Fall league is a stepping stone to Major League Baseball
(PHOENIX, AZ) Twenty three Northwoods League alumni are spending the next several weeks in the Arizona Fall League, often one of the stepping stones to a career in Major League Baseball. This is a 53% increase from the 15 former NWLers that played in the league last year.
Left handed pitcher Brian Flynn (Rochester ’09 and’11) an 11th round pick of the Tigers in 2011 went 11-5 this season with three different teams and is now in the Marlins system. He’s playing with the Phoenix Desert Dogs this fall along with Athletics pitcher Brett Hunter (Alexandria ’06), Braves pitcher Chris Jones (Eau Claire ’05), Rays pitcher Lenny Linsky (Waterloo ’09), Dodgers pitcher Scott McGough (Rochester ’09) and Brewers infielder Josh Prince (Green Bay ’08).
Right handed pitcher Tyler Clark (La Crosse ’08 and Duluth ’09) finished the season 6-1 with 66 K’s in 50 innings pitching inthe Tigers system. He’s on the same pitching staff as two former NWL players on the Mesa Solar Sox. Those two are Tigers right hander Michael Morrison (Rochester ’07) and Dodgers left hander Chris Reed (Wisconsin ’09).
Vic Black (La Crosse ’07) was a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009. In 51 appearances this season the right hander struck out 85 batters in 60 innings and compiled a 1.65ERA. Black is a member of the Scottsdale Scorpions this fall along with Yankees pitcher Dan Burawa (Madison ’09) and Angels catcher Carlos Ramirez (Mankato’08).
Phillies infielder Cody Asche (Duluth ’09 and’10) had a tremendous year in 2012. He hit 12 home runs, stole 11 bases,drove in 72 runs and posted a .324 batting average between single A and AA. Two other NWL alumni are playing alongside Asche on the Peoria Javelinas. They include Phillies right hander Kyle Simon (La Crosse ’09) and Twins outfielder Evan Bigley (La Crosse ’07).
Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar (Wisconsin ‘10) stole 51 bases and drove in 91 runs in his second full season in minor league baseball in 2012. He’s playing for the Salt River Rafters this fall with Nationals 9th round pick, reliever Aaron Barrett (Duluth ’08), Rockies 3rd round pick, catcher Lars Davis (Brainerd/Duluth ’05 - ’07) and Blue Jays 4th round pick, shortstop Ryan Goins (Waterloo’08).
Cardinals reliever Sam Freeman (Wisconsin ’07)is playing this fall for the Surprise Saguaros. Freeman made his major league debut this summer on June 1st and his appearance came in the same game as Johan Santana’s no hitter. Joining him in Surprise are a pair of Rangers pitchers including left hander Jimmy Reyes (Mankato’08) and righty Joe Van Meter (Battle Creek ’09). Cardinals outfielder Mike O'Neill (Thunder Bay/Alexandria ’08 - ’09) is also on the roster.
AFL teams play a 32-game schedule that began last week and concludes about one week prior to Thanksgiving. Each Major League organization sends seven prospects to their affiliated team, which is shared by five MLB organizations. The 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona featured 41 AFL alums, including both starting pitchers -- Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver.
The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America.