SURPRISE, AZ – Wil Myers went 3-for-5 with a stolen base, a run scored, and two RBI’s, and Christian Colon scored a pair of runs in a 1-for-2 effort on Saturday at the Arizona Fall League’s annual Rising Stars Game, which was broadcast to a national audience on the MLB Network.
Jeremy Jeffress also chipped in a scoreless frame of relief, fanning all three batters he faced as their West Division squad cruised to an easy 11-2 win over their counterparts from the East Division, a squad that included baseball’s top two prospects in Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, not to mention Gerrit Cole, the number one selection in the 2011 draft by the Pirates, who started for the East and was roughed up to the tune of five runs. The Pittsburgh Pirates prospect recorded only two outs.
Meanwhile, Myers’ and Colon’s club, the Surprise Saguaros, continue to cruise along, currently sporting a 20-8 record, best in the six-team circuit. Entering play Wednesday, they needed only two wins or a combination of Surprise wins and losses for a 13-15 Peoria club adding up to two to have another date on National TV.
The MLB Network will broadcast the AFL Championship game on November 19th, which in all likelihood will pit Myers, Colon, and Jeffress’ club opposite the Salt River Rafters, the team which sits atop the East Division and includes players who may spend time in the Texas League with Tulsa and Corpus Christi next season.
Surprise has lived on its offense in what always is a nice offensive environment in the dry Arizona fall. And Myers has been a part of it, continuing his resurgence as he posts numbers that are comparable to the best the AFL has seen in its nearly two-decade history. It hasn’t gone unnoticed either – Myers’ name has popped up in trade rumors this off-season, as teams no doubt would love to have a 20-year old prospect who has dominated older or more experienced competition in a circuit like the AFL.
Myers has taken a breather from action since Saturday’s Rising Stars Game, with a league off-day Sunday and a cancellation of Surprise’s game on Tuesday, but leading into the game Saturday was a 5-for-5 effort in Friday’s game. Myers drove in two, scored three runs, and drew a walk. Anthony Seratelli has also continued his solid play, working a current six-game hitting streak. Seratelli has reached base in all 14 of his Fall League contests and is batting .367 overall in 14 games with a .492 on-base percentage.
On the hill, Brendan Lafferty has gotten back on track with two scoreless outings in the past week, helping lower his Fall League ERA to 4.73. Bryan Paukovitsalso has had three consecutive outings without allowing a run. Nate Adcock pitched an inning in the Rising Stars Game, allowing a home run. His most recent start for Surprise came last Tuesday with three scoreless innings.
Check back on nwanaturals.com for updates on the progress of these players. You can also get updates by following the Naturals on Facebook and Twitter.
Naturals/Texas League Notes
Romak, Lisson, others hit free agency: Late last week Baseball America unveiled their annual listing of minor league free agents, as Major League Baseball granted 537 players free agency on November 2nd. The list included a handful of players who played in Northwest Arkansas all or portions of 2011 as well as many players who were Naturals prior to 2011. From this past season’s club, two mainstays in the Naturals’ lineup, 3B Mario Lisson and 1B/DH Jamie Romak are free agents, as are pitchers Henry Barrera, Willy Lebron, and Zach Miner. Mario Santiago, Andrew Dobies, and Edgar Osuna would have been eligible for six-year free-agency, as it is called, but they were re-signed by the Royals during the month of October.
Among former Naturals from outside the Royals’ organization, right-hander Blake Johnson, who started 2011 with the Naturals before moving onto Triple-A Omaha, is listed as among the free agents. Johnson was let go by Kansas City in June and signed quickly by the Colorado Rockies, where he finished out the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs. 1B Corey Smith (2009), INF Ed Lucas (2008-09), OF Jose Duarte (2008-09), C Adam Donachie (2008), INF Josh Johnson (2009), right-hander Roman Colon (2008), left-hander Dusty Hughes (2008) and right-hander Alex Caldera (2010) are among ex-Naturals who are free-agents.
