Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

Salt River Fields will host the seventh annual Rising Stars game on Saturday, November 3. The Rising Stars Game is the premier game of the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League. Top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations come together for one night to compete against one another in a nationally televised game on the MLB Network. Recent participants have included current major league stars such as: Bryce Harper, Stephen Strausburg, and Mike Trout. Gates open at 3:30 with first pitch scheduled for 5:10. A post-game fireworks show will end an exciting night of watching the future stars of MLB.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Major League Baseball's Arizona Fall League begins October 9th

The Arizona Fall League will be commemorating its 20th anniversary throughout this fall's campaign, and once again, the elite finishing school for prospects has assembled an impressive collection of Minor League talent to celebrate in style.
A total of 24 players currently on's Top 100 Prospect list are on the rosters announced on Wednesday, led by Minors stolen-base record holder Billy Hamilton of the Reds, Anthony Rendon of the Nationals and the Marlins' Christian Yelich, all of whom are in the top 30.

Players from 10 countries -- Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea and Taiwan -- will also be on hand.

The biggest objective for the AFL, which begins play on Oct. 9, is to get participants ready for the big leagues, of course. All the players on this year's rosters know the track record of the league: that a large majority of alumni go on to play in the big leagues, many in the following season.

Dr. Mattalino receiving the Roland Hemond Award in 2011
Dr. Mattalino has been the Medical Director and Head Orthopaedic Surgeon since the inception of the Fall League. In 2011 Dr. Mattalino received the Roland Hemond Award for his service to the Fall League. The Roland Hemond award is presented annually to recognize baseball executives who have provided at least fifteen years of outstanding service to professional baseball and served the Arizona Fall League in a key leadership capacity. Hemond is a forefather of the Arizona Fall League, often being considered the "Architect of the Fall League."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Team USA defeats Cuba 12-10

Dr. Mattalino is in Guadalajara, Mexico with the USA baseball team as they compete in the 2011 Pan Am games. Today, team USA defeated one of their biggest rivals, Cuba, in a very close game (12-10). Putting Team USA closer to their first Pan Am Gold Medal since 1967.

The Article below can be found at

LAGOS DE MORENO, Mexico -- In what is sure to go down as one of the most thrilling chapters in the storied USA/Cuba rivalry, the U.S. held on Monday for a 12-10 win and now advances to Tuesday's gold medal final, against either Mexico or Canada, set for 8 p.m. ET.

Team USA jumped out to a 12-2 lead through four frames, but Cuba would not go quietly, chipping away at the U.S. lead with eight runs over the next five innings. U.S. closer Scott Patterson came in with two outs in the eighth, however, and allowed only one hit in retiring the final four Cuban batters of the game. Patterson got Cuban slugger Frederich Cepeda to pop-up to third baseman Tommy Mendonca for the final out of the game to nail down the save (1).

Brett Carroll continued his stellar Pan Am Games, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored to push his team-leading average for the tournament to a blistering .643 (9-for-14). The outfielder led a balanced U.S. attack that saw each of Team USA's nine batters record at least one hit.

Chuckie Fick (1-0) earned the win for the U.S. He came in for starter Todd Remond and was later relieved by Randy Williams, Pete Andrelczyk, Justin Cassel, and Patterson.

With the win, the U.S. advances to its fourth straight Pan Am gold medal game. The Americans have not won Pan Am gold since 1967 and have lost the previous three finals to Cuba. Tuesday will mark the first time since the 1959 Pan Ams that Cuba will not play for gold and the first time since its loss to the U.S. in 1967 that it will not win a Pan Am gold medal.

