This will the last time that I post a blog entry about my experience in the Arizona Fall League. The offseason will hopefully begin on Sunday, which would mean that the Peoria Saguaros played in the AFL Championship on Saturday. The Fall League has only 3 days of regular season games remaining on the schedule and the top teams from each division meet for a one-game championship on November 22nd. Our record is 24 – 11. We are tied for first place in the American Division with the Mesa Solar Sox and play them at home on Wednesday.
I am extremely excited to get home and see my family and friends. Most of the players out here are starting to get pretty tired right about now. Most of us have been playing baseball for nine months now and it is hard to believe we will be shutting it down in less than a week. I plan to head back to Houston, TX on Sunday and am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday – a great day of family, food and football. I am definitely thankful for having the opportunity to play in the AFL – it has been a great experience getting to play against this calibur of player for a couple months. I know this experience will help me at some point next year.
I want to thank Jonathan Mayo of mlb.com for selecting me to blog on behalf of the San Diego Padres organization during the Fall League. And I greatly appreciate all all of the readers out there who were interested in hearing about my AFL experience. Your comments were greatly appreciated and I hope to have the opportunity to blog in the future. I will end this blog with a quote that I think all baseball players can relate to:
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hey everyone, this is Mike Baxter writing you from sunny Peoria, AZ. I am originally from Queens, NY, so the fact that I am still wearing shorts and t-shirts in late November is pretty amazing. That all comes to an end, though, Sunday when the Fall League ends and I head back to the city for Thanksgiving with my family. It’s been a pretty long year, and the idea of some time off is pretty exciting. I will spend about a week in NY before heading back down to Nashville for the rest of the offseason where I train with some other ballplayers at my old college, Vanderbilt. Nashville has become my offseason home the past few years, and the coaches there have been awesome as they let us all come back and use the facilities throughout the winter. I’m not sure where I would be today without them.
The Fall League has been a great experience as it has given me the opportunity to keep working on my game against some very talented players. I ended up getting more playing time than originally expected, and have been lucky to come across some very knowledgeable people out here. Every morning we show up it’s a certainty that Eck, Jack, and Jimmy Lefebrve (our hitting coaches) will be in the cage ready to get to work, and I have learned a lot from these guys. Hopefully, I can take their lessons into the offseason and keep working on my swing.
Right now the Sags are tied for first place with Mesa as we make our push for the Championship over these next four games. It’s coming down to the wire and keeping each day exciting at the end of a long season. We have got a really great group of guys on this team and everyone is still locked in and ready to play. Hopefully we can pull through and end this year on a great note. Thanks to everyone for following all of us Padres out here, and let me know if you guys have any questions or comments I can answer.
My name is Sean Kazmar and I play for the San Diego Padres. I was born in Valdosta, Georgia, but raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. I now live in the West Valley of Arizona. I attended Las Vegas High School where I played shortstop. After high school I went to Southern Nevada Community College for two years where I also played shortstop. While at CCSN we won the Junior College National Championship. One of my prouder moments before making it to pro-ball. After my sophomore year of college I signed to go to the University of Georgia, but instead signed with the Padres. I have been with the Padres organization for going on five years now. This last season I played AA in San Antonio and was called up for the remaining two months of the big league season. After season was over, my next step was to attend the Arizona Fall League. This year in the AFL I was hoping to accomplish a few different things. My main goal was to get some at bats and see more live pitching, while working on my consistency at the plate. My second goal was to learn how to play outfield and get playing time in new positions. With the season coming to an end, I have had a chance to work on both of these goals. I have faced some good pitching and have had the opportunities to work on my swing and my approach at the plate. Each day I feel more and more comfortable playing the role of a utility guy also. This has been the first chance that I have had the opportunity to play outfield, and against this caliber of talent, I feel that it has been coming along very well. With a few weeks to go, I hope to continue working on these skills and I hope to end the season on a good note. I have gotten to know the team and coaching staff well and I have had a great experience so far. I have learned a lot and enjoyed the opportunity to work with different coaching styles from different organizations. The guys on the team have also been great to play with and my experience in the AFL has been memorable.
I am calling this blog entry “Week 5 and Still Alive” for the following reasons:
(1) The Peoria Saguaros currently lead the AFL American Division (Mesa is one game back), so our championship game hopes are still alive and well;
(2) This is the longest season I have ever had – never played baseball in the month of November – but I still feel good and have not yet hit the wall.;
Hope everyone is doing well. I usually post a new blog entry on Mondays during the Fall League, but this week, I waited until today because I did not want to take any attention away from the U.S. Presidential Election 🙂 Tuesday was a historic day in America. Regardless of my personal political beliefs, the election produced a record turnout at the polls and the nation’s voice was heard. I hope that everyone – Republicans, Democrats, whoever – just does their best to work together and do whatever it takes to make the kind of positive changes that both Obama and McCain talked about during the campaign.
Last Friday night was Halloween and I attended the “Ghost Ball,” which was an event in Old Town Scottsdale put together by Steve Levine Entertainment. I know Steve Levine personally – great guy and I definitely appreciate what he does out here. There were a lot of Arizona Fall League guys at the event and everyone seemed to have a really good time. A group of players from the Phoenix Desert Dogs team won “Best Group Costume” – 15 guys dressed up as “The Running of the Bulls” and one player wore a bull costume and chased them around throughout the night. Absolutely hilarious.
My parents will be in Arizona this weekend. I am very excited to see them – always nice to see your family when you have been away from home for a while. They will attend my games on Friday and Saturday and I am sure we will go to dinner both nights and just catch up. I talk to them pretty much every day or two, but it will be very good to see them in person. As you know, baseball is a long season and the support of your family just makes the journey that much easier – my Mom and Dad really know how to help me keep things in perspective when times are tough. Definitely appreciate everything they have done for me and know that I will never be able to fully repay them.
It is hard to believe that we are about to finish Week 5 in the Fall League. After this weekend, we only have one more full week and then four regular season games in Week 7. I hope that our team will be able to maintain our division lead and have the opportunity to play in the AFL Championship Game on Saturday, November 22nd.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and please send any questions or comments.