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What Is the Arizona League?The Arizona League is one of two complex-based professional minor leagues. The AzL, which debuted in 1988, is classified as a “Rookie” league, the lowest level of minor league baseball.
The League has nine teams in 2006, all based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The AzL plays a split season, with the second half starting on July 27. The winners of each half will meet in a one-game playoff on August 31 to decide the league champion.
The following major league organizations have Arizona League teams: Angels, Athletics, Brewers, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, Padres, Royals and Rangers. The Padres returned to the Arizona League in 2004 after a three-year absence.
Teams play a 56-game schedule from late June through the end of August. Games are played at Cactus League spring training complexes in Mesa, Phoenix, Peoria, Scottsdale and Surprise. The games are free of charge and open to the public.
Day games start at 10:30 a.m. Teams play 28 night games. The night games, played at 7:00 p.m., start on July 27 and run through the end of the season.
Team rosters consist primarily of players in their first year of professional baseball. Many players just completed high school and recently were signed after being selected in the June 2006 free agent draft.
Arizona League rosters also reflect baseball’s increased emphasis on international scouting. About 49 percent of the AzL’s players are foreign-born.
The 2006 opening day rosters include players from the following foreign countries—Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Curacao, Japan, Panama, Italy, Canada, Colombia and Australia.