Sunday, October 30, 2005

Arizona Fall League Game: Solar Sox at Scorpions

The final game in our three day stretch took us to Surprise Stadium in..well…Surpirse (AZ). Surprise is a haul not because of the distance but because it requires driving through a series of surface streets with bad traffic. No comments necessary about the driving of those who live in Sun City and Sun City West (major retirement communities).

Surprise Stadium is a tough place to shoot video; the contrast between light and dark is not well defined and it’s difficult to shoot from light into dark and visa-versa. Nonetheless, the stands are close to the field, so close-up shots are easy to come by. However, it’s also not nearly as fan-friendly as Peoria, meaning you can’t get physically close to the dugouts and practice areas for autographs.

Because there were no game day notes for the fans, I had to take a stab in the dark at some of the players’ names (Mostly first names that is). I corrected the mistakes in the subtitles in some parts of the clip. For example, I called Eric Patterson (younger brother of Corey) “Mike.” Well, three games in three days, and your brain begins to fry.

Player of the day: Angel Guzman of the Cubs—five no hit innings. Others featured include Billy Butler (Royals), Brian Sanches (Phillies) and Taylor Buchholz (Astros).

Next game for us will be the Championship Game, 11/12

Saturday, October 29, 2005

AFL Game: Javelinas at Saguaros

Our first night game in our many years of going to Fall League. A somewhat larger crowd than normal and there are no issues about sitting in the sun. Our last trip of the Fall League season to Peoria; today, we're off to Phoenix Muni where the crowds have been somewhat more robust.

Featured in this clip are Brad Eldred (Pirates), Chris Young (Chicago White Sox), Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Eddie Rodriguez (coach, Nationals).

Mariners Adam Jones Selects A Bat

It’s not all fun at Arizona Fall League. In this clip, the owners of Zinger Bats, a Utah-based baseball bat company, are showing young Seattle Mariners outfielder, Adam Jones, a few of their more choice models. Apparently, among the major leaguers who use the Zinger Bats are Miguel Cabrera and Pudge Rodriguez. Which one would I use if (in my dreams) I swung for the fences? The X73 model of course—it’s called the Barry Bonds Model.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Desert Dogs at Saguaros

Yes, another trip to Peoria. No, I am not running for mayor of the city. Today, TS and I (and about 100 other folks) saw the Desert Dogs get whalloped by the home standing Saguaros. Lots of miscues, not the least of which was from future D-back shortstop Stephen Drew. Brad Eldred, a first baseman who played much of the season for the Bucs in Pittsburgh, hit two home runs.

Three more games in the next two days. Stay tuned

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Taste of the Big Show

A group of juniors and seniors from Team BC sit and watch the Arizona Fall league game featuring a number of former teammates. Who in this pack is headed for the Majors?

Phillies Prospect Scott Mathieson

One of the highlights of the game between the Peoria Saguaros and Surprise Scorpions was getting to see Phillies prospect Scott Mathieson. I had the good fortune to meet Scott’s father Doug, who was in town coaching Team BC (Players from British Columbia, Canada) as it competed in the Arizona Fall Classic, a baseball tournament held at the Peoria complex (where the Mariners and Padres train). The tournament is for top high school players from throughout North America.

Doug Mathieson is also the coach responsible for Adam Loewen (also in Fall league), Jeff Francis, Larry Walker and young Giants pitcher Morgan Brinson. Brinson was featured in a video clip from Arizona Rookie League.

Scott is a budding prospect in the Phillies organization, playing this season in A ball at Clearwater. With 114 K's in 111 innings this past season, I'd say he's the classic power pitcher destined for Citizens Bank Park. He’s invited to big league training camp for '06, but the smart money says he starts the season in Reading. Hey, it could be worse; Reading is the granddaddy of all shopping outlet cities and has the best (I mean best) pretzels in the U.S. Oh, by the way, Mathieson did not have one of his better outings today; he gave up a handful of runs and the score was 10-10 when we left in the 7th.

Fall League Game: Scorpions at Saguaros

My annual Fall League birthday baseball game was a day late, but full of excitement nonetheless. It was the Surprise (nee Scottsdale) Scorpions at the Peoria Saguaros. First viewing of the Scorpions this year, and it’s a team filled with talent: Brandon Wood, Kendry Morales, Michael Bourn, Jared Weaver, etc.. This clip provides an overview of the game and then some up-close shots of a few players, most notable Alex Gordon (No. 2 pick in the most recent draft) and Brandon Wood (he of 43 minor league homers this past season), a graduate of Horizon High School in Phoenix (and former top draft pick of the Angels). By the way, if you want to get a glimpse at a future Cy Young candidate, look at Jared Weaver (also of the Angels). He was a No. 1 pick who held out an entire season before signing. He is the real deal with major heat plus a wicked, major league curve

Monday, October 10, 2005

At the Fall League Game: Mitchell Paige

Mitchell Paige, a former member of the Oakland A's, now a hitting instructor for the Washington Nationals, was in the stands at today's Desert Dogs-Saguaros game. Paige shot video of each Nationals player at-bat. A few folks recognized him and asked for autographs.

