Results tagged ‘ AFL ’
Several weeks ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send of to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I figured I’d post another update:
JORGE BONIFACIO — ROYALS’ ORGANIZATION
Jorge Bonifacio is the Royals’ number five prospect, and the number eighty-nine overall prospect in all of baseball. Batting .298 with 4 home runs and 57 RBI’s this past season, Bonifacio still has a ways to go before he’s big-league-ready, but at just 20 years old, he has a lot of promise. Bonifacio should become an everyday player for the Royals in the next couple of years.
ANDREW HEANEY — MARLINS’ ORGANIZATION
Andrew Heaney is the Marlins’ number two prospect, and the number fourty-eight overall prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately, he smeared his last name of the autograph, but after going 9-3 with a 1.60 ERA this past season, this is an autograph (even though it’s smeared) I’m glad to have. Heaney is going to be a great pitcher for the Marlins fairly soon; joining their other young Ace, Jose Fernandez.
This might end up being the final autograph update post I do until Spring Training. (If I don’t get one back before the end of this year, it will be.) Things are slowing down, and the odds that I’ll get anymore autographs from players in the 2013 Arizona Fall League are getting slimmer. But you never know. I got an autograph from Kris Medlen thirteen months after I sent it during the 2011 Spring Training, so it’s always possible.
I still have autograph requests out for Corey Seager, Austin Hedges, Kyle Crick, Jorge Soler, Delino DeShields, Jorge Alfaro, Taylor Lindsey, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Parker, James Ramsey, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before the end of the year, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.
Around a month ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up. Of the seventeen total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:
C.J. CRON — ANGELS’ ORGANIZATION
C.J. Cron is the Angels’ number two overall prospect, and he proved why this past season. Batting .274 with 14 home runs and 83 RBI’s to go along with 36 doubles, Cron is well on his way to the Majors, though it may take another season or two. Things are looking very promising for Cron, and it should be interesting to see how he performs next year.
STEPHEN PISCOTTY — CARDINALS’ ORGANIZATION
Stephen Piscotty is the Cardinals’ number seven prospect, and becomes the first player I’ve ever had sign a card in purple (magic marker?). Still fairly young, at 22 years old, Piscotty has a good chance at making it to the big leagues. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 59 runs in 2013 to go along with a .295 batting average. Piscotty is a player worth watching down the road.
ADDISON RUSSELL — ATHLETICS’ ORGANIZATION
Addison Russell is the Athletics’ number one prospect and the number seventeen overall prospect in all of baseball. Russell participated in the 2013 Futures game, up in New York City, and is sure to see his fair share of Major League All-Star games in his future, assuming he pans out as predicted. Batting .269 with 17 home runs and 60 RBI’s this past season, Russell is going to be a special player.
An interesting side note, Addison Russell doesn’t normally sign through the mail — telling me he signs around one random thing a week — but he graciously agreed to sign something for me. He truly seems to be a great guy, and I’m going to be posting an interview I did with him sometime over the next month or two. So check back for that.
I still have autograph requests out for Andrew Heaney, Corey Seager, Jorge Bonifacio, Austin Hedges, Kyle Crick, Jorge Soler, Delino DeShields, Jorge Alfaro, Taylor Lindsey, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Parker, James Ramsey, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. When/if I get any of those back I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.
The 2013 MLB postseason is well underway, and it sure has been exciting so far. A lot of unexpected things are sure to happen in the coming weeks, but for now I’m not going to discuss any of it. For this blog post I’m focusing solely on the Arizona Fall League. More specifically, through the mail (TTM) autograph requests that I’m sending out to various participating players.
Taking place every October/November – this year it’s October 8th through November 16th — the Arizona Fall League (AFL) gives top Minor League players who didn’t get a full season of playing time, for one reason or another, a chance to show their organization what they can do, as well as provide them with a little more baseball experience.
I usually only send off autograph requests in March, for Spring Training, and October, for the Arizona Fall League. Some people send requests to players throughout the season, however, I’ve never really wanted to do that — they’re too busy going around from ballpark to ballpark. In Spring Training and the Arizona Fall League players stay in the same relative area for over a month; giving, in my mind, a better chance of success.
