June 2007

What Mickey Hatcher Really Does – Part Seven

Lyle Spencer of MLB.com writes that Mike Napoli gives credit to Mickey Hatcher for correcting a flaw in his mechanics.

It was hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, during his early struggles, who recommended an adjustment in Napoli’s stance, altering the positioning of his hands. Maintenance is ongoing for teacher and pupil.

Previous entries in this series:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Texas League Umpire Blows Another One

On Monday I reported that Texas League umpire Mike Jarboe made two dubious calls over the weekend that cost the Travelers possible wins against the Springfield Cardinals, the more egregious of which I captured on video.

Mr. Jarboe blew another one last night, as duly reported by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette beat writer Todd Traub:

Trying to keep his best bats in the lineup, [Travs manager Bobby] Magallanes played catcher Bobby Wilson at first for the first time and talked the umpires into overturning a balk call that brought in a run in the third …

The Cards were within 2-1 with one out in the third and had Casey Rowlett on third, Sean Danielson on first and Colby Rasmus at the plate when first base umpire Mike Jarboe called the balk on Travs starter Miguel Gonzalez to apparently score Rowlett.

The umpires felt Gonzalez threw to an open base when he faked to third and threw to first and drew Wilson off the bag toward the mound.

“Once he arm fakes to third, now he can do whatever he wants,” Magallanes said. “He doesn’t even have to throw the ball if he doesn’t want to. It doesn’t have to be occupied. It doesn’t matter. It’s just like him stepping off and throwing to the second baseman. In that situation, the umpire was wrong.”

Magallanes first argued with Jarboe, then with home plate umpire and crew chief Dixon Stureman. The three-man crew huddled, then Stureman spoke to Cardinals Manager Ron Warner, and the balk was overturned as the runners returned to their places and the run was subtracted – momentarily.

Normally I cut the umpires some slack since they’re learning like everyone else, but I’m beginning to wonder why Mr. Jarboe still has a job if he doesn’t even know a basic rule like this one.

What Mickey Hatcher Really Does – Part Six

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that Casey Kotchman gives credit for fixing his mechanical flaw to Mickey Hatcher.

It took Hatcher’s help to [bring out Casey’s good hitting], according to Kotchman.

The 24-year-old got off to a slow start and was hitting .257 with just eight RBIs through April 26. The next night, Angels cleanup hitter Garret Anderson tore the hip flexor tendon in his right hip, leaving a void in the area already considered their weakness – the middle of the lineup.

For the next 10 games, Kotchman looked like a young hitter trying to do too much to fill that void. He was just 5 for 33 (.152) with four RBIs.

"It never entered my mind," Kotchman said. "I don’t analyze things like that."

Scioscia also dismisses the idea that Kotchman’s slump was a result of putting pressure on himself to try and pick up the slack in the middle of the lineup.

"No, because he started hitting when Garret was still out," Scioscia said. "I think sometimes his swing got a little too big but I don’t think he felt he had to do too much."

Hatcher, on the other hand, agreed that Kotchman might have been trying too hard in Anderson’s absence. Whatever the reason, he bottomed out with a .224 average on May 10 in Texas. The next day, Scioscia moved Gary Matthews Jr. into the cleanup spot for the first time. The Angels’ offense – and Kotchman – took off.

In his past 27 games, Kotchman has hit .434 (36 for 79) with seven doubles, two triples, five home runs and 20 RBIs, raising his batting average almost 100 points in a month.

Putting his best foot forward just meant moving his foot. Kotchman attributes the surge to a slight adjustment in his stance suggested by Hatcher. He had been standing with his feet parallel, squared up to home plate. Now, he has opened up his front foot, pointing the toes more toward the shortstop.

"I was locking myself up, therefore I was compensating by getting jumpy and rushing my hands," said Kotchman, who missed Sunday’s game with a bruised right elbow suffered when he was hit by a pitch Saturday.

"Just watching his swing, I thought he was having a hard time clearing his hands," Hatcher said. "It was something his dad (long-time Angels scout and minor-league coach Tom Kotchman) had suggested, too. We just thought it’d be easier for him to get a straighter path to the ball."

At the same time, it has allowed Kotchman to take a straighter path to realizing his potential.

"It certainly got him to a comfort level at the plate," Scioscia said of the adjustment. "We’re seeing that potential that everyone saw in Casey. It’s coming to fruition."

Previous entries in this series:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

With the Travelers – Day Five

Nick Green gets a hand slap from a local Little Leaguer before the June 11 game against Springfield.

I’ll make this quick, as I have to fly home in the morning.

