers are the rule rather than the exception.

We discussed the league and the prospects the Brewers will be sending in detail (part one and part two) when the rosters were announced in August, but today, we’re going to take a closer look at what exactly to watch, as well as the team the future Brewers will be suiting up for.

The Phoenix Desert Dogs:

The AFL is structured nicely enough that all the players in the same organization are on the same team, and for the Brewers, that team is the Phoenix Desert Dogs. The Desert Dogs (I guess this is what a “desert dog” is) consist of prospects from the Brewers, Athletics, Braves, Marlins, and Rays.  The team is staffed with a coach from each organization, with Huntsville Stars manager Darnell Coles representing the Brewers as a hitting instructor.

Some Assorted Notes on the Brewers:

– Kyle Heckathorn threw two scoreless innings of relief today, allowing one hit and striking out two, while John Hellweg pitched a clean ninth. Unfortunately, the Pitch F/X cameras weren’t in attendance, so it’s hard to say much more about their respective outings. It doesn’t really matter, but the Desert Dogs did win the game, 4-3.

– Strangely, the three Brewers who got into today’s game (Khris Davis, Hunter Morris, and Josh Prince) combined to go hitless in 6 at-bats. This is also the last time I’ll bring up AFL stats in a post. I promise.

– I was slightly bummed about the lack of pitch data today, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when it becomes available. Hellweg will be working exclusively out of the bullpen after starting for most of the year, and I’d like to see if his mid-90s fastball will play up in short bursts. It will be just as fun once Santo Manzanillo gets into a game, as his occasionally triple-digit velocity and, er, suspect command could make for a very entertaining heatmap.