NOTES: In his ninth starting appearance, across three USA Baseball Professional Team seasons and four international tournaments, Todd Redmond faced Cuba for the first time, Monday...the righty earned a no-decision, allowing four earned runs over four innings pitched...With his fourth-inning RBI-double, Joe Thurston has now recorded at least one hit in each of the 14 games he has played for Team USA this season...the second baseman is hitting a team-leading .436 (24-55) over that stretch...Tommy Mendonca knocked in his team-leading 10th RBI, Monday, and Brett Carroll extended his team runs lead to eight, while also padding his Pan Am club-leading .643 average (9-14)...Matt Clark recorded his first hit on the Pan Am Games, Monday, when he lined a single up the middle in the third inning...the designated hitter had reached base eight times prior via bases on balls...Clark also logged two more walks in the game, giving him nine total for the event...the Pan Am tournament record of 10 was set in 1987 by Ty Griffin...Monday marked the third time in four Pan Am games the U.S. scored more than 10 runs in a game (45 total runs scored in the tournament)...A USA Baseball Professional Team had never scored more than 10 runs in a game against Cuba...the previous high was 10 (twice, 10-5 on July 28, in the 1999 Pan Am Games and 10-5 on Sept. 27, in the 2009 IBAF World Cup)...the World Cup/Pan Am Team faced Cuba earlier this month at the IBAF World Cup in Panama on Oct. 11...Cuba won the Round 2 game, 8-7...with Monday's win, the USA/Cuba pro team match-up now sits at 8-7, USA...the record begins in 1999 when USA Baseball first started fielding professional teams...Freddy Alvarez started for Cuba, Monday...he also was the starting pitcher when the teams met in the World Cup earlier this month...Cuba is currently the No. 1 ranked team in the world by the IBAF...the U.S. is No. 2.

Monday, September 26, 2011

USA Baseball Trains for World Cup/ Pan Am Games

Dr. Mattalino is in North Carolina today training with USA Baseball for the World Cup/Pan Am Games that begin in Panama City, Panama on October 2nd.

Read the following article for more information on USA Baseball's team selection for these games.

DURHAM, N.C. -- USA Baseball announced its 2011 World Cup/Pan Am Team roster on Thursday, as well as its opening round schedules for both events. The team will compete in both the IBAF Baseball World Cup in Panama City, Panama, Oct. 2-15, and the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico (baseball competition to be held in Lagos de Moreno), Oct. 20-25. The U.S. roster features 24 players not currently on Major League Baseball 40-man rosters.

The Chicago White Sox led all Major League clubs with three players from its farm system named to the team. The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, and Texas Rangers each placed two players on the club, and the remaining players each came from one of 11 other big league organizations.

"We are faced with a very unique situation this fall with two major tournaments on the schedule," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. "We feel like we have assembled a strong team of both seasoned veterans and young players who are excited to represent their country. This will be the first time our professional team will have the opportunity to bring home two gold medals, and we look forward to taking on that challenge."

Among those named to the team include Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Brett Jackson, who is currently ranked No. 36 on's Top 50 prospects list. The roster also features Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, who was recently named MVP of the Double-A Eastern League. Overall, six members of the team have previous Major League experience, including Brett Carroll (FLA, 2007-10; MIL, 2011), Jeff Marquez (CHW, 2010; NYY, 2011), Scott Patterson (NYY, 2008; SDP, 2008), Joe Thurston (LAD, 2002-04; PHI, 2006; BOS, 2008; STL, 2009; FLA, 2011), Andy Van Hekken (DET, 2002), and Randy Williams (SEA, 2004; SDP, 2005; COL, 2005; CHW, 2009-10; BOS, 2011).

