Arizona Fall League Opens 20th Anniversary Season
The Arizona Fall League opened its 20th anniversary season yesterday in the Phoenix area. Nine Brewers Minor Leaguers will take part in the league as members of the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
The six-team league will play six games a week through mid-November and is described as an off-season “graduate school” for top prospects. Scouts, general managers, farm directors and die-hard baseball fans all enjoy the skills that are on display during the 40-day league by future MLB stars.
I have traveled to the league each of the last two years and will be there again in November to highlight the Brewers prospects who are out there. Here is a list of Brewers players who are participating:
RHP Nick Bucci – Bucci made 10 starts this season after missing the start of the season with a right shoulder injury. Pitched with the Arizona Brewers and Brevard County Manatees. Finished 3-3 with a 1.90 ERA while recording 44 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched. He was a member of the Canadian national baseball team that won a gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games. Bucci was an 18th round selection by the Brewers in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of St. Patrick High School in Ontario, Canada. Fans can follow Bucci on Twitter: @nickbooch.
RHP Kyle Heckathorn – Heckathorn spent the entire 2012 season with the Huntsville Stars where he went 5-11 with a 4.75 ERA in 35 appearances/17 starts. He was taken in the supplemental first round (47th overall) of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Kennesaw State University. Fans can follow Heckathorn on Twitter: @KyleHeckathorn.
RHP Johnny Hellweg – Hellweg joined the Brewers organization following a July trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. At 6-9, Hellweg is one of the tallest players in baseball and he finished the season with an overall record of 7-11 with a 3.29 ERA. He began the season with Arkansas of the Texas League and finished with Huntsville. He won both starts he made with Huntsville this season and posted a 2.70 ERA while holding opponents to a .171 batting average as a starter. He was originally a 16th round selection by the Angels in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Hellweg picked up the save in the season-opener yesterday for Phoenix.
RHP Santo Manzanillo – Manzanillo suffered a shoulder injury after a scary auto accident in November of 2011 in the Dominican Republic, pushing his 2012 debut back to August. He split time between Brevard County, Huntsville and Wisconsin and finished the season with a combined record of 2-6 and an ERA of 6.95. He made 18 appearances out of the bullpen this season. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005.
RHP Jimmy Nelson – Nelson went 6-8 with a 2.83 ERA in 23 starts this season between Brevard County and Huntsville. He stuck out 119 and held opposing hitters to a .213 batting average. Nelson was named to the Florida State League All-Star Team. He was a second round selection by the Brewers in the 2010 First Year Player Draft out of the University of Alabama. Nelson is 6-6 and has a lot of athletic genes in his family as his father, Jim, played football and ran track at the University of Florida while his mother, Deborah, played basketball at the University of Florida. Fans can follow Nelson on Twitter: @Jimmy_J_Nelson.
INF Hunter Morris– Morris had one of the most decorated seasons by a Brewers minor leaguer in recent history. He was named Southern League MVP and nearly achieved the Triple Crown as he led the Southern League in home runs (28) and RBI (113) while hitting .303 (4th best in the league). He was also awarded with a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove and was named to the Southern League All-Star team. He was a 4th round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University where he was the 2010 SEC Player of the Year and set Aubrun University records for home runs (23) and RBI (76). Fans can follow Morris on Twitter: @HunterMorris15.
INF Josh Prince – Prince spent the entire 2012 season with the Huntsville Stars hitting .251 with seven home runs and 55 RBI. Prince also led the Stars with 41 stolen bases this season. A 3rd round selection by the Brewers in the 2009 First Year Player Draft out of Tulane University, Prince played one year of college baseball at the University of Texas. Fans can follow Prince on Twitter: @JoshPrince17.
OF Khris Davis – Davis worked his was up to Nashville this season where he finished the season with the Sounds. He hit .383 in 44 games with Huntsville before a July promotion sent him to Triple-A. Davis his .310 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 32 games with the Sounds. Davis was named Brewers Minor League Player of the Month for July. He was selected in the 7th round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft out of Cal-State Fullerton University. A Phoenix-area native, Davis was two-time all-State at Deer Valley H.S.
OF Brock Kjeldgaard – Kjeldgaard split time this season between Brevard County and Huntsville and finished the year hitting a combined .211 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI. Played for the Canadian national baseball team that won a gold medal in the 2011 Pan American Games.
In addition, Huntsville Stars manager Darnell Coles will serve as hitting coach for Phoenix.