The third installment of the California Winter League saw many thrilling moments for the fans who ventured to Palm Springs Stadium. There were many come-from-behind victories, late-inning rallies, sparkling defensive plays, two inside-the-park home runs, and a combined no-hitter. Ultimately, the Power claimed the league championship with an exciting 7-5 triumph over the Chill.
However, the league was responsible for production of a far more significant sort.
A total of 47 participants signed contracts with affiliated or independent teams, and several more have entered into discussions with clubs that fall into one of those categories. Two of the many examples were pitcher Marcos Reyna and shortstop Miles Walding. Reyna, a righthanded starting pitcher with a big overhand curve ball, had attended Bakersfield College from his nearby home in Delano, California. Reyna entered camp having already signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners, and wanted to work enough innings to prepare himself for spring training. Walding, a product of Huntington College, an NAIA school in his Indiana, came to Palm Springs with even more basic aspirations. “I just want to continue playing somewhere, anywhere, as long as possible,” he said at the outset. Lo and behold, he also signed a deal with a major league team when Bill Bryk, a special assistant to Arizona Diamondbacks’ General Manager Kevin Towers, inked him to a deal.
Many of the players, signed or unsigned, expressed gratitude upon season’s end due to the high level of instruction they received while taking part. And, a number of the coaches and managers indicated that they genuinely enjoyed working with and helping this year’s crop of players improve the fine points of their game.
“When you’re working with a young hitter who’s struggling and you share a thought or idea that might help him, the rewards can be great,” said hitting instructor Darrell Evans, author of more than 400 big league home runs. “Suddenly a light goes on, you see a smile creep across that young man’s face, and you know you’ve reached him in a meaningful way.” Evans enjoyed the counsel of Hall of Famers Luke Appling, Eddie Matthews, and Henry Aaron as a developing member of the Atlanta Braves, and feels that it’s his responsibility to pass such invaluable advice on to the newest generation of players.
Manger Ricky Van Asselberg, who had signed four players from the 2011 CWL to his American Association Champion Grand Prairie Air Hogs, signed six more players from this year’s league in an effort to defend his title.