Today marks the first day of games for the Arizona Fall League and the Peoria Javelinas have an abundance of Seattle Mariners prospects on their roster.
Peoria, which fields prospects from the Mariners, the Braves, the Red Sox, the Padres, and the Blue Jays, features eight Mariners minor leaguers. Pitchers Matthew Festa, Darren Gillies, Max Povse, Art Warren, catcher Joe DeCarlo, infielder Eric Filia, and outfielders Braden Bishop and Kyle Lewis represent Seattle.
“It's a great honor,” Filia said. “It's some of the best talent in all of minor league baseball and I'm just very grateful and very humbled that the Seattle Mariners chose me to represent them and the organization. I'm very excited. I can't wait to show what I'm able to do.”
DeCarlo, who converted to playing more catcher in 2017, says he believes he will be at AFL to catch and get more experience behind the plate.
“I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play with some really good ballplayers, especially the guys in the organization who I've played with before,” DeCarlo said. “It's going to be a lot of fun. And to see where I stand and to keep moving forward as a catcher and continuing to get better. I'm excited for all those things.”
Lewis said it’s a big honor for him to be named to the AFL roster and represent the Mariners.
“I think it's always been a goal of mine since I got into the pros, so getting that opportunity is awesome,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he thinks it’ll be a good situation for him and his fellow Mariners prospects.
“As far as playing as a team, playing good defense, and being quality players all around, I think that'll just become infectious with the amount of guys we have going,” Lewis said of the Mariners minor leaguers’ tight knit camaraderie.
Filia, who spent most of the season in High-A Modesto playing outfield, is listed as an infielder for Peoria and looks forward to playing a different position.
“I'll learn and do the best that I can. I've played first base [in Modesto], played a little first base in college, I love first base. It's a lot of fun. Wherever they put me, I'm gonna have a great time. Even if I don't play, I'll learn from whoever's playing first base that day or infield that day. Just try to take as much information as I can and just go along with it and have fun with it.”
Modesto Nuts manager Mitch Canham, who managed Festa, Warren, DeCarlo, Filia, Bishop, and Lewis in 2017, spoke to the talent of the players going to the Fall League.
“Each player that's going there is very special,” Canham said. “The way that they've competed throughout the year, and each of those guys who is going to the Fall League has shown something very special.”
With multiple players getting more playing time at positions they don’t necessarily have as much reps at, Canham thinks it’ll be to their advantage.
“The more positions you play, the more opportunities to get into the game,” Canham said. “Being athletic is a very important tool. You're stuck in one position, that's not always going to give you the most opportunities, so you gotta be a little flexible and the fact that they're all very competitive and very athletic is allowing for a lot of success for them and it's allowing multiple guys to get in the game and contribute and I think that the guys who are going to the Fall League, it's all well deserved.”
For Lewis, the level of play is something that is also something that will lead him to compete more.
“I'm just competing at a high level,” Lewis said. “Continuing to raise my level as a result of that. I think it's going to be another step up. It's going to be a challenge that's going to cause me to raise my level.”
The Arizona Fall League begins with games at 12:35 p.m. MT and Peoria hosts the Glendale Desert Dogs to open fall ball.