What to Watch For


Fear not sports fans, there is a baseball game on tonight. Not only that, the Royals are playing.

OK, it’s not really the Royals, but the Royals will be represented. Since the beginning of October, the Arizona Fall League has been in full swing. This is an opportunity for young players to get some extra work in after the end of the regular Major League Baseball season. Now, it’s not to be confused with the Arizona Instructional League where Bubba Starling spent his fall. The AFL has been a breeding ground for future stars. In fact, the 2011 All-Star Game featured 41 players that had spent time there.

As we in Missouri have broken out our winter coats, the weather is still perfect in the Southwest. The six teams of the AFL use Major League Spring Training Complexes to play their games. Each team fills their roster with players from five organizations. You can find the future Royals on the Surprise Saguaros roster, along with players from the Braves, Marlins, Rays, and Rangers. It is a very laid-back league, but the players who get invited know that it’s an opportunity to compete against the other players their age who are trying to make their way to the show.

The Saguaros are one of the three teams in the AFL West Division. After dismantling the Peoria Javelinas 17-4 on Friday night, they improved to a league leading 20-7 record. A total of seven players in the Royals organization are on the team. The pitchers are Nathan Adcock, Jeremy Jeffress, Brendan Lafferty, and Bryan Paukovits. Christian Colon and Anthony Seratelli are in the infield. Top Royals prospect Wil Myers is patrolling the outfield. One thing I love about this league is that for every game, the players wear the uniforms of their big league team and the hat of their AFL team.

The league will wrap up on November 17th after playing approximately 40 games, including tonight’s 6th Annual Rising Stars Game. It is a quasi-mid season All-Star game, and closely resembles the Future Stars Game, which is played just prior to each summer’s All-Star Game.

Nationals Prospect Bryce Harper and Angels Outfielder Mike Trout are the headliners for the game, but there are several of MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects on the rosters. Most of the guys playing in tonight’s game are sure to be in the Major Leagues very soon. 24 Players from last year’s game spent time in the bigs this past season. The year before boasted 28 players, including Buster Posey and Stephen Strasburg.

Adcock, Jeffress, Colon, and Myers will represent the Royals on the West roster tonight. The four Royals players are the second most from one organization. (The Rockies have 5) It goes to show that even after all of the guys who made their way to KC last year, there is still plenty of talent still on the way.

Of the prospects, Nate Adcock spent the most time in Kansas City in 2011, appearing in 24 games and compiling a 1-1 record and a 4.62 ERA. Adcock was a Rule 5 acquisition from the Pirates last December. There’s no doubt that the Royals are using his time in Arizona to evaluate his future with the club. As a Saguaro, he’s started four games and is 1-2 with a 5.65 ERA.

Jeremy Jeffress came over in the Zack Greinke trade, and pitched in 14 games this past season for the Royals. His numbers were comparable to Adcock, also posting a 1-1 record with an ERA of 4.70. He spent a majority of the season between AA & AAA, making a total of 11 starts and going 3-6.

2010 1st Round Draft Pick Christian Colon spent all of 2011 playing Shortstop and Second Base for AA Northwest Arkansas. In 127 games, he hit .257 and had an OBP of.325. Colon has similar numbers through 14 games in the AFL, with a .259 BA & .328 OBP. He’s currently ranked as the #4 prospect in the Royals organization by MLB.com.

Who is #1 prospect? That would be Wil Myers. Myers is tearing up the AFL, hitting .384 through 19 games. He’s got an OBP of .505 and has driven in 16 runs. He was a perfect 5-5 Friday night. Myers has made the move from Catcher to Outfield, and was injured for a portion of 2011. He spent the year at Northwest Arkansas, hitting .254 with 8 Home Runs. He’s looking to bounce back after hitting .315 the year before. If he can continue with the success that he’s making this fall, then we won’t have to wait too much longer before we see him at Kauffman Stadium.

Look for the game tonight on the MLB Network at 7:00 PM.

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