First Pitch Arizona – Baseball Fans’ Paradise

Thursday, November 2nd

My husband and early took an early flight to Phoenix so we could attend the annual welcome reception held at Scottsdale Stadium.  It was our first time attending First Pitch, so it was great meeting fellow attendees and speakers.  Great fun and conversations were had.  Also, Scottsdale was retiring Max Scherzer’s number that evening and there was a ceremony prior to the game.  After the ceremony, the Peoria Javelinas played the Scottsdale Scorpions.  The Scorpions are made up prospects from the Braves, Red Sox, Padres, Mariners, and Blue Jays systems.  The Javelinas are made up of prospects from the Reds, Angels, Mets, Yankees, and Giants systems.  The Javelinas lineup was STACKED.  Ronald Acuna, Michael Chavis, Austin Riley, and Luis Urias just to name a few.  The Scorpions lineup was pretty good as well and I was able to see Estevan Florial, Matt Thaiss, and Steven Duggar.  It was a fast moving game but I came away impressed with Urias and Riley.  Urias is such a great defender and can hit.  Riley is also not bad with the glove and had a huge triple in the top of the ninth to put the Javelinas on top for good.

Friday, November 3rd

Arizona Fall League Scouting Report

Scouts discussed interesting prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League this year.  Some of the players discussed included Ronald Acuna, Kyle Tucker, Francisco Mejia, and Mitch Keller.  It was great to hear them discuss each player especially when there was disagreement.  Being a scout is not an exact science for sure and it is interesting to hear what someone likes and/or dislikes about them.  After each player was discussed, there was a quick question and answer segment.

Statcast Update for Fantasy Leaguers

After a quick break, Eno Sarris discussed Statcast and used it to identify hitters and pitchers to love or hate.  I was blown away with the presentation.  Statcast data is WAY over my head but Eno was able to “dumb” it down for the newbies.

Arizona Fall League Game

After lunch, everyone headed back to Scottsdale for the afternoon game between the Mesa Solar Sox and the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Mesa’s lineup is made up of prospects from the Cubs, Tigers, Astros, A’s and Nationals systems.  There are some interesting guys on the team including David Bote, Sheldon Neuse, Taylor Gushue, and Victor Robles.  It was a low scoring affair and the Scottsdale pitching staff threw a one hitter.  I was excited to see Robles in the lineup but only saw one at bat as he was lifted for Daniel Johnson for unknown reasons.  I assumed he was lifted because he was going to be playing in the Fall Stars Game the next night.  I was surprised with Cubs prospect David Bote.  He is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year and if the Cubs do not protect him I am sure another team will select him.  He plays a great 2B with a great hit tool and some pop.

Draft and Podcast Night

After the game, there were many drafts held and podcasts recorded live.  I did not attend the drafts nor live podcasts as my husband and I decided to do some hiking and sightseeing.  However, next year I plan on checking these out as they sounded like great fun.

Saturday, November 4th

Fact or Fluke – Hitting and Pitching editions

Fact or Fluke, one of BaseballHQ’s cornerstone weekly pieces, discussed if players where legit (fact) or not (fluke).  The hitting panel, Jeff Erickson, Eric Karabell, Todd Zola and Ray Murphy and the pitching panel, Jason Collette, Paul Sporer, Derek Van Riper, and Doug Dennis, discussed each player and whether or not they thought the player was Fact or Fluke.  They did not go into depth but the analysis and banter was great.

Blisterama – Injury Management in the 10 Day DL Era

The panel, Ron Shandler, Jeff Zimmerman, Matt Cederholm, and Tristan Crockcroft, discussed the 10 day DL and the effect it has had on fantasy leagues.

Breakout Session #1 – Minors Q&A

After lunch, we had the choice of one hour breakout sessions.  I chose the Minors Q&A as my first.  The session was really great and Eric Longenhagen, Chris Blessing, and Emily Waldon were very knowledgeable.  Everyone had the opportunity to ask questions and great learning experience.

Breakout Session #2 – Lessons from the 2017 ADP

Another great informal session.  Dave Potts, Alex Chamberlain, Brian Slack and Greg Ambrosius discussed players drafted in the high rounds last year who did not produce at that level and if there was anything to learn from last year’s drafts.  It will be interesting to see if there are any “one hit” wonders this year.

Breakout Session #3 – The Importance of Arm Slot

My favorite session of the day.  I love learning about the mechanics of pitching and Doug Thorburn is an expert.  I’m looking forward to looking at the things I learned next year!

AFL Fall Stars Game

My husband and I drove over to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, a beautiful stadium by the way, to see the AFL Fall Stars Game.  We had great seats, even arriving later than we planned on.  We got to see so many great players (Acuna, Robles, Meija) but I came away impressed with Tanner Scott and Brennan Bernardino.  I think Scott has a chance to stick as a starter but Bernardino is strictly a reliever.   His breaking stuff is knee buckling.

Sunday, November 5th

Would You Rather…

In this session, Ryan Bloomfield, Tim Heaney, Derek Carty, and Steve Moyer, debated various players and if they would draft them at certain places next year.  To my surprise, and enjoyment, there was much disagreement. However, I am #teamfloor.

Makeup – The New Frontier in Player Evaluation

The next session was very interesting.  Brad Kullman, a former GM and MLB front office member discussed his recent book Hardwired for Life.  Every person is hardwired from birth to have certain tendencies that impact the way they live, behave, and perform.  Kullman wonders if this could be the new frontier in player development.  He says the lower minors, where players are still in development stages, are being coached by coaches less equipped to handle the “psyche” side of development.

The Final Session

The closing session was amazing.  I cannot tell you what it was about or who was there but believe me…it was worth it.

Final Verdict

If you ever have the chance to go to First Pitch Arizona, I would highly recommend it.  My husband and I decided to make it an annual trek out west.  The friendships made and baseball discussions are worth it.  Then the added bonus of watching AFL games is icing on the cake.

Article featured image of Fall Stars Game – courtesy of Shelly Verougstraete (@tnyfn20)

Shelly Verougstraete is the Nationals writer here at Prospects1500. Even as a diehard Red Sox fan, and author of sabermetric based Red Sox blog, the goal here is to keep you up to date with all the happenings down on the Nats farm. Shelly lives in Virginia and has many minor league parks (A to AA) close by. Let's Go Nats!

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