No, the AFL I’m refering to isn’t the spectacular Arena Football League that is currently on hiatus. It is the popular Arizona Fall League, where MLB teams send some of thier top prospects for more conditioning. One prospect the Detroit Tigers are keeping a close eye on is second baseban Scott Sizemore. Playing for the Peoria Javelinas, Sizemore has knocked in nine runs in only 15 at bats. Monday he went 3-4 and drove in four runs. The previous two games he hit three home runs. Sizemore is batting an impressive .375
“It’s been awesome,” Sizemore said of playing in Arizona. “Luckily I’ve kinda been getting the taste of it all. I take it the same way I went this season, take every at bat like it’s my last.”
This season splitting time between the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens and the Double-A Erie Seawolves, he hit a combined .308 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI’s. He also represented the Tigers at this years All-Star Futures game where he had a hit and run scored as a late-inning replacement at DH. Sizemore accomplished all of this while battling a sore left wrist after surgery in 2008.
The reason that the Tigers, specifically GM Dave Dombrowski, is so interested in Sizemore’s progress is simple: second baseman Placido Palonco is a free agent. If Detroit fails to re-sign Palanco, they’ll be losing one of the most reliable second baseman in the league. He rarely makes errors, rarely strikes out, and is one of the very few pure hitters in the Tigers line-up. I do give Dombrowski credit for pulling off the trade in 2005 to bring Palanco to Detroit for a pitcher who is currently doing time. Unfortunately, some not-so-spectacular deals and generous contract extentions have painted the Tigers into a financial corner. Too much money is tied up on players like Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. Team owner Mike Illitch will have to dig deep into his pockets in order to re-sign Placido for next season.
Even if Palonco does return in 2010, it seems that Sizemore is the Tigers second baseman of the future.
“We think he’s ready to play, ” stated Dombrowski.
For the Tigers sake, and yours, Dave, I hope you’re right.
UPDATE: Sizemore broke his ankle on Thursday turning a double play, and will miss the rest of the AFL Season.
Photos courtesy of TigsTown
League: ?? Double A
Home Field: Duff Stadium
Location: Springfield, ??
Affiliation: Capital City Capitals
Fun Facts: In the episode Hungry, Hungry, Homer, the Isotopes are believed to be relocating to Albequerque, NM. The franchise now exists there as a Triple A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Homer was the mascot for a short time during there winning streak in the episode Dancing Homer before being promoted to Capital City.
Notable Alumni: Flash Baylor, Fishbone Walker, Smash Diggins, Babe Ruth IV
Fifth-Third Field in Toledo is home to the world famous Mud Hens. Carved into the city’s downtown area, it’s a beautiful ballpark and a great place to watch a ball game. The price is right, too, as it only cost us $8 a piece for seats right behind the dugout. That was in 2007, so I’m not sure how the prices are now, but can’t imagine they’re much more. I really enjoyed the sight lines of the city, and my only regret is not sitting in ‘The Roost’, which is a group of seats actually built into a neighboring building in right field. They’ve been called the best seats in Minor League Baseball by ESPN. The gift shop is also built into that building as well. You have to arrive fairly early to get a decent parking space, but other than that this stadium is pretty flawless. Right accross the street is Tony Paco’s which is a perfect place to eat before or after the game. Both the Mud Hens and Paco’s are mentioned on the old show M*A*S*H by Max Klinger (Jamie Farr). Do you miss Klinger? Well, he’s here, doing most of the ads and publicity on the scoreboard screen. I highly recommend this ballpark to any baseball fan. The Triple-A Mud Hens play a good brand of baseball, and the fans create a great atmoshphere.
Here are some quck facts of the stadium. Built in 2002 it has a capacity of 10,300. The stadium was named one of the best MiLB parks by Newsweek Magazine. In 2006, the Mud Hens hosted the Triple-A All Star Game there.
Photos property of MIB