In the sports card industry, for better or worse, it's all about the rookie card. Sales of products are driven by the hot new guy on the block. In 2013, I don't think it's a reach to say sales have slumped for many retailers. Key rookie cards of Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, and Yasiel Puig don't quite measure up to the last couple years of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and many others.

Temporary help could be on the way for sports card retailers. 2014 looks to have a very strong NFL and NBA Draft classes.  In the case of the NBA, it could be one of the best crops in many years. MLB could see an new influx of talent which will boost sales. The Chicago Cubs have four very promising prospects who could change the fortunes at Wrigley and retailers.  The Midwest is a hotbed for sports collectibles and I can only imagine how thirsty Cubs fans will be if some of their key prospects turn into stars. Sports card retailers could see an uptick in sales if things break the right way.

 

 

Baseball
NOTE: These players are not "ranked" in any particular order

Albert Almora - Cubs
Athletic, confident, table setter type of player. Was flashing all kinds of skills when I saw him at the 2013 Arizona Fall League. Would make a spectacular catch in the outfield then come up and hit a triple the next inning. Saw him dive over a railing and into the bullpen to try and make a play on a ball. When it took him a second to get up, I'm sure Theo Epstein's heart skipped a beat. Fear not, this looks like a tough kid who plays all out, all the time. The games I saw him, he was a gracious and willing signer for fans. Took extra time to make sure people were getting his autograph. He signed 12 cards for one fan in attendance.  

Kris Bryant - Cubs
Saw Bryant play in college a little bit but never got to observe him real close until the 2013 AFL. You want Kris Bryant's autograph? He smiled and gave it to you. Seems incredibly humble, kind, and gracious. Could make a lot of money in another profession, but luckily for Cubs fans they have a kid who can swing the bat. Very short, direct route approach to hitting a baseball.

He doesn't have some big kick step to generate power. He spreads his long legs wide apart and smacks the baseball. Wow. Haven't seen another player who can hit with power like that in my time watching minor league games. Will lose some of his limited athleticism as he gets older. Will need to hit for average to be a truly dynamic player. He should have no problem running into lots of HR's and doubles even if he never becomes a big time star.

Javier Baez - Cubs
Only saw Baez during the 2012 Arizona Fall League, and in 2013 he wasn't on the Cubs roster for AFL play. From what I recall from last year, he was one of the youngest guys in the league. Until I saw Addison Russell play everyday in 2013, I think Baez had the fastest pair of hands hitting a baseball I'd seen. Baez gambles and has a lot more power than Russell which makes Baez a somewhat risky boom or bust player. Javier hit 37 HR's in 130 games in 2013 so it's been pretty much boom for now.

Jorge Soler - Cubs
This guy really intrigues me and I wish I zeroed in on him a little more at the 2013 AFL. Doesn't have a crazy long swing but has good gap power, which could easily turn into HR power. They list him as 6-4, but I actually think he is a little shorter than that. Which for me is a good thing, because tall guys tend to strike out too much for my taste. I like how he got his hands in position to hit, and it felt like he was comfortable going the other way.

Like Almora and Bryant, Soler took what seemed like extra time to sign autographs at the games I was at for fans. In fact, there was one game where all three Cubs players stayed out and signed for what seemed like a long time, while every single other player on their AFL team went to go prepare for the game in the locker room. I don't know if Soler, Almora and Bryant were told to sign for fans by someone in the Cubs organization, maybe so, but that doesn't really matter. All three are big time prospects and for them to sign baseballs on the sweet spot and be nice to fans was great to see.

Mason Williams - Yankees
I'd rather have any of the four Cubs prospects over Williams, but that doesn't make him a scrub. Mason doesn't have overwhelming stats in the minors, but he is athletic and has a feel for the game. He moves his head and body too much during his swing which is probably why he only hit .245 in 117 games in 2013. He'd lunge at balls out of the strike zone and needs to tighten it up a little bit.

Byron Buxton - Twins
First and only time I see Buxton at the 2014 AFL in person he strikes out 4 times. Not as bad as it looked though. I think on 2 of them he worked it to a 3-2 count and showed really good patience for a 19 year old kid playing against higher level competition. I don't remember him swinging at a first pitch so he was definitely there to work on his game. His first at bat he hit a little chopper that he legged into a double. He looks very thin and skinny, but he does have buff arms. Should grow into his body as he gets older. Has very good speed, which he showed off on the double. I see an Adam Jones or Justin Upton, but it's probably way too early to say what type of player he'll be. I'd be stunned if he played in the big leagues before 2015.