There is a ton of great talent in this year’s Fall League, but I’m not sending to all of them. If a player has a chance of coming to play the Bulls or Mudcats – my local MiLB teams — I don’t want to send to them. A good example of that being Byron Buxton. He’s participating in the AFL and was the 2013 MiLB Player of the Year, however, in addition to the unlikelihood that he would sign TTM, he could come to Durham with Rochester in the next year or two. So there’s really no point in wasting a card.
Last year I sent out fifteen auto requests and received back nine of them. That’s a fairly decent return as far as TTM’s go. This time around, I’m sending out seventeen, to players such as Addison Russell, Andrew Heaney, C.J. Cron, Delino DeShields and Colin Moran — all of which are on the top 100 prospects list – among multiple others.
The plan is to post an update every time I receive back a few autographs, as I did this year during Spring Training; assuming I get any autographs back at all. So look out for that over the course of the next few months.
Kyle Gibson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. Since the draft, things haven’t gone as planned for Gibson, as although his stats have been decent, he hasn’t been able to stay completely healthy; having to undergo Tommy John surgery in September of 2011.
As far as Gibson’s stats go, he’s certainly lived up, for the most part, to being a first round draft pick. The 2008 Team USA pitcher went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA in his first professional season, in 2010. Good enough to earn him a promotion to AAA Rochester at the end of the year, after beginning the season with A+ Fort Myers.
Gibson’s stellar inaugural season didn’t translate into 2011, however, as although he was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game, at Chase Field, Gibson went 3-8 on the year, with a 4.18 ERA. To put it in simpler terms: That’s not very good. But Gibson’s poor pitching wasn’t entirely his fault. Gibson had an arm injury, which resulted in him having to have Tommy John surgery during the offseason. A surgery that would turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Gibson.
Post surgery, Gibson had a sudden boost in velocity, as his fastball rose from upper 80′s to lower 90′s, this past season. In Gibson’s most recent (partial) season, he went 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA; which is misleading due to the few innings in which he was able to pitch. As a result of the shortened season, Gibson traveled out to Arizona to participate in the Arizona Fall League, where he was selected to make the start for the Western Division in the 2012 A.F.L. Rising Stars Game–lasting two innings and giving up a couple of runs.
As long as things continue to go smoothly for Gibson, between now and the start of the season, barring any unpredicted setbacks, you can expect to see Gibson in the Major Leagues sometime during the upcoming 2013 season; if not on Opening Day. He certainly has the potential to get the call up out of Spring Training, and as such, is a guy everyone needs to keep a very close eye on in the coming months.
Kyle Gibson–top 10 prospect in the Twins organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
I have always been involved and interested in baseball because my dad was. He was a high school baseball coach after he played a little bit of junior college baseball in his prime. He still likes to play in a mens senior league to this day. I believe that is why he would be my biggest influence on my love for the game up to this point.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
I had a couple when I was growing up. My dad was a huge Nolan Ryan fan, so obviously I thought he was cool, but believe it or not, I used to play a little short stop in my younger/shorter/faster years, and at that time Barry Larkin was a favorite player of mine as well.
3.) You were drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
The process was a long and stressful process at times mainly because I found out I had a stress fracture in my right forearm about 4 days before the draft. That made everything a little more stressful than I imagined, but even with that said, it was a fun process and I learned a lot. My parents and I decided to stay home and invite some people over to the house to watch the draft, so I was sitting outside in our driveway under a tent with what ended up being a few more people than the “some” we had planned on inviting. Everyone was getting a little anxious because from everything we had heard there was no definite place I was going to get drafted. So as the picks went by we got a little more anxious, but when my name was called there was a loud cheer, and I still get chills thinking about that moment in my life.
4.) You had Tommy John surgery in September of 2011 and seemed to have an increase in velocity. Has that increase in velocity changed the way you go about pitching or did you keep the same basic approach?
It does not change the way I pitch too much, other than the fact that I now have a much different fastball and slider. I have needed to learn to trust my fastball a little more because it’s now consistently in the low 90′s where before I was more consistently 89. My slider has also gained some velocity and has sharpened up a bit, so I have needed to adjust to that as well.
5.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?
I would say there are a couple stats that I like to look at, and those are walks and ground ball/fly ball ratio. I hate walking people, so that is why that is so important to me, and I also know that when I am at my best, I need to have the defense involved. The best way for me to do that is to get lots of ground balls and allow our infielders to do the rest.
