October 2013

An early thought from the AFL

I spent last week running around the Arizona Fall League during the opening days of the season. Six games in three days (stay tuned for AFL team reports — video and written — that stemmed from those efforts). While my focus was on getting the 30 interviews we had planned done (check), I was able to watch some exciting players in action, both in batting practice as well as during games.

I’ll try to sprinkle some early thoughts here in a series of blog posts. Here’s the first one.

  • Kris Bryant is really good. Not only has the Cubs prospect (and No. 2 overall pick) started his Fall League by going 8-for-18 with two homers and a double, he puts on a ridiculous batting practice show. The power is beyond legit. He’s also an early member of the All-Interview Team: very engaging and thoughtful. He even was happy to talk to me about how he started with his wide stance (sophomore season). I was particularly curious because my 12-year-old son, Ziv, has been using something very similar.

BryantZiv stance

In case you were curious, Bryant is the first one. And yes, I know Ziv has his hands too high (We’re working on it. Jeez, he’s only 12).

More to come…

Remembering a young Buc

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=31066535I was in the Pirates clubhouse yesterday, following the pre-Wild Card game workout. In case you missed, it, I came away with a story on what the Pirates might do to contain speedster Billy Hamilton.

I also contributed to the Pirates notebook, writing up something on hometown kid Neil Walker savoring this return to the postseason.

I don’t wander into big league coverage too often, but it’s often fun for me to think about how I’ve covered some of these established players over the years. Walker is an outstanding example.

It started when he was still in high school. I traveled to Pine-Richland High School in nearby Gibsonia when he was a big-time Draft prospect, hoping to be selected by his hometown team. Best quote from that story is Walker dreaming about playing in Pittsburgh:

“It really is storybook,” said Walker, who idolizes Twins rookie Joe Mauer, the former No. 1 pick who was a high school catcher taken by his hometown team. “They like me a lot, and I like them a lot, and I think they would be a good fit for me.

“Whatever happens, happens. If I don’t make it to [the 11th pick], then I’m going to have the same attitude and mentality toward whatever team I go to, because it’s going to be exciting.”

Walker obviously was taken by the Pirates and came back to PNC Park to play in the 2006 Futures Game (he was still a catcher back then). I talked to him after he was named to the team and he came a day early to do a whirlwind Pittsburgh tour for our very first Futures Game Video Diary. We liked the idea so much, we’ve been doing it every year prior to the Futures Game since then.


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