Had spectacular weather today, so I punted some chores around the house and headed down to catch the opening game of the Alaska Baseball season. For those who aren't familiar, it's similar to the other summer leagues around the country - wood bats, 99% college players, something like 6 or 8 teams that get filled out each year from a few towns across teh state. Last years stars include Beau Mills and Casey Weathers. In 06, the home team had Danny Valencia (MIN) and Jim Van Ostrand (HOU). Famous alum include guys like McGwire, Bonds, Schilling, Seaver, Randy Johnson, etc., so I'm assuming the standout guys we see each year are going to be heard from again.
Anyway, the home team today was the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, squaring off against some team known as the Bears from California - I saw them variously listed as the California Bears, the Stockton Bears, and the Northern California Bears. Out-of-staters don't get much respect up here. The concession stand was obviously unprepared for my visit, because they had run out programs. This being summer ball, however, they sent me up to the press box, where I was allowed to slowly copy the roster sheets while taking in the game. I thought about asking to introduce a batter, but decided better.
Three guys from the Glacier Pilots really stood out. Their catcher, Cody Neer, ripped a liner thru the hole between SS and 3B, then stretched it into a double. Nice wheels for a 6'4" catcher, who is apparently a sophomore from U of FLA. Next AB, he dropped a picture-perfect sac bunt down the 1B line, then beat it out as the P chose not to make the throw. Again, nice wheels. The last AB, he ripped another 1-hopper thru the hole between SS and 3B. This guy was locked in on both non-bunting ABs I saw - a really smooth stroke, with the ball just leaping off his bat.
Their SS, a sophomore from U-Louisiana Monroe named Ben Soignier, made two really fine defensive plays. The nicest was a charging between-hop pickup and throw with a really smooth and quick transfer from the glove to the throw, firing a laser to 1st to make it not even close. A quick web search shows he's also a pitcher, which explains the arm. He had other nice picks, including a nifty 6-3 double play with nice footwork on the bag and a strong throw.
Their 3B had the best all-around game. It's some guy named Mike Murphy, a sophomore from the U of Maryland. He pulled a double into the LF corner in one trip, then flashed some pretty good wheels to beat out a double play on another. He also made a few fine defensive plays, including charging bare-handed catch and one-hop throw that the 1B muffed. The guy apparently started for the Terps as a true freshman, and I'd say he's got a nice combo of speed, line-drive stroke, and glovework.
That's about it from today. I used to fire off some updates for JD Mah (JDM Scoresheet Baseball), but since he is taking the summer off, I thought maybe I'd submit a few diaries for this site when I caught a game and saw someone standout. I might be the only one on this site that gets to see these guys this summer.