The Travs lost 3-2 to Springfield. Nick Green had a shaky start but settled down. After allowing hits to five of the first nine batters he faced, Nick then retired 14 in a row. In six innings, he struck out seven and walked none.

I filmed some video of Nick from behind home plate, and will try to get it on-line in a few days. I also have video of Nick Adenhart and Amalio Diaz, and more of other guys but I have to sort through it all.

And plenty of photos, of course.

Once again, I want to thank the Travelers fans for all their hospitality. I was constantly amazed by how polite, considerate and helpful everyone was. And in the five days I was here, probably seven or eight strangers came up to ask if I were Stephen Smith so they could tell me how much they enjoy my web site and reading this blog. Since I rarely see any posts from these folks, I’m always surprised to hear they’re out there. But they are.

The dichotomy between how people behave in person and how they behave on the Internet is fascinating. I’ve seen people who constantly smear my name and reputation on the Internet lack the guts and personal integrity to come up to me personally and say it to my face, even though they walk right past me. The anonymity of the Internet gives courage to cowards.

There’s a Travs blog too, run by fans, not the team. It suffers from many of the same problems. People post all sorts of allegations, smears, personal attacks and flat-out lies. Yet I don’t see those personalities when I walk around Dickey-Stephens Park. It just reinforces my belief that the complainers are a very small minority who lack the courage to say anything in the real world.

I’ve been reading Al Gore’s latest book, The Assault on Reason. Setting aside for the moment the partisan content, one central theme is how we as a culture respond more to fear and irrationality than to logic and reason. A lot of what he says applies to how people behave on the Internet.

In particular, he points to the invention of first radio and then television. Before that, people read and wrote opinions, and engaged in two-way discourse. Radio and television are passive media — people listen but they can’t interact with it.

That said, Gore posits that the ubiquity of the Internet will help restore reasoning to our political discourse because the technology provides a means for people to interact, express opinions, and debate. It also circumvents the corporations who control access to the radio and television media.

I’m not sure I buy all that. For people to reason, first they have to be taught how to reason. More often than not, I see people of similar beliefs herd off into their own little groups. For example, the Angels bulletin board operated by Major League Baseball has spawned five or six sites run by fans disgusted by the juvenile and extremist behavior exhibited on that site. Those fan sites have pretty much evolved into their own cliques, small groups that agree with each other and attack other sites who don’t share their beliefs. Some of those sites are closed to the public, unless you’re willing to sign up for access.

So I don’t see the interactive discourse Gore believes will happen. It’s mostly fragmentation into smaller and smaller groups.

Anyway, time to go to bed and fly out in the A.M. Thanks again, Travs fans.

With the Travelers – Day Four

Jose Arredondo is not with the Travelers for disciplinary reasons, according to a press report.

"Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts, we got screwed!" — old high school football fan chant

For the second straight game, the Travelers lost a squeaker to the Springfield Cardinals, and again some of the blame can be placed on umpire Mike Jarboe.

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote that a dubious call by Jarboe robbed the Travs of turning a key double play that allowed Springfield to take the lead and eventually the win in Game #2 of Saturday’s twinbill.

Jarboe was behind the plate last night and, in my opinion, made several more questionable calls that cost the Travs the game.

Chris Hunter came in to pitch the 9th, and Jarboe seemed to squeeze the strike zone on him. Hunter was also victimized by a couple fluke hits, including a squibber up the third base line that hit the bag and popped straight up in the air. In any case, it was 4-3 Springfield going into the bottom of the 9th, but the Travs rallied to load the bases with one out.

Sean Rodriguez came to the plate and hit a fly ball to right field. Cody Fuller tagged up at third and made a head-first slide into home, arriving ahead of the throw and slapping his hand on the plate.

Jarboe called him out.

Game over.

As you might suspect, the place went nuts, as did the Travs. Jarboe exchanged angry words with the Travs coaches and players, and walked off the field.

Click Here to watch the play. (Windows Media Player and a high-speed Internet connection required.)

My video showed Fuller was safe, and I was told the in-house video also showed he was safe. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sportswriter Todd Traub told me he was sitting behind home plate, so he saw it up close, and he also thought Fuller was safe.

Jarboe will be umpiring third base tonight, where he’ll be standing close to the Springfield dugout, who I’m sure think of him as their new best friend.

The article didn’t appear on-line, but Sunday’s Gazette had an article by Todd Traub reporting that Travs reliever Jose Arredondo is — well, we’re not quite sure.

