Wong Headlines Cardinals AFL Contingent

Futures Game player and Texas League all-star Kolten Wong to lead eight St. Louis Cardinals farmhands into the 2011 Arizona Fall League.

Major League Baseball's premier prospect showcase, the Arizona Fall League, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a schedule that begins on Tuesday, October 9. Eight St. Louis Cardinals farmhands are among the preliminary rosters announced Wednesday.

They include, from:

Triple-A Memphis: left-handed reliever Sam Freeman

Double-A Springfield: second baseman Kolten Wong, outfielder Mike O'Neill, left-handed pitcher Kevin Siegrist and righty Boone Whiting

A-Advanced Palm Beach: right-handed pitcher Seth Blair, catcher Cody Stanley

Class-A Quad Cities: second baseman Colin Walsh (taxi squad)

All eight will suit up with the Surprise Saguaros and will have a familiar face awaiting them. The club's hitting coach will be Quad Cities hitting coach Joe Kruzel. Surprise will be managed by Jason Wood, skipper of the A-Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Rangers organization and will be staffed with players from the Cardinals, Royals, Rangers, Mets and Red Sox.

Participating organizations provide eight players each, made up of four pitchers, three position players and one taxi squad member. Of the seven regulars, three players are to be sourced from Double-A and above, two players are to be from the A-Advanced level with the other two from any level of play. With 35 to 40 active players, including 20 pitchers, players can be rotated to avoid excessive fatigue.

Wong has been designated as the Cardinals' priority player, assuring him of regular playing time, typically at least two of every three starts. Once I determine who will be the Cardinals' member of the Saguaros' five-man rotation, I will update this article. The other three hurlers will pitch in relief. Walsh is designated as a taxi squad player, restricted to Wednesday and Saturday play only – at least until another roster spot opens up.

The six-team circuit will feature action each Monday through Saturday afternoons (and occasionally evenings) through November 15 with the one-game championship on November 17. Games are held in six spring training stadiums around the Phoenix metropolitan area. Players are scheduled to arrive on October 3.

As always, I will be reporting from Arizona on the Cardinals prospects competing in this year's AFL and plan to attend the league's Rising Stars Game on Saturday, November 3. The game will also be televised nationally on MLB Network.

Link to full Surprise Saguaros roster.

Update: The Cardinals are the beneficiary of unusual good fortune in terms of starting pitching. Because one of the other participating organization prefers to send a fourth reliever, the Cardinals will provide two members of the Saguaros' five-man rotation instead of the normal one. Seth Blair and Boone Whiting will start, with Kevin Siegrist and Sam Freeman working out of the bullpen.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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