Addison Russell - A's
Saw Russell play the entire season for the Stockton Ports. Incredible bat speed and quick wrists. The bat speed may not translate to big power numbers, but he won't be a singles hitter. Plays good defense at SS for his age. Sometimes his throws will slice a little bit, and he may not have as much range as an elite SS, but that is nitpicking. He'll end up in the big leagues at some point, and at the very least should be a decent-good player. Russell would sign autographs everyday in Stockton. Sometimes he would cut off the guys who asked him everyday, but that was rare. I didn't see Russell sign autographs at the Arizona Fall League games I went to even when asked by fans. Doesn't downgrade Russell in my mind at all, just thought it was interesting.

Carlos Correa - Astros
Somehow I ended up in Iowa for 3 days to watch Correa and fellow #1 pick Mark Appel play for the Quad Cities River Bandits against the Burlington Bees (Angels). Growing up in California, Iowa can be a culture shock trip. Personally, I really enjoyed my time there and liked the slow pace, laid back Iowa lifestyle. I couldn't live there (think about all the things California is famous for) but I'd definitely go back.

Anyways, Correa is an interesting player. Very tall, basketball player type body. Huge hands. I just remember his hands being huge. Is he a SS? Maybe. He might pull a Manny Machado and move to 3rd base. Correa made one of the best defensive plays I'd seen in a long time during one of the games. It was a fly ball to left field that I think the LF should of got. Correa made up for it by ranging back at full speed to catch the ball over his shoulder in what seemed like mid-left field. There was a runner on 3rd with less then 2 outs and he tagged to try and score. Correa going back at full speed caught the ball, stopped on a dime and threw a one hop perfect strike to home. The runner was going to be out by 20 feet. Somehow the catcher misplayed the absolute perfect, I mean perfect, one hop throw and let the ball go by him.  While that play ended up a zero on the stat sheet for Correa, it made my trip to Iowa worth it.

At the plate Correa is still finding his game it seemed. His swing is a bit longer, mostly because he is a tall guy. He doesn't have the quick wrists and bat speed that Russell has. What could make him a more dynamic player than Russell is his possible power and if he can maintain at SS or be elite at 3B.  I should get to see Correa play a lot next season if things go my way.

George Springer - Astros
Perhaps because Springer is on the Astors he doesn't get as much attention as other prospects, but he has torched the minors aside from the big strikeout numbers. The strikeouts might worry some people, but Springer is not a lumbering dude. He is an athletic play maker who can do just about everything on a baseball diamond. I didn't see Springer play in 2013, but saw him a lot in 2012 for Lancaster in the California League. I must say, he doesn't look like a guy who can crush as many HR's as he has. Granted, he plays in some very favorable hitting environments, but so will Houston when he gets there.

Billy Hamilton - Reds
I know Billy has gotten called up and played for the Reds toward the back half of 2013. He still is the most exciting player I've ever seen play minor league baseball. I would pay so much money to go back in time and watch him play again. I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark with all 750 people in the stands and watch him get on base and run. He probably won't put up Hall of Fame numbers in his career, and many will knock his hitting but they are overlooking the ways he impacts a game by just getting on base one time. Run Billy run......

Football

Johnny Manziel - QB
Love him or hate him, the honest truth about Manziel is that he is compelling and his football cards will be hot. He probably won't be the first QB drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft but nobody will have more hype and attention. Manziel has game. He will need to be put into an offense tailored to fit his skills. Also, he is on the skinny and small side. I worry that he will take some huge hits and that will shatter his sky high confidence. He could turn into a timid player if he is scared out there, which would expose his flaws.

He already has a penchant for signing autographs..... and getting paid for it. I almost wish he would snub the NFLPA, Topps, and Panini and do his own thing in regards to licensing his autograph. But that is a story for another time and is something that probably isn't plausible in this day and age.

