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The Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame

By Mike Silva ~ November 23rd, 2010. Filed under: Mets Minors, Mike Silva, Yanks Minors.

The Arizona Fall League has gained some notoriety in the age of the internet. To be honest, before I started doing this show I really never paid attention to winter ball. I will admit I didn’t even know much about the AFL till about three years ago. Up until today I didn’t even know there was an Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame.

Some might wonder what the AFL is. It’s an off-season league owned and operated by Major League Baseball which plays games at five spring training complexes in Arizona. Each August, Major League Baseball clubs hold a position draft to determine the players who will go to Arizona. Most are Double-A and Triple-A Minor League players. Each club can opt to send two players below Double-A. Foreign players are allowed, as long as the player is not on his native country’s primary protected player list. The league is designed for these prospects to refine their skills and perform in game settings in front of major and minor league baseball scouts, and team executives, who are in attendance at almost every game. Play begins shortly after the end of MLB’s regular season in early October, and ends in mid-November.  Teams are not affiliated with any one ballclub. Rather each team provides seven players to make up a 35 man roster. There are taxi squad players that are only eligible to play on Wednesday and Saturday. Many notable players have starred in the AFL, including Michael Jordan in 1994.

That brings me to the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame which was established in 2001. There is a huge New York connection to the AFL Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees were Chris Carpenter and Michael Young. New Yorker’s probably remember these members as well:

Derek Jeter (2001) - The Yankee shortstop and captain played in the 1994 AFL season for the Chandler Diamondbacks and won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1996. He won both the All-Star Game and World Series MVP Awards in 2000.

Mike Piazza (2001) - Piazza was a part of the first AFL class, in 1992, playing for the Sun City Solar Sox. He became the first of 10 AFL alumni to win Rookie of the Year honors, earning the NL award in 1993. The perennial All-Star won the Midsummer Classic’s MVP Award in 1996.

Jason Giambi (2002) - Giambi played on the 1994 AFL champion Peoria Javelinas. He has gone on to win the AL MVP in 2000 with the Oakland A’s and was just the ninth player in MLB history to increase his batting average in six or more consecutive seasons.

Jerry Manuel (2002) - Managing in 1994, Manuel led Maryvale to an Eastern Division crown. He served as Felipe Alou‘s third base coach from 1991-96, then was Jim Leyland‘s bench coach on the 1997 World Series-winning Florida Marlins. He took over as the Chicago White Sox’ skipper in 1998.

Shawn Green (2003 )- Green spent time with the Scottsdale Scorpions in 1993. He spent his first full season in the majors in 1995 and has since gone to two All-Star Games, won a Gold Glove and hit 40+ homers three times.

Alfonso Soriano (2006) - Soriano is the first AFL player to post either a 40/40 or a 30/30 season (home runs/stolen bases) in the Major Leagues. Soriano made his U.S. professional debut in the 1998 AFL after signing with the Yankees. In 34 games for the Grand Canyon Rafters, he hit .254 with six homers and 28 RBIs. He was third in the AFL with 17 extra-base hits and fourth in RBIs. Soriano was named AFL Player of the Week twice. Soriano reached 200 home runs and 200 stolen bases in fewer games (929) than any player in baseball history. The five-time All-Star became the fourth player ever to reach the rarefied air of a “40/40″ campaign in 2006, while also breaking the Nationals/Expos single-season franchise record for home runs in a season, previously held by Vladimir Guerrero.

You can read the entire list at MLB.com

By the way, Bryce Harper and the Scottsdale Scorpions won the 2010 AFL title over Peoria Javelinas.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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