Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Arizona Fall League Rundown

Mesa, Arizona is the autumn home to seven Phillies minor leaguers as well as players from the Angels, Mets, Pirates and Cubs. Seven players from each of those organizations make up the 35-man roster of the Solar Sox, who sit in 2nd place in the Arizona Fall League's East Division. As recently as Friday, the Sox were tied for first in the division with Scottsdale as both teams sported a 9-6 record, but a head-to-head battle between the 2 teams for the top spot in the division went to the Scorpions in a 9-1 rout on Friday.

Following a 15-1 mashing of the Peoria Saguaros on Monday, Mesa has a 10-8 record and sits 1 game behind Scottsdale.

In the game, 24-year-old first base prospect Matt Rizzotti went 3-for-5, with a double, a walk and 2 RBI to bring his batting average up to .412 in 9 AFL games. Rizzotti, an Eastern League all-star in 2010, is also averaging more than a walk per game in Fall action and has posted a stunning .545 on-base percentage.

Some familiar pitchers also shined in Mesa's impressive victory as five Phillies pitchers combined to toss 8 scoreless innings, striking out 7 while allowing no walks and just 4 hits. Starter Josh Zeid, who was a mid-season South Atlantic League all-star with Lakewood during the 2010 season, took his record to 3-0 with 4 innings of 2-hit ball. Tyson Brummett, BJ Rosenberg and Justin De Fratus then combined for 3 perfect innings before Chris Kissock added another scoreless frame.

Zeid, a righty who started and relieved during the 2010 season, has posted a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings pitched in the AFL thus far.

The right-handed Kissock, who posted a combined 7-3 record with a 2.68 ERA in 47 games at High A Clearwater and Double A Reading in 2010, has held opponents to a .158 batting average in 6 AFL relief outings.

Kennelly is a catcher who dabbled at other positions during the 2010 season with Clearwater. Working closely with hitting coach Mark Parent has helped Kennelly, as he is batting .429 and is rocking a 1.119 OPS in 8 games with Mesa.

Brummett, a right-hander, has struck out 10 and walked just 1 batter in 11 innings in AFL action. He has pitched better than his 4.91 ERA might indicate.

Rosenberg, has had two extremely poor outings, allowing 3 earned runs in one relief appearance and 4 earned runs in another, which have resulted in an 8.22 ERA through 6 outings. Rosenberg was sidelined for a good portion of the 2010 season with a right lat strain and is still attempting to return to 2009 form, when he posted a 1.18 ERA, saved 22 games and struck out 73 batters in 61 innings in 47 combined games at Lakewood and Reading.

De Fratus, the fifth and final Phillie right-hander on the roster, has held opponents to a .063 batting average in 5 AFL relief appearances. De Fratus was the Phillies' lone representative on Team USA at the Pan-Am qualifiers in Puerto Rico in September and October.

According to Parent, who managed the Phillies' Class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws this season, the Phillies pitchers have been the class of the Arizona Fall League thus far. He suspects that Josh Zeid and Justin De Fratus are likely candidates to be chosen to play in this Saturday's AFL all-star game, known as the Rising Stars Game.

John Mayberry Jr., who has spent time on the Major League Phillies roster in each of the past two seasons, is on the Mesa roster but has been sidelined with a calf injury since the AFL opener on October 12th. Mayberry has been in Clearwater receiving treatment from Phillies trainers since the injury occurred.

The league schedule rolls on through the third week of November, with the championship being decided in a game held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day, pitting the division winners against each other.

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