If the farm is your thing, this is the perfect time to head out to the desert. Most of the NRI’s have been reassigned to the minor league camp and the kids are just starting to round into form after a couple of weeks of spring training.
So Friday at 8 am, I land at Sky Harbor, jump into my rental and speed out to Surprise to get my first dose of live baseball of the year by 9 am.
You won’t find me anywhere near the big league camp. I’ll be in the kiddie pool (minor league fields) with the bevy of baby prospects Jon Daniels and his scouting department have assembled over the past year.
I’ll be amping up the Farm Report with photos, my observations, quotes from players and other good stuff over the weekend.
It goes without saying that this trip to the kiddie pool will be my most exciting and interesting ever.
Here are some things I’m looking forward to seeing.
1) Morning catchers drills: Cristian Santana (pictured), Taylor Teagarden, Max Ramirez, Manny Pina, Leonel De Los Santos, Jonathan Greene, and Tomas Telis along with smart, heady vets like Kevin Richardson and Chris Stewart?
That’s un unbelievable, unprecedented collection of catching talent and skill on one place at one time.
This is an unbelievable thing to see. It affords you the unique opportunity to compare and contrast in real time, so to speak, and normally even a novice can almost immediately identify the best arm in the bunch.
Two years ago, I recall watching a 16 year old Fabio Castillo throw along side five others and it took all of two minutes to figure out that his arm was a cut above the others.
This year? Things might not be so clear cut. Can you imagine watching Neftali Feliz (98 mph), Wilmer Font (98 mph), Castillo (96 mph), Michael Main (96 mph), Neil Ramirez (96 mph) and Kasey Kiker (97 mph — pictured) lined up, popping mits at the same time?
Elvis Andrus (pictured), Joaquin Arias and Jose Vallejo will be competing for the "quickest hands" title. Should be some dazzling stuff.
4) Thomas Diamond: I’ve got a great feeling about TD bouncing back from Tommy John surgery better than ever and he’s set a target date of March 20 to pitch to live hitting once again. I’ll be gone by then, but I should have a chance to watch Thomas throw a side and, I hope, have a chat with him.
I’ve started dreaming of TD closing games for the Rangers in a year or two and it will be exciting to watch him begin his comeback.
And I haven’t even mentioned watching a Chris Davis BP or getting my first look of Engel Beltre….
Please make a point of checking back here through the weekend. And forgive me ahead of time if my optimism and excitement rob me of objectivity.
This is going to be fun.