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Beyond development, AFL can set Blue Jays' off-season calendar in motion

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Peoria, Ariz. – Every fall, small crowds gather in the picturesque ballparks of Arizona to watch some of baseball’s best prospects refine their craft. The fans typically number in the hundreds, so there’s lots of choice when it comes to seating – just as long as they aren’t hoping to sit a few rows behind home plate. Those seats start filling up before the gates even open, because they’re the preferred vantage point for the dozens of major-league scouts in attendance.

The presence of those talent evaluators speaks to the dual importance of the showcase league for teams like the Toronto Blue Jays. First and foremost it’s a developmental hotbed where top prospects can test their skills against other minor leaguers on the rise.

“It’s a great opportunity to play against typically some of the best talent in professional baseball that’s not yet in the major-leagues,” Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said. “That’s beneficial. You hear players talk about that environment all the time. They start to really think about what it means to take the next step in their development if they’re not already. That’s........

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