A few observations from the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game, mostly about highly touted Dodgers shortstop prospect Corey Seager:
For all the question marks about Seager’s defensive ability — and the speculation of whether the Dodgers eventually will move him to third base — he played a flawless shortstop. He didn’t really have any tough chances, though. Had two ground balls hit directly at him in the second inning and fielded them both in textbook fashion. And then, to finish off the top of the third, he took a perfect throw from Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges and laid down a perfect tag of Cardinals outfield prospect James Ramsey as he slid into second on a stolen-base attempt. But Hedges’ throw was so perfect and Ramsey’s jump so poor that Seager basically was standing there waiting for Ramsey with the ball in his glove, so that wasn’t especially challenging either. Seager later caught a pop-up in shallow left.
At the plate, the struggling Seager had a good at-bat in the second, looking at three straight pitches off the outside corner — he checked his swing on two of them, and the umpire ruled he went around on the first one, although from where I was sitting, it didn’t appear that he did. Seager then flied to center on the fourth pitch, a well-struck ball that didn’t carry much.
In his second at-bat, Seager stepped in with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the third and again showed plate discipline, taking three consecutive balls from Giants prospect Kyle Crick. Seager then looked at two strikes before hitting a bouncer to second and running hard enough up the first-base line to just beat the relay throw by a half-step, keeping the inning alive and giving himself an RBI, putting the West up 2-0.
Seager struck out in the fifth against hard-throwing Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman, leaving him 0-for-3 for the night before he was lifted in the top of the sixth.
The only other Dodgers prospect to be named to this game, reliever Yimi Garcia, pitched the top of the eighth inning and gave up a run on two hits. Highly rated Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant led off the inning with a single, and Detroit’s Devon Travis hit a one-out triple off the top of the wall in right-center to drive in Bryant. Garcia, who likely will be added to the 40-man roster later this month, had no walks and no strikeouts.
By the way, the West (that’s the team Seager and Garcia were on, as members of the Glendale Desert Dogs) crushed the East 9-2. With the Desert Dogs’ move this year from dilapidated Phoenix Municipal Stadium to Camelback Ranch, the delineation between East and West is much more extreme. The West consists of Glendale, Peoria and Surprise. If you know metro Phoenix geography at all, those are all West of 75th Avenue. The East is Mesa, Scottsdale and Salt River, with all three teams playing East of Scottsdale Road. That leaves about a 30-mile chasm in between, and all six teams play all six teams, so some of the daily bus rides are up to an hour each way.
By the way, in a moment that perfectly symbolized the culture of the West Valley, play was momentarily delayed at the beginning of the ninth inning because a golf cart someone had parked just behind a chainlink portion of the leftfield wall, right next to the foul pole on the fair side, still had its headlights turned on so they could be seen in the peripheral vision of a left-handed batter. Just a couple of miles from Surprise Stadium is Sun City, where the median age is approximately 112 and it’s perfectly legal to drive a golf cart on a public street.
On a separate note, you may have read that the Dodgers signed free-agent right-handed reliever Fabio Martinez to a minor league contract. This is not the Fabio with the long hair who frequently graces the cover of romance novels while not wearing a shirt and who used to do those margarine commercials. But he might have a brighter future if he were. This Fabio is — how shall I put this? — not very good. He originally signed with the Angels in 2007 out of the Dominican. A year ago, the Cleveland Indians claimed him on waivers. This year, at Double-A Akron and then at Single-A Carolina (that’s a demotion, in case you didn’t know), he posted a combined ERA of 10.48 and, get this, WALKED 35 BATTERS IN 28 1/3 INNINGS. His WHIP was a horrid 2.082, but even if you take the H out of WHIP and make it just WIP, it was still 1.24. Throughout every team’s minor league system, there are a handful of guys who aren’t really prospects, who are just there to fill roster spots. I’m going to guess this is one of those guys.