USA Baseball is also well-represented on the 2011 World Cup/Pan Am team roster, with seven players having previously worn the red, white and blue. Alumni include Jordan Danks (2007 Collegiate), Jackson (2010 Pan Am Qualifier), Tommy Mendonca (2008 Collegiate), Jordy Mercer (2007 Collegiate), Joe Savery (2005 Collegiate), and Williams (2002 Americas Series). Todd Redmond of the Atlanta Braves organization is also a Team USA alum, with 2011 marking his third consecutive USA Baseball professional team appearance (2009 World Cup, 2010 Pan Am Qualifier).
Ernie Young will manage the team in Panama and Mexico, and he will be joined on the coaching staff by pitching coach Kirk Champion, hitting coach Leon Durham, and assistant coaches Jay Bell and Roly de Armas. Only assistant coach Carlos Tosca (bench coach, Atlanta Braves) does not return from the 2010 Pan American Qualifying Team staff which helped lead the U.S. to a tie for third place and qualify Team USA for both of the upcoming October events.
The Pan Am Team will first gather in Cary, N.C., at the USA Baseball National Training Complex where it will train from Sept. 27-29. The U.S. will have one workout on Sept. 27, followed by the first of three exhibitions against the Canadian World Cup/Pan Am Team. The U.S. will then depart for Panama City, Panama, for the IBAF Baseball World Cup where it will look to win its third straight title. Team USA has defeated Cuba in the gold medal game of each of the last two World Cup finals. First round action kicks off on Oct. 2, against Japan at Rod Carew Stadium.

At the conclusion of the World Cup on Oct. 15, the U.S. will travel to Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, for the Pan American Games baseball competition. Following two days of practice, Team USA begins play on Oct. 20, against the Dominican Republic. The U.S. last fielded a pro team at the Pan Am Games in 1999 -- USA Baseball's first club featuring professional athletes -- and will be looking for its first gold medal in the event since 1967 in Winnipeg. In the Rio de Janiero 2007 Pan Am Games, Team USA finished with a silver medal behind Cuba. The Cubans have won 12 of the 15 Pan Am baseball competitions ever played, including the last 10, dating back to 1971.

The 2010 Pan American Qualifying Team is the most recent professional team fielded by USA Baseball. The 2010 club finished the qualifier tied for third with a tournament-best 9-1 record, its lone loss coming against the Dominican Republic in the single elimination semifinals. The team was led by a collection of top Minor League prospects, including Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals, all of whom made their Major League debut in 2011. Additionally, eight other members of the 2010 team made their big league debuts this season, including Bruce Billings (COL/OAK), Tim Collins (KAN), Chase d'Arnaud (PIT), Danny Duffy (KAN), Todd Frazier (CIN), Jordan Pacheco (COL), Cord Phelps (CLE), and Everett Teaford (KAN).

The players named to the 2011 World Cup/Pan Am Team are as follows:

Pan American Qualifying Team Roster

Name, Position, Hometown, Organization
Pete Andrelcyzk, RHP, Lancaster, Pa., Florida Marlins
Jeff Beliveau, LHP, Johnson, R.I., Chicago Cubs
Brett Carroll, OF, Knoxville, Tenn., Boston Red Sox
Justin Cassel, RHP, Los Angeles, Calif., Chicago White Sox
Matt Clark, IF/OF, Riverside, Calif., San Diego Padres
Travis d'Arnaud, C, Long Beach, Calif., Toronto Blue Jays
Jordan Danks, OF, Austin, Texas, Chicago White Sox
Chuckie Fick, RHP, Thousand Oaks, Calif., St. Louis Cardinals
Andrew Garcia, IF, El Cajon, Calif., Chicago White Sox
Tuffy Gosewisch, C, Freeport, Ill., Philadelphia Phillies
Brett Jackson, OF, Berkeley, Calif., Chicago Cubs
Jeff Marquez, RHP, Vacaville, Calif., New York Yankees
Tommy Mendonca, IF, Turlock, Calif., Texas Rangers
Jordy Mercer, IF, Taloga, Okla., Pittsburgh Pirates
Scott Patterson, RHP, Pittsburgh, Pa., Seattle Mariners
A.J. Pollock, OF, Hebron, Conn., Arizona Diamondbacks
Todd Redmond, RHP, St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta Braves
Joe Savery, LHP, Houston, Texas, Philadelphia Phillies
Matt Shoemaker, RHP, Wyandotte, Mich., Los Angeles Angels
Drew Smyly, LHP, Maumelle, Ark., Detroit Tigers
Joe Thurston, IF, Fairfield, Calif., Florida Marlins
Chad Tracy, IF, Arlington Heights, Ill., Texas Rangers
Andy Van Hekken, LHP, Holland, Mich., Houston Astros
Randy Williams, LHP, Harlingen, Texas, Boston Red Sox