Teddy Bridgewater - QB
Teddy! This is a very skilled passer, who flashes accuracy and arm strength. Watching Bridgewater you just get the sense he has a real feel for the game and how to play QB. Could be the #1 overall pick in the 2014 Draft. Seems to get 4-5 TD's a game for Louville and really makes it look easy. The price for his rookie cards out of the gate should rival Manziel.

Marcus Mariota - QB
I watch Oregon play a lot. Mariota has all sorts of weapons at his disposal and the offense they run in Oregon is top notch. He does make mistakes out there. He isn't a prototypical QB in terms of his footwork and will need to tighten up his fundamentals at the next level. Many liken him to 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and it's a very fair comparison. He has the same body type and similar athletic skills. I'd say Kaepernick has a stronger arm and is much more efficient throwing from the pocket. If Mariota puts in the work, he could be very good. It all comes down to which team drafts him and what type of offense they have him run.

Brett Hundley - QB
Haven't seen Hundley as much as Mariota. Hundley is projected as a top 10 pick. I'd have to watch him more closely to get a feel for his game. He is athletic and can run. He's got to be at least as good as E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith right?

DeAnthony Thomas - RB
One of the most electrifying players in all of college football. Has it stuck on the turbo button and is as fast as a lightning bolt.  Got hurt in the 4th game of the year against Cal on the opening kickoff and hasn't played since. He isn't a player who will get a ton of touches in the NFL because he is a small guy.  Will he turn into Dexter McCluster or be more like Darren Sproles? Either way, his cards will sell well initially out of the gate.  

Brandin Cooks - WR
I have no idea where he projects to be drafted, if at all, if he comes out in the 2014 NFL Draft. But good lord, I've watched this guy play a ton and he seems to catch everything. Sticky glue for hands. Plays bigger than 5-10 frame. Is from Stockton, CA......... so you know he's got to be a tough dude and doesn't play scared.

Mike Evans - WR
Is a huge guy and is sneaky fast. Long tatted up arms that make him a red zone target. Can beat guys deep though, which probably means he'll be a 1st round pick. Is one of Manziel's toys to work with at Texas A&M. Seems to disappear during some games, but that could be because Manziel is really good at spreading the ball around to the open guy.

Basketball

For several different reasons I will be watching a lot of college basketball this year. Basketball is actually my best sport in terms of knowledge since I played organized hoop growing up. I did not play football or baseball. I can watch a guy and see if he's good at basketball. The basketball card market has been somewhat weak the last couple years, even with a "double rookie class" in 2012-13 Panini products. Look for things to change dramatically in 2014-15.  I've heard this will be one of the best draft classes in more than a decade. Many NBA teams might try and "tank" this season with hopes of landing a high lottery pick.

Some of the names to look for are: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon but the list goes on from there. I've never heard basketball analysts so giddy about this years college basketball season. I'm crossing my fingers once I get a look at some of these players that their game matches the hype. Hopefully I can come back and shed some light on some of these prospects once the college season begins.

 

 

Ryan @SportsCardNews

 

2013 Arizona Fall League
Schedule
Season Starts: Tuesday October 8, 2013
Championship Game: Saturday November 16, 2013
Arizona Fall League: Website

Video of Game Action: Prospect Notes

Salt River Fields
  

The Arizona Fall League is a great place to go watch some of the top prospects in all of baseball play before they become stars. It's also a tremendous place to obtain in person autographs of these players who may not be playing in your area. Generally there is a very good selection of some of the best prospects in baseball at the Arizona Fall League and several autograph hunters take advantage each year.

By taking a look at the schedule there are days in which it is possible to go to two games in one day. The weather in Arizona is typically spectacular during October and November and what's better than watching baseball during that time? The crowds at the game are very small and you can usually get an up close view of your favorite prospect. There are only six teams in the Arizona Fall League and each team has a mix of prospects from five different MLB teams. Be sure to check the rosters when they come out in late August to see which teams would be the most fun to watch.

BOWMAN HITTING CHALLENGE: A home run derby/hitting challenge that is advertised to feature one prospect from every MLB team. The event will be held October 12 at Salt River Field at 6:35 pm.  There will be "moving targets" on the field as well as the opportunity for the prospect to hit a big HR. This should be a fun event where fans will have the opportunity to win prizes and get autographs from some of baseball's top prospects.