Arizona Fall League--Phoenix Desert Dogs at Peoria Saguaros

What better way to spend Columbus Day than watching an Arizona Fall League game. Today, the Peoria Saguaros hosted the powerful Phoenix Desert Dogs. We came to see the Dogs, last year’s AFL champion. That team features a host of future stars including Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks), Greg Miller and Andy LaRoche (Dodgers), Andre Ethier and Daric Barton (Athletics) and Jarrod Saltalmacchia (Braves).

I avoided the long in-game shots which I need to hold off on until I get a camera with a more powerful zoom. Instead, I focused on the players before the game. Saltalmacchia (whose name I butchered in the clip) is going to be a favorite. He has a big smile and was quite warm to the young fans. He even spoke to me.

As you might imagine, much of my focus was on Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks. Drew did not disappoint; he hit a monster three-run homer onto the lawn in right field. In baseball terms, he was worth all $4 million-plus the D-backs spent.

One final note: leaving the park, we spotted Jenny Finch, softball superstar, sitting in the stands. She is married to Casey Daigle, a minor league pitcher with the Diamondbacks. (BTW, he was a very friendly guy with the the fans before the game).

I am on Fall League hiatus until Oct. 21st, my birthday. I have been to an AZ Fall League game on my birthday each of the past four years.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Delmon Young, Fall League 2004

Here is Mr. All Minor League for 2005, Delmon Young. This was at Peoria Stadium at last year's Fall League festivities.

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Fall League Games on MLB Radio

For those of you who can't make it to Arizona for Fall League, MLB Radio is airing some of the games online. Check the site to get the schedule.

At yesterday's game, my wife noticed that they hung a microphone outisde the "broadcast booth" to cacth ambient noise. Given the size of the crowd, they might have caught me sneezing 30 or 40 yards away.

Ian Stewart, Rockies Fall League Prospect

Featured is Ian Stewart, one of Baseball America's top 50 prospects. He hit a homer is yesterday's game against the Saguaros that was big league all the way. Look for him at 3rd base in Coors Field in 2007 if not 2006.

More from Fall League 2004

The winning pitcher of the 2004 Fall League Championship game, Huston Street. Street went on to break the all-time rookie saves record for the A's this season.

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Fall League 2004

In case you don't believe this is the breeding ground for future stars, here's a picture after the 2004 Fall League Championship Game. Yep...that's the likely 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, Ryan Howard!

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Boys of Fall League

Before the start of each Arizona Fall league game, the young players sign autographs and pose for pictures. The handful of fans get into this up-close-and-personal scene, almost always treating the players with respect.

This clip features Jeff Clement, Seattle Mariners; Dan Uggla, Arizona Diamondbacks; Val Majewski, Baltimore Orioles; Gary Harris, Seattle Mariners and Jim Miller, Colorado Rockies.

Editor's Note: Excuse the typo in the titles. Val Majewski's last name is spelled incorrectly. I will try and fix.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fall League, 10/7: Peoria Javelinas at Peoria Saguaros

What better day for the opening of our Fall League season. Sunny and about 100 degrees and the Peoria Saguaros hosted the Peoria Javelinas at Peoria Stadium (naturally). Last time we were at that stadium, we saw the Mariners and White Sox in Spring Training with Felix Hernandez on the hill. Today, we saw lots of great young talent with the Javelinas pounding the Saguaros 13-3 (when we left in the 8th inning).

We saw homers galore (one captured on the video clip here) by such future stars as Mariners No. 1 pick Jeff Clement as well as by Rockies budding star Ian Stewart, Diamondbacks’ minor league sensation Dan Uggla and Michael Johnson, a hulking first baseman from the Padres.

There was a crowd of about 100, which is decent for a weekday Fall League game. We’ll be back next Monday to see a game in Surpirse.

Here's the video highlights of the game.

Opening Day (for us, that is)

Today marks the opening day (for us) for Arizona Fall League. Fall League is the best-kept secret in sports. There are six teams each with top players from each participating team’s AAA and AA farm system. The players we have seen over the years have become Rookies of the Year and future All Stars. Last year, we saw each of the top four Rookies of the Year candidates, with Ryan Howard and Huston Street being our favorites.

A change this year is that Scottsdale Stadium is under renovation, so Surprise Stadium takes its place in the Fall League. We’ll be at Peoria Stadium, the spring training home of the Padres and Mariners. Among the players we’ll see are Prince Fielder and Jeff Clement, the top pick by the M’s in the most recent draft.

This site will provide some game notes, but mostly video. It is a spin-off of my main blog site, What’s On Tonight.

Play ball!