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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:27 am 
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2035 SPRING TRAINING ARRIVES
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It’s the first two weeks of March, so that means roughly 60 players will descend on Scottsdale, Arizona where the Nine hold their spring training games. Among them are the kids—the prospects who haven’t seen a game yet but who each carry the idea of the major league payday in their minds, kids who are so close they can taste it.

1st Two Is Here

These first two weeks of camp are critical to these precocious players, because true to Nine philosophy, this is the time of the kids. “We all know how the month is going to be structured,” said highly touted pitcher Carlos Valle (10/6/8 Talents). “So we can gear up for it. The guys talk about it all the time. We text each other, you know U Ready 4 1st two? and stuff like that.”

That phrase, “1st Two” is considered a Holy Grail of sorts to Nine prospects because, while every team has it’s own way of looking at things, the Nine has traditionally given the first two weeks of the camp to prospects, then the back half to the guys planning to be listed on the major league roster. It’s a time for guys like Bob Frazier (5/5/9/6/5 Talents) and George Robertson (7/8/8/6/7 Talents) a Curt Phillips (10/7/7 Talents) to get time with the big league coaches and for the team to calibrate their progress.

“We go pretty deep in the organization, too,” said manager Bret Richards. “At first I didn’t like it a lot because it felt like we were rushing them and because it makes those first two weeks a little hectic. But it’s all pretty good. I see the merit. Maybe the kid’s only going to play short-A, but we still get to see him for two weeks or so.”

Rumors say the team’s front office is still scurrying to put together the last few spots on the spring roster, which means a lot of prospects are on edge about now. Getting the call tells them something about how the club sees them. Being left off tells them even more.

“It’s not really quite like that,” Richards said, “but I understand why the kids think that way. There’s truth to the core idea, but sometimes getting a call or not has more to do with specific situations players find themselves in than anything else. For example, we’re going to want to get Joaquin (Torres, a rule 5 selection) some time to see if we’re going to be able to keep him on the major league roster. That will take a spot that might otherwise have been open. WE can only have 60—and to be honest, we’d love to see some more. So, by definition, some guys we like a lot will be left off the roster.”

So, Who’s Going to Play?

Look for super-prospect 18 year-old Juan Lopez (8/8/9/6/8 Talents) to play in spots. He’s probably going to start in Rookie or Short-A this year, but may make it to A-ball if things work out. Jose Machado (6/6/8/6/7 Talents) will play those first two weeks, as will Japanese outfielder Eiji Murata (6/7/8/5/6 Talents). Pat Allen (7/8/8/4/7 Talents) will join Robertson. Shortstop Tai hoi Zhu (7/7/6/4/8 Talents) will play, along with Rule 5 acquisition Joaquin Torres (5/6/4/6/5 Talents). A possible “Exception” to the rule is Mauro Saucedo (7/7/6/5/10 Talents), who everyone thinks will be the club’s opening day centerfielder, but who the club has been pumping innings in hopes he’ll pick up the game defensively well enough to avoid being a problem. Still, the kid is only 20.

The rotation will probably consist of Vale, Phillips, Ernesto Ramos (10/5/8 Talents) (who has been getting some off-season press), Tristan Alfama (9/6/7 Talents), Jose Valenzuela (8/6/5 Talents), and Luuk Van den Hoek (who is coming off an injury). Alfama is still at the edge of a major league slot, so this spring could tell a tale for him.

The bullpen will likewise be staffed with young players.

Fans Understand?

In the past this has created some petty grotesque win-loss records for the team, something casual fans will sometimes blanch at. But as the years have passed, those who follow the team closely seem to be getting the point.

“It’s fun to go down there and watch the kids,” said Sal Johnaho, a heating and air conditioning specialist who travels to Arizona each spring. We’re pretty sure the team’s not going to win, but it’s good to get your eyes on the kids so you can talk the talk with your buddies. I can’t wait to see what I think of Ramos.”

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Yellow Springs Nine
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