Coaching Staff
Ernie Young, Manager, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Kirk Champion, Pitching Coach, Shiloh, Ill.
Leon Durham, Hitting Coach, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jay Bell, Assistant Coach, Phoenix, Ariz.
Roly de Armas, Assistant Coach, Palm Harbor, Fla.


Joe Garagiola, Major League Baseball, Phoenix, Ariz.
Eric Campbell, General Manager, National Teams, Raleigh, N.C.
John Fierro, Head Athletic Trainer, Gilbert, Ariz.
Christopher Gebeck, Assistant Athletic Trainer, Two Harbors, Minn.
Fred Dicke, Team Physician, Gilbert, Ariz.
Angelo Mattalino, Team Physician, Fort Worth, Texas
Jake Fehling, Press Officer, Raleigh, N.C.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baseball Injury Prevention

From AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery)

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that each year more than 627,000 baseball-related injuries are treated in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and hospital emergency rooms.
Although baseball is a non-contact sport, most serious injuries are due to contact — either with a ball, bat, or another player.
The most common baseball injuries include mild soft tissue injuries, such as muscle pulls (strains), ligament injuries (sprains), cuts and bruises, lacerations, and contusions. The repetitive nature of these sports can also cause overuse injuries to the shoulder and elbow.
Proper Preparation
  • Physical exam. A pre-season physical exam is important for both younger and older players. The goal is to prevent injuries and illnesses by identifying any potential medical problems. These may include asthma, allergies, heart, or orthopaedic conditions.
  • Warm up and stretch. Always take time to warm up and stretch.
    • Warm up with some easy calisthenics, such as jumping jacks. Continue with walking or light running, such as running the bases.
    • Gentle stretching, in particular your back, hamstrings, and shoulders, can be helpful. Your team coach or athletic trainer may provide a stretching program.
  • First aid. Familiarity with first aid, including recognizing and treating the most common injuries, is especially important for coaches. Be able to administer basic first aid for minor injuries, such as facial cuts, bruises, strains, sprains, and tendonitis.
  • Field knowledge. Be familiar with your baseball field, including its telephone and cardiac defibrillator.
  • Emergency situations. Be prepared for emergencies. Have a plan to reach medical personnel for help with more significant injuries like concussions, breathing problems like wheezing, heat illness, and orthopaedic emergencies, such as fractures and dislocations.
  • Follow the rules. Know the rules and encourage safe and appropriate play.
Ensure Appropriate Equipment and Its Use
  • Equipment should fit properly and be worn correctly.
  • Wear a batting helmet at the plate, in the "on deck" circle waiting your turn at bat, and during base running.
  • Protective face shields attached to batting helmets can reduce the risk of facial injury if hit by a ball.
  • Position-specific equipment should be used.
    • Catchers should always use a catcher's mitt, helmet, face mask, throat guard, long-model chest protector, protective supporter, and shin guards.
    • Batters should consider wearing protective jackets to avoid injury from being hit by ball.
  • Wear molded baseball shoes that fit properly and have appropriate cleats.
  • Gender-specific equipment may be of value, including athletic supports for boys/men and padded bras for girls/women.
  • In youth leagues, softer baseballs decrease the risk of injury from being hit by a pitched ball.
  • Players should be instructed in how to avoid getting hit by a ball.
Ensure a Safe Environment
    • Inspect the playing field for uneven terrain (holes, divots), glass, and other debris.
    • Use a field with breakaway bases. Many injuries occur while sliding into bases. The traditional stationary base is a rigid obstacle for an athlete to encounter while sliding. In contrast, a breakaway base is snapped onto grommets attached to an anchored rubber mat, which holds it in place during normal play. Although a sliding runner can dislodge it, the breakaway base is stable and will not detach during normal base running. Installing breakaway bases on all playing fields could significantly decrease sliding injuries.
    • Assess weather conditions and be prepared to delay/cancel the game, especially in cases of particularly hot weather or thunderstorms with lightning.
Focus on Technique

