While I was out at the First Pitch Forums, I was able to take in parts of the AFL Rising Stars game with media access. Specifically, I did some in-game radio from the press box with good friends Kyle Elfrink and Ray Flowers from the Fantasy Drive show during the third inning and was also able to go down on the field during batting practice and warm-ups to speak to some of the players along with Baseball Prospectus Radio colleague Joel Henard.
The first player we were able to chat with was Mike Trout but we were on the tail end of an interview the Fantasy Drive was conducting and it is their audio that I am not able to share. Trout's main points were that he never expected to be playing baseball in November and that the season has been a grind but he knows he has things to work on. He specifically mentioned routes in the outfield and hitting the cutoff man with consistency with his throws. He said his time in the big leagues was invaluable because the veterans, particularly Torii Hunter, talked his ear off and gave him a lot of guidance and help even on the off-days the team had in the schedule.
Along with Trout, Joel and I were able to talk to four different players: Jason Castro of the Astros, Matt Dominguez of the Marlins, Anthony Gose of the Blue Jays, and game MVP Nick Franklin of the Mariners. Each had some interesting things to say about their AFL experience and what they worked on during the 2011 season as each had their own type of issue they had to work through whether it was Castro's knee injury, Franklin's mono, Gose's swing, or Dominguez with his wrist. Rather than transcribe the chat, I thought it would be best if you hear the words through the voices of the players/prospects themselves.
Each of the guys made a different impression on me. Castro's willingness to do the off-the-field work with the team even though he could not help off the field showed a lot of maturity. Dominguez is very soft-spoken and recognizes there are parts of his game he needs to improve. Gose was rather self-deprecating in terms of his baserunning adventures two seasons ago while Nick Franklin was so full of confidence and energy he would have tried to run through the outfield wall if we dared him to do it.
Enjoy the interviews and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.