But before we get to that, why not come out and join us on October 29th at Salt River Fields, for the (almost) annual AFLSnakePitFest. The Peoria Desert Dogs will be taking on the Salt River Rafters, with a first pitch scheduled for 6:35pm. It's all extremely informal, the basis being basically "show up and find us", but previous years, we've typically ended up sitting a couple of rows behind the Rafters' dugout or thereabouts. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for those over 55 or under 18. I'll be there a little late, since I don't get out of work that day until 6:30pm, but stay turned to the Twitter for updates on the night. Hope to see a few people there.
The Rafters have started the season well, going 5-4 so far, which puts them one game ahead of the Scottsdale Scorpions at the top of the three-team AFL East division - the Mesa Solar Sox are a long way back, having begun 1-9! Salt River lost their first two games, including a 13-3 pounding by Scottsdale, which is why their overall run differential is -9 to this point. Most of the other games have been close, including a rare beast for the offense-minded Arizona Fall League: a 1-0 loss to Glendale on Tuesday, where the Desert Dogs walked it off by scoring the game's only run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Left-handed outfielder Daniel Palka has got off to the best start, going 8-for-25 with four RBI, to give him a triple-slash of .320/.370/.440 and an .810 OPS. Palka, who turns 24 on Wednesday, has hit safely in all six AFL Games so far, and got his first home-run, a two-run shot, on Friday. Struggling rather more have been catcher Oscar Hernandez, who has gone 3-for-19 with a .483 OPS and middle-infielder Jack Reinheimer, 4-for-22 with a .535 OPS, both men batting below the Uecker Line. Finally, on the "taxi squad", who get limited playing time, Gabby Guerrero has begun brightly, going 4-for-12 with a home-run.
Similarly mixed results for the Diamondbacks pitchers who have seen action. Yoan Lopez has started two of the River Rafters' games. The first was okay: he struck out five over four innings, allowing four hits and one earned run, but did walk three. The second was less impressive: 2.2 innings of work, with five hits and two walks, leading to three earned runs and just one K. has been solid in relief, with three scoreless innings of two-hit ball, and a K:BB of 3:1. But Myles Smith, a late replacement for Keith Hessler, has had issues. The good news is, five strikeouts over two innings. The bad? Six earned runs, on three hits and three walks.
The other winter leagues
A quick sweep round some of our other players not relaxing at this point in the off-season. In the Dominican League, Socrates Brito is 3-for-12, but two of those hits are home-runs, and he has seven RBI over three games. Mike Freeman is putting up decent numbers for Venezuelan team Navegantes del Magallanes, batting .283 and has driven in 11 runs during 14 appearances. On the mound, the most eye-catching numbers belong to Nick Sarianides, who was Visalia's closer this year. He's pitching for Naranjeros de Hermosillo, and has allowed just one hit over seven innings of work, having struck out 11, and held opposing batters to a .045 average.