Every autumn, when the pennant race is over, most ballplayers head home to rest up, watch football and eat turkey. Meanwhile, prospects across the minor leagues scatter to warm weather destinations to play winter ball, with the opportunity to impress scouts and get a leg up on the competition for next year.
Winter leagues are hosted in Arizona, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia and the Caribbean. The leagues provide an outlet where young players can hone their skills while also giving clubs a chance to scout young foreign talent.
Despite being in the dead of winter, these leagues are no spring training or developmental league. With the exception of the Arizona Fall League, they are often the main professional league in their respective countries. Players are given real-game opportunities in a competitive environment.
This fall, the Giants sent 24 youngsters to earn a little extra credit. Here are the seven who made the most of their opportunity and will warrant a longer look come Spring.