Guest Blogger — Nate Spears
Hey everybody! My name is Nate Spears and I play infield in the Chicago Cubs organization. I played in Double A for the Tennessee Smokies this season. I had a good 2008 regular season and the last three weeks they told me I was going to the AFL. I arrived in Phoenix for the Fall League in late September and I did not know what to expect. I’m staying in Scottsdale with two teammates, Steve Clevenger and Darwin Barney. They sent me here to play more positions in the infield. It’s been a success as I’m getting more comfortable. After playing second base all season, I have been playing shortstop and mixing in a few games at third and first base.
It has been a great experience out here. Our team chemistry is amazing. We have a lot of fun guys. Rudy Darrow, a RHP in the Tigers organization, is always lifting people up in the clubhouse and making me laugh. Van Pope, from the Braves, is another great teammate that always keeps you loose in the locker room. I knew some of the guys that are on the Solar Sox, as I played against some of the Braves and Marlins. Our staff of Rocket Wheeler, Ryne Sandberg, and Ray Burris are amazing. They are amazing minds of experience to learn from. Ryne has always been available to us, and he has helped me position myself on the field for defense. Everyone has to find and get into a routine that works for them, and he has helped me find mine. You can’t ask for more than that on a staff.
Thank you for letting me share a little bit of my Arizona Fall League experience with you.
Guest Blogger: Darwin Barney
Hey everyone, Darwin Barney here checking in on the Cubs AFL blog. For those of you who don’t me, I was drafted by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2007 draft out of Oregon State. I spent the year with Daytona in the Florida State League and was fortunate enough to win a title with the Cubs.
As the weather stays hot here, the fields are staying bouncy, leading to some pretty crazy games. On Monday, we scored 28 runs, and scattered a bunch of hits. We all can’t wait for the weather to turn as it should in the next week.
The Cubs had a good day today, collecting eight hits. (Steve Clevenger, Nate Spears and I). Clev had four of them.
Our team has been hitting the ball, leading to a few wins these past few days, making the sun much more bearable. With the high Arizona sky and breeze, it’s making for a tough playing field. I think it’s a good challenge for the players in this league.
So far we’ve seen two cycles — well one cycle and one almost-cycle. , one by Ray Ray (John Raynor), and the near-cycle by Jason Donald (he was just a triple short), who is hitting the cover off the ball, by the way.
It’s been fun so far. I’m going to enjoy a day off on Tuesday, and if we keep putting games together, maybe we could make a run at the league.
October 2nd – October 14th
For the first couple days here in Arizona we’ve gone over different situations such as Bunt Plays, Cuts/Relays, and First/Third plays to get everyone on the same page. After we finsihed with situations, practice usually ended with BP or if your a catcher, you end the day with bullpens. These first couple practice days were very good for getting to know the other guys on the team since the majority of them play for other organizations. Since I’m a catcher it gave me a chance to learn how guys like to throw and what they may need to work on in game situatioins.
At this point in the AFL we are 4-3 and everyone has knocked off the rust. We won our opener 3-2 against the Phonex Desert Dogs away. Even though I didn’t get any hits in the game I did draw a walk in the top of the 10th inning and scored the go ahead run. Pitchers threw very well and we didn’t commit any errors on defense. Playing in the AFL isn’t a easy task because your not in the lineup everyday so you have to really take care of business during BP and infield/outfield to prepare yourself for game situations. But so far things are great and going as planned for myself.
Thanks again for the support and appreciate the comments.
Hello From Arizona
Hello, everyone. Steve Clevenger here in Arizona with the Mesa Solar Sox/Cubs. Being the first blog entry I wanted to briefly to tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in Baltimore City, Md., and now reside in Glen Burnie. I attended Mount Saint Joseph High School, where I played baseball and basketball. I was teammates with Gavin Floyd (Chicago White Sox) my freshmen year of high school and won a state championship in 2004. After high school, I attended Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La., and earned a spot on the all-conference team my freshmen year. Then I transferred to Chipola College in Mariana, Fla., where I earned all-conference honors and the team earned a spot in the state tournament for a berth to the Junior College World Series. After the 2006 season, I was drafted in the seventh round by the Chicago Cubs and played my first season Boise of the Northwest League. I spent 2007 between Daytona and Boise and 2008 between Daytona and Tennessee. We won the Florida State League championship in 2008 under manager Jody Davis. I am looking forward to playing in the AFL for the second straight year, and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to advance even more in 2009. I hope everyone enjoys reading this and I can’t wait to hear from all of you! Thank you for reading.