The Arizona Fall League is set to begin October 8 and four players who spent time with the Baysox this season are making the trip to Arizona to play for the Surprise Saguaros, who will be coached by Baysox Manager Gary Kendall. Left-handed pitchers Jason Gurka and Eduardo Rodriguez and outfielders Henry Urrutia and Dariel Alvarez are joining the squad.
The Baysox manager for the past three seasons, Kendall is excited about this new opportunity to manage in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
"To get an opportunity to go out there is an honor," Kendall said. "I am really looking forward to coaching some players who I think are some prospects from our organization and from other organizations."
"I'm getting a look at other clubs and a chance to meet other GMs and front office people," Kendall explained. "I'm sure it's going to be a lot of work - I managed in the Hawaiian Winter League (2006) - and you had to do a lot of reporting to the different franchises about their players throughout. I am looking forward to having that association with those teams."
Joining Kendall and the Orioles players on the Surprise squad are prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox. Kendall will coach alongside Pitching Coach Steve Karsay (Indians), Hitting Coach Rich Gedman (Red Sox) and Coach Alan Mills (Orioles).
"There are some players that spent time in the Eastern League on our club that I am really looking forward to seeing," Kendall said. "We saw [Jake] Lowery with Akron this year but missed a couple players who were down in Carolina like Tyler Naquin who is a good looking prospect. We played Portland and Garin Cecchini was the third baseman and also their first baseman Derrik Gibson is on the club."
Managing in the AFL with players from multiple teams is a little different from working with a full season club because there is a plan laid out from each team to help direct the development of the individual players.
"Each organization is going to have plans for each player - whether a pitcher is developing certain pitches or they are looking at a pitcher in a certain role," Kendall explained. "Each player is going to have a point of emphasis - some of them are going to be getting at-bats and the opportunity to play every day and develop their skills. Each player is going to have a target to develop themselves in a game setting, which is good because if they are working on their own, you miss the baserunning or outfield situations you get in a live game."
Fall League games run from the beginning of October to the middle of November and provide an opportunity for some of the top prospects in Minor League Baseball to improve their skills with 32 games against top competition during the offseason.