SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Mariners prospect Eric Filia was awarded the Arizona Fall League’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award prior to the championship game. Named in memory of the former AFL player who was murdered in 2003 while playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions, the award has been given annually since 2004 to the league’s player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership.
Filia, who was part of the league-champion Peoria Javelinas, added that ring to the other hardware he’s picked up this season. He was a key member of the high Class A Modesto team that captured the California League championship this year, and he led the AFL batting average (.408), on-base percentage (.483) and OPS (1.088) this fall. He reached base in each of his 22 games.
The biggest moment of 2017 for Filia, however, came away from the field. when he became the father of twin boys this summer.
The AFL assignment was important for the 25-year-old Filia, who got a late start to his pro career after spending two years on the sidelines during his five years at UCLA, and he accomplished what he came to do in Arizona.
"Just coming out each and every day, playing hard and learning as much as I can," Filia said, adding that he got valuable experience at first base in order to add to his versatility.
While he's generally graded as a below-average defender in the outfield, Filia flashed some leather in the AFL championship game. He used a diving catch to rob Victor Robles of a hit, and then took extra bases away from Kyle Tucker with a leaping grab at the right-field wall.
Filia is perhaps best known for the regular routine he goes into in the batter's box before each at-bat, including a pronounced shimmy that has caught the Internet’s attention.
"I love bringing the personality to the game," Filia said. "Baseball's supposed to be fun, and that's what I bring."