For Major League Baseball, October means playoffs, but it’s also the month when every MLB team sends its best and brightest prospects to Arizona to compete in the Arizona Fall League. Executive Director of Fall League, Steve Cobb, explains what the league is all about.
Ted Simons: For Major League Baseball, October means playoffs. And while only a handful of teams are good enough to make it to the post-season, they all get to send some of their best and brightest prospects to Arizona to compete in the Arizona Fall Baseball League. Here with more is Steve Cobb, Executive Director of the Arizona Fall League. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Steve Cobb: Great to be here.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about the goal of the Fall League. What is the purpose?
Steve Cobb: The purpose of the league is to really focus on the elite players that are just at the cusp of making it to the major leagues. We bring all the players here to hopefully accelerate their progress. And most much our players are double A, triple A players, and are really knocking on the door to make it to the major leagues, so the purpose is to get as many of those players that are ready to make that next step to the next level.
Ted Simons: Who decides which players come here, and how do you decide what player goes on what team?
Steve Cobb: Well, we have a system where we work with the respective farm directors and they will work together to form a team. An Arizona Fall League teams consists of five organizations. We have rosters that have 35 men on each roster, and they're essentially all-star teams, but those farm directors get together and over a series of conference calls and put these teams together to showcase their talents here.
Ted Simons: And why is the valley the home for the fall league? How did that happen?
Steve Cobb: Well, really, Roland Heman is a valley resident, an executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was his dream, his vision, to bring Major League prospects to one centralized location. And it just so happens that that location is Arizona. The facilities that we have here in place for spring training are second to northern, and the weather is perfect for baseball development. So it was really his vision to bring such a league here.
Ted Simons: And the atmosphere out there is wonderful. We were talking beforehand, back in the old days in Spring Training when it wasn't so crowd and games were always sold out, you could wander in and out. But with the Fall League, that it's same kind of atmosphere.
Steve Cobb: We pride ourselves on making it very relaxed for people to come and enjoy the game. And the seating is open, you can sit anywhere you wish. And it's just kind of a throwback time of baseball that we really enjoy. And it's fantastic to see the players, because not only are they accessible, but they are really playing hard to make that Major League roster next spring.
Ted Simons: Talk about some of the players. A lot of them in the fall league have gone on to Major League careers. Managers as well. Correct?
Steve Cobb: Well, we've had over 1800 players make it to the Major Leagues. And we're grateful for that, because we could have this league, but if the organizations didn't utilize it, those numbers certainly wouldn't be there. We've had players -- if I said a year ago Buster Posey, most people never heard of him. He was in the league last year and now obviously is in the post-season. Steven Strasberg, Jason Hayward, impact-type players, and then when you start talking about Albert Pujols, Jimmy Rollins, players of that ilk, we've had so many that have made it.
Ted Simons: So Major League Baseball owns and operates the league. Correct?
Steve Cobb: Absolutely.
Ted Simons: The -- so the idea of baseball going up against baseball, was that ever a concern, the fall league going against playoff games?
Steve Cobb: Well, the league was created to serve baseball's needs, to be very honest. It was created to be a domestic option for U.S.- born players, primarily. Before this league was created, players would have to go to Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, or Venezuela to play winter ball, and now we have this -- we've created this domestic option. What's interesting, while the focus is the U.S.- born player, we now have a record 27 foreign-born play there's are in the league. So it's also going hand in hand with the globalization of baseball.
Ted Simons: And you mentioned some past names that are big stars, certainly on their way up. I guess the big name for this season is Bryce Harper, huh? That's the kid everyone is watching?
Steve Cobb: He was the first player picked in this past June in the draft, and just -- just a tremendous talent. He played last night for the first time at Scottsdale Stadium, and his first three at-bats he did not get a hit, his last time, bases were loaded, hit a ball off the wall, almost went out, his first hit in professional ball would have been a grand slam.
Ted Simons: How much are tickets?
Steve Cobb: Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for children. And seniors are $5 as well. There's not a better deal in town.
Ted Simons: Can you get more information, is there a website?
Steve Cobb: Our website is WWW.MLB.com.
Ted Simons: All right. It's good to have you here. Have a good season. Thanks for joining us.
Steve Cobb: Thank you.
Steve Cobb:Executive Director,Arizona Fall League;