Ten best Arizona Fall League pitchers
Top ten Arizona Fall League pitchers
The Arizona Fall League is probably not familiar to the majority of casual baseball fans. The league consists of six teams, all independent from any one major league club, who play a month and a half long season in the major leage Spring Training facilities every October and November. It was set up in the nineties as a way to get the very best minor league players valuable playing time after the end of the regular season. All major league teams designate seven players for the Arizona Fall League every year and these players are distributed amongst the six teams to fill out 35-man rosters. The level of play is perhaps a touch higher than that of a AAA game and the style of play is a bit reminiscent of an early Spring Training affair. The starting pitchers thend not to go more than four innings, or five at the most, and the usual restrictions on wins are not in place. It is also not at all uncommon for a gme to finish in a tie. The league is not only for minor league players also. Coaches have used the Arizona Fall League to gain managerial experience and rookie umpires are also sent to Arizona.
Given it's postion as almost a finishing school for minor league prospects, it should come as no surprise that a lot of weight is attached to performances in the Arizona Fall League and there tend to be a lot of scouts in attendance. With good pitching always at a premium in baseball, a particular emphasis should then be placed on the pitchers of the Arizona Fall League and there are certainly no shortage of candidates. Unfortunately, due to the short starts there is not a great sample size as far as innings is concerned for either starters or relievers, though there are usually several pitchers per game.
Despite that handicap, there are still some clear trends and there are definite conclusions to be made. The stats for the best relievers have tended to stand out more than those of the starters, even considering the extent to which that is the case at all levels. However it is starters who will tend to make the biggest impact at the big league level and in picking out the ten best pitchers of the Arizona Fall League it is they who have got slightly favourable treatment, with a 6-4 numerical advantage.
Seth Blair - Surprise Saguaros
A product of the St Louis Cardinals system, Seth Blair has been dominant this fall for the Surprise Saguaros. In five outings, all starts, and 17.1 innings pitched he has conceded only two earned runs and never more than one run (earned or otherwise) in a single start.
Justin Marks - Surprise Saguaros
Another excellent starter for Surprise, Justin Marks is 5-0 in six starts for the Saguaros and has had only one poor outing. He gave up five runs (only two earned) in 2.1 IP against the Mesa Solar Sox on the 20th of October, but has been dominant in his other five starts, conceding just three runs between them. Being from the Kansas City Royals system, he may want to get used to Surprise Stadium as there is every chance he will spend some time there next March.
Kevin Siegrist - Surprise Saguaros
Another excellent starter for Surprise (it's a wonder they lose any games at all with their rotation), Kevin Siegrist of the Cardinals has literally only had one bad start. In four of his five outings (one out of the bullpen) he has given up no runs on only five hits in 13.0 innings. In his other start he gave up four runs, all earned, in only two innings. But everyone has a bad day and it has been an excellent autumn overall for Siegrist.
Bobby Cassevah - Scottsdale Scorpions
Bobby Cassevah of the Los Angeles Angels has had a very good Arizona Fall League, but he might wish it had ended two weeks early. HIs first four starts saw him rack up eleven strikeouts in 16.0 innings and give up only one earned run. Last Tuesday against the Salt River Rafters, however, saw him give up five runs on eight hits in only 3.1 innings. Despite the damage this did to his ERA, it is still under three overall.
Kevin Quackenbush - Peoria Javelinas
Not all of the excellent pitchers in the Arizona Fall League have been starters. Kevin Quackenbush of the San Diego Padres organisation leads the Arizona Fall League in saves with five and is not only yet to give up a run in nine outings, he is yet to even give up a hit. In his 9.1 innings he has racked up 15 strikeouts against only two walks.
TJ House - Scottsdale Scorpions
Unlike some of the names on this list, TJ House has not really been dominant in Arizona. But the member of the Cleveland Indians farm system has still been very good. He has only given up more than two runs in an outing once and he has also shown much more durability than most of the other pitchers, going 22.0 innings in only five starts. His sub-three ERA and opponents' batting average of .208 underlines the autumn he is having.
Tim Crabbe - Peoria Javelinas
Tim Crabbe of the Cincinnati Reds has not yet given up more than two earned runs in a single start and opponents are hitting only .230 against him this autumn. That's not to say he has been dominant, he will want to improve his 10/7 strikeouts to walks ratio amongst other things, but it is hard to argue with results and Crabbe has certainly delivered them for the Peoria Javelinas.
CJ Riefenhauser - Phoenix Desert Dogs
Mostly a reliever, CJ Riefenhauser has appeared in eight games this autumn and seven of them out of the bullpen. He has tended more toward long relief, going 11.2 innings altogether and he has been excellent in those innings. He has given up just one run, an unearned run, on four hits with 13 strikeouts to three walks. No doubt his Tampa Bay Rays will be taking note.
Michael Tonkin - Peoria Javelinas
There is not much more to be said about Michael Tonkin then just his pure stats this autumn. He has a record of 1-0 in eight appearances out of the bullpen with no runs, six hits and just one walk conceded in 11.2 innings and seven strikeouts to go with it. Opponents are hitting an anaemic .158 off him. Were it not for Quackenbush above he would probably be the best reliever in the Arizona Fall League, but the Minnesota Twins will still be more than happy with his efforts.
Jimmy Reyes - Surprise Saguaros
Jimmy Reyes has been remarkably consistent this autumn. All eight times he has come out of the bullpen he has struck out exactly one hitter and until his most recent outing he also gave up no earned runs and no walks. His 1.1 innings against Peoria spoiled that a little bit as he gave up one earned run and one walk, but his overall numbers are still excellent.