Winter Ball Updates: Several other current and former Naturals are honing their craft this off-season playing in various winter leagues that span the globe.
The Puerto Rican Winter League opened this week, and, as expected, a couple of current and former Naturals are participating. Naturals’ infielder Rey Navarro is playing for the Criollos de Caguas, where thus far he has struggled, as he’s without a hit in his first nine at-bats. Faring better is former Natural Irving Falu (Indios de Mayaguez), who is batting .235 through his first four games of action. Falu is teammates in Mayaguez with former Natural and current Houston Astros shortstopAngel Sanchez, who is batting .231 through four games but has a hit in his past two starts.
In the Venezuelan Winter League, Mario Lisson (Navegantes de Magallanes) has three hits in his last two games to lift his average to .241. Overall he’s driven in five runs in nine games this winter season. Former Natural Jose Duarte (Leones de Caracas) got a hit Tuesday to snap a five-game hitless streak. Duarte has yet to swipe a base in 17 games. Ernesto Mejia (Aguilas del Zulia) had a homer Saturday and is riding on a three-game hitting streak, while Manny Pina (Bravos de Margarita) is still fighting a slump as his average has dropped to .160 (4-for-25) in 11 games.
In the Dominican League, David Lough (Aguilas Cibaenas) currently sports a three-game hitting streak, although his winter league average sits at .215. Naturals’ right-hander Manauris Baez (Estrellas de Oriente) has continued a great start to his season in the Domincan, allowing only two runs in four appearances, covering three starts for a sparkling 1.54 ERA. He has, however, walked eight and fanned just four. Mario Santiago (Tigres del Licey) gave up just one earned run in 3 2/3 innings in his most recent start, although four unearned runs came across. His winter league record stands at 1-0 with a 2.59 ERA. Naturals reliever Edgar Garcia joined Licey for a game and got roughed up in relief, allowing three runs (two earned) while recording just one out. Willy Lebron, Santiago’s rotation-mate in Licey and fellow Royals’ farmhand, allowed three runs in three frames in his most recent start and now has a 2-3 record and 2.95 ERA in five starts. Southpaw Brandon Sisk (Gigantes del Cibao) hasn’t pitched in over a week but owns a 2.84 ERA in five outings, while Kelvin Herrera (Leones del Escogido) hasn’t allowed a run in six outings thus far, fanning five in 7 1/3 innings. He’s teammates with Everett Teaford, who was roughed up to three runs in 4 2/3 in his last outing. Teaford’s ERA in three outings is 5.25. Also on Leones is Elisaul Pimentel, who joined the Naturals late in the season and will likely be in the 2012 rotation. Pimentel recorded one out in his only winter league outing of the year.…
In other leagues, former Natural Federico Castaneda (Tomateros de Culiacan) has a 1-2 record and 8.68 ERA in 12 outings thus far in the Mexican League, while former Naturals’ southpaw Paul Mildren (Adelaide Bite) made his first winter start in the Australian Winter League. He allowed two runs in five innings of work. Mildren has not pitched stateside since the 2009 season.
These teams and respective leagues will play the round-robin Caribbean Series which takes place in February just before early reports for Major League Spring Training.
Transaction log: Former Naturals outfielder Jordan Parraz, who was among the 537 players attaining free agency, didn’t have to wait too long to find a new club, signing a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves’ organization after spending 2011 in the New York Yankees’ organization with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The contract included an invitation to spring training. If he doesn’t make the big league roster, he’ll likely suit up for Triple-A Gwinnett…He may find himself as teammates with Ernesto Mejia, who was with the Naturals one season after Parraz in 2010. Mejia was re-signed by the Braves after a solid season with Double-A Mississippi…The Braves also elected their right to retain former Natural left-handers Rowdy Hardy and Ben Swaggerty. Those pitchers did not have the six years of service time required to become free-agents.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.