From the desk of Steve Arocho
Major League Baseball
Bill Bavasi, who has spent nearly four decades as an MLB and club executive, will oversee operations of the Arizona Fall League as part of a restructuring announced Tuesday by Major League Baseball. MLB also announced a revamped schedule with an early start, and removal of restrictions for players who can play in the AFL,.
Bavasi, who is based out of Scottsdale, Ariz., previously served a variety of baseball operations roles, including as the Director of the MLB Scouting Bureau and General Manager of MLB Clubs (California/Anaheim Angels, 1994-1999; Seattle Mariners, 2003-2008), among other positions.
Bavasi will be responsible for implementing all rules and regulations of the AFL, communicating directly with Clubs regarding player selections, and coordinating AFL efforts with MLB’s various business functions at the Commissioner’s Office.
Beginning in 2019, the Arizona Fall League’s schedule will start in mid-September, with this season launching on Tuesday, September 17th and ending on Saturday, October 26th. The annual “Fall Stars Game” will be held on Saturday, October 12th while the AFL Championship Game will be scheduled for Sunday, October 27th.
The amended timeline allows Minor League players to avoid downtime at the end of their seasons and instead transition directly into the Arizona Fall League schedule. In particular, pitchers will have the opportunity for more continuous rest in preparation for the following year’s playing schedule. The new AFL schedule more closely aligns with timing of clubs’ traditional Instructional Leagues.
Additionally, MLB clubs will now be able to nominate any player under contract in their organization to participate in the AFL. This change, which will offer flexibility to Clubs who may want to select a player at any level for additional development following traditional minor or Instructional Leagues, will be evaluated following the 2019 AFL Season.
All changes were unanimously approved by the AFL General Manager steering committee, which includes Jeff Bridich (Colorado Rockies), David Forst (Oakland Athletics), Michael Hill (Miami Marlins), Dayton Moore (Kansas City Royals) and Mark Shapiro (Toronto Blue Jays).
“We thank MLB Clubs for their continued support of and engagement in the Arizona Fall League," said Bavasi. "By making these changes, we believe we will accomplish our three foremost goals of giving our fans an entertaining on-field product, providing a developmental service to our Clubs, and maintaining a quality and health-focused experience for our game’s brightest stars of the future.”
Since 1992, the Arizona Fall League has featured seven prospects from each MLB Club. Traditionally, the six-team league has played its schedule at six Greater Phoenix-area Cactus League stadiums, including Camelback Ranch-Glendale, Peoria Sports Complex, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale Stadium, Sloan Park, and Surprise Stadium.
In 2019, the AFL will play its 182-game schedule (30 regular season games per team, the Fall Stars Game, and the AFL Championship Game) at four of these ballparks – Camelback Ranch, Peoria Sports Complex, Salt River Fields and Sloan Park – with a return to all six venues expected for the 2020 season.
Some of the Major League Baseball’s best players are AFL alumni, including Ronald Acuña Jr., Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Francisco Lindor, Andrew McCutchen, Max Scherzer, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout and more.