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Ethier credits AFL for ascent with Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The late legendary scout Al LaMacchia put Andre Ethier on the Dodgers' short list, but the trade that brought the All-Star outfielder from the Oakland A's might never have happened if not for Ethier's time in the Arizona Fall League.

"I was really glad for my time there," Ethier said. "I don't think I'd have been on the Dodgers' radar if not for the Fall League."

A second-round Draft pick of Oakland's in 2003, Ethier was coming off a Texas League Player of the Year season in 2005 when the club sent him to the AFL.

"I had a good year at Double-A, but never got called up until the last week for the Triple-A playoffs. So not getting called up, that was disappointing and I didn't know what they thought of me," said Ethier. "So I was really excited when they told me I was playing in the Fall League. I knew I would be facing good competition, I'd be seen by other teams and I'd be playing at home."

Ethier is a native of Phoenix who went on to star at Arizona State University.

"Growing up in the Valley, I knew what the AFL was all about, I knew what it meant to the players that got to play in it," he said. "You see the caliber of players that get invited and you see the high percentage of them that make the big leagues.

"When you're in the Minor Leagues, all you want is to get to the Major Leagues and you try to figure out what it takes to get there and once you get there, you'll figure out how to succeed. So, from a frame-of-mind standpoint, the AFL is considered a real stepping stone that can catapult you into the Major Leagues. The Arizona League gave me the experience to come to the Dodgers and succeed."

Ethier played for manager Scott Little on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who won the AFL championship while Ethier led the league with a .495 on-base percentage. He also drove in 21 runs in 23 games.

Look at the roster and no wonder they won the title. Ethier's Desert Dogs teammates included Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche, Kurt Suzuki, Stephen Drew, James Loney, Tony Abreu, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Daric Barton.

"We had so many guys from that team make the big leagues," said Ethier. "And when you have that kind of talent, that atmosphere, everybody kind of steps up because no one wants to fall behind. I played well. Our whole team played well. We won the championship; we were dominant."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for

Los Angeles Dodgers, Andre Ethier