Video from the Bowman Hitting Challenge Here: SportsCardShow YouTube (after the event)

 
 
 
2013 Arizona Fall League
Come Prepared
 
Bowman Cards Sold In Lots One Dozen MLB Baseball's  
2013 Bowman Baseball Box Rawlings MLB Official Baseball  
  
 
Glendale Desert Dogs
Teams: L.A. Dodgers - Miami Marlins - Cincinnati Reds - Minnesota Twins - Chicago White Sox
Stadium: Camelback Ranch-Glendale - Website - Google Maps -

Week 1
Tuesday - October, 8 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 9 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 10 Surprise Saguaros 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 11 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 12 Bowman Hitting Challenge (Salt River Fields) 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 13 OFF
Week 2
Monday - October, 14 Peoria Javelinas 6:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 15 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 16 Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Thursday - October, 17 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 18 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 19 Surprise Saguaros 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 20 OFF
Week 3
Monday - October, 21 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 22 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 23 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 24 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 25 Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 26 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 27 OFF
Week 4
Monday - October, 28 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 29 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 30 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 31 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 1 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Saturday - November, 2 Fall Stars Game (Surprise Stadium) 5:10 pm
Sunday - November, 3 OFF
Week 5
Monday - November, 4 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 5AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 6 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 7 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 8AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Saturday - November, 9 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Sunday - November, 10 OFF
Week 6
Monday - November, 11 Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 12 AT Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 13 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 14 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 15 OFF
Saturday - November, 16 Championship Game (Scottsdale Stadium) 1:10 pm
 
 
 

Peoria/Surprise Javelinas
Teams: Houston Astros - Seattle Mariners - San Digo Padres - Philadelphia Phillies - Kansas City Royals
Stadium: Surprise Stadium* - Google Maps -
*Peoria will play at Surprise Stadium in 2013 while the Peoria Sports Complex is being renovated.


Week 1
Tuesday - October, 8 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 9 Surprise Saguaros (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 10 Scottsdale Scorpions (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 11 AT Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 12 Bowman Hitting Challenge (Salt River Fields) 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 13 OFF
Week 2
Monday - October, 14 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 15 Glendale Desert Dogs (Surprise Stadium) 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 16 Mesa Solar Sox (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 17 AT Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 18 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 19 Scottsdale Scorpions (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 20 OFF
Week 3
Monday - October, 21 Salt River Rafters (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 22 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 23 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 24 Glendale Desert Dogs (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 25 Mesa Solar Sox (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 26 Salt River Rafters (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 27 OFF
Week 4
Monday - October, 28  AT Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 29 Scottsdale Scorpions (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 30 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 31 Glendale Desert Dogs (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 1 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 2 Fall Stars Game (Surprise Stadium) 5:10 pm
Sunday - November, 3 OFF
Week 5
Monday - November, 4 Scottsdale Scorpions (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 5 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 6 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 7 Surprise Saguaros (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 8 Salt River Rafters (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 9 AT Salt River Rafters (Military Appreciation Game) 6:10 pm
Sunday - November, 10 OFF
Week 6
Monday - November, 11 Mesa Solar Sox (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 12 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 13 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 14 Surprise Saguaros (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 15 OFF
Saturday - November, 16 Championship Game (Scottsdale Stadium) 1:10 pm

 
 
 

Surprise Saguaros
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers - Cleveland Indians - Baltimore Orioles - Texas Rangers - Boston Red Sox
Stadium: Surprise Stadium* - Google Maps -


Week 1
Tuesday - October, 8 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 9 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 10 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 11 Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 12 Bowman Hitting Challenge (Salt River Fields) 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 13 OFF
Week 2
Monday - October, 14 Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 15 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 16 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Thursday - October, 17 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 18 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 19 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 20 OFF
Week 3
Monday - October, 21 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 22 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 23 Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 24 AT Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 25 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 26 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 27 OFF
Week 4
Monday - October, 28 Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 29 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 30 Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 31 AT Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 1 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 2 Fall Stars Game (Surprise Stadium) 5:10 pm
Sunday - November, 3 OFF
Week 5
Monday - November, 4 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 5 Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 6 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 7 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 8 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 9 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Sunday - November, 10 OFF
Week 6
Monday - November, 11 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 12 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 13 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 14 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 15 OFF
Saturday - November, 16 Championship Game (Scottsdale Stadium) 1:10 pm

