For baseball fans across the country there is always a desire to catch one more game and extend the baseball season just a little bit longer so there isn’t as big as a gap until the next season. Last week Kelly, my dad, and I found a way to watch some more baseball and enjoy some amazing weather.
We took a trip to Phoenix, AZ to watch 4 days, 8 games of Arizona Fall League baseball.
The Arizona Fall League is easily baseball’s best kept secret. With weather in the 80’s, two games on most every day and future major league talent everywhere it was amazing. In fact I can honestly say that I have never been more relaxed at a baseball game.
The stands were practically empty, allowing fans to sit anywhere they want. There were great seats in the shade at every game, and the focus being on the development and scouting of the players on the field, you didn’t have to sit through special promotions or failed attempts to get the fans excited in the game. This was baseball at its purist form.
Without a doubt in my mind Kris Bryant was the best player I saw in the eight games I went to. His glove at 3rd base is solid but his raw power at the plate was unmatched. I watch him have what should have been a three homerun game (one was robbed by the umpires), and one of those blasts included a monster bomb out of the park.
His swing was just pure power but at the same time he wasn’t fooled by junk pitches. He was patient and smart at the plate. Easily the player I came away most excited about having the chance to watch play.
Austin Hedges is a top level prospect so I can’t say that his ability really surprised me but his defense was far better than I had expected. He has an absolute cannon from behind the plate. Base runners beware he can gun anyone at any base. He was also a pretty cool guy, as I was able to talk with him for a few minutes after a game and even get a photo with him for the 9 Inning Album.
Least Impressive Player
I actually have two players for this category. The first is Byron Buxton who looked nothing more than average when I watched him play. I know he is young and he may have just had a bad couple of games but I really wonder if he is just being overhyped. He may end up being great but he sure didn’t show it when I saw him.
Alen Hanson was the second player that really did not impress me. Hanson had one of the weakest looking swings I have seen in all of minor league baseball. On half of his swings he appeared to just halfheartedly drop the bat through the strike zone so that he could say that he attempted a swing. For a guy who is one of the Pirates top prospects I sure don’t have a lot of hope for the future of the Pirates if they are hoping he becomes a foundational piece of the team.
Being able to catch baseball in some beautiful weather with my dad is always a great moment. Seeing one of our younger 9 Inning Know It All fans, Connor, get to be batboy for the Scottsdale team one game was cool.
However, I think two moments that stick out to me the most would be meeting Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and Red Sox 3rd Base prospect Garin Cecchini. Alfaro was amazing, polite and interactive with fans. I was able to shake his hand and get a photo with him. He seemed excited to meet every single fan that had come to the game.
Cecchini I had the opportunity to do an interview with and just the passion and excitement that he had for the game, and for the Red Sox was evident. I’m not a Red Sox fan, never will be, but I can honestly say that when Cecchini makes the major league team I will root for him as long as his career goes.
The Arizona Fall League isn’t for the fans, as much as it is for the players and scouts. The concessions are limited, the souvenirs are even more limited, but the baseball is fun. If you go don’t expect to do the wave, because there aren’t enough fans to do one, but if you just want good weather and baseball, I encourage you to go to baseball’s best kept secret.