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Saturday, November 10, 2012

HANGING OUT AT THE ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Ahhhh, baseball in November! One of the great things about living in Arizona is that we almost have year-round baseball here. Sure, nothing beats the regular season but as the cliché goes, "Eventually all good things must come to an end." Until Spring returns, I can sit in the stands in November in a short sleeve shirt while a good chunk of the country is bundling up….and watch the kids on the farm! Lucky for me, I had some good company and met up with BYB reader Dave Goode, and we had a ball (pun intended). You all should remember Dave, he's a good friend of Bleeding Yankee Blue and was interviewed in THE VENDOR FROM THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT. An instant classic here at BYB, check it out.


(In Photo: Jeana with Dave Goode)
The Yankees sent seven prospects to play with the Scottsdale Scorpions this year, which is a quick drive up the road for me. We have yet to see all of them in action, but so far we have seen some good appearances. Lucky for us, we went to the same game that Mark Teixeira attended and witnessed him get inducted into the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame. 

His speech was about everything you would expect to hear him say, with some added humor. As a helicopter flew over the stadium he told everyone “my ride is here,” and I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

It’s hard to believe that about ten years ago, Tex was one of these young kids trying to impress their teams….but he was. Maybe the next baseball legend was on the field for the game we saw. There were a lot of popular prospects up here this year, but no matter how many names you recognize there is always someone that that takes you by surprise.


(Photo Credit: BYB)
Zach Nuding from the Tampa Yankees was the starter for the Scorpions and pitched four innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs. He had a good slider and got a lot of guys to fly out to center field. His runs were the only ones allowed in the game, it will be interesting to watch him continue to develop.

I like Winter League games because you can learn a lot about the farm system and be entertained at the same time. Games are actually affordable and if you like to scout the farm system it is a great way to get up close and personal with players and if they become a superstar, you get to say you met them before they became famous. We had a good time behind the Scottsdale Scorpion dugout talking to several players. 


(In Photo: Slade Heathcott in costume)
There were several characters at the game that night, including a late Halloween appearance from outfielder Slade Heathcott, who came dressed to scare. He stayed in costume until the 7th inning. When I asked him why he took the mask off, he laughed at me and gave me a silly answer that I didn’t understand…but his reaction alone made it funny.

The Indians also had some chatty prospects there, and they were hanging out with Dellin Betances right in front of us (photo below). Infielder Ronny Rodriguez and catcher Alex Monsalve were teasing each other and Dave was talking to them in Spanish. They kept turning around and talking to people behind them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were laughing at us a little bit. Infielder Tyler Holt also had some fun of his own teasing us. As he was coming off of the field he was tossing a baseball up in the air. He tricked us into thinking he was going to throw the ball into the stands, but then disappeared into the dugout. For several minutes he hid under the roof of the dugout tossing the ball in the air just out of our reach. After he had his fun, he finally threw the ball up and I got a cool souvenir.


We talked to Yankee pitcher Dellin Betances, and I have a new appreciation for him. He’s had his struggles with performance and injuries in the past so when we asked him how he was feeling he said, “I feel great!” He also said that he hopes to be up with the Yankees this year, so with any luck we may see him in the Bronx soon! He made a pitching appearance that night as well and looked impressive. He was throwing hard and getting a lot of batters to swing and miss. If he continues to do that he could be a great help to the Yankees. 

Oh, and….I can’t forget that Betances was nice enough to sign a baseball for us so that made the night even better. There is something very cool about getting something signed by a baseball player BEFORE he becomes a big star.

It is hard to go through the long, cold winter without baseball….but if you live close enough to Phoenix, AZ you won’t have to. The league ends soon, but you can still catch a game, and I know I am still going to catch some games before it all ends!  More information can be found HERE. The Championship game will be on Saturday November 17th, and although it is a tight race in the standings, the Scorpions could still make it to the final game. I love our farm system, we have some impressive kids down there and I would love to see them win it all.

LET’S GO SCORPIONS!!!


 



--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Writer and Editor
Twitter: @NyPrincessJ


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