End of the Road…

Hello Everyone!

This will be my last blog of the year. I had a tremendous season dating back to middle February and can’t be more thankful to God for providing me with health the entire season. I would not be where I am without my Lord and Savior. Thank you to everyone who has followed my career be it from College, High School, Little League, etc. I had an absolute blast playing in the AFL this fall.

I have met some great individuals and plan on keeping in contact with them for years to come. There is so much talent in this league and to be invited and to be a part of this small group in comparison to the whole is a blessing. I am happy with the strides I made from day 1 in spring training to November 9 when I made my final start for the Peoria Javelinas.

Everyday I feel like I can carry what I learned from the previous day into the present. I look forward to the 2012 season hopefully in San Diego again to help the team get into the postseason for the first time since 2006. Until then I am going to recover by resting at my home in Trenton, Michigan. I am definitely in need of some time off to recharge the batteries for next season. Again, I can’t thank y’all enough for the continued support throughout my career.

Much love from Michigan! Remember, you can always keep up to date on what’s going on with me on Twitter and Facebook!

-Anthony Bass, Pitcher, San Diego Padres

Final Post

It is hard to believe that we are down to the last few days of the 2011 Arizona Fall League. Today I took a few minutes to look back at my first post here on the AFL blog and it is amazing to look back on this great journey. I can honestly say that I am ready for some time off to regroup, reflect, and recharge in preparation for next season. Every guy is different, and I thought I would share a little bit of what my off season will be like.

As I have mentioned before, I do not spend much time dwelling on past successes or failures. This year seems like it went by in the blink of an eye and I am already looking towards the future. My first goal is to establish a strong cardio and lifting program. I will have personal goals in mind, but the first priority is to create a new routine now that I won’t be at the field for the majority of my day. I am going to experiment with some new forms of cardio such as taking spin classes that seem pretty intense. I normally recharge my body with some sort of cleansing program for a few days after the holidays to get ready for the final push before Spring Training. I will take a little time off from throwing, but I will be in the backyard throwing against a stone wall by the end of December. This may seem a little rough, but I actually enjoy being in my comfort zone alone, just working on things. Last year, Anna tried to play catch with me a few times but she doesn’t like it when the ball starts moving on her. I’m sure lots of guys have their own funny “off season throwing” stories.

Of course the off-season isn’t all work. I am looking forward to seeing family and doing some traveling as well. I also will be trying to sneak in some regular Modern Warfare gaming time each day.  There are lots of things I am looking forward to, but I am also enjoying the last little bit of time I have left of this 2011 season. I have made some great friends and learned more about my teammates both in my organization and here in the AFL. Baseball is a world full of change and I know that these guys will cross my path many more times throughout our careers.

Finally, I want to thank you guys-the readers-for all of your support. I was brand new at this blogging thing and I am not usually known as the most talkative guy. This has been a really fun experience and I have enjoyed reading your comments and answering your questions. I hope you guys will continue to follow us players because we all need as much support as possible. For the Red’s fans out there, anybody close to the Cincinnati area should come out to Redsfest Dec. 2nd and 3rd. It is my first year to be in attendance and I am looking forward to participating in this cool fan-friendly event.

I hope everyone enjoys their holidays…and let the countdown to Spring Training begin!

~Brad Boxberger #35

Injury Bug

Hey guys,

Quick update on how things are wrapping up in the AFL. Our team has had some bad luck with staying healthy this season. We have lost quite a few players due to injury, which has forced us to start playing some 7 inning games to prevent from overworking our remaining healthy pitchers. When a game is rained out during the minor league season, it is usually made up by playing two 7 inning games the following day, but we never play just one 7 inning game. These single 7 inning games definitely bring back memories from high school when that was all we played.

Seeing all of our injuries this season has really put it into perspective how fortunate I have been to stay healthy this season. Definitely something I am proud of and feel very fortunate to have been able to play as much as I have. Given the amount of injuries we have had, I think the team has really played some good baseball since my last post. We have continued to play hard and were able to pull out some tough games…it’s nice to see us finishing on a positive note. It is definitely easier to keep playing hard and competing hard when you are surrounded by an awesome group of guys. This team is a great group of people to be around, which makes coming to the field a lot of fun.

