Then-unknown Albert Pujols played for the 2000 Scottsdale Scorpions as a standout third base prospect and was later named to the league's Hall of Fame in 2004, the only Cardinal enshrined to date.
In total, over 1,700 former Arizona Fall Leaguers have reached the major leagues including 141 future MLB All-Stars. 38 of them were on the 2009 teams that took the field at Busch Stadium for the 2009 MLB All-Star Game on July 14.
In recent years, the Cardinals were part of the Grand Canyon Rafters in 2003, the Mesa Solar Sox in 2004, the Surprise Scorpions in 2005, the Peoria Saguaros in 2006, the Solar Sox again in 2007 and were back with the Saguaros last fall.
2008 Cardinals AFL participants were pitchers Brad Furnish, Tyler Norrick, Justin Fiske and Adam Ottavino, catcher Steven Hill, shortstop Tyler Greene, third baseman Brett Wallace and outfielder Shane Robinson. Springfield skipper Ron ‘Pop' Warner managed the Saguaros.
Among the Cardinals players who competed in the AFL in 2007 were pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Stuart Pomeranz and Jason Motte, infielders Mark Hamilton and Jarrett Hoffpauir and outfielder Amaury Cazana (Marti). Then-minor league pitching coordinator Mark Riggins coached.
In 2006, the Cardinals sent the following players to Arizona: starting pitcher Stuart Pomeranz and relievers Dennis Dove, Eric Haberer and Mike Parisi along with shortstop Brendan Ryan and outfielders Cazana and Nick Stavinoha.
Cards AFL stat summary
Here we have the leader among the Cardinals participants in the AFL over each of the last six years – the time I have been attending games in person. We'll start with the offense.
Only in 2006 with Cazana and in 2004 with Reid Gorecki (who began the fall on the taxi squad), did the Cardinals have a batter that placed in the league top ten. While Brett Wallace hit a respectable .309 batting mark in 2008, that was only 30th-best in the AFL.
The 2003 results are not a typo. Schumaker actually had the best average of the three Cardinals position players that year and he batted just .220. Shaun Boyd (.219) and John Nelson (.154) did even worse.
In 2007, Joe Mather actually hit better than the listed leader Jarrett Hoffpauir at .268, but had only 21 at-bats. Mark Hamilton brought up the rear that year at .171.
Let's move to pitching, where the results have been equally uneven.
There have been a couple of good years by relievers – Rich Scalamandre in 2005 and Dennis Dove the next year. Brad Thompson performed very well as a starter in 2003 as did a rehabbing Stuart Pomeranz in 2007.
When you see numbers like Adam Ottavino and Brad Furnish put up last year and realize they were the best among the Cardinals' four AFLers, you get a feeling for how badly the pitchers struggled.
Of course, it remains to be seen how the Cardinals 2009 contingent will perform. Again, they are pitchers Lance Lynn, David Kopp, Adam Reifer and Mike Parisi, catcher Bryan Anderson, infielder Daniel Descalso and outfielders Daryl Jones and Tyler Henley.
The Cardinal Nation has the AFL covered!
As every year, The Cardinal Nation, stlcardinals.scout.com, will be your leader in independent first-hand reporting on and from the Arizona Fall League. So, be looking for our eyewitness reports on the Cardinals prospects that will be playing for the Surprise Rafters this October and November.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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