Hey fans,

This will be my last short entry before we head into the offseason.  The fall league has 3 days remaining and I am very excited about going home and seeing my family for the holidays.  It’s hard to express how tired we are as players right now.  It has been a 9 month grind and I can’t wait to let my body rest and recoop for a while. 

Although we struggled a bit as a team during this fall it was still a great experience for all of us.  We were fortunate to be a part of a great group of guys that knew how to have fun no matter what the circumstances.  It was a pleasure to get to play against this calibur of player for a couple months.  Although it won’t show on the stat sheet, I am very happy with the way I finished up.  I didn’t get a ton of ab’s, but I feel good about things I got accomplished out here.  There is always something to learn in baseball.  This was a different experience, but I have been around the game long enough to know that it will benefit down the road in some way or another.  Whether it be having to take an at bat cold off the bench sometime, or just to learn more about yourself so you can minimize struggles in the future.  At some point next year I will look back at my time in the fall league to help me with something…it always happens.   

I will be heading back home to Pennsylvania after Thursday’s game and can’t wait to get into the Lake Erie streams to fish for steelhead.  The offseason brings a lot of great times for outdoor stuff like hunting and fishing, not to mention holidays with the family.  I hope that everyone enjoyed reading this blog throughout the fall league.  I enjoyed keeping you all up to date and appreciate your support.  I wish everyone the best during this offseason, and we will see you fans again soon!

Guest Blogger-Andrew Laughter

Hey everyone. My name is Andrew Laughter (like slaughter) and I am a pitcher for the Rangers organization and currently playing on the Suprise Rafters. I went to college in the sportsman’s paradise at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and was drafted last year. This year was a good learning experience for me and a lot of fun. I was excited to get the opportunity to play in the AFL. There is a lot of great talent here and the guys show it off every day. I am however looking forward to this offseason where I will be spending a lot of time in the woods chasing down big whitetails going on the occasional duck hunt. I will mostly be out in Alabama and Louisiana, but im hoping to get out to Mississippi as well. Our Rafters team consists of a few fellow hunters, so we spend some time each day telling hunting stories and expressing our excitement for the upcoming season. While playing in the fall league, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of good guys from other organizations. Especially guys I have played against all year long. Speaking of great guys, our bullpen out here is a lot of fun. We have covered just about every topic possible while here. Everything from politics to any wrestler to ever step in the ring in WWE. Politics took up most of the time though. We had some great debates during the presidential election.
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The fall league is winding down (4 days left) and I’m very excited. It will be a much needed break to allow my body to recover from the long season. Im looking forward to going home and seeing my family and friends, and filling up my refrigerator with venison. If anyone has and questions or comments feel free to leave them. I’ll try my best to answer them all. See everyone in spring training. Happy holidays and happy hunting! 

winding down

Hey fans,

I havent reported to you in a while.  We have had some internet problems here at the house so I missed last week.  There isn’t a whole lot new to report.  The fall league is winding down and we are still doing a lot of the same stuff.  The rafters club has started to win some games.  We went through a really rough stretch and have since won 4 out of 5 games.  As I said a couple weeks ago, rough patches happen and it’s nice to see our team continue to play hard. 

Our Rangers hitters were fortunate this week to get a visit from our hitting coordinator and our major league hitting coach.  They just came to spend a few days with us and get us some additional work since at bats havent come often.  They wanted us to get a grasp of some of the things we needed to work on this winter so we can really focus on bettering our weaknesses.  It was awesome to get to spend time with the two of them exclusively and pick their brains for a few days. 

I spent the weekend at my cousins wedding this past weekend and am back in time for the final week and a half of the fall season.  Everyone is just looking to do thier best and finish strong before heading home for some much needed time off.  I hope everyone enjoyed reading these blogs and I hope it helped you get a better look at what its like to be in our shoes.  I think I will have one final blog at the end of the week.  Talk to you then fans!

Week 4

Hello again fans,

We are fast approaching Novemeber here at the Arizona Fall League, yet still alot of baseball has to be played.  The Rafters had a rough week, albeit a shortened week.  We are currently trying to snap out of a bit of a losing streak and throw a few W’s on the board.  We seem to be losing a lot of different ways right now.  There are always those periods where its seems like no a whole lot goes right, and we are going through one right now.  The team remains a pleasure to be around, though, and everyone is just trying to keep having fun.

The big news of the past week would have to be the rising stars game that took place on Saturday.  Although I didn’t participate, I got the feedback from the guys on our team that played in it.  It sounded like it was a heck of a game to watch and it was decided in the last couple innings.  All of our guys seemed to enjoy the experience a lot.

This week will take us into November and we will be on the home stretch to the end of the season.  I think that everyone here is going to get whatever they can out of these last few weeks and try to build a foundation for our time at home.  Thoughts of home are starting to creep into everyone’s mind.  We have been away from home since about the middle of february, so you can’t help but imagine that we are eager for a break.  As players, though, we give it our all until the very end, and it will be no different here.  Push to the finish line and then take a short breather before having to start training again for next year. 

