Happy October Curve fans in the blogosophere and beyond! Pretty amazing to think that the 2011 season is behind us and 2012 is going to strangely enough be right around the corner. While there is no more baseball in Altoona for the offseason (although with the weather we had here this past weekend they certainly could have played), the Arizona Fall League is taking place out in the areas surrounding Phoenix, Ariz. This season, three members of the Curve club were selected to participate along with three others from High-A Bradenton and first-overall pick Gerrit Cole.
Mike Colla, Brock Holt and Phillip Irwin were the three Curve players selected while Robbie Grossman, Jarek Cunningham and Nathan Baker (all guys that might be Altoona sometime in the near future) were all tabbed from the Bradenton Marauders. All seven players play for the Mesa Solar Sox, one of six teams in the Fall League. Irwin, whoyou might remember from here in Altoona not only for his pitching performance but also his national anthem rendition, has graciously agreed to send us updates from time-to-time from Arizona to give Curve fans a taste of what goes on during the AFL.
Without any further ado, here’s Phil…
Hello and welcome all you Pirates fans! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Phillip Irwin and I played for the Altoona Curve for most of the 2011 season. This blog will be covering my time spent in the Arizona Fall League where I have been given the honor to represent the Pittsburgh Pirates along with a few other much bigger names than mine. I’ll be blogging about our experiences on the baseball field but I, most definitely, want to include some of our extracurricular activities so you can get some insight as to what it is we like to do off the field as well.
I’ll start with a little background information on me. I was born and raised in the Memphis, TN area. I live in Collierville, TN during the offseason, which is a suburb of Memphis. I went to Christian Brothers High School and graduated in 2005. I took my baseball career to the University of Mississippi, otherwise known as Ole Miss, and played there for 4 years. I was drafted in 2009 in the 21st round and, for the most part, it has been a pretty smooth ride since I started playing professional baseball.
All the Pirates who were invited to the Arizona Fall League play for the Mesa Solar Sox. These names include Mike Colla, Gerrit Cole, Jarek Cunningham, Robbie Grossman, Brock Holt, and my roommate Nathan Baker. Though we play in Mesa at the Chicago Cubs spring training complex, we all found places in the Scottsdale and Tempe areas of Arizona. Scottsdale is one of the nicest cities I’ve ever been in and the apartment Nathan and I live in is in a wonderful spot right next to Fashion Square. For those of you who don’t know, Fashion Square is an extremely nice and large mall that sits right on the strip that is North Scottsdale Road. There’s an abundant amount of places to eat and shop along with some fun little sights to see. Its not the best place for a minor league baseball player (unless you signed for some good money) due to the fact that it tends to keep the wallet fairly light. More on shopping expeditions in later posts.
As for the Solar Sox, though we might be a great bunch of guys, we have managed to go completely defeated to start the season at a whopping 0-5. It has nothing to do with a lack of talent; things just don’t seem to be falling our way. Everyone seems to get along in the clubhouse and there’s no shortage of fun. It’s quite relaxed out here as far as rules and regulations. The coaches tend to let the players go out and compete without too much instruction. From my understanding, other coaches know that each organization has its own set of goals for the players out here and they don’t step on anybody’s toes trying to fix something that isn’t their responsibility.
That’s all for today and tune in next week for much more updates on the Solar Sox and I. Now that we’ve gotten through the introductions we can focus more on the fun stuff next time. Thanks so much! Go Pirates!