Five Naturals Selected by Royals for Arizona Fall League
Naturals players have been selected to participate in the 2008 Arizona Fall League, a prospect-heavy league that competes at five different MLB Spring Training sites (Phoenix-Municipal, Mesa, Peoria, Scottsdale, and Surprise). Preliminary rosters were released Tuesday evening. In all, 46 players who competed in the Texas League during the 2008 season will play in this year's AFL. 11 of those players, including the five representatives from the Naturals, will play for the Surprise Rafters.
Naturals starting pitchers Dan Cortes and Rowdy Hardy, relievers Chris Nicoll and Chris Hayes, and OF Brian McFall have been selected at the Royals' representatives along with OF Joe Dickerson and SS Chris McConnell, both from Advanced-A Wilmington.
Hardy, 25, has been one of the Naturals' most reliable starters in July and August, and leads the team in innings pitched (152). Cortes, 21, recently named to the Texas League's post-season All-Star team, has a 3.98 ERA, best among Naturals starters, and is second in wins (nine). Nicoll, 24, has been one of the team's most reliable middle relievers, and has fanned 53 hitters in 41 2/3 innings pitched. Hayes, 25, has been a revelation for the Naturals, logging a team-high 12 saves and posting a 1.67 ERA in 64 2/3 innings of bullpen work. Texas League hitters are batting just .220 against the submariner. McFall, 24, has 17 homers and 56 RBI, and recently, has begun to come through in the clutch. Dickerson, 21, was having an All-Star season in the Carolina League (.297, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 24 SB) prior to being placed on the DL in July, while McConnell, 22, is regarded as one of the best defensive infielders in the Kansas City organization.
The prestigious, six-team league will begin its 17th season on Tuesday, October 7th and plays six games per week, wrapping up with a Championship Game on Saturday, November 22nd. In its 16 year history, the Arizona Fall League has seen over 1,500 of its alumni reach the Major Leagues, including five MLB MVP's (Jason Giambi, Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Albert Pujols, and Jimmy Rollins), three Cy Young Award Winners (Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay, and Brandon Webb), 18 MLB Rookies of the Year, three World Series MVP's, 34 Gold Glove Award winners, 23 Major League managers, and eight MLB batting champions. The majority of the players in the AFL played in Double-A or Triple-A in their most recently completed season.
Team rosters in the Arizona Fall League consist of 35 players per team, seven players provided by each of five different Major League organizations. Along with the Royals, the Rafters roster will be comprised of prospects from the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Dodgers' organizations. For more information on the five Naturals' players performance in the Arizona Fall League, visit our website, nwanaturals.com.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals have a toll-free ticket hotline (1-877-444-2637) for fans to purchase Naturals tickets. Our website also offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket windows by printing their tickets at home or at the office.
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