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AFL Update...Washington Nationals' Prospects Impressing In Arizona Fall League.

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Washington Nationals' infield prospect Ian Desmond hit his first Arizona Fall League HR in the eighth inning of Thursday's game against the Surprise Rafters to give Peoria a 4-1 lead in what would eventually be a 9-1 Saguaros' win. Desmond also committed a two-out error in the bottom of the fourth that didn't hurt the team, but could it possibly be Desmond's eighth error of the Fall? In 15 games? Turns out it's TRUE.

...A quick glance at Ian Desmond's minors.baseball-reference.com page shows that he also managed to commit 22 errors in 93 games with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators this season...In 2007, it was 32 errors in 127 games with Class-A Potomac...In '06, 11 errors in 37 games with Harrisburg and 26 errors in 91 games with Class-A Potomac, and Desmond committed 39 errors in 127 games at two Class-A levels in his rookie season in 2005 for a total of...131 errors in 478 games in DC's system...

Back to the Saguaro's 9-1 win last night...Nationals' first base prospect and Saguaros' first baseman Bill Rhinehart was 1 for 5 with a double and an RBI, his first double of the Fall and sixth RBI. Pitching prospects Zechry Zinicola and Adam Carr each threw scoreless frames with Zinicola allowing one hit and using just 7 pitches, 6 of which were strikes, while Carr surrendered two hits and needed 22 pitches to get through the bottom of the ninth. 

MLB.com's Bill Ladson had a feature article on Zechry Zinicola the other day, entitled, "Zinicola edging closer to the big leagues", in which Mr. Ladson reports that the lone Nationals' coach, Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire, visited Arizona "recently" to work with the Nationals' pitching prospects. Zinicola, who is working on a slider this Fall, according to Mr. Ladson, said that:

"'It was actually the first time I talked to him about pitching and all with stuff I can focus on. He checked out all of us. I have to work on a couple of mechanical things -- staying on line, having a base and not overthrowing. It was good to be seen by the big dog and pick his brain a little bit.'"

...Ross Detwiler and Cory VanAllen were the two Nationals' prospects selected to appear in today's Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Showcase 2008, as the AFL's American and National Division's best square off in what is essentially a Fall League All-Star game with the participating players chosen, (according to MLB.com writer Kevin T. Czerwinski's article entitled, "Rising stars ready to shine bright"):

"...by scouting and Minor League directors from every organization, along with input from AFL Executive Director Steve Cobb."

The Peoria Saguaros' coaching staff, led by Cardinals' Minor League Manager Ron Warner and featuring potential new Nationals' hitting coach Rick Eckstein, was chosen to lead the AFL's American Division squad. But apparently, according to Mr. Czerwinsksi, Ross Detwiler wasn't originally selected, but was named to the team to replace Milwaukee Brewers', "young fire-baller Jeremy Jeffress" who, "...was replaced on the roster by fellow first-round pick Ross Detwiler after being diagnosed with shoulder fatigue."

The Arizona Fall League Rising Star Showcase 2008 takes place at 7:15 pm MST from Surprise Stadium, home of the Surprise Rafters in Surprise, Arizona.