Scouting and minor league directors of every major-league organization, in consultation with Fall League Executive Director Steve Cobb and his baseball personnel staff, selected the players for the showcase. Each major-league organization is represented by at least one player.
Friday night's contest pits standouts from the Fall League's two realigned and renamed divisions, the American and National. The American Division will field players from the Saguaros (Cardinals, Mets, Nationals, Padres, White Sox), Scorpions (Angels, Astros, Giants, Pirates, Red Sox), and Solar Sox (Braves, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies, Tigers). The National Division roster will be comprised of players from the four-time defending champion Desert Dogs (Athletics, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Twins), Javelinas (Brewers, Mariners, Rays, Reds, Yankees), and Rafters (Dodgers, Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Royals).
Mesa Solar Sox right-hander Tommy Hanson (ATL), the week-two Arizona Fall League pitcher-of-the-week, is the scheduled starting pitcher for the American Division. He will be opposed by Peoria Javelinas right-hander Philip Hughes (NYY).
The coaching staffs of the two division-leading teams through play of Saturday, October 18 earned the right to skipper Friday's contest. Peoria Sagauros' manager Ron Warner (STL) and his staff — Wally Whitehurst (SD), Kirk Champion (CWS), Rick Eckstein (WAS), and Jack Voigt (NYM) — will manage the American Division club. Peoria Javelinas' manager Darren Brown (SEA) and his staff — Ted Power (CIN), Scott Aldred (NYY), and Ozzie Timmons (TB) — will manage the National Division.
"The Fall League is proud to field six teams stocked with the top prospects in baseball six days a week for six weeks every year," Cobb offers. "Friday, we narrow the focus to 50 players who have been selected to participate based upon evaluations of baseball professionals at the team level. We take pride in what the future holds for these young men."
For many, the future holds the major leagues.
Two years ago, the inaugural Rising Stars included shortstops Yunel Escobar (Braves), and Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies), third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (Padres), and outfielders Ryan Braun (Brewers), Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), and Hunter Pence (Astros). Last year, the names changed but the destination was the same for shortstop Jed Lowrie (Red Sox), pitcher Charlie Morton (Braves), and outfielder Ryan Sweeney (Athletics).
Eighty-three players from the 2006 Arizona Fall League reached the major leagues in 2007. Last year's Class of 2007 graduated 86 players to the big leagues in 2008.
"The opportunity the Arizona Fall League affords the prospects comprising the Class of 2008 this fall is undeniable," Cobb adds. "We wish them well and we look forward to following their progress and cheering their successes."
Following Friday's "Rising Stars Game," the six-team Arizona Fall League resumes play the next day, Saturday, October 25 and continues with games Monday- Saturday through Thursday, November 20. The league championship game will be held two days later on Saturday, November 22 at 12:35 p.m. at Scottsdale Stadium. Complete Rising Stars Game rosters follow.
For current Arizona Fall League information, including pitch-by-pitch gamecasts by MLB Advanced Media, consult www.mlbfallball.com.
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