The Arizona Fall League played their Rising Stars game on Saturday night at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale and America’s best prospects did not disappoint. The Diamondbacks had a pair of players make the squad in shortstop Chris Owings and pitcher Chase Anderson.
On the heals of receiving the AFL pitcher of the week leading up to the Rising Stars game, the 24 year old Chase Anderson (AA Mobile) put together the most impressive pitching outing of the evening throwing a pair of shutout innings while collecting four strikeouts. After retiring the first batter in the fourth, the right hander surrendered back-to-back singles before fanning the next two hitters to stomp out any chance of a rally. All of Anderson’s pitches seemed to have movement and his breaking ball was down-right dirty with nobody touching it on this evening.
“I was hoping for an opportunity to play in this league this year,” said Anderson, who missed most of 2011 with an injury, but jumped back on the map with a strong 2012. “I wanted to do this at the beginning of the year.”
Chris Owings (AA Mobile) got the start at shortstop and collected a hit, stole a base and scored a run before being replaced at the start of the fifth inning.
The show was [quite literally] stolen by Reds prospect Billy Hamilton however who showcased once again just how much of a nuisance the switch hitter can be on the base paths. He led off the game with a walk and quickly swiped second base before using a delayed steal to find his way on third base. He would score easily on a double later in the at bat. The fifth inning offered another example of how dangerous he can be as he laid down a drag bunt up the first baseline and as first baseman Jonathon Singleton hurried his throw he sailed it into right field allowing the speedster to advance all the way to third with a run scoring.
Watching Hamilton in person for the first time was a treat and really opened my eyes to just how electric this player can be. He is the type of guy that has enough energy to play doubleheaders daily and still go out for a night on the town. “I’m always energized,” Hamilton said. “I never get tired. When I feel tired, I tell myself to get up.” That’s the truth. As he led off third in the fifth (bouncing up and down) it was as if his natural energy sent him nearly three quarters of the way towards home before retreating as the pitcher stepped off. Perhaps he was about to steal home or perhaps he didn’t realize just how far he was- either way, the crowd took notice and got a little chuckle out of Hamilton’s big smile. That’s my game,” Hamilton said. “I like to bring fun, a little excitement. I bring a lot of energy.”
One other notable prospect was the East’s leadoff hitter, Brian Goodwin of the Washington Nationals (AA Harrisburg) as he smacked a leadoff the game homerun and added another run and a pair of RBI’s to his line. He nearly had one more double but [recently turned] shortstop-turned-centerfielder Billy Hamilton ran out to the warning track to make a diving catch saving at least one run and rob Goodwin of an extra base.
“This was more fun than I thought it would be,” said Goodwin, the No. 67 prospect in the league. “I met some new guys, we played the game we love and we came out with a win. What else are you playing for?”
This was definitely the vibe during a perfect evening in Scottsdale with an AFL record 5,713 people. Offense was aplenty and in a game that historically 72.6% of participants will see the major leagues in some regard, us as fans got a glimpse of the bright future of professional baseball. Not to mention, as an added bonus for attending this game we were given free tickets to the AFL Championship game coming up on November 17th.
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