It's that time of the year when we take stock of the Oakland A's organization and analyze the top…
AFL Update: Ethier Wins Stenson Award
For the second consecutive season, an Oakland A's draft pick was honored for his character at the Arizona Fall League. Last season, Mark Teahen – a 2002 A's first round pick who was traded to Kansas City – took home the Dernell Stenson award. This year, 2003 A's first round pick Andre Ethier took home the honor. The award is named after late Cincinnati Reds prospect Dernell Stenson, who was murdered in Chandler during the AFL season in 2003. The award honors players for bringing the characteristics that Stenson brought to the ballpark everyday: a solid work ethic, great sportsmanship and a humble personality. Ethier was one of six finalists for the award. It is the third major award that Ethier has won this season. He was previously named the Texas League All-Star Game MVP and the Texas League MVP.
Phoenix Desert Dogs Headed To Championship
Ethier hasn't just made an impression with his positive attitude, however. The Arizona State alum has been one of the offensive leaders of the best team in the AFL thus far. For the second straight year, the Phoenix Desert Dogs will be heading to the AFL Championship game and, once again, A's prospects have played a big role in the team's success. Last year, A's prospects Omar Quintanilla and Huston Street were two of the AFL's biggest stars. This season, Ethier and Shane Komine have filled those roles.
Komine was named the AFL Pitcher of the Week for his performance during the week of October 31, and he has been outstanding throughout the fall league. The Nebraska alum leads the Desert Dogs with a microscopic 1.14 ERA. In five starts, Komine has allowed only three earned runs and has struck out 18 batters in 23.2 innings. He has walked only three. Ethier leads the Desert Dogs with 20 RBI, and he is hitting .367 after a 1-3 performance on Wednesday. Perhaps most impressive is Ethier's nearly .500 on-base percentage. He has walked 20 times against only eight strike outs. Both Komine and Ethier lost much of the 2004 season to injuries and both are performing up to their potential now that they are finally healthy.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki is also lighting-up the box scores with his offensive performance. After a slow start, Suzuki has put together a red-hot last ten days to raise his batting average more than 100 points to .342. He went 2-3 with two RBI and his fourth double of the season on Wednesday. Fellow top-prospect Daric Barton also had a 2-3 day on Wednesday. Barton's performance broke him out of a slump that had caused his batting average to slip down to the .230s. It now sits at .247. The struggles haven't caused Barton to lose his batting eye, however. He has 19 walks, second only to Ethier on the Desert Dogs.
Reliever Matt Lynch also turned in a nice performance in the Desert Dogs' 7-5 win over Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday. The lefty threw two scoreless innings and struck out two batters to lower his ERA to 6.60. Both he and fellow bullpen-mate Shawn Kohn have struggled with consistency in the hitter-friendly AFL. However, both pitchers have brought their strike out pitches to the desert. Lynch has K'd 14 in 13 innings and Kohn has 10 K's in 11 innings of work. Late addition Marcus McBeth has allowed one run in four innings pitched and has struck out five in that time.
The Desert Dogs will meet the Surprise Scorpions on Saturday for the AFL Championship. It is a winner-takes-all game. The Desert Dogs enter the game as the favorite with their league-best 22-9 record against the Scorpions'16-15 record.
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