Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I'm off to the Midwest League All-Star Game today in Midland, Michigan. Three Fort Wayne Wizards and a former local high school player, Jarrod Parker, are on the Eastern Division roster and will all likely see some playing time.
It's about a three and a half hour drive to Midland from Fort Wayne. Not really looking forward to that, but oh well, it's part of the job.
Last night, as part of the All-Star festivities, the Midwest League put on a home run derby with the top nine power hitters of the season's first half. And the Wizards participant - Felix Carrasco - won.
The switch-hitter smacked 21 homers in three rounds.
He's hit 12 this season after not hitting any in 101 at-bats last season in the Arizona rookie league and Class A-short season Eugene. I've seen him crank some homers from both sides of the plate and to all sides of the field. Just last week, he hit won over the left-field fence from the left-side of the plate. That's some opposite field power. He's a stocky guy, too. Probably about 5-foot-11 and 240 pounds.
It should be an exciting time today. Midland, home of the Great Lakes Loons, boasts a relatively new ballpark that opened before last season. Apparently, part of Fort Wayne's under construction downtown ballpark (see live construction on the right side of this page) will have similarities to Dow Diamond in Midland. So I'll at least get a feel for how the new ballpark will look.
Also, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda will be around the ballpark all day today. The Loons are the Class Low-A affiliate of the L.A. Dodgers, so Lasorda will be there taking in all of the environment. I'd like to get an interview with him. I'd ask him about the state of MLB right now - coming out of the steroid era, instant replay, rising attendance, if he's concerned about an economic downturn that would hurt attendence, etc.
Lastly, some of these All-Stars are going to be in the majors one day. The Midwest League has been a stop for plenty of great MLBers - Albert Pujols, Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer. And soon-to-be-greats Justin Upton and Clayton Kershaw. Trust me, there's plenty more than just these guys.
You can follow the 7 p.m. game live on this page where it says "schedule." There should be a live box score and possibly a radio (free registration required) link as game time nears.
Time to start packing my bags.