Base Running

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following tips for those individuals sliding into, as well as protecting, the bases while playing baseball and softball:
  • Players under age 10 should not be taught to slide.
  • Proper instruction in sliding technique must be taught and practiced before using any bag, including the breakaway bases. Practice should first be with a sliding bag.
  • The "obstruction" rule must be taught and observed. Getting in the way of the runner or blocking the base without possession of the ball is dangerous to both the runner and fielder.
  • When coming into home plate, it is important that
  • the runner attempt to slide to avoid a collision.
  • To prevent ankle and foot injuries between the runner and fielder at first base, a "double bag" — a separate bag for both the runner and first baseman — should be used.

Pitching and Throwing

Follow established guidelines for youth baseball, which include limiting the number of pitches thrown and type of pitches thrown, according to age. The following guidelines are recommended by the USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee.
  • Pitch Count Limits:
  • AgeMax.
    8 - 105075
    11 - 1275100
    13 - 1475125
    15 - 16902 games / week
    17 - 181052 games / week

  • Ages for learning types of pitches:
  • Fastball8
Good Communication

Good communication between doctors, players, parents, and coaches is key to diagnosing and treating more significant baseball injuries.
Young players may not be able to recall exactly how an injury happened or describe their symptoms in detail. They may even hide injuries because of concern about being removed from play.
Coaches and parents must pay close attention to changes in a player's participation or performance. Should there be an injury, doctors may need their help to provide accurate details and a medical history.

Safe Return to Play

An injured player's symptoms must be completely gone before returning to play. For example:
  • In case of a joint problem, the player must have no pain, no swelling, full range of motion, and normal strength.
  • In case of concussion, the player must have no symptoms at rest or with exercise, and should be cleared by the appropriate medical provider.
  • In case of a shoulder or elbow overuse injury, the player should gradually return to a throwing program, increasing the number of throws depending on the length of time away from play, and their specific team position.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Patient, Heal Thyself- After Shorter Hospital Stays, Doctors Raise Demands and Time for Recovery

by Laura Landro
From the Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2010

For Michael Noonan, knee surgery in April was practically a breeze—an outpatient procedure that had the 41-year-old investment banker hobbling home on crutches in a matter of hours after surgeon David Altchek replaced his anterior cruciate ligament using small incisions.

But recovery was another matter. He needed the crutches for three weeks, had 12 weeks of physical therapy three times a week, then six weeks of exercises at home. He rented a strap-on ice compression device to reduce swelling, and wore a brace for about five weeks. Though fully healed now, being responsible for so much of his own rehabilitation, he says, "was like taking a new baby home for the first time—you don't really feel like you're licensed to do it."

Surgery is easier and faster than ever before: Nearly 65% of all surgeries don't require an overnight hospital stay, compared to 16% in 1980. Hospitals that once kept patients for three weeks after some major operations now discharge them within a matter of days. But the body still heals at its own pace, and reduced time in hospital care means patients are assuming more responsibility for their own recovery—and more risks. Patients not only have to perform rehabilitation regimens at home, but they are more often caring for their own incision wounds and dressings and having to watch for signs of infections and blood clots. They also may be managing drains, implanted IV ports and pumps, all of which can be difficult and stressful.

The move to speedier surgeries is largely the result of new minimally invasive techniques, improvements in anesthesia and cost-cutting by insurance companies and hospitals. Surgical procedures now often use smaller incisions, cut less muscle, and result in less blood loss. Newer anesthetics allow patients to regain consciousness quickly or not go to sleep at all. Pain medications are more effective.