6.) You made the start for the West division in the 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game. What was that experience like, in terms of going up against some of the best hitters that minor league baseball has to offer?
That experience was a lot of fun. Had I not given up a moonshot to the first batter I might have enjoyed it slightly more…..just kidding. It was a great opportunity, even though for only 2 innings, to square off against [Jarred] Cosart, who I have known for many years dating back to when he had committed to Missouri out of high school before the Phillies drafted and signed him. It was a lot of fun for all of us, and good to get that chance to pitch another time against the best the minors has to offer.
7.) What are your plans for the remainder of the offseason to help you prepare for 2013? What are your goals for 2013?
Since my regular season extended into my offseason more than usual, I am now starting to get back into the swing of things and throwing again. Workouts will get more intense as I make sure my arm and body are prepared for another long season. My goals have a lot to do with staying healthy, and hopefully making it up to the big club and having a positive impact on our chances of winning. Everyone wants to become a big leaguer, and I really hope I am able to do that this year.
8.) Favorite TV show?
‘Sports Center’ or ‘Duck Dynasty’.
9.) Favorite food?
Steak or Mozzi’s Pizza from Greenfield, Indiana where I grew up.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
Always have fun. Baseball should be something that they enjoy doing. Work as hard as you possibly can. I always look back and know that I could have worked harder because I never really knew what it took to become a professional. So have no regrets and work as hard as you can, but have fun doing it!
Big thanks to Kyle Gibson for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on twitter: @kgib44
Anthony Bass is fairly new to ‘The Show.’ You might of heard of him; you might not. Either way, I’m very confident that you’ll be hearing a lot from Bass in the near future. Bass made his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres, on June 13th of this year. He only pitched in 27 games (3 starts) but achieved success–recording 2 wins and a fairly low 1.68 ERA. Not bad for a guy who just turned 24 years old, on November 1st. Bass–who’s on the Padre’s Active roster for next season–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball?
I started playing baseball at 5.
2.) Did you always want to be a pitcher?
I pitched and played every position when I was younger.
3.) Describe what your Major League debut was like. What was going through your head?
Humbling. I was thinking, this is my shot.
4.) What does it feel like to be having success this early in your career?
Countless hours spent on the baseball diamond and working on being the best is starting to pay off.
5.) Do you like the NL, with the chance for you to hit? Or would you rather have someone hitting for you? (Like the DH in the AL.)
I like the NL. All 9 players in the field should hit.
6.) Which of your pitches is your favorite to throw? (Not necessarily your best pitch.)
7.) Favorite T.V. show?
I like storage wars.
8.) Favorite shoe brand?
9.) Favorite food?
10.) Favorite sport, besides baseball?
College basketball. (Michigan State.)
11.) Favorite type of music?
12.) Favorite moment of your baseball career thus far?
Making my MLB debut.
Big thanks to Anthony Bass for taking the time to answer my questions. You can follow him on twitter: @AnthonyBass45
Speaking of twitter, if you follow me then you might have seen my tweet on Monday stating that this Q and A entry was going to have a surprise at the end. Well, keep reading to find out what it is.
It all started with a simple question of whether or not Anthony Bass had any game used items left over from the season that he’d be willing to get rid of. I fully expected a polite, but firm, “no”, but that’s not what happened. Bass–being the awesome guy that he is–proceeded to offer me his AFL (Arizona Fall League) Batting Practice jersey. I was thrilled. To get something like that from a guy like him? I couldn’t believe it.
I sent my address, and told him where I wanted him to sign it. (Yes, he offered to autograph it too!) I then waited patiently for it to arrive in the mail, as it did on Saturday:
Notice the patch on the bottom right portion of the jersey? Here’s a closer look:
You can sort of see the autograph in the picture above, but here’s a better look at it:
I can’t begin to thank Anthony Bass enough. He’s truly an extremely nice guy, and I wish him nothing but the best as he continues his journey in the Majors. He’s one of those guys that you can’t help but root for.
I hope to meet Bass in person at a 2012 Padres game, to thank him for answering my questions and sending me his AFL BP jersey. If that happens, I’ll be sure to post an entry about it right here on my blog.
Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow everybody!!!