I played in the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Showcase on Friday night at Surprise Stadium. It was a very exciting and intense game. We got off to a good start when we scored four runs in the second inning – Josh Reddick (OF/BOS) and I each hit two-run home runs off Phil Hughes (RHP/NYY) to give our team an early lead. Our starter, Tommy Hanson (RHP/ATL), continued his dominance in the desert – he had seven strikeouts in three scoreless innings. Ultimately, we lost the game 7-6 with the National Division winning on a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 9th inning. Regardless of the outcome, I enjoyed getting to know more guys from around the league and it was a great overall experience. Thank you to everyone who came out to the game – heard there were close to 3,000 fans in attendance.
Well, we start Week 4 tomorrow. I cannot believe we are almost halfway done with the Fall League. I am really enjoying the AFL and am just going to try to finish the season strong and use the remaining time I have out here to work on my game. This is the most I have ever played in a single year, but I feel good physically and mentally and am in no hurry for the season to end. There will be plenty of time to rest after the Fall League before I start to get ready for spring training. In the off-season, I will live and workout in Houston, TX. Houston is home, my parents and one of my older brothers still live there and several major and minor league players living in or around the area work out together just north of Houston at the Tomball Sports Medicine Center – the program is led by a guy named Dennis Fay and he is great at his job.
Well, that’s about all I have for now. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like for me to talk about anything in particular – ideas are greatly appreciated because even great bloggers like myself (joking) experience writer’s block every now and then.
It is hard to believe that we are already heading into week 3 of the Fall League – the saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is definitely true. We are 8 – 3 after two weeks. I have heard that winning is not the number one priority during the AFL, but I feel like our team is approaching each game the same way as the regular season and we are taking pride in being on top of the division. We had one rough game this past week – we took an 18-10 loss at home. But overall, it was a solid week and we are ready to get going in week 3. Additionally, I was excited to learn this weekend that I have been selected to play in the 3rd Arizona Fall League “Rising Stars” Game.
My time out here so far has only furthered my appreciation for the city of Scottsdale and the surrounding areas. I have already had the opportunity to spend a lot of time out here because the San Diego Padres Spring Training facility is in Peoria. It is a great place to be. I really enjoy all the different restaurant choices, the malls (Fashion Square and Kierland Commons) and all of the beautiful golf courses (although I have not had a whole lot of time to get out on the course). This city really has everything you need and the weather at this time of year is phenomenal.
In my last blog entry, I mentioned that one of my older brothers, Royce, played in the 2004 Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. One addition to that impressive lineup that I left out is Dustin Pedroia (2B/BOS). He has definitely done a lot of good things since his time in the Fall League. My other older brother, Scott, played football and baseball at Rice University and both he and Royce have had a big impact not only on my career, but on my life in general. I have always looked up to them and I do not believe that I would be the person or player that I am today without their unconditional love and support. They definitely were not afraid to give me tough “brotherly love” at certain times when I was growing up and although it was sometimes hard, I am so glad they did it. We remain close today and I am lucky to have them in my life.
Well, I am now about to finish watching the Red Sox-Rays Game 7 and start getting ready for bed so that I can be fresh for tomorrow’s 12:35 p.m. game. As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will be back with another blog next week.
Hey everyone, this is Mike Ekstrom writing to you from the mighty Peoria Saguaros (we’re 8-2 and in 1st place) of the Arizona Fall League. For all of you who aren’t familar with me, I have spent four seasons in the Padres minor leagues and spent this whole season as a member of the San Antonio Missions. This September I made my major league debut with the Padres and made eight appearances for the big club.
So far the AFL has been a lot fun for us. Not only have we been playing well, but it’s a good group of guys, the weather’s awesome, and we have some great coaches.
