2004 Arizona Fall League Preview

The Seattle Mariners end their season on Sunday afternoon and the players will pack up and head home for the winter as did the six minor league affiliates on September 6. But the off season will not start quite so soon for six young Mariner players.

The Arizona Fall League will begin its schedule next week and each of the 30 teams in baseball will participate by sending six or seven participants to one of six AFL squads.

The M's will send six, three pitchers, two infielders and an outfielder, chosen by a position draft held by MLB in August. Each team is allowed to send one player that played Class A ball, otherwise they must have played in Double-A or Triple-A baseball in 2004.

The AFL was created to give the U.S a place to house top prospects during the off season instead of losing them all to the leagues in Latin America. This season the league boasts a record 35 former first-round draft picks, proving the quality of the AFL beyond any doubt.

The games will be played at the spring training stadiums used by the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, and the Oakland A's.

The regular season is followed by a playoff system that ends with the AFL Championship Game on November 20.

What: Arizona Fall League
When: October 5-November 20
Where: Peoria Sports Complex (Sea, SD)
Who: 3B Greg Dobbs, RF Shin-soo Choo, RHP Chris Buglovsky, SS Mike Morse, LHP Jared Thomas, RHP Jon Huber

The M's group will again play for the Peoria Javelinas and share the roster with the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, and the new D.C. Expos.

This year's Javelina will be managed by M's roving instructor Mike Goff while San Diego's Gary Lance will serve as pitching coach. Torey Luvullo of Cleveland will sit in as Goff's bench coach.

Other high-profile players on the Javelinas roster include Orioles 1B/C Ryan Garko, Padres 2B Josh Barfield and Indians outfielder Jason Cooper.

The talent around the league is heavy and will include top prospects such as RHP Jesse Crain, RHP J.D. Durbin, OF Jason Kubel and SS Jason Bartlett (Twins) OF Jeremy Hermida (Marlins), LHP Macay Mcbride and OF Jeff Francouer (Braves), OF Tommy Murphy (Angels), OF's Joey Gathright and Delmon Young (Devil Rays), 2B Rickie Weeks (Brewers), OF Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks), RHP Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), SS Ian Kinsler (Rangers), RHP Brian Anderson (White Sox), 2B Jayson Nix (Rockies), 1B Brian Dopirak (Cubs), 1B Ryan Howard (Phillies), 1B James Loney and former Mariner LHP Ryan Ketchner (Dodgers).

Pre-season AFL All-Star Team-

1B- Ryan Howard, Philadelphia
2B- Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee
3B- Mark Teahen, Kansas City
C- Ryan Garko, Baltimore
DH- Delmon Young, Tampa Bay
OF- Shin-soo Choo, Seattle
OF- Jeff Francouer, Atlanta
OF- Jason Kubel, Minnesota
SP- J.D. Durbin, Minnesota
SP- MaCay McBride, Atlanta
SP- Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
RP- Jesse Crain, Minnesota
RP- Huston Street, Oakland

The Mariner Angle
  • Dobbs, 26, will look to sharpen his swing back into the line-drive cut he had earlier in the year while tightening his defense at the hot corner
  • Morse, 22, hasn't played since August due to a suspension by Major League Baseball. Acquired in the Freddy Garcia deal, Morse will work on his defense first and foremost in attempt to stick at his shortstop position
  • Buglovsky, 24, will probably pitch in relief for the Javelinas, looking to earn a spot on the Triple-A staff for 2005. Bugs will likely work on his off speed arsenal to stay sharp until spring
  • Thomas, 24, is also trying to earn heavy consideration for Tacoma's 2005 bullpen as one of the left-handers. Command, control, and a sharper breaking pitch are on Thomas' agenda
  • Huber, 23, acquired from the Padres for Dave Hansen, heads to Peoria mostly to give the M's a chance to see him pitch more before spring comes around. As with most pitchers, keeping the breaking pitches finely tuned is a priority for Huber
  • Choo, 22, is coming off his finest season as a pro, and will continue to work on hitting the hard stuff in while hitting the ball the other way with regularity

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