AFL Winding down

Hey fans! Lucas May again from the Surprise Rafters. This week was definately a little better than the last week for our team.  Breaking a 10+ game losing streak and stringing a couple of wins together definately felt better than losing.  Sometimes over the course of a season a team will get locked into either winning or losing.  For us it was the losing we just couldn’t shake, but I definitely see things turing around as we won 3 games this week and scored the most runs we’ve scored yet en route to beating Peoria 11-4.

All it took was a couple of wins to get our team loosened up in the clubhouse before real personalities came out.  This past week and a half were filled with the typical pranks that ballplayers pull on each other.  From buckets of cold water in the shower to gum bubbles on top of hats, to coming in from a game and having someone’s personal belongings duct-taped into a tight ball only to be cut free with a hunting knife.  The good thing about the Fall League is that no matter what the team record is, it is easy to recognize the great things that are done on the field by individuals.  The point of playing a baseball game is to win, everyone understands that, but when a team is compiled of 5 different organizations who all preach to their players that their organization is most important, it’s easier to look at individual positives on the team and to put the losses into short term memory.

So far, my favorite thing about the Fall League is meeting the new people who I will play against for years to come. It’s interesting to see the differences from organization to organization.  Some teams have rules about how high  (or low) they can wear their pants and some don’t care.  Some have strict rules on facial hair and some allow it.  It is also interesting to see the differences in the finer details of the game itself.  Some clubs who are big on walks and OBP tend to play a different way than clubs who don’t necessarily stress those.  In no way am I saying one way is better or worse, it’s just a finer detail that you don’t notice unless you play with a group of guys for months. 

As for myself I am greatful for being healthy thus far and catching every other day.  I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about our pitchers and it’s fun to see a result in a win and to shake hands after a game. 

I’ll be back Monday with another entry.  Thanks for checking up!  See ya guys!

AFL Week 3

Hey guys, it has been a little while since my last post, I’m thankful for Brent Leach to fill in with a guest post while I was away.  In the time since my last post, I’ve been busy with visitors coming in town to see me here in Arizona.  In this, the 3rd week of the Arizona Fall League, I regret to inform those who don’t know that the Surprise Rafters did not win a game. We have  a talented team no doubt, but we are young compared to the rest of the teams. It seems as though there is a monkey on our backs  that we cannot shake off when it comes to wins and losses.  We jump out to an early lead many times, but fail to hold the lead long enough the shake hands at the end of the day.  While winning is on all of our minds, the most important thing here in the Fall League is to improve on an individual basis while facing the best competition.  As a catcher, I see our pitchers making adjustments that they need to, and as a hitter, it’s just a matter of getting on a roll and stringing a few hits together.

Rather than talking about the losses over the past week, I think now is an appropriate time to reflect of the people who got me to where I am today.

First and foremost, the people that instilled the drive for me to be successful in whatever I choose are my parents.  Growing up in St. Louis, my dad was my baseball coach from when I first picked up a bat until high school.  The thing I most respect out of my parents when it comes to sports is that they never forced anything upon me.  They were always pushing me to work hard, as long as I liked the sport.  I played mainly football and baseball growing up.  My dad was always willing to run pass patterns so I could practice my passes, and I kid you not, my mom would put on full catcher’s gear so I could practice pitching when I got home from school. 

There was never any question in regards to what I wanted to be when I grew up, and that was a baseball player.  In high school, when it came time to choose a college, I chose a school in which I thought could bring me closer to my goal of playing in the big leagues.  Because that was my goal, my parents backed me up all the way, and when I got drafted and decided to sign with the Dodgers, they backed me up all the way again.  No matter what avenue I would chose in life, I know my parents would be there to back me up.  The most important thing, though, is that they gave me the means to achieve my goals.

The best advice I could give a parent is to listen to what their kid really wants to do, and provide the means for him to achieve that goal.  I am very thankful that mine pushed me to do what I am doing now. I look forward to posting in the next couple days, thanks for reading!   

“Guest Blogger: Brent Leach”

 


 
 
 

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Hey this is Brent Leach! I am left handed bullpen pitcher representing the LA Dodgers here in the AFL. I am just dropping in to give a quick update. Let me first say that I am very blessed and honored to be a part of the team here. Each day we are all giving opportunities to become a better baseball player. Whether it is improving a baseball skill, learning from a new situation, gaining emotional maturity, or general conditioning, a task is on hand every day. I believe I can speak for everyone one when I say that the AFL is another step closer to becoming a major league baseball player.  Over the past two weeks, I can already sense the high level of competition. Everyone is striving with high expectations before another baseball season wraps up and we head home for the offseason.  The hitters have been real aggressive so far but on the flip side so have all the pitchers.  My pitching coach, Charlie Hough, told me to be real attentive to hitters here, because a lot of these hitters I will see again in the big leagues. Most of the guys seem to have a strong sense of camaraderie here, chasing the same dream with the same goals in mind. As a Dodger, during spring training my teammates and I always get to here Tommy Lasorda talk. One of the points he talks about are the three types of baseball players.  Players who watch happen, players that wonder what happened, and the players who make it happen.  I believe that all these guys who are out here are doing their best to make it happen.  It takes skill, little bit of luck, blessings from God, and a lot of hours of hard work to reach the major leagues.  With almost two weeks completed and five weeks to go, the Arizona Fall League is packed full of intense competition and it is only going to get stronger.  Season always seem to fly by fast so with a little bit of pride and a little bit of humility I am always proud to say that I am blessed to put on my baseball uniform every day I get the chance.

