AFL Notes October 22-25, 2014
It’s been six years since my last trip to the desert to watch the Arizona Fall League so when I had the chance to finally make it down I couldn’t resist. I was able to watch parts or all of four games and see many talented players who will be Major League contributors. I didn’t prepare ahead of time to take great notes on players nor was I able to really evaluate many players because I was mainly focused on a select few I found intriguing. Here are the those notes.
When I got to the park with my uncle and saw that neither Byron Buxton nor Eddie Rosario were in the lineup I rather zoned out and just enjoyed watching high caliber baseball because there were no players I was dying to see. One player who stood out on the Salt River Rafters was the first guy out of the bullpen, Brian Ellington.
Brian Ellington (Marlins): His frame stands out as a lanky right hander standing 6’ 4” and 200 pounds. Then you see his first pitch and the radar gun says 97. He had a bit of an issue throwing strikes as the inning got started by walking the leadoff hitter and throwing balls on six of his first seven pitches but after that he settled down. He had a long, loose arm that acted as a powerful whip to unleash upper 90’s heaters. He also threw a slider that was in the upper 80’s and some downward tilt and when he stayed on top of the pitch, it looked like something that would generate many swing and misses.
This was the game I was most excited about. First, I was able to see the beautiful Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The players are very spoiled being able to call that park home. For a spring training base, it really doesn’t get any better.
Second, the Rafters’ lineup was filled with players I was excited to see.
Byron Buxton (Twins): Coming off two major injuries I expected to see a Buxton who didn’t look like he was in midseason shape and that’s what I got. His timing looked a little off but what I saw was a balanced swing that showed his quick hands. He did lunge for pitches on the outer half of the plate instead of letting them travel a little more but that is just a sign of rust. One ball he lunged for with two strikes was a slow grounder to short and he showed the speed that leaves scouts drooling as he put pressure on the shortstop who bobbled the ball and even if he had fielded it cleanly would not have had a chance to throw him out. He did get a fastball in on his hands that he was able to fist into short center for another base hit. He would come around to score and it was apparent how quick he is on the bases. Later in the game there was a line drive into left center that looked like a base hit off the bat and he glided over to the baseball and caught it on the run to make it look like a routine play.