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Monday Morning Minors

Not to be all Chicago Cubs on you, but there's always next year. Yes, some wounds take a long time to heal, and this is certainly one of those occasions, but we can at least start looking forward. All we have to do is look to Arizona where they seemingly play baseball 365 days per year. The Arizona Fall League started on Tuesday of last week and features six of the A's top prospects.

As is typical in the AFL, the offensive talent we sent was more impressive than the pitching. Travis Buck is certainly the most impressive name, but the other offensive players, Kevin Melillo and Landon Powell, deserve attention. On the mound, or more specifically the bullpen, are Marcus McBeth, Connor Robertson and Michael Mitchell. McBeth and Robertson had fine seasons in Midland, whereas Mitchell had plenty of struggles. The AFL is a place to either build off a fine full season, or recover from a disappointing one like Shane Komine did in Arizona last fall.

Kevin Melillo started his AFL campaign off with a bang, hitting a home run in the first game of the season. He has since added a double and a couple of singles. A nice Fall would mean a lot to Melillo, whose 2006 season totals were less than what was to be expected. If the second baseman can refind his power stroke he can hopefully carry it over to next season.

The player that may be the closest to Oakland is Marcus McBeth. He is certainly a wild card having pitched not much longer than one year total in his career, but his impressive numbers in Midland (65:20 in 54 1/3 innings) show much promise. He has two perfect innings so far this season with a pair of strikeouts.

Players typically don't get a lot of playing time in the AFL so it is difficult to make judgments, but a player who performs well usually has high expectations entering the next season. A good example of this is the aforementioned Shane Komine. He missed much of 2005 after undergoing surgery, but an excellent 2005 AFL season was followed by a good 2006 start and he eventually ended up in Oakland.

So as Nico and BaseballGirl have already inferred, how can you not be excited about 2007? Besides, this is Oakland, and our off-seasons are more spectacular than the actual season.