At the same time, concern about rising health care costs has led to changes in Medicare and insurance plans that have encouraged the development of outpatient surgical centers and created financial incentives for hospitals to shift less complex surgery to their own outpatient facilities. So, many types of surgeries previously performed in hospitals with overnight stays are now being done on an outpatient basis: The number of freestanding surgery centers grew from about 240 in 1983 to more than 5,000 now.

The mean charge for outpatient surgery was $6,100 versus $39,000 for inpatient surgery in 2007, according to the most recent report on surgical costs from the federal government. Insurance companies are also less likely to pay for stays at rehabilitation centers, places where surgical patients were often sent after hospital discharge to recuperate.

With patients going home so quickly, more are having to grapple with complications on their own. Of all the complications that occur in the 30 days after surgery, such as infection and blood clots, almost half will surface after a patient leaves the hospital, according to data from one million patients in a surgical quality improvement program sponsored by the American College of Surgeons.

"The onus is really on patients to recognize if something is a problem," says Clifford Ko, a colorectal surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of research and optimal patient care for the American College of Surgeons. "The recovery period is often as important as the procedure itself, and patients who don't follow their discharge instructions could have longer recovery times, greater risk of a complication, and potentially more pain."

Knee surgery patients, for example, are counseled to maintain their weight after surgery. But a recent study shows that most patients gain weight, which can jeopardize the health of the other knee. Depression, another common after-surgery occurrence, also can inhibit healing, if patients don't seek treatment.

Efforts are underway to improve follow-up for patients, particularly those who have surgery in doctor's offices, which don't have the same regulation as outpatient surgery centers. The Institute for Safety in Office-Based Surgery has developed a checklist that includes assuring that discharge instructions are provided and a plan for follow-up care is clear. "Patients need to be asked things like if there is redness at the incision site, do you know what to do?" says Fred Shapiro, a Harvard anesthesiologist and president of the group. (Redness at an incision site can be a sign of infection.)

Infections that can occur after any surgery can lead to a severe bloodstream infection that can be fatal. A study published in July in the Journal of Hospital Infection of 84,000 patients who developed a surgical site infection found that more than half occurred after discharge, increasing the risks of an emergency room visit, readmission to the hospital, and another surgery.

For months after a procedure, surgical patients are also at high risk of developing blood clots which can travel to the lung and cause death from a pulmonary embolism. After joint replacement, for example, though the risk is greatest within two to five days, a second peak development period occurs about 10 days after surgery when most patients have been discharged from the hospital. In knee surgery patients, a clot can form in the calf if the patient fails to elevate the leg and perform specific movement exercises. Blood clots and subsequent pulmonary embolisms remain the most common cause for emergency readmission and death following joint replacement, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons sponsors workshops to teach its members better communications skills to help patients understand procedures and to stress the importance of follow-up care, such as providing clear written instructions and monitoring patients after surgery. "We can have a perfect total knee replacement but then have a poor outcome if we don't convince surgeons that explaining the post-operative care is in everyone's best interest," says John Tongue, a Portland, Ore.-area orthopedic surgeon and clinical associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University who teaches the workshops.

Insurers have become stricter about paying for inpatient rehabilitation programs where surgical patients were once transferred to recover. The move has been spurred partly by studies that show that cheaper at-home visits from therapists are effective.

But Nina Reznick, a 63-year old patient who had both hips replaced last July, says the home therapist her insurance paid for did not have the equipment or time to really help, so she did extra exercises on her own. She believes that effort enabled her to walk a week after surgery. "You are really on your own, and you have to be very motivated," she says.

