Arizona Fall Leaguers call it a season

2013-11-26T13:04:00Z Arizona Fall Leaguers call it a seasonHARRELL MILLER Napa Valley Register
November 26, 2013 1:04 pm  • 

PHOENIX — The Arizona Fall League for 2013 is in the books.

It ended on Saturday with the traditional championship game between the winner of the East Division, Mesa, who finished ahead of Scottsdale (Rafters), and Scottsdale (Scorpions), and the Western Division winner, Surprise, who beat out Glendale and Peoria.

The six teams have been playing since Oct. 8, six games a week for six weeks. Prestigious as it is to be selected to play in the AFL, everyone I talked with was ready to go home.

Most if not all of the players started their baseball year in one kind of spring training or another way back in February or March. They played almost every day all summer. Then, just when the rest of the baseball world was either going home or to the playoffs, they reported to Phoenix for yet another league of games.

So far as the boys from our Bay Area teams are concerned, they made their mark. The seven Athletic hopefuls were on the Mesa Solar Sox, who won the East and played in the big game last week. Giant hopefuls as a group did not do so well. They were a part of the Scottsdale Scorpions, who finished 9.5 games back of the Solar Sox in the East.

However, two Giants put together outstanding individual performances.

Derek Law, who had been drafted by the Giants in the ninth round of the 2011 draft and finished the regular season this year at Class A San Jose, had the best earned-run average in the AFL. He pitched 12.1 innings, allowed eight hits, issued six walks and struck out 16.

None of his base runners scored — hence, the league-leading 0.00 ERA.

Andrew Susac, a second-round draft choice from Oregon State, who played all of 2013 at Double-A Richmond, led the AFL in on-base percentage with a .507. If that is a new statistic to you, that means that just over 50 percent of the times he batted, he wound up on base, usually with a hit or a walk.

Two Athletics played in the championship game.

Addison Russell, the player atop the A’s list of prospects, started the game at shortstop. He got one hit in four trips to the plate. However, his play at short was a bit disappointing. He committed two errors in the game after having committed only three errors in the 21 games in which he appeared during the course of regular league play.

The genuine bright spot among the Oakland hopefuls in the big game was posted by Jeff Urlaub. He had just finished an impressive 2013 with the Double-A Midland Rockhounds, where he appeared in 40 games and put together a respectable 3.86 earned-run average.

Jeff came into the big game from the bullpen and pitched the sixth and seventh innings. He allowed two hits, neither of whom scored.

Perhaps his finest moments were when he picked two runners off first base in back-to-back moves. The crowd loved it.

The 2013 Championship Game did not manage to generate much offense on either side. Both the Solar Sox and the Saguaros collected just five hits each.

Nothing went out of the park, although the Saguaros managed a couple of doubles. Surprise picked up single runs in the second and the eighth.

No Solar Sox crossed the plate. One Napa note about the winning Surprise Saguaros. Napa Valley College’s All-American pitcher and current Milwaukee Brewer hopeful, Tyler Cravy, pitched two innings for the Saguaros, allowing one hit, no runs and striking out two.

Actually, the Mesa Solar Sox had every reason to expect at bit more at the plate.

Their first baseman, C.J. Cron from the Los Angeles Angels, led the league in batting with a remarkable .413.

Third baseman Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs led the league with six home runs.

On the mound, the Sox had equally high expectations.

Sammy Solis from the Washington Nationals won the most games, posting five victories.

He also led the league with 29 strikeouts. Such, however, is the nature of single game championships.

It is the old business of anybody being able to beat anybody on any given day. Certainly, baseball has good reason for its three-game, five-game and seven-game playoffs. Nevertheless, in typical Arizona Fall League fashion, the majority of the players who just finished their two months in the Phoenix autumn sun will be here or in Florida come March.

The cream of the crop may not have put together a sparkling afternoon for their last day in the Valley, but, they will be sparkling in major league ballparks for years to come.

Harrell Miller can be reached at napasports@napanews.com

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