Minor league baseball seasons are in their final days, and those minor league teams not playing in the postseason have been finished for a couple weeks. True baseball fans enjoy the game at all levels—and we know that there’s nothing quite like going to a minor league baseball game.
Where else but the minors are you going to luck into having your six-year-old daughter perform on the field with the Famous San Diego Chicken, as my daughter did at a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game in July? (She’s the first kid in the photo above. I wrote about it here.) Where else but the minors will your nephew have his Camden River Sharks hat signed by former Major Leaguer and current Long Island Duck Josh Barfield?
And where else but a minor league game can you go to Las Vegas and they’ll give you a shirt to put on your back instead of the other way around? This happened to us on free jersey giveaway day at a Las Vegas 51s game in July.
I made a concerted effort to see as many minor league games as I could this season, in part because watching too much of my Major League team, the Phillies, has been banned by the Geneva Convention, and in part because minor league baseball really is great. In addition to aforementioned games in Colorado Springs (AAA, Rockies) and Las Vegas (AAA, Mets), we got our picture taken with live ostriches at a very ostrichy Reading Fightin Phils (AA, Phillies) game in April and played the famous urinal game at a Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA, Phillies) game in July.
Shortly after I first spoke with Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Charles Brewer in Spring Training 2012, he was promoted from the double-A Mobile BayBears to the triple-A Reno Aces. This past Thursday, on the Fourth of July, I caught up with Charles again when his Aces were visiting the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Rockies triple-A affiliate. And guess what? He was called up to the D-Backs just hours after we spoke.
Any baseball fan who has worn the same underwear for a week during a winning streak knows what is going on here. Bloggers To Be Named Later is responsible for Charles Brewer’s success. If he ever wants to make the All Star team some day down the road, we’ll be expecting a phone call.
Charles Brewer made his Major League debut earlier this year, pitching 3 and 2/3 scoreless innings before being sent back down to Reno. He was the first-ever Arizona-born player to be drafted by the Diamondbacks, come up through their system, and make the big-league team. He graciously took a few minutes to speak with me in the visiting clubhouse about his first stint in the Majors, Yasiel Puig as an All Star, his feelings on the designated hitter rule, and just how real the BTBNL Bump is.
Mets prospect Francisco Pena did not expect to be playing this soon for the triple-A Las Vegas 51s, but after injuries to other players and his own quick start in double-A Binghamton, he got his chance. He’s made the most of it, hitting five home runs and knocking in 18 runs in his first month at minor league baseball’s highest level. Little does he know that he’s destined for stardom now, as our previous interview subjects, Charles Brewer in the Diamondbacks system and Ben Paulsen in the Rockies system, have advanced to higher levels after speaking with us.
In the game I saw, a 4-1 win over the Salt Lake Bees June 22, Pena went 1-for-2 with an RBI hit-by-pitch (though on his one hit, he got thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple). He very kindly took a moment to speak with me after the game.
Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Charles Brewer is our favorite up-and-coming pitching prospect in all of baseball. Sure, the Dbacks seem to be loaded with talented young arms, but at age 23, only one of them is a guaranteed, can’t-miss, surefire success in the Majors. You guessed it: Charles Brewer. (Okay, also Tyler Skaggs.)
I had the opportunity to speak with Charles after a Spring Training game earlier this month at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona. Here’s why I think Charles Brewer is destined for greatness.
1. The veterans on his own team are scared of him.
Why are the veterans so scared that they have to put Charles Brewer’s street clothes in the cold tub? I’ll be expecting a phone call from Ian Kennedy with an explanation.
People who have sent us helmets out of the kindness of their hearts: Howard Aprill, Lacy Bauer, Ira Bletz, Barb Buse Breen (and her aunt Ellen), Phil Broder, Chris Brown, Jamie Cabral, Matthew Caputo, Scott Castiglia, AJ Chlebnik, Jason D'Agostino, Kelly Farrell (and her sister Camille), Alan Filipczak, Seth Gallagher, John Johnson, Kelly Grimm Joslin, Melissa Kaspern, Sarah Keating, Tom Lappas, Scott & Susan Mealey, Art & Anita Pena, Katie Caputo Roberts, Phil Sexton, Don Simme
Minor League teams that have generoulsy donated helmets to the collection: Albuquerque Isotopes, Altoona Curve, Bowie Baysox, Dayton Dragons, Gwinnett Braves, Lancaster Barnstormers, Lexington Legends, Louisville Bats, New Britain Rock Cats, Oklahoma City Redhawks, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Toledo Mud Hens, Wilmington Blue Rocks