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Rosters Finalized for Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

On Tuesday afternoon, Major League Baseball and the Arizona Fall League announced this year’s participants for the 2011 Rising Stars Game.  The game, which will played on Saturday, November 5 at Surprise Stadium, will house many of baseball’s top prospects, players who will be appearing on the Sombrero’s Post-2011 Top 50 Prospects list.

Several of the top pitchers from the 2011 draft class will make their professionally televised debut, including Gerrit Cole (No. 1 overall, Pittsburgh Pirates), Danny Hultzen (No. 2 overall, Seattle Mariners), and Jed Bradley (No. 15 overall, Milwaukee Brewers).

Of course, the Rising Stars game would not be complete without the likes of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, who will man the outfield for the East along with Robbie Grossman, Xavier Avery, and Tim Wheeler.

Who am I most excited to watch? Well, here’s a brief list with absolutely zero explanation as to why: East: Terry Doyle (CWS), Trey McNutt (CHC), Nolan Arenado (COL), Junior Lake (CHC), Joe Panik (SF); West: J.J. Hoover (ATL), Christian Colon (KC), Nick Franklin (SEA), Anthony Gose (TOR), and Wil Myers (KC).

The game will be played at 7 pm eastern and will be broadcast live on both and the MLB Network.


East division     West division  
Player Org Pos. Player Org
Steve Ames LAD P Nate Adcock KC
Charles Brewer ARI P Anthony Bass SD
Chris Carpenter CHC P Brad Boxberger CIN
David Carpenter LAA P Jed Bradley MIL
Gerrit Cole PIT P Cory Burns CLE
Jacob Diekman PHI P Wes Etheridge TOR
Terry Doyle CWS P Preston Guilmet CLE
Trey McNutt CHC P J.J. Hoover ATL
Kevin Munson ARI P Danny Hultzen SEA
Rob Scahill COL P Jeremy Jeffress KC
Casey Weathers COL P Taylor Whitenton NYM
Jason Castro HOU C Christian Bethancourt ATL
Derek Norris WSH C Kyle Skipworth FLA
Nolan Arenado COL INF Matt Adams STL
Brian Dozier MIN INF Tyler Bortnick TB
Junior Lake CHC INF Christian Colon KC
Ryan Wheeler ARI INF Matt Dominguez FLA
Joe Panik SF INF Nick Franklin SEA
Ben Paulsen COL INF Mike Olt TEX
Jean Segura LAA INF Joe Terdoslavich ATL
Xavier Avery BAL OF Michael Choice OAK
Robbie Grossman PIT OF Jaff Decker SD
Bryce Harper WSH OF Anthony Gose TOR
Mike Trout LAA OF Mikie Mahtook TB
Tim Wheeler COL OF Wil Myers KC


Will Latimer Cracks AFL Roster; Jake McCasland Receives Cape Cod Invite

This week preliminary rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced.  The AFL is a prestigious league for what are typically regarded as the surest bets in the Minor Leagues.  While there are some exceptions, in general the rosters for the AFL are comprised of the top prospects in the game.  Exceptions include those pitchers and hitters receiving September call-ups and obviously those players making playoff rosters as well as pitchers who have approached appearance caps, innings caps, or other forms of usage limitations.  Even without these players the rosters can be pretty damn impressive.  Look no further than the Scottsdale Scorpions’ outfield for proof.  It will feature the game’s top two prospects in Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.  Whitney also happens to live a few blocks from their home yard, so I am absolutely ecstatic about the Scorps.  What has me even more thrilled, however, about the Scottsdale roster is a lefty reliever named Will Latimer, a Four Corners baseball product hailing from Bayfield, CO.

Bayfield is a tiny community located immediately east of Durango and well within the gorgeous San Juan Range, which is famous for ski areas like Telluride, Purgatory, and Silverton.  In recent years Bayfield has become a community where Durango’s workforce establishes residence to flee outlandish real estate costs in the Durango city limits.  Will Latimer was raised in this community and ultimately graduated from Bayfield High in 2004.  Latimer played his club baseball in the Farmington Connie Mack league but was never a standout talent until college.  Latimer signed at Trinidad State (CO), which currently rosters former Strike Zone Cardinal Austin Rochford.  While at Trinidad, Latimer saw his fastball begin to pick up pace and his slider begin to bite harder.  He was selected by Boston in the 22nd round of the 2007 draft and, after missing much of 2008 and 2009 due to injury, is on the right track at the age of 25, reaching as high as Double-A this season.  With a healthy ERA in the low 3’s and more than 3 K’s per BB, his stats certainly justify his AFL invitation.  A quality showing for Scottsdale could land Latimer in the high minors to begin 2012, and with a three-pitch mix featuring a low-90’s fastball and a lanky 6-foot-3 build; the former BHS Wolverine has a very realistic shot at the Show.