I must say the game’s seem to be played a little differently in the fall league. In the regular season if you look at a box score and see that seven pitchers threw in the game it might be a red flag that things went badly. In the AFL that’s just another day. It’s pretty nice though to have our set routines and know when we pitch a couple days in advance. Also, maybe you see a team score nine runs in a game once a week in the regular season, here games are routinely 9-7 or 11-6. Today we lost 18-10 for example. Maybe some of the football season is rubbing off in our scores.
One other thing that’s been interesting for us is to see how other organizations go about their business. Our team is made up of Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, White Sox, and Mets. For the most part we all do the same stuff, but everyone has their own fine points that are different. I think it’ll be really helpful to see other ways to do our work and maybe I’ll find something that works better for me. You never know right.
Well that’s about all I got for y’all, hope I could shed a little light on the AFL experience for ya. Thanks for reading, Mike.
The first week in the 2008 Arizona Fall League is officially in the books and after five games, our team is in first place in the American Division with a 5-0 record. Our success can be attributed to both quality pitching and good hitting. We enter Week 2 with the best team ERA (2.80), the most runs scored (40) and are second in batting average. I know it takes a while for a group of players from different organizations to learn to play together, but we have really come together in a short amount of time and I am already very excited about this team.
We had our first game on Tuesday night at Scottsdale Stadium against the Scottsdale Scorpions. We won the game 9-3 and I hit a solo home run in my first AB – definitely nice that are team started with a win and I was happy to get the first home run under my belt. I played three games in our first week and felt good about my contribution to our team’s early success. It is a little different not playing every day, but it is understandable with the amount of talent that we have on our roster. Even on days when I know that I am not going to play, I come to the ballpark with the same mentality. Each day is an opportunity to get better and I approach my work – batting practice, infield, etc. – with the same mentality regardless of whether my name is penciled into the lineup.
We have completed one week of games out here, but I can definitely say that I am a big fan of the Arizona Fall League. There is a tremendous amount of talent out here and I am grateful for the opportunity play the game against such quality competition. I was somewhat familiar with the AFL because one of my older brothers, Royce, played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in 2004 when he was a member of the Houston Astros organization. He has given me valuable insight on what to expect and tips on how to go about my business so that I can maximize this experience. I was amazed when he told me that his team in 2004 included players such as Russell Martin (C/LAD), James Loney (1B/LAD), Carlos Quentin (OF/CWS), Conor Jackson (IF-OF/ARI), Willy Tavares (OF/COL) and Rickie Weeks (2B/MIL). I will write more about the positive impact Royce and the rest of my family have had on my baseball career in a later blog entry.
Thanks again for your support and I appreciate your comments.
Hey, everybody. Chad Huffman here with the San Diego Padres/Peoria Saguros. Since this is my first blog entry, I want to first give you a little background information about myself. I grew up in Missouri City, TX – just outside of Houston. I attended Elkins High School where I played football and baseball. At Elkins, I was teammates with James Loney (first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers). We won back-to-back state championships in 2002 and 2003 as well as the mythical national championship in 2002. After high school, I attended Texas Christian University (TCU) on a football scholarship and played quarterback while also playing baseball.
All we have done is practice during our first week out here in Arizona. The practices have been pretty laid back, which is great for the players because it gives us an opportunity to get to know each other a little better before we start playing games on October 7th. It has been a lot of fun to see so many talented players on the same field. Our coaches are great – they are very approachable and seem very enthusiastic about coaching in the AFL.
One of my first memorable experiences in professional baseball involved our Fall League pitching coach, Wally Whitehurst. I remember walking up to him on the bus and saying, “Hey, I’m Chad Huffman.” He replied, “That’s great, now go sit down.” No hi, my name is Wally or anything – that was it! So I just sat down in my seat on the bus – which had no A/C, by the way – and thought to myself, “so this is what pro ball is all about.” I now actually think that story is pretty hilarious. Wally and I got to know each other pretty well during my time in Eugene, Oregon (Short-Season). Wally is a great coach, an even better guy and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with him during the AFL.
For all the readers out there, if you have questions about anything, just write me a message and I will be more than happy to answer them for you.