There has been one consistent among the Desert Dogs' championship teams: the presence of Oakland A's prospects. Every year the Phoenix roster is made-up of prospects from different organizations, but one organization is always included on the Phoenix roster: the Oakland A's, because Phoenix Municipal Stadium is the A's spring training home.
This season, the A's had six players contribute to the Phoenix East-division winning squad: Raul Padron, Cliff Pennington, Jeff Baisley, Brad Kilby, Justin Dowdy, James Simmons and Jeff Gray.
The Desert Dogs struggled on offense as a team for much of the year, hitting only .253. However, catcher Raul Padron was a surprise leader offensively, batting .320 with an 864 OPS in 50 at-bats.
Shortstop Cliff Pennington also contributed offensively. After a horrible first three weeks, Pennington turned it on in the last two weeks of the season. Over his last 10 games, Pennington hit .379 with 12 walks and only three strikeouts. He finished the season with a .241 BA and an impressive .410 OBP. He also stole nine bases in nine chances.
Third baseman Jeff Baisley finished the AFL regular season with only a .203 BA, but he was one of the team's top run-producers. He drove-in 15 runs in only 21 games and had three homers.
It was on the mound that the Desert Dogs really shined as a team. The Phoenix staff finished the year with a 2.68 team ERA, a league record-best. Reliever Brad Kilby led the way for A's pitching prospects, posting a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings. Late addition Justin Dowdy, who replaced Jay Marshall on the Phoenix staff, made only three appearances for the Desert Dogs, but they were good ones. He didn't allow a run in three innings and he struck out four.
A's 2007 first round pick James Simmons had a solid AFL campaign. The right-hander posted a 2.89 ERA in 9.1 innings. He struck out eight. The 21-year-old was one of the youngest pitchers in the league, and he held his own nicely.
Reliever Jeff Gray was one of the workhorses of the Phoenix bullpen, throwing 12.2 innings. He had a 5.68 ERA and he struck out nine.
The championship game will be held at Scottsdale Stadium at 11:35 am PST on Saturday.
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