Arizona Fall League Offers Collectors A Unique Scouting Experience – Most baseball fans say goodbye to baseball season once a World Series champion has been crowned. The end of season awards ceremony can provide a nice hobby bump to current major leaguers, but what about the prospects? The Arizona Fall League, which runs during October and November in Phoenix, Arizona functions as a fantastic epilogue to the Major League season and provides fans and collectors a way to get ready for next season.
This offseason league allows Major League teams to showcase their prospects in front of scouts and MLB executives. These players refine their skills for possible call-ups to the big leagues the next season. Past players include: Cody Bellinger, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Kris Bryant, Mike Trout and many more. Games are played daily at six different Spring Training stadiums around the Phoenix area. The best part for fans? Most of the games are general admission, which means you can sit wherever you want!
This type of access for fans is unique. The crowds vary in size, but they never max out the stadium’s capacity. Not even close. There will always be an empty seat in the first three rows for a fantastic field level view of all the action. After the game, some players will stay on the field and sign for fans. This is a perfect opportunity to get a ball, card or piece of memorabilia signed by a top prospect.
Because this is a prospect league, the Bowman brand is heavily featured at stadiums. Early on in the schedule, Bowman sponsors a hitting challenge. Each batter swings away at live pitching and earns points for home runs or by hitting a variety of stationary and moving targets scattered throughout the field. When targets are hit by batted balls, fans in the stands win prizes! This year, Minnesota Twins prospect Chris Paul walked away with top honors in the event.
The most popular event of the Arizona Fall League is the Fall Stars Game. The game showcases the best of the best players from the Fall League, and often contains a number of top-10 Major League prospects. This year’s game took place at Salt River Fields, Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
Before the game, fans could attend the “Learn From A Pro Scout” Seminar sponsored by Bowman Baseball cards. This is a great opportunity for fans and collectors to gather information from two major league scouts: Carl Moesche and John Kazanas. Both of these highly regarded veteran scouts shared their insights into the world of professional scouting with the crowd.
Every year, Bowman puts together a contest where a lucky fan gets to shadow a scout at the Fall Stars Game. This year’s winner of the “Ultimate Scout Challenge” was Dylan Farwell from Indiana. He joined Carl Moesche behind home plate for the entire game to get a scout’s take on the action. Dylan was excited for the opportunity and was able to get a first hand look how a scout watches a baseball game.
The game itself featured a handful of top-10 prospects including Ronald Acuna of the Atlanta Braves, Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals and Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Scoring to begin the game was a bit stagnant until shortstop prospect Luis Urias of the San Diego Padres broke a 1-1 tie with a home run in the top of the fifth. Urias and the West Division stars held that 2-1 lead until the bottom of the 8th when the East Division Stars hung three runs on the board to take a 4-2 lead. The Eastern Division was led by centerfielder Victor Robles, who earned the game’s MVP honors. After the game, fans had an opportunity to come down close to the field for autographs from some of the players. Brewers outfield prospect Corey Ray spent a good amount of time interacting with young fans and signing baseballs.
The Arizona Fall League should definitely be on the radar of every baseball fan and collector. For a small price, you can get into any game and sit as close as possible to the action. The sparse crowds will allow you the opportunity to interact with players before and after the game. There’s also a great chance you can get a ball from one of the players or chase after a foul among the many empty seats. Next fall, while many baseball fans are packing up their gloves for next spring, why not extend the season an extra week or two in sunny Arizona?
See you there next year!
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