In other Four Corners baseball news, former Piedra Vista Panther and current UNM Lobo Jake McCasland has received an invitation to the Cape Cod Baseball League.  If you are a regular guest at The Sombrero, I assume you know what that means.  For those of you who aren’t, The Cape is the premier amateur baseball league worldwide.  Rosters are comprised of nothing but elite collegiate players fighting to climb draft boards.  Jake is the first product of Farmington baseball to crack a Cape roster, and the community is absolutely ecstatic about his invitation.  Jake is arguably the finest local product the town has ever produced, and, after a freshman season at UNM in which he started 15 games, Jake is ready to step back into the weekend rotation in Albuquerque as the Lobos look to build on their 2011 Mountain West title.  Congratulations!

Changeups and Screwballs: A Southpaw’s Perspective: Harper, A-Rod, Weaver and A.L. Central

Lefty pitchers are baseball’s equivalent of kickers in the NFL.  They are just a little bit different.  However, because we lefties are such a minority in the realm of baseball, it allows us to provide the rest of you with a unique perspective on the game.  Since I have this special ability to provide a different look, I will be giving that to you each and every day.  So, without further ado, here is the first ever issue of “Changeups and Screwballs: A Southpaw’s Perspective.”

–       While it may not be the most honorable reaction, I was thrilled to find out that Bryce Harper’s season was ended early due to a hamstring issue.  I suppose that is what happens when you decide to run hard for a full 90 feet.

–       Seeing Joe Mauer play right field made me laugh.  Any coach that is worth his paycheck could probably teach a monkey to play a corner outfield spot.  Mauer looked like a natural by the third fly ball he caught.

–       Watching A-Rod make a nice barehanded run-through play to get Ben Revere out on Sunday makes me think he will be just fine post surgery.  Did you realize that he is already 36?

–       Big ups to Jered Weaver on that healthy new contract.  Here’s hoping that he turns out to be more like Cliff Lee or C.C. Sabathia, and does not turn in to John Lackey or A.J. Burnett.

–       It finally appears that someone really does want to win the A.L. Central.  The way the Tigers beat down Cleveland, coupled with Justin Verlander leading that staff, leads me to believe that they will find themselves in the ALCS.  Just don’t let Miggy have any champagne.

–       Even though the Astros have the worst record in the bigs, I still believe that they are only the second worse team in the league.  The Cubs are pathetic.

–       I am so happy that my Astros will be getting the first overall pick next June.  I have to find some sort of light at the end of this tunnel.

Random Thoughts

Having not written anything recently, I feel completely lost as I try to put together something for Sombrero Nation.  I checked the files on both my work computer and home computer, and found out that I have eight different blog posts started, just waiting for me to finish them.  For whatever reason, I just have not finished anything I started to write.  It is time to fix that.  Forget the lead in.  Forget fluency.  Forget about even reading a “true” article.  All this is going to be is a collection of my thoughts on baseball.  I call them…Randoms.

–       Tim Kurkjian recently said he believes that the Astros will lose 300 games over the next 3 years.  Oddly, I am not surprised by, or in tears because of, this estimate.

–       Bubba Starling choosing the Royals over the Huskers makes me smile.  For one, I hate watching phenomenal athletes waste their time playing other sports when they could be playing baseball.  Secondly, Nebraska is where college quarterbacks go to die, and that would be a terrible endgame for such a gifted athlete.

–       I tried to explain that opinion to my mom at dinner last night.  All she could do is smile and nod her head.  At least she checks the blog on a daily basis.  Love you, mom!  Thanks for your support.

–       I wish Brettsta would write more for the Sombrero.  He has nasty wordplay skills.  (Editor’s note: I agree and welcome any and all submissions.)

–       Being an Astros fan is finally exciting again.  As much as I will miss competing, I find the direction the club is heading to be fulfilling enough right now.

–       Why is Carlos Zambrano so far removed from his own sanity?  Was he dropped on his head as a newborn?

–       I had a legitimate discussion with one of the 6th graders in my classroom about how Justin Verlander should win the AL Cy Young.  I was very impressed, to say the least.

–       Will somebody please kick Bryce Harper in the junk already?  Seriously, this is inexcusable at the professional level.

–       Why do I keep falling for Ricky Nolasco’s Jekyll and Hyde routine?  That 33 era he posted the other night might have finally done it for me.

–       I really wish I had learned how to throw a cutter when I was in college.  It is just such a nasty pitch from the left side.

–       The Fantasy Focus baseball podcast on ESPN is excellent.  I listen to it everyday at lunch and thoroughly enjoy listening to the hilarity interspersed with fantasy analysis.  If you have not listened to it, I suggest you check it out.

–       I would really like to find out how many other people are tired of the Brian Wilson “I’m Trying Really Hard So Somebody Please Look at Me” show.  He should really just sit down with Timmy Jim, burn one down, and relax.

–       This was a fun piece to write.  Let me know if I should do something like this once a week.

Video: Bryce Harper injures hamstring

This has been quite the week for Bryce Harper.  It started with him hitting a 480-foot, walk-off BOMB to dead center.  Then came the video of the phenom failing to run out a double play ball — failing isn’t even the right word; he basically came to a screeching stop.  And now, to culminate the eventful week, here is a video of Harper pulling his hamstring while going first to third on a single.