 
 
 

Mesa Solar Sox
Teams: L.A. Angels - Oakland A's - Chicago Cubs - Washington Nationals - Detroit Tigers
Stadium: Mesa Hohokam Stadium - Website - Google Maps -


Week 1
Tuesday - October, 8 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 9 Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 10 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 11 AT Surprise Saguaros 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 12 Bowman Hitting Challenge (Salt River Fields) 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 13 OFF
Week 2
Monday - October, 14 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 15 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 16 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 17 Peoria Javelinas 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 18 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 19 Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 20 OFF
Week 3
Monday - October, 21 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 22 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 23 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 24 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 25 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 26 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 27 OFF
Week 4
Monday - October, 28 Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 29 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 30 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 31 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 1 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 2 Fall Stars Game (Surprise Stadium) 5:10 pm
Sunday - November, 3 OFF
Week 5
Monday - November, 4 Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 5 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 6 Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 7 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 8 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 9 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Sunday - November, 10 OFF
Week 6
Monday - November, 11 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 12 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 13 Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Thursday - November, 14 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 15 OFF
Saturday - November, 16 Championship Game (Scottsdale Stadium) 1:10 pm

 
 
 
Scottsdale Scorpions
Teams: Atlanta Braves - S.F. Giants - N.Y. Mets - Pittsburgh Pirates - N.Y. Yankees
Stadium: Scottsdale Stadium - Website - Google Maps -

Week 1
Tuesday - October, 8 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 9 Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Thursday - October, 10 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 11 Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 12 Bowman Hitting Challenge (Salt River Fields) 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 13 OFF
Week 2
Monday - October, 14 Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 15 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 16 Surprise Saguaros 6:35 pm
Thursday - October, 17 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 18 Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 19 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 20 OFF
Week 3
Monday - October, 21 Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 22 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 23 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 24 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 25 Surprise Saguaros 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 26 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 27 OFF
Week 4
Monday - October, 28 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 29 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 30 Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 31 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 1 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 2 Fall Stars Game (Surprise Stadium) 5:10 pm
Sunday - November, 3 OFF
Week 5
Monday - November, 4 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 5Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 6 Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Thursday - November, 7 AT Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Friday - November, 8 Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Saturday - November, 9 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Sunday - November, 10 OFF
Week 6
Monday - November, 11S urprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 12 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 13 Salt River Rafters 6:35 pm
Thursday - November, 14 AT Salt River Rafters 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 15 OFF
Saturday - November, 16 Championship Game (Scottsdale Stadium) 1:10 pm
 
 
 
Salt River Rafters
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays - Arizona Dbacks - St. Louis Cardinals - Tampa Bay Rays - Colorado Rockies
Stadium: Salt River Fields - Website - Google Maps -

Week 1
Tuesday - October, 8 Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 9 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Thursday - October, 10 Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 11 Peoria Javelinas 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 12 Bowman Hitting Challenge (Salt River Fields) 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 13 OFF
Week 2
Monday - October, 14 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 15 Surprise Saguaros 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 16 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Thursday - October, 17 Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Friday - October, 18 Peoria Javelinas 6:35 pm
Saturday - October, 19 AT Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Sunday - October, 20 OFF
Week 3
Monday - October, 21 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 22 Peoria Javelinas 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 23 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 24 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Friday - October, 25 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Saturday - October, 26 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Sunday - October, 27 OFF
Week 4
Monday - October, 28 AT Mesa Solar Sox 12:35 pm
Tuesday - October, 29 Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Wednesday - October, 30 AT Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Thursday - October, 31 Surprise Saguaros 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 1 Glendale Desert Dogs 6:35 pm
Saturday - November, 2 Fall Stars Game (Surprise Stadium) 5:10 pm
Sunday - November, 3 OFF
Week 5
Monday - November, 4 AT Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 5 Mesa Solar Sox 6:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 6 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Thursday - November, 7 Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Friday - November, 8 AT Peoria Javelinas (Surprise Stadium) 12:35 pm
Saturday - November, 9 Peoria Javelinas (Military Appreciation Game) 6:10 pm
Sunday - November, 10 OFF
Week 6
Monday - November, 11 AT Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Tuesday - November, 12 Glendale Desert Dogs 12:35 pm
Wednesday - November, 13 AT Scottsdale Scorpions 6:35 pm
Thursday - November, 14 Scottsdale Scorpions 12:35 pm
Friday - November, 15 OFF
Saturday - November, 16 Championship Game (Scottsdale Stadium) 1:10 pm
 
