Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Fall League’

The Arizona Fall League Will Be On TV, But No Strasburg

The Arizona Fall League’s annual Rising Stars Game will be played tonight at 8:15 and televised on the MLB Network.  It’s a good opportunity for fans to check out some of minor league baseball’s best young players – guys like Drew Storen, Buster Posey, Dustin Ackley, Domonic Brown, and Grant Desme are expected to play.

One guy who won’t be making an appearance is Stephen Strasburg.  Originally announced as the starting pitcher for the East Division All-Stars, Strasburg was scratched on Friday with a muscle strain in his neck, a disappointing fact for who were hoping to see The Chosen One in action, many for the first time. (Strasburg really needs a nickname, does he not?)

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Speed Bump For Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg is gonna be a bust.  Write it down.

How’s that for some reactionary thinking?

In reality, it is comically early to begin assessing Strasburg’s professional career.  He has made two starts in the Arizona Fall League.  One was reasonably good; the other, not so much.

The latter was Strasburg’s most recent outing, against the Peoria Javelinas.  He worked into the third inning, allowing eight runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.  As noted in the story about the game, he only gave up sixteen earned runs in his entire final season of college.

That’s a pretty terrible point of reference, however, when one considers that all of those runs were scored against college kids, in college games, the last of which took place nearly five months ago.  Those facts clearly illustrate the dual battles that Strasburg is fighting in the earliest stages of his professional career: one, he has to be rusty (pitches have a habit of not doing what you want when you haven’t thrown them in awhile), and two, this is his first experience against professional hitters.

At least Strasburg has the right attitude, though.  In the same story linked above, he said,

“I felt pretty good, but I just wasn’t able to work ahead in the count…I left some pitches up, and I know what I need to fix. Part of getting back into game shape is, you’re going to have some good games and some bad ones. It’s all about learning from it, and I feel I learned a lot from this outing.”

Can you really ask for anything more, especially from a 21-year-old kid?

The Savior Has Landed

Stephen Strasburg made his minor league debut on Friday night, starting and pitching into the fourth inning for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.  He allowed two hits, struck out two, walked one, kept the ball on the ground, and was voted the 2010 Rookie of the Year after the game.  (One of those things might not be entirely true.)

Strasburg reached the high 90s with his fastball but “wasn’t missing a lot of bats,” according to a scout contacted by Baseball America.  The formula seemed pretty simple: when he got the ball up in the zone, hitters were able to make decent contact; when he kept it down, he got strikeouts and groundouts.  His secondary pitches, a curve and slider, weren’t super-fantastic, but we have to remember: Strasburg hadn’t seen real live game action since the end of May.  It’s gonna take time to work back into shape.

One more item of interest, courtesy of Baseball America’s scout source:

On a long-term basis, the scout sees Strasburg as “a sort of righthanded Dave Righetti. No doubt he’ll begin his career as a No. 1 starter, but later on I can see him being a power closer.”

I think this is the first I’ve heard anyone suggest that Strasburg might follow the Dennis Eckersley/John Smoltz career plan.

Important Dates For Fall And Winter Baseball Leagues

Browsing MLB.com this afternoon, I found a page with some important dates for various Fall and Winter Leagues, so I thought I’d post them.

October 9 – Mexican Pacific League Opening Day
October 9 – Venezuelan Winter League Opening Day
October 13 – Arizona Fall League Opening Day
October 16 – Dominican Winter League Opening Day
November 7 – Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game
November 20 – Mexican Pacific League Second Half Begins
November 23 – Arizona Fall League Championship Game
December 13 – Dominican Winter League All-Star Game
December 21 – Dominican Winter League Regular Season Ends
December 30 – Mexican Pacific League Regular Season Ends
February 2 – Caribbean Series Begins
February 8 – Caribbean Series Ends

Right after Eric started Bus Leagues, he noted that a passionate fan could probably manage to follow minor league baseball all year long.  He’s right – if one reaches outside the United States and considers the entire Western Hemisphere, there’s always something going on.

I’ll do my best to provide some updates for all these leagues (there’s a young man making his debut soon in Arizona who I imagine we all have some interest in).  It will largely depend on what MiLB.com has available for box scores and recaps, but I’ll see what I can do.