Personally my time in the fall league has been extremely productive. Im my previous posts, I alluded to some mechanical things I have worked on in my swing that are definitely starting to click. Really glad I had these extra games to get live reps and just become a better player. We only have four games left this season and things have definitely gone fast, but I could not be happier with this experience. I will probably posting at least one more time to give you guys my final thoughts on the AFL, but in the meantime if anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to contact me!

Thanks for your time,

–Alex Hassan

“You’ll have to excuse my responses…they’re a little slow!”

Hey everyone!

The Fall League has flown by! It’s been a short season but one that has taught me a lot about the game. The hitters in this league are by far the best I have ever faced. Every hitter in the lineup hitters 1 through 9 here can really hit. After struggling for the first time in my professional career, I’ve had to rethink the way I pitch a little bit. My fastball has always gotten me to the next level, but now its taken a lot more of my off-speed to get these guys out. I’ve had some really good outings…and some outings I haven’t been so happy with. But, I will say this: I have learned how to pitch more effectively and have become a smarter pitcher in this league. I suppose that’s what I’ve facing off against future big leaguers like Mike Olt and Wil Myers will force you to do.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is having my good friend and UCLA teammate Gerrit Cole living at my house. We’ve been friends for years, so getting to hang out with him has been great. We were both chosen to pitch in the Rising Stars game and that will be something I will remember for a long time. I gave up more runs than I had hoped, but I’ve got to hand it to the hitters…they were on fire that night!

My team, the Salt River Rafters, have been on a tear lately. We’ve been in first place in our division for a while now, but with tonight’s win, we have secured our spot in next Saturday’s Championship game vs. the Surprise Saguaros. This game is going to be one heck of a game. Both teams have incredible lineups, top to bottom, and great pitching to go with it. You’re NOT going to want to miss this one. It will be broadcast live on the MLB Network. Thanks for reading everyone!

Be sure and FOLLOW ME on Twitter for daily updates on what’s going on with the Rafters!

-Charles Brewer, Starting Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Pranks

With less than a week left here in the AFL, I believe I can say that the dog days are here. It is definitely the same feeling you have at the end of a long minor league season. Everyone’s body is getting tired, but at the same time, you have to finish strong.
Last Saturday, I participated in the Rising Stars game and had a great time. I met a lot of guys and made a lot of friendships that will last throughout my career.
Nothing has really changed here except for the cold weather. I finally had to start wearing sleeves so that should tell you something. I also need some advice on some very good pranks to pull. I have a good friend on my team here in the AFL, Joe Mahoney, and he seems to be the best “pranksman” as he likes to call himself. Each and every day he pulls some kind of small prank on someone. However, yesterday when I got to the field I sensed something. I started to get ready for BP and looked down to put my shoes on and what did I find? He just decided to take the shoe laces out of every single shoe in my locker. Yeah, a small little prank, but just enough to start a war. So, when he went out to BP, I stayed behind for a couple of minutes. I took his jeans that he wore to the field as well as his shirt and soaked them in water and put them in the freezer. He never realized his clothes were missing until after the game, so they had a good 5 or so hours to freeze!! Needless to say they were hard as a rock when I gave them to him after the game. All he said to me was “see you tomorrow Brian”, so I expect something pretty harsh today when I get to the field. I will definitely keep you guys posted with what all happens! We play our last night game tonight and I believe it will be televised on MLB network if any of you are bored and would like to watch!
Also, today is veterans day and I would like to say thank you to all of those who are serving or who have served in the past. We should all be thankful for everything in life including the freedom in which they provide. God Bless all of you!
I will post again next week but am always here for your questions via the comments at the bottom of this. Take care.

-Brian Dozier

The Home Stretch

Saturday’s Rising Stars game was an incredible experience. I was pretty excited to be on the winning team, and it was great to see a packed house at the Surprise Stadium. Anybody who had the chance to check out the game on the MLB network probably noticed that all of the players and fans were pretty bundled up. The temperatures plummeted on Saturday and it was a chilly 50 degrees at game time. One of my favorite parts of the clubhouse during the game was the Starbucks coffee machine. It definitely helped keep me warm.

