Thursday - Last Instructional League day

The mood is a bit dull this morning.

When we arrive, the guys are like : " You guys went to the Stadium again, yesterday?".
"Yes", tough game". we reply
"I knew it" one of them said, "they jinxed us"
Baseball is full of superstition. Sportsmen are pretty superstitious in general but the baseball guys are at a different level.
Knowing that fact, we send the attention to another target.
"Well, we were not the ones who were howling like a Wolf, saying that Randy was going to get the job done and playing some Duran Duran's Hungry like the Wolf in the clubhouse"
"Com'on man, I was just trying to get some positive vibes for him, because nobody had faith".
All this is said with big smiles, as always with this very nice staff.

You could feel some kind of tension though.
We witnessed a lot of instruction out here during our stay. And clearly, the staff doesn't take it like a job, but more like a passion. You can feel a very good atmosphere between players and staff. The staff actually cares about the players. And for a small market team like the Brewers, that's a key.
But the ownership has spent some extra bucks this season and they want results. In baseball, everytime an organization feels like they don't get their money's worth, changes are likely to happen.

So, yes, for that reason and also the fact that the staff has instructed a lot of the big league Brewers over the years (Braun, Fielder, Gallardo, Hart, Weeks,...), the staff is a bit anxious and hopes that the road of the red-hot D-Backs will come to an end tomorrow.

Anyways, today is the last day in Phoenix for most players and coaches.
Only a few coaches, trainers and Strength & Conditioning coaches will stay to guide the advanced team who is playing one more week.

Sandy Guerrero, the animated hitting instructor is giving tips to Filip on giving signs from 3rd base.

The day starts with some routine Batting Practice, bullpens and grounders, and outfield play.
This program quickly comes to an end as the regular team is facing the Rangers. On that team, Dutch shortstop Nick Urbanus. Flip and Nick talked briefly, in Dutch, after the game.

After that game, we head towards Glendale to join the advanced team, already busy defeating today's host. The main fact from the game is one of the White Sox hitters hit right in a place where his cup should have made some noise. But it didn't... The poor guy had already broken 2 bats in the game, as mentioned one of his former college teammates in our dugout. Bad day...
Our team picked up its 5th consecutive win in the process.

The advanced team rolled over Glendale for a 5th straight win

After the game, we go to the mall in Peoria where Filip is using his last hours in Arizona to do some shopping.

We then head to Peoria's field to watch the game between the Javelinas and the Desert Dogs.
Each team is composed by a mix of players from 5 different MLB teams. Most players are AA or AAA guys.
A 21 year old Venezuelan player from the Indians, Jesus Aguilar,  is putting on a show. In his first AB, he goes deep over the batter's eye. His next 2 at-bats are "only" doubles in the gaps.

At the game, we meet Matt Kerls, Adam Guttridge and Charlie Greene.

Matt can be known as the video guy. At least, that is one of the things he does when we are there in Phoenix. Of course, that's not his only job there. He stores all the data from all the Brewers Minor league games with his software. It's a pretty neat tool that allows, once the video has been set up, to see all the pitches thrown by a pitchers, from 3 different angles. The software allows to get much more data than that but it's the one feature that we have seen used everyday as an instructional tool for the pitching staff. Every pitch from every game, pitch, location, velocity, ... are tracked and added to the database.

Adam is, let's say, Peter Brand from the Moneyball movie. Or Paul DiPodesta from the book, or from real life. He is the statistical analyser for the Brewers. Consistently looking for more efficient ways to grade players, he is at the game to challenge the numbers he has on computer with what his eyes are seeing. He is advising the Brewers management on the statistical projections and true value of a player to a team, thanks to pretty advanced sabermetric calculations.

Charlie, the on-field coordinator that we talked about a lot already, is at the game because he loves being at the park, and he takes pride in watching his kids move all along the way.

We spend a lot of time talking about long toss and its perceived positive or negative impacts, and about ways to teach more efficiently. "You haven't taught until they have learned"...

The game ends with of loss from Peoria Javelinas and it's time for goodbyes.

Filip is ready to take his flight tomorrow morning and to start sharing the new things learned.

He will be at the EBCA Convention in November and will be available to talk about his experience to interested members.

 Pictures from the AFL between the Javelinas and the Desert Dogs

Logan Shafer, a Brewers prospect

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