 
 
Arizona Fall League Stadium Map  
   

Stadium Legend: Google Maps View

  • A = Surprise Stadium:
  • B = Camelback Ranch-Glendale:
  • C = Scottsdale Stadium
  • D = Salt River Fields
  • E = Mesa Hohokam Stadium
 
 
 

Tips:

In 2012 I was able to watch two games a day fairly easily by going to the 12:35 game at Scottsdale Stadium and then heading up to Salt River Fields for the 6:35 game. Check the schedule to see what dates that is possible.

There is not a tremendous demand for tickets. You can purchase them the day of the game or by purchasing a season pass. Arrive to the game 30-45 minn. early if you are looking to get autographs. Most players will sign at some point during the fall league and some are willing signers each day.

Salt River Fields is a modern stadium that is well worth the trip to north Scottdale to watch a day or night game. Shade can be a premium at some Fall League stadiums but at Salt River they have an entire concourse of covered seats.

Scottsdale Stadium is an older ballpark but has a special charm. The place is usually packed as the Spring Training home of the S.F. Giants, but seating is easy to come by during the fall league.

Taking the bus can be a great way to get from stadium to stadium. Bus route 81, 72 AND THE FREE EARTH BUS are key to getting around the Scottsdale area.  The buses come often. If you take a bus out to Salt River Fields you will need to walk a little over a mile to the stadium, or flag down a taxi which shouldn't be hard to find. Save some money by trying to walk a little and taking the bus system.

I'd advise staying in the south Scottdale or Tempe area if you are on a budget. You can find some affordable hotels near Arizona State University in Tempe. Use the bus system to take you into the more upscale areas of Scottsdale.

Some of the stadiums sell broken bats that were used during the Arizona Fall League. Players like Cory Spangenberg and Griff Erickson could be had for $10 or less.

If you want to sit in the sun to watch a game and it's hot, I would advise bringing a white towel from the hotel and getting it wet and placing it over your head. You'll need sunscreen if you sit in the sun as well.

 
   
Griff Erickson Broken Bat For Sale Rymer Liriano Autograph Cards  
   

Addison Russell
Oakland A's Prospect - SS
Drafted: 1st Rd. #11 - 2012

I couldn't imagine being 19 years old and playing minor league baseball. Six hour bus rides with guys older then you. Roach coach motels. Cities like Bakersfield and Stockton, CA aren't exactly the ones you think about when dreaming of playing professional baseball.

Oakland A's prospect Addison Russell has a lot going for him. He was drafted in the 1st round, #11 overall, and received a $2.625 million signing bonus in 2012.  He will be given every opportunity to succeed in professional baseball and has a leg up on other A's prospects. Russell though still has to grind the professional latter, which in 2013 landed him in Stockton for a season in the California League.

Stockton has a very nice ballpark compared to most A+ teams, and it is well known for being a "hitters yard".  Balls fly out of Stockton that in most MLB parks would be routine outs. There are other minor league parks that are even more hitter friendly, but Stockton holds it's own as being a batters paradise. The infield dirt is near pristine and very rarely will you see a bad hop on a ball. If anything the infield plays fast in Stockton, although I've found that the grass in the outfield can be a little mushy which can slow down balls heading for a gap.

Russell played about 100 minor league games in 2012 before starting the 2013 season in Stockton. He lit up Rookie and A- ball which created a lot of buzz for his trading cards as well as his potential as a player. I've seen Russell play all season in Stockton and here is what I've seen, heard and think.

Addison Russell Stockton Ports 

Perspective:  Russell is playing the 2013 season at 19 years old which is young for the California League. Many of the pitchers he is facing are at least 3-5 years older.  Those pitchers also have more experience and can get 19 year old kids out. Russell grew up in Florida and Stockton is a long way from home. Stockton is well known for being a tough town where crime is high and entertainment is low. His teammates on the Stockton Ports are all older then he is. He might be considered somewhat an outsider because he is younger and also comes with a much higher profile. Russell is one of the few players on the Ports who has a chance to play in the big leagues.