    

It felt good to go out there and face some of the best competition in the AFL. I threw the 8th inning and didn’t run into any problems. I was fortunate enough to have a 1-2-3 inning and not make my parents and girlfriend in the stands too nervous. It was also cool to know that a lot of our friends tuned in to watch the game and got to see me throw, some even saw me for the first time.

There are only 9 games left of the regular AFL season. I know that everyone is working to finish strong. With only a few more appearances, I am looking forward to a nice break and some time to think about all that I have learned this season.

 

~Brad Boxberger #35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Light & Hope For The Best

It’s getting close to that time of the year. The time when baseball organizations have decisions to make with free agents, arbitration, next year’s payroll, and the Winter Meetings. The season after the season, where all the behind the scenes work starts in preparation for next year. For us Minor Leaguers, however, we’re narrowing in on the offseason. A time of decision making as well, but on a much more personal level.

Ashley and I have made our offseason home in Atlanta for the last 2 years. We don’t own a house or an apartment. We don’t have a dog, cat, or any children. We have 2 cars and an apartment’s worth of furniture in a storage unit (yes, it’s air conditioned…don’t worry). Our lives are light in comparison to most people. We aren’t weighed down by much, mostly because baseball won’t allow us to. It would be great to have a place in Atlanta to call home. A place where our furniture lived and our pictures hung on walls. It would be great to have a place to come “home” to after the season, or a place of refuge for Ashley when my life sends me 1500 miles across the USA in a couple weeks. It would cut down on the post season headache of having to look for 6 month leases (or 3 months this year). Our lives are light, but our burden can be heavy at times.

Some ballplayers have the resources to buy or build. Their signing bonuses stretching a bit further than ours, into the home-owner category. Other ballplayers live light, similar to us, but without a significant other. They move all over the place with their closet in their backseat. The beach one week, the city the next. Moving where the weather is warm enough to play catch. Some work in the offseason and some don’t. Some need the money…some don’t. Personally, I enjoy working during the Winter months. It keeps my mind and hands occupied while keeping us out of the poor house. Not to mention, when you’re doing work you really enjoy it becomes satisfying on a different level. I’ve worked for a company called Booster Enterprises for the last 2 years, and it truly is fulfilling work. Booster is a fund-raising company that partners with elementary and middle schools throughout the country, helping them raise funds through a character based leadership development program. They get the privilege of interacting with students everyday and helping to build the next generation of leaders. It’s rare that a company would take such a vested interest in a personal situation like mine and Ashley’s. We are gone for 6 months out of every year playing baseball all over the country, but when we are back in Atlanta the Booster family has welcomed us back with open arms. Not all baseball players who want to work get an opportunity like this. It’s a real blessing.

More than finding a home, finding work, and working out, minor league ballplayers use the time ahead to take inventory of their careers. For 6-7 months of the year they grind, day in and day out, trying to play at the highest level they can in hopes of making it to the Show. Once the season ends and the pace of life slows (even just a bit) ballplayers sit back and look at their body of work. How did they play statistically? Where did they end up? What do their chances of making it look like next season? I’ve said before that most baseball players contemplate quitting about 4 or 5 times every year. I think it’s our coping mechanism. The idea that we could hang ‘em up at any point keeps the illusion of control close at hand. But when the games stop and there’s no competition, the idea of being done playing ball actually begins to take shape. You get a closer look at what it would look like to live in a “normal” life. To have the brick house with the picket fence, 9-5 job, and 2.5 kids. So far in my experience, that nostalgic comfortable feeling begins to wear off around the new year. The itch to play comes back and there is nothing you want more than to get back out on the field. One day that desire will fade, though. It’s our job to keep asking ourselves the tough questions and make sure the passion is still there.
So far, so good!
None of us (minor leaguers and major leaguers alike) know exactly where we will be when camp breaks April 1, 2012. There are too many variables between now and then to triangulate which city/team/organization we will play for. If we want to continue to play, we have to face that reality. It’s not for the faint of heart, nor the “heavy” lifestyle. For now, we will continue to travel light and hope that we can drop anchor in Queens, NY…sooner rather than later.
- Collin McHugh, RHP, New York Mets

Rising Stars and Falling Temperatures

I had a great Halloween yesterday and was pumped to have so many trick-or-treaters come by the house this year. To top off a great night, I got some even better news once I got to the field this morning. It is such an amazing feeling to know that I have been selected to be a part of the AFL Rising Stars game. The game will take place this Saturday at the Surprise Stadium. It will definitely be a fun day full of excitement, and of course it is always a thrill to participate in games that are televised. Everyone will have to tune in to the MLB network that night and check it out.

