Baseball never ends, people. Just as the regular major league season ends, the post-season begins, but even before that starts another league begins its slate of games. The Hawaiian Winter League got underway on Saturday, with its four teams playing through the middle of November. We have three players on the Honolulu Sharks:
- Kala Ka'aihue, 1B - No surprise that he's playing in his familiar and native Hawaii. It's nice that the organization let him do this again. Of course, HWB probably insisted upon it in order to draw more crowds to come see the local boy.
- Michael Broadway, RHP - A 2005 fourth-rounder out of high school who has been slow to develop. He's still trying to figure out what kind of pitcher he is.
- Jonathan Venters, LHP - A draft-and-follow from the 2003 draft, Venters has also been slow to develop. He's a solid lefty who hasn't blown anyone's socks off just yet.
And here's how they've fared through their first two games:
- K. Ka'aihue, 0-5, 3SO - not a good start in Game 1
- K. Ka'aihue, 1-4, HR, 2RBI, BB, 2SO - three true outcomes
- J. Venters, Hold, 2IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, 3SO
- M. Broadway - has not pitched yet
The Arizona Fall League is the next to begin on October 7th, playing through November 22nd. Here are the Braves prospects slated to be on the roster for the Mesa Solar Sox:
- Deunte Heath, RHP - Heath is a draft-and-follow starting pitcher from several years ago with some decent upside. May profile more long term as a reliver, so I wonder if he'll start or relieve in Arizona.
- Tommy Hanson, RHP - If you don't know who Tommy Hanson is, then you're not a real Braves fan. He's the next coming of Kevin Millwood.
- Stephen Marek, RHP - The other guy we got in the Mark Teixeira trade with the Angels. He's a power reliever who might play into the bullpen mix in Atlanta next year.
- Kris Medlen, RHP - The reliever turned starter who dazzled in the starting role this year at Mississippi. We'll see if he continues to get work out of the rotation or shifts back the pen.
- Tyler Flowers, C - T-Flow will be the lowest level Braves prospect to play in Arizona. It's good to see the organization challenging him like this.
- Van Pope, 3B - I keep thinking his chances are running out, but he keeps getting more chances to try and prove he can hit, and hit for power.
- Brandon Jones, OF - A strange inclusion given his major league service time. I would think he would be better off playing against tougher competition in Venezuela or Mexico this winter, but he did that last winter, so let's try something different.
Final thoughts: For all of our good young left-handed starting pitching in the minors, we have only one lefty between these two leagues. The three starters at Mesa (if Medlen starts) will be the most insteresting to watch on the pitching side, and T-Flow will be the most interesting to watch on the hitting side. It should be a fun fall and winter with this many young Braves playing around the hemisphere.
The Mexican Winter League starts Ocober 11th (Jordan Schafer will be there)
The Dominican Winter League starts October 15th
The Venezuelan Winter League starts around the middle of Ocotober (Gregor Blanco told me he's playing there again)
The Puerto Rican Winter League starts November 6th