Some doctors say that the changing demographics of their patients also can contribute to bumpy recoveries. Dr. Altchek, who performs knee and rotator cuff surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, says that more younger patients are opting to replace troublesome knees and hips so they can resume athletic activities such as tennis and skiing; close to 42% of all knee replacements in 2008 were for patients aged 45 to 65, compared to less than 35% in 2002, and studies show that waiting too long once a joint starts to deteriorate before having surgery can make recovery more difficult.

But younger patients may also be impatient and assume they are healed, and then quit rehabilitation too early, Dr. Altchek says.

Andrew Minko, a 41-year-old patient of Dr. Altchek's who plays tennis and surfs, has had two surgeries to repair joints on his left shoulder and now needs surgery on his right shoulder. Though he healed well, he admits he was somewhat lax about doing his exercises at home and may have rushed into some activities too quickly after the previous procedures. For the upcoming surgery, he says, "I will be more diligent about the recovery."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Arizona Fall League 2010

If your not already aware, the 2010 season of the Arizona Fall League is in progress. This is my 16th year serving as the Medical Director of the AZ Fall league. The fall league games are a great way to enjoy the cooler weather and check out new talent in baseball.
Below is a article about Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Draft and Washington Nationals player. Bryce will be playing in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Scottsdale Scorpions. Definitely a player to watch now and in the future of baseball.

Nats' Harper to play in Arizona Fall League

By Bill Ladson /

The Nationals have decided that outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Draft, will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. He will report on Tuesday.

Harper will be on the taxi squad, which means he will play twice per week. When he doesn't play, Harper will work on his swing and his skills in the outfield.

The news comes after Harper hit .319 with a .407 on-base percentage for the Nationals in the instructional league. He also led the team in several offensive categories, including hits, homers, RBIs and walks.

"He performed admirably in the instructional league," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He got his feet on the ground and he was immersed in baseball, which he embraced greatly. He is what we call a baseball rat."

Rizzo said he thought about putting Harper in the AFL before the young slugger started playing in the instructional league, but he didn't make the decision until recently. Rizzo said Harper's performance on and off the field reinforced his decision.

"He's 17 years old and he doesn't even turn 18 until Saturday," Rizzo said. "He is very excited. What I had to decide on was: 'Is he going to be over his head in the AFL?' It's a very advanced league, but I think he is going to handle it. It's going to be very valuable to him."

The club did not want Harper to be idle for the next two months, so they believed it was better for him to continue playing baseball under Randy Knorr, who is managing the Scorpions. Knorr is considered one of the best teachers in the Nationals' organization.

Rizzo, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, hitting coach Rick Eckstein and Phil Rizzo, a special advisor to the general manager, will also be in Arizona to help develop Harper.

"There is a high level of baseball going on," Mike Rizzo said. "Two months of this guy working out, practicing and playing will only benefit him. He is going to be fine in the [AFL]."

Harper is expected to begin the 2011 season at Class A.

"He is going to A-ball, make no mistake about it," Rizzo added. "He is not going to be a rushed guy. We are going to let his performance and development dictate where this guy goes."

Harper, after putting up monster numbers in high school, received a lot of publicity last year when Sports Illustrated referred to him as the "Chosen One," and baseball's version of LeBron James.

Shortly thereafter, he turned more heads when he received his high school equivalency in lieu of becoming a junior in high school, then headed to the College of Southern Nevada to join a junior-college program that plays in a wooden-bat conference.

Having been used primarily as a catcher in the past, Harper is currently playing right field. Rizzo believes that Harper will get to the big leagues faster if he plays somewhere other than behind the plate. He is considered an above-average outfielder with a great throwing arm and speed.

In addition to the physical tools, Harper had the stats to warrant being taken No. 1 overall. In 2008 as a freshman at Las Vegas High School, Harper had a .599 batting average with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs in 38 games. He followed that up with a .626 batting average, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs the next season.

Playing against a high level of competition and hitting with a wooden bat didn't present much of a challenge to Harper. The 17-year-old hit .442 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs during the 2010 regular season.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be reached on twitter -- @washingnats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.