This honor means so much to me for many reasons. Since this is my 2nd time in the AFL, I had a few goals set for myself and participating in this game was at the top of my list. My other teammates and fellow AFL players that were selected represent some of the best young players in the game and to be included in this group makes me feel humbled. I still have so much to learn and have even more goals set for the rest of the AFL and into the off-season. An opportunity like this only motivates me to keep working hard to get to the next level and challenge in my career.

On a side note, I heard some cold weather is heading our way by the end of the week, and even saw the low on Saturday is 44 degrees. Guess it is almost time to break out the jackets and turn the heat on for the first time in over 6 months.

~Brad Boxberger #35

Second Half Success

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Perhaps it’s because we are 165 games into the season (longer than any stretch i’ve ever played) and it’s all we can do to focus on what’s going on between the lines. Perhaps it’s because I’m not throwing as well as I would have liked thus far, and motivation to write has eluded me. Or perhaps it’s because with our free time Ashley and I have been catching up on our favorite TV shows each night (already caught up on The Office, now working on Bones). Whatever the reason, i’m back and It feels good.

I’m 6 outings into the Fall League with an astronomical ERA. The Javelinas are floating around .500 and we’ve got just about half the season left. Not to toot my own horn, but i’m a notoriously good finisher. Each of my last 4 professional seasons I have finished much better than I started. It might be that my starts were so bad that I could only go up from there…but whatever the reason, now is the time to finish strong once again. If you read some of my old blog posts, you know that I talk to myself. I talk myself into things, out of things, and through some of the tougher things. Halfway through each of the last few seasons I’ve had a “look myself in the mirror” pep talk. In each of those, I look in the mirror and tell myself that no one will pitch better than me for the rest of the season. It has worked in the past…why not do it again right now?

It’s only three weeks before I go home for three months. The time is winding down out here in the desert and I have already learned a ton about myself and my development. But there’s more that I want from the AFL. I want to leave with the taste of satisfaction in my mouth. The taste of success that can be carried into next championship season.

Well, I gotta run guys. There’s a mirror calling my name and it’s not gonna give itself a pep talk!

 

Collin McHugh, Pitcher, New York Mets

Update!

Hey everyone,

Just giving you guys a quick update on how things are going in the AFL. So far the Scorpions are 7-15, not exactly the record we were hoping for but I definitely feel like we are a better team then our record shows. We have an extremely talented team down here and have played well in all facets of the game at times, just not necessarily all at once. Oh well, all we can do is keep playing hard and working hard, and hopefully things will turn around. We have a lot of guys playing really good baseball and it is pretty fun to see. For me personally, I have spent some time working on my swing, which is something I felt I needed to do, and I’m pretty happy with the strides I have made so far. I definitely think this has been a really good environment to get a lot of work done on the days your not playing, while also getting game reps to get some feedback on your progress. Thats really all I got on the baseball side of things, but if anyone has any questions about anything baseball related in the AFL, please feel free to ask.

One of my friends suggested that I should talk about my top three favorite restaurants in Scottsdale, so I figured I would give that a shot. Going out to dinner is one of my favorite things to do outside the baseball field, so professional baseball was a pretty good fit for me, where most of your meals are not home cooked. My favorite restaurant here so far has been Oreganos. Normally sushi is my favorite type of food to eat when I go out for dinner but out here Oreganos takes the cake. Not necessarily the healthiest choice, so I do not go there all the time but every once in a while it is incredible. My next choice would be Sapporo. They have phenomenal sushi there and most of my friends order hibachi, so I get to watch the chefs mess around on the grill while cooking their food. Finally, my third favorite would be Kona Grill, where I also order sushi. Maybe it is the food, or maybe the awesome mall that Kona Grill is in, but I really enjoy that whole experience as well. If anyone has suggestions on good places to eat, please let me know. Thats all I got for now but please give me some feedback on what you want to hear!

 

–Alex Hassan

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