(This post was written by Tyler Stovall, one of Redleg Nation‘s Spotlight Players.)

Hey Redleg Nation,

Just thought I would give my first spotlight player update of the 2009 season from spring training in Sarasota, Florida. Today was the second day of spring training for minor leaguers and so far things have gone well. I spent the first part of my off-season in my hometown of Loveland, Ohio where I worked out at Champions Baseball Academy and found an interesting (and fun) holiday job opportunity at the Big Tree Plantation in Lebanon, Ohio where I helped sell Christmas trees.

After the Christmas season I headed north (most ballplayers would go south, but I’m a little different) to my alma mater Central Michigan to start working out with their team. I spent about 8 weeks at Central before coming home for a few days and then onto Florida.

When I first arrived in Florida, I met up with the Chippewas on their spring trip to Winter Haven, Florida, so I could finally get some outdoor batting practice and reads on fly balls. I finally arrived in Sarasota on Tuesday and got settled into our hotel with my roommate Mike Konstanty, who I also roomed with on road trips in Billings last year.

Our first day of spring training started with blood work, urine tests and EKG testing, followed by full physicals by the Reds medical staff. I passed all with flying colors and was cleared for all baseball activities starting that afternoon. When I got to our facilities in Sarasota I found out that I, along with most of my Billings teammates, had been placed on the High A Sarasota Reds “roster” to start. I had heard that this was usually the case, and that as guys trickle down from major league camp, we will also trickle down to the level that we may start the 2009 season.

Practices start at 10 o’clock, with early work before. We go through defensive drills, team drills (bunt plays, pickoffs, etc.) and then break for lunch. After lunch we take live batting practice off of the pitchers and then normal batting practice. At the end of day 1, position players had core and conditioning testing. Core testing consisted of doing as many situps in 60 seconds as we could. I got through 40 situps in the first 30 seconds, then my pace slowed and I ended up getting 63 total, which was more than enough to pass. Next we had to run two 300 yard shuttles, with a 3 minute break, in under 61 seconds. I ran my first shuttle in 57 seconds and the second in 58 seconds, once again passing the test.

One of the biggest highlights of my time down here was when I walked to my locker and saw a Cincinnati Reds jersey with “Stovall” on the back of it, truly a surreal moment for a lifetime Reds fan like myself.

Well, I hope this post has given you guys a good idea of what minor league spring training is like, and I will be sure to update again as we progress and begin playing some games against other teams. Thanks for reading and again feel free to post any questions or comments you may have for me.