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Big League Stew

Minor leaguers flip over fence, Austin Wates makes fantastic catch to save home run (VIDEO)

Big League Stew

This play by Austin Wates, a minor-league outfielder for the Houston Astros organization, has been called the "Catch of the Millennium" by no less of an outfit than CBS Sports' Eye on Baseball. So, let's take a look for ourselves:

Yup, Austin Wates for no home run. Wates might play for the Corpus Christi (Texas) Hooks of the Double-A Texas League, but that was major-league robbery of batter Nathan Freiman on Saturday night. There probably have been tougher catches (somewhere), ones that required a higher leap, or more contorted body maneuvers.

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But the timing — the ballet-like precision — by which Wates and teammate Brandon Barnes came together at the fence, reached for the ball, fell over the fence in semi-embrace, and came down together as one, it was pure art. Teamwork! And kind of miraculous that one of them caught the ball without hurting someone.

Here is Wakes' own take on his takeaway, as posted in the Caller-Times of Corpus Christi:

View photo

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(@AustinWates)

"We were both kind of tracking it and I heard someone in the bullpen scream 'Fence!' and someone else screamed 'Jump!' " Wates told Greg Rajan of the Caller-Times after the game. "Instinctively, I did it. I knew I could catch it, but didn't know how close the fence was. I ended up flipping over and kind of landed on Barnes and looked in my glove and I had (the ball)."

Wates' grab reminded me of perhaps the most famous outfield moment in minor-league history, the time Rodney McCray ran through the wooden fence at Vancouver.

Can you believe this happened 21 years ago?

Bump Bailey, no! Two things about that: 1) Ow. 2) Notice how minor-league parks have improved over the seasons? Will Wates, a third-round pick in 2010, even be able to tell once he's been promoted to the majors by the Astros? Well, probably.

But you couldn't tell he was in the minors when he made the catch of the ... epoch.

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