AFL Update - October 14, 2004

The Oakland A's have a pretty well stocked minor league system. Like with every club, their top prospects are playing in the Arizona Fall League, spotlighting their talents. Jeremy Brown is perhaps best known for his portrayal in the book <i>Moneyball</i>, but he's showing on the field that he is well worth the publicity that he's gotten off the field.

What is it about catchers wanting to play in the infield. When Jeremy Brown and John Baker finished their pre-game hitting it wasn't off to the bullpen, it was off to shortstop. "We're just playing around out there, but we look good right?" Baker said with a smile as he ran out toward the infield.

For Baker it was just another day at the office. While Brown might be "Mr. Moneyball" the fact that Oakland has sent both of the catchers to the Arizona Fall League doesn't bother Baker. "We're helping each other out, learning a lot, and playing a lot. It's not a competetion, we're both here to get better." For Baker the fun is on the infield, the work is behind the plate, "I'm working hard to try and understand pitchers better, working on my footwork, on calling games. This league is great for that stuff because I catch four or five pitchers in a game."

Erik Bennett, the Desert Dogs Pitching Coach (Anaheim Angels organization), hasn't gotten to see Huston Street a whole lot, but he's already impressed. "He just doesn't seem to be afraid of anybody. Huston is just an incredible competitor, he never backs down, just goes right after guys." Can he make the A's next year and contribute? "He's got a good shot if he keeps working and throwing like he has." And for now Bennett says that, not surprisingly, it is the changeup that Street is really working on. "Everybody in the Oakland organization throws that changeup, and they all throw it well, and Huston is getting more confident with it."

Jason Perry knows exactly where he is at. "It's my Rule V year, so I'm just trying to stay healthy, continue to improve, and then we will see what happens." There must be some pressure there, though looking at Perry you'd never know it. After a huge year in Modesto Perry's numbers were down a notch this year, a dip he says was part health and part circumstance. "I got hurt, and then when I got healthy I wasn't playing everyday, really I was playing one out of every four days. So I just never got into a rhythm. I'm back to 100% now and feeling good about my swing." Perry also has things in perspective. "I try not to get caught up in who's pitching and who's got what reputation. I really am down here looking to get better and looking to have fun. I go out and spray the ball around the field. When I'm hitting I feel like I'm letting the ball come to me, just meeting it. When I'm in the field I'm reading the ball well and taking good routes. That's why I'm down here."

Editor's note: James Renwick is the publisher of and is covering the Arizona Fall League for and other sites on the network.

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