Well thats it for this week.  If there are any questions ill continue to answer those.  Also, if there is anything in particular you want to hear about in the last couple blogs let me know, it’s hard to think about what to include each week.  Thanks fans!

Week 3 set to begin!

Week three of the AFL commences tomorrow and the Rafters find themselves in the same boat as last week.  We played about the same this past week and our record now sits at 4-7 but still only two games off the pace as the Javs have cooled off a bit.  We finished off the week well with a 10-9 victory last night over the Desert Dogs. 

The experience has been great thus far watching all of these talented athletes play the game.  I have faced Clay Bucholz and Phil Hughes in 2 of my 4 games and watched Max Scherzer fire them in there last night.  There are some high quality arms out here and it’s been a pleasure to watch and see what the next level has to offer.  As I explained last week, the routine is much the same.  I have been doing a lot of work still in the cage as I am still not quite there with my swing.  We have a ton of extra players as compared to most teams, so ab’s are few and far between so I try to do whatever I can to keep myself as prepared as I possibly can for my next oppurtunity.   Making improvements each day is the main goal.

Outside of baseball life is good as well.  Im staying in my close friend and teammate Johnny Whittleman’s condo with him.  We have a great time away from the field.  There is a pool out back and a grill.  Weekends frequently bring us outdoors throwing the football around and grilling lunch and dinner.  We have plenty to keep us busy outside the field and try to approach that time with as much relaxation as possible.  It’s been a long year, having a place that you can go to away from the field and feel as though you are at home is crucial.  It just lets you put your mind at ease.  Johnny Whit has provided that for me and we love each other’s company.

Thats about it for this week.  The Rafters will be in Mesa tomorrow for game number 12 as we push toward November.  Ill continue to answer ur questions as quickly as I can.  Its a busy time out here, so it takes a couple days sometimes, but I try to get to them all.  Thanks fans!

Week 2 in the AFL

Hey fans!

Its the start of week two in the arizona fall league and the rafters sit at 2-3, 1 game off the pace.  It was very exciting to get underway and finally play some games.  I played only twice this week and recorded 8 at bats with one hit.  The fall league is a very different experience for a lot of us players.  As many of you know there are a lot of great players out here.  This league has a reputation of bringing in players that should be future big leaguers as early as next year.  There are at least 2 guys at every position on each team, so playing time isn’t as it is during the season.  The players here are all used to playing every day during the year, but it’s just not possible here.  Playing every other day or so is quite common, so it is a little bit more of a relaxed atmosphere for the players.  It also allows for guys to really bear down on things they need to work on during the days they are not playing.  It’s hard to really get after it when you know you are playing that day, so the time off in between might as well be used for stuff that each individual needs to work on. 

I spend a lot of my extra time in the cage continuing to fine tune my swing, and even more time at first base working on my footwork.  The swing is always a work in progress and often, after time off, it tends to leave you for a bit.  Many players have certain drills they like to do to lock themselves back in.  Defensive work is the same way, it requires a certain rhythm and repetition to get it locked in as well. 

As for the rafters, we had a decent first week.  We finished the week with a 2-3 record.  After a slow start and a couple losses to the javelinas, we finally got in the win column with an exciting 8-7 walkoff win over scottsdale.  We came back in the 8th to take the lead and came back to tie it again in the 9th before eventually winning in the 10th.  After a high scoring affair, we were able to close the week with a 2-1 vicotry led by a stellar effort from our pitching staff.  We will start the new week in Peoria as we look to put up a few more W’s this week. 

As always, its a pleasure reporting to you from Surprise, AZ.  Any questions i’d be glad to answer.

Hello Fall League Fans!

Hey Fans!  Chad Tracy coming to you from Surprise, AZ, home of the Texas Rangers and Surprise Rafters.  I guess I should start with a little bit of background about myself.  I have been with the rangers since the 2006 draft.  I was drafted out of Pepperdine University as a catcher, but have since learned to play left field and first base.  I grew up in Florida and California, attending a couple years of high school in each place before getting a scholarship to play at Pepperdine.  I loved every second of college and helped the Waves to 3 conference championships and three regional championship appearances from 2004-2006.  As I said before, I was drafted in 2006 and have played at 4 levels since being drafted, most reently with the Frisco Roughriders of the Texas league.  It has been a great climb so far, and I can only hope for more positive things to happen in the future.

I have been back in Arizona since the 17th of September working out with our instructional league team.  We started work with the fall league team on the 2nd of October and it has gone great so far.  The workouts have not been too taxing, just covering a lot of the basics, taking BP, and a little live pitching.  It’s been nice to spend a lot of time getting to know everyone and catching up with the guys that we already know.  I played with or against alot of my fall league teammates during college or my first couple years of pro ball, so it’s been pretty easy in that regard. 

Other that that, all I can say is we are pretty excited about strapping it on for real tomorrow.  Practice is necessary, but it’s always exciting to get out there and play the first game. It seems like everyone is pretty enthusiastic about having the oppurtunity to be here and our coaching staff are good people and competitors as well.  Seems like everything is in place to have a solid month and a half of baseball.  Look forward to seeing everyone at the games!

I’d be glad to answer any questions you might have.  Just write me a message.