As the blazing November noon-day sun beat down on the fans and players at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Tuesday, Drew Storen came out of the Phoenix Desert Dogs dugout and signed autographs for a few dozen fansÂ assembled behind first base. He seemed happy to visit with the fans and sign a few baseballs before the game with the Surprise Rafters. When he was done, he came over to where I was standing and we chatted a bit about what the offseason held for him. The Arizona Fall League continues for a few more weeks, ending just before Thanksgiving, and Drew plans to head back to Indianapolis, where his family lives. After Christmas, he plans to head down to Florida and get a place near Viera and get ready for Spring Training.
Then I asked him about what his plans and goals were for Spring Training and April. A huge smile came over his face, and his eyes got as big as dinner plates.
“I am going to make an impact”
In fact, he already has. His AFL performances have been a continuation of his rapid rise through the Nationals farm system. Drafted in the first round, he signed quickly and got to work, moving through A and AA, where he had a combined ERA of 1.95 (including his eleven-game stint in Harrisburg where he pitchedÂ thirteen and a third scoreless innings). After the season, he headed toÂ Phoenix in October for another thirty-five games in the AFL. So far he’s had nine appearances for the Desert Dogs, with just a single earned run (0.93 ERA, one walk, nine strikeouts).
He’s both blessed and cursed to play for the top team in the league, and because of the Desert Dogs high-powered offense, Drew has had few save opportunities (two, so far). I asked him if it was hard to get his innings in, given the save opportunities were so few. “No,” he said, “in fact, I am getting plenty of work – more than I expected. It is about getting your innings in, and not saves.”
Â He’s also earned himself a spot in the Arizona Fall League Rising Star game, played on Saturday (8:15 PM Eastern, 4:15 PM Alaska) Â and available on the MLB network and at MLB.TV.
Drew is also making an impact off the field. He maintains a very entertaining Twitter stream and a blog. He seems very at ease being out there where people can find him, whether it is standing next to the dugout signing baseballs, talking to Nationals bloggers, or tweeting about his dinner plans or a concert.
A note to Drew: Washington is beautiful when the cherry trees are in bloom. See ya there?