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The Arizona Fall League

As always, the Marlins have a presence at the AFL.  This post is mainly to let you know the importance of the AFL in evaluating young talent. In case you didn't know.

Dan Jennings has scouted the Arizona Fall League for years, and there, on the league's official game program, was the reason why.

The cover featured five young players who starred in the majors this year: Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, Atlanta's Yunel Escobar, Houston's Hunter Pence, Arizona's Mark Reynolds and Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki.

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The Arizona Fall League is one of baseball's best-kept secrets.

Top prospects have come to the desert each autumn since 1992 to play on cloudless afternoons before small crowds of about 100 Phoenix-area residents and an equal number of men wielding radar guns, stopwatches and clipboards.

Derek Jeter, Roy Halladay and Albert Pujols played in Arizona, as did 2007 Tigers Sean Casey, Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson.

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The interval between success in Arizona and stardom in the majors can be that short.

"These are the major leaguers of tomorrow," Jennings said. "And 'tomorrow' is 'next year.'"

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Marketing is not a priority for the league, but there are publicity efforts for Friday's midseason All-Star game -- called the Rising Stars Showcase -- and the AFL championship game, scheduled for Nov. 17.

In general, though, the AFL is not a priority for fans, even though the league's players ultimately will be. If baseball's next great star is here now, we should know soon enough.

"The front of the program," asserted Jennings, the Florida assistant GM, "says it all."

The Marlins found Dan Uggla in the AFL.