Todd reported that Arredondo showed up manager Bobby Magallanes after being removed from Wednesday night’s game, then got into some sort of alteraction in the clubhouse with outfielder Curtis Pride. Arredondo was in civilian clothes at Friday night’s game, then apparently absent from the ballpark since then.

The Angels are infamously tight-lipped when it comes to personnel matters, so Magallanes can’t say what action was taken. Traub wrote that Angels farm director Tony Reagins didn’t return his call. Todd said the rumor around the park is that Arredondo received a seven-game suspension, but there’s no quote from anyone in authority to back that up.

I interviewed Todd before last night’s game. Among other subjects, he discussed the Arredondo incident, and also reporting the Arredondo incident. Click Here to listen to the interview.

I’ll be flying home tomorrow, so look for the final day’s entry after I’m back.

With the Travelers – Day Three

Greg Porter doubles in Sean Rodriguez in the bottom of the 1st to give the Travs a 1-0 lead in Game #1 of yesterday’s twinbill. He homered in the bottom of the 7th to win the game.

To paraphrase A Tale of Two Cities, it was the best of games, and it was the worst of games.

The Springfield Cardinals came into town for a five-game series, starting with a doubleheader last night. In the minors, twinbill games are seven innings each, so a 6:30 PM start wasn’t as bad as it might sound.

I was interested to see and hear the fan reaction, because this is a Cardinals market and the Cardinals were the Travs’ parent club from the mid-1960s through 2000. The divorce was nasty & mdash; one irreconcilable difference was the Cardinals wanting a new ballpark that Travs’ management couldn’t provide — so the Redbirds left town. The Angels, meanwhile, had been terminated by the Erie SeaWolves, their Double-A affiliate. Erie wanted a local affiliation and eventually signed with the Detroit Tigers.

The Angels were happy with Little Rock, because the Texas League was the closest Double-A league to Anaheim. Although Ray Winder Field was built in 1932 and its facilities were antiquated by modern standards, any differences remained private and the Angels reportedly offered to help improve the playing field.

Not all the locals took kindly to the Cardinals’ departure. Season ticket holders got to put placards on their chairbacks with their personal or corporate names. I remember seeing signs such as "Cardinals Fan" on seats that remained empty.

All that pouting did little good, because two years later the Cardinals bought the El Paso Diablos and moved the franchise to Springfield, Missouri. Obviously, because they directly own that franchise, there’s no way they’re going to chuck it overboard and return to Little Rock.

Meanwhile, Bill Valentine finally found a way to put together a deal for a new stadium, Dickey-Stephens Park, across the Arkansas River in North Little Rock. The Angels’ patience was rewarded with a state-of-the-art facility that could be Triple-A if they expanded the capacity.

So last night was my first opportunity to randomly sample customer reaction to the Springfield/Arkansas rivalry.

I heard several say variations along the lines of "I wish the Cardinals were still here," but few people seemed willing to root for Springfield instead of the Travelers. Those who did were often admonished by their neighbors. I had others say they don’t care who is the parent club, they just come out for the entertainment or to root for the local nine. I did hear many comments from people saying they didn’t care about the Angels at all, although after the Angels beat St. Louis in their home park the last two nights I resisted the temptation to rub their noses in it. (smile)

In the end, it doesn’t really matter, so long as the turnstiles spin and people buy plenty of food and merchandise.

Greg Porter is a local favorite, now in his third year with the Travelers. He was off to a slow start, with only one homer entering the homestand, but yesterday had to be his best day of the season.

Porter opened Game #1 with a two-out double in the bottom of the first to drive home Sean Rodriguez for a 1-0 lead. The game went into the bottom of the seventh tied 3-3, and it looked like we might be headed for extra innings, just what you need in a doubleheader. But Sean Rodriguez singled to lead off the inning, and on the first pitch he saw Porter hit a mammoth shot to right-center to give the Travs the win.

Click Here to watch Porter’s homer.

When the players returned to the dugout before Game #2, I showed many of them the video of Greg’s dinger. They seemed very upbeat, especially riding a four-game winning streak that put them within hailing distance of the North Division lead despite their horrid season to date. A win in Game #2 would put them four games behind Springfield for second place, and five games behind Tulsa with ten games left on the first half schedule, including three at Tulsa and four at home against last-place Tulsa.

A personal note … If you watch Porter’s video and the others I’ve posted, they’re mostly shot from the stands. When this park was designed, someone took "camera well" literally. You have to climb down a ladder to get into the well! It’s so deep that it’s virtually useless for photography or videography. Even if you tried, you’d have to shoot through the protective netting and padding around the well. So the local photographs and camera crews choose to go up in the stands, finding empty seats. On the other hand, it’s kinda cool because you pick up on the audio track what the fans are saying so you the viewer get a sample of the local chatter.

