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2006 Arizona League First-Half Highlights
Several outstanding team and individual performances highlight the first-half of the 2006 Arizona League season.
Run Producing Machine. If he keeps driving in runs at his current rate, Royals first baseman Scott Lucas will break the league RBI record. In his first 28 games, the 24-year-old Lucas knocked in 31 runs. Mariners catcher Alejandro Cadena set the Arizona League record with 60 RBIs in 2001.
Lucas also leads the AzL with seven triples.
Lucas, a native of Kansas City, has had many stops on his road to the Arizona League. After graduating from Blue Valley North High School, Lucas played at Neosho County Community College and then briefly with the Arizona Wildcats. Lucas also played briefly in two independent leagues the past two seasons. He appeared in two games with Mid-Missouri of the Frontier League in 2004 (one-for-four with no RBIs) and seven games with Kansas City in the Northern League last year (three-for-eleven with one RBI).
Lucas was signed by the Minnesota Twins organization in 2005 but he never appeared in a professional game with the Twins.
Power Surge. The Peoria Mariners are a record-setting pace for home runs. The club belted 26 roundtrippers in their first 28 games. The Arizona League team home run record is 44, set by the Surprise Royals #1 in 2003.
At the halfway point, Mariners teammates Gerardo Avila and Wellington Dotel led the league with five homers each.
On-Base Streak. Padres centerfielder Cedric Hunter reached base safely in every Arizona League game he has played this season, including 27 consecutive games in the first-half. Hunter, the Padres’ third round pick in this year’s draft, batted .339 with a .431 on-base percentage. Hunter’s teammate Jeremy Hunt was the Arizona League first-half leader with a .467 on-base percentage.
Just Keeps Winning. In 1991, Mariners pitcher George Glinatsis set the Arizona League’s all-time record for most wins with ten. Because the Arizona League season was shortened by four games after that season and because starting pitchers are now on tighter pitch counts, Glinatsis’ record has not been threatened in the past ten seasons.
But Giants pitcher Manuel Cabeza finished the first-half with a 6-0 record and he is currently on pace to break the 15-year-old record.
Cabeza earned wins in each of his six first-half appearances—three as a starter and three in relief. In 24.1 innings pitched, Cabeza gave up 25 hits but only four walks while striking out 22. The 21-year-old native of Colombia had a 2.96 ERA and held opposing batters to a .266 average.
Other Notables. If we were writing a history of the Arizona League, these accomplishments from the first half would also be noted:
w Giants shortstop Sharion Schoop hit for the cycle against the Royals on July 2.
w Royals pitchers Brent Fisher and Michael Hauff held the Mesa Cubs hitless on July 19 and the duo combined for nearly a perfect game. But the Royals lost the contest, 1-0. The Cubs scored the game's only run after a throwing error by Fisher.
w Three first-round picks in this year's draft made their professional debuts in the Arizona League: Mariners pitcher Brandon Morrow (5th overall selection); Brewers pitcher Jeremy Jeffress (15th); and Angels catcher Hank Conger (25th).
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006