Finally I would like to give a shout out to my family, friends, and if I have any fans out there yawl too. (hah)  To my wife Sara, who knows me best and shares my passion for baseball with me, thank you for being more than I could ever ask for.  That will wrap up this post.  Over and Out!

God Bless,

Brent Leach

AFL Week 2, first games

Hello again!  Lucas May here with the Surprise Rafters.  Looking back on the first games of the Fall League here in Arizona, I am reminded of the first games of spring and the first games of the regular season.  Nothing is more exciting than getting to spring training and playing in those first games after a long off-season.  And finally when spring training gets a little repetetive, the first games of the regular season roll around.  The excitement is back in the air, and everyone on the team is eager to find their niche and get into their daily routine.  The first week in the Fall League was a lot like any first week of baseball.  For myself, it was all about getting into a routine and getting back into the swing of things.

The best part of the first week, for me, was finally seeing what all of our guys could do in a game setting.  Whether it be Wes Hodges hitting go ahead three run homers in two consecutive games to Matt Wieters going 9 straight at bats without getting out, to Brian Matusz having a stellar pro debut, that makes it easy to overlook the record we compiled this week of 2 and 3.  It was also fun to see my fellow Dodgers hold their own. Russ Mitchell in his Fall League debut had a hit and a couple of RBIs and Jamie Hoffmann got his typical two hits per game with a few RBIs as well. 

As for myself, it was fun getting back into action behind the plate.   The guys on our staff showed pretty good command for the first week, a few bumps in the road here and there.  I feel like my catching is coming along pretty good as I had a few blocks in key situations this week.  For me, improvement on my catching is my number one goal here in the Fall League, and the first week was a step in the right direction.

Our team has a passion for the game of baseball….but surpassing our passion of this game is the passion for college football.  On Saturdays our clubhouse is littered with tee shirts from all corners of the country, representing different colleges.  Every TV is on a different game before we go out for our own game.  If we can spend half the energy we spend talking trash about college football on our baseball…surely we will have success! 

I’d like to shout out to my little brother Steve May and the rest of his baseball buddies who are grinding it out at Army at West Point!  Thanks for checking up on me, and I’m always checking up on you guys.  

Thanks for reading this week and I’ll be back for another post on Monday.  Take it easy! 

AFL Week 1-Personal Bio

Hello everyone, my name is Lucas May with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and I am representing our team out here in the Fall League.  As I am doing a weekly blog on my experience out here, I will have this be an introduction and tell a little about myself and how I came to play in the Fall League.

Starting off, I was raised mostly in St. Louis and still spend my off-seasons there.  I was drafted out of high school in 2003 and signed as a shortstop, where I played for 2 and a half years.  Mid way through my 2005 season I converted to the outfield where I would spend the next year and a half.  After the 2006 season in Low-A Columbus, the Dodgers approached me about converting again to catcher. 

I jumped in with both feet during the instructional league in Arizona that fall, thinking that this would be my last position change.  My first year catching in 2007 was the epitome of a learning experience.  With the help of Steve Yeager, Charlie Hough, and Dave Collins, my High-A experience was a crash course of ‘how to catch’.  The Dodgers catching coordinator, Travis Barbary, would make regular trips in to track my progress as well. There is so much more work to be done as a catcher rather than an infielder or outfielder.  Physically it is a grind, but even more is the mental strength it takes to remember hitters and to know what your pitchers are capable of.

This year I played in the Double-A Southern League out of Jacksonville Fl.  It was a very challenging year for me both at the plate and behind. At this level you regularly see guys that get called up to the big leagues from your team, or teams you play against. Definitely the hottest league I’ve every played in.

Besides being in my first Major League spring training this year and going overseas to China to play the Padres, being invited to the Arizona Fall League is the biggest honor of my career.  We have had three days of practice so far, and the talent we have is amazing.  The level of play exhibited during batting practice and bullpen sessions is far and above what I am used to.  Having a former catcher, Gary Allenson, as my manager here is a bonus for me, being a new catcher.  His old school mentality and knowledge of the game is sure to push me to be a better player. I am extremely excited to play this fall and get to know some guys from different organizations.  I feel lucky to be chosen to represent the Dodgers here in the Fall League and look forward to sharing my experiences with you all.  As I get to know my teammates and coaches better, I will be able to offer a little more insight about our team.  The first game of the fall is Tuesday, Oct. 7.  Thank you and we’ll talk again soon! 

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