Personal: Very mature impression for a guy who's 19. He acts more "grown up" then some of his older teammates. While Russell gives off a quiet/reserved demeanor, I get the sense he notices everything going on around him. He signs autographs before every game. Will sign multiple autographs even for people who ask him everyday to sign. Freely signs on the sweet spot of baseballs. I don't get autographs at games. Personally I find it a little odd to be asking a 19 year old kid for his autograph. That's just me. I've joked to friends that Russell "passes out free $20 bills" because many "dealers" get him to do what seems like a signing session dang near every game.

His girlfriend is hot. On the 1-10 scale she is an easy 8.5-9 with upside. While it would seem obvious that a player like Russell would do well in the female category, keep in mind I've seen other minor league players who have NO CHANCE of ever playing in the MLB pull girls who might be 9.5's.  That's one thing to keep in mind about playing in the minor leagues. These guys get girls of MLB quality. A lot of young players in the minors might think they've "made it" already because of this.  If I had girls as hot as some of these minor league guys do, throwing themselves at me at age 19-22...... my ego would have exploded.

Hitting & Running: Has a lightning quick bat. Watch enough games and it becomes clear that the kid can flick his wrists through a ball at an elite level for the Cal League. Can spray balls to all fields with gap power. Sometimes is overly aggressive, especially on the first pitch and will come out of his shoes.

Some project Russell as a .300 hitter with 25 HR's while playing SS; which would set him up for a huge payday down the road. He does have a little power because of his athletic build and quick bat. I'd have him cut down on the swing some and become a slap/gap hitter and maybe run into 12 HR's. But that won't be a huge payday for him or sell his baseball cards.  I guess I could see him being a .300 25 HR type guy, but that is probably a reach.  If he does become an All-Star type of player it will be several years from now, maybe even a decade.  Personally, I don't see him as an All-Star type player. I can see him becoming a very good player that could have a nice long career.

Russell is a solid runner which bodes well for him. He is not blazing fast but can steal a base and leg out a triple. Has an athletic type body which fits for his SS profile. Will never be a huge threat to steal bases, and he will eventually lose some speed as he gets older.

Defense at SS: For 19 years old he's held his own at SS. He is not a world class defensive SS, but very few players are. Russell has decent range and seems to move well but he is not mistake free out there. His throwing arm is good, and is slightly above average for a SS. Russell does seem to have to exert a lot of effort to get off a good throw which does cost him a hair trigger in getting rid of the ball. There are times when throwing on the run has caused him problems. The first year I watched minor league ball I saw current Giants SS Brandon Crawford play a lot. Russell is not on the same level as Crawford was in 2010. Crawford has a stronger arm and is much smoother around the bag. Russell is a quality SS, but is not a lock to stick at that position for his entire career.

Tidbits: Russell comes across as a humble, quality young man. Rarely do you see him upset or show emotion on the field. During one particular game Russell was in the on deck circle when the batter at the plate struck out to end the inning. Some fans in the stands yelled to the batter that he shouldn't have struck out. Russell shot a glare into the stands and held the glare while walking down the dugout steps. It was a small moment and I might have been the only one who noticed. It was a stroke of fire in Russell that I hadn't seen before. As Russell gets older I can see him being a quiet leader that other players look up to. I've talked to Russell a few times, just short conversations about a situation in a game or about the city of Stockton. He is a young guy who could easily succeed in some other aspect of life. Comes across as older, and I have to remind myself that he is 19 years old. His walk up music usually has a groovy R&B style to it and is one of the best on the team (catcher Phil Pohl gets the top spot as he comes out to Pearl Jam).

Baseball Cards: His cards can be worth decent money and some sell for hundreds of dollars. I would sell his cards in the next year or so if I had any good ones. While he will probably be a big league player, he most likely won't have the career of an All-Star. Russell freely signs autographs and will probably be featured in many, many sets in the future. He will continue to struggle at times as he moves up the minor league levels. For the better part of his young career he will be playing against older players and only the true cream of the crop can dominate in that situation. Russell should end up being a good player but collectors spending big on his cards may experience a drop in price in the coming years.

 
 
 
Addison Russell Signing Autographs 2013 Bowman Inception Addison Russell Autograph Addison Russell Oakland A's Prospect