Catch a Game, and Maybe a Star, in Arizona or Hawaii

Article excerpt

NOVEMBER IS THE CRUELEST month for baseball fans--most years, anyway. But even in the wake of last August's strike, the off-season is still a fallow time to be endured with monk-like stoicism. We look forward to the winter meetings and try to forget about the season past. Some of us go out to batting cages for a fix, while others cross off each day on the calendar until the pitchers and catchers are supposed to report to spring training: 106, 105, 104 . . .

But somewhere in this fabled land, there's a pitcher in the stretch, a batter digging in, and a fielder making a catch. There may be no joy in Mudville, but in the West, next year is now, thanks to a pair of developmental leagues--the Arizona Fall League and Hawaii Winter Baseball.

In past years, young prospects often went to play in Caribbean leagues. But many players, some still in their teens, found playing in a foreign country a struggle. Also, major league organizations felt that they didn't have enough control over how teams used their players and wanted a way to better manage player development.

Arizona Fall League. …