Anyway, Game #2 began. In the bottom of the first, Adam Morrissey led off with a walk and then Freddy Sandoval hit a two-run homer to right-center to give the Travs a 2-0 lead.

Click Here to watch Sandoval’s homer.

But the Cardinals eventually tied the game 2-2 going into the 7th, and that’s when it all unravelled.

The key moment, in my opinion, was with one out and 2B Casey Rowlett on first. LF Sean Danielson hit a comebacker to reliever Rafael Rodriguez, who whirled and threw to SS Ryan Leahy for the force. Leahy then threw on to first, but the umpire ruled that Danielson beat the throw. I was standing nearby and thought Danielson was out, but my opinion doesn’t count.

Springfield eventually scored two runs to take a 4-2 lead, and Bill Edwards relieved Rodriguez. On a pickoff attempt at 2B, Edwards threw it into center field, where CF Sean Rodriguez missed the ball and had to chase it, allowing the runner to score. And the Travs lost, 5-2.

The mood in the dugout afterwards was as if someone had died.

Anyway, time to head to the ballpark.

What Mickey Hatcher Really Does – Part Five

Los Angeles Times sportswriter Ben Bolch writes today about the cranks’ favorite punching bag, in an article with the opening line:

"So, what do you have to say about Mickey Hatcher now?"

The fact of the matter is that the Angels have one of the better offenses in baseball.

After batting .315 with 12 homers and averaging six runs during a 10-game homestand, the Angels packed even heavier lumber for their interleague trip. They scored 10 runs Friday and then piled it on again Saturday night with a 9-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium …

"There’s critics all over the world, and it’s funny that they want to get rid of half of these guys and do all this stuff, and now these guys are producing," Hatcher said.

What about the criticism directed at Hatcher?

"I can’t get caught up in that," he said. "I just do my job. I work my [tail] off, and sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. Those guys in that room over there [in the clubhouse], they determine what your future is going to be."

Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that some people who call themselves "fans" really aren’t. They’re customers. They put down their money and expect a certain type of entertainment in return. Professional baseball, let’s face it, is entertainment. It’s no different from going to the movies or the theatre or a concert. If the movie stinks, you’ll complain about it. You might even ask for your money back. You’ll criticize the actors or the writing or the director.

There’s nothing wrong with being a customer, but a customer is different from being a fan.

The dictionary definition of "fan" says nothing about demanding someone lose his job because you were insufficiently entertained. Here’s a definition of "fan" from Dictionary.com which quotes many different published dictionaries:

fan noun an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: a baseball fan; a great fan of Charlie Chaplin.

I don’t see anything about bashing or strident demands in that definition.

A "fan," in my opinion, goes beyond simply demanding quality entertainment for your dollar. It isn’t about you. It’s about the team. It’s easy to root for a team when they’re winning. It’s not so easy when the times are tough.

That’s what I love about Arkansas Travelers fans. I’ve been coming here since 2001, and every time I’m in town I’m impressed by how supportive and positive these fans are. Sure, there are exceptions (mostly people hiding behind their modems), but for the most part the only time I hear Travs fans boo the home team is when they fail to hustle or make a bone-headed move. These fans are pretty baseball savvy, so they know when someone failed to execute. But if there’s a sincere effort, they’ll support their players, win or lose. So long as they try.

In any case, the "Fire Hatcher!" crowd have crawled back into the woodwork, because they’re getting value for their dollar. That’s their right. But they’re not fans. In my opinion.

Previous entries in this series:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

With the Travelers – Day Two

Nick Adenhart started last night’s game for Arkansas. He is the Angels’ top pitching prospect.

The Travs won 6-3 last night. Second baseman Adam Morrissey led off the bottom of the first with a homer to give Arkansas the lead.

It was Morrissey’s birthday, so his teammates played a prank on the Aussie by having the P.A. play "I Touch Myself" by the Australian group The Divinyls. The P.A. also said he shares a birthday with Ernie Dingo, an Australian television personality. Since Dingo’s actual birthday is July 31, I’m guessing this was some sort of in-joke.

Click Here to watch Morrissey’s homer along with his reaction to the prank. I also filmed his post-game interview by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sportswriter Todd Traub, which you’ll also see.

Click Here to watch Michael Collins’ triple later in the game. The relay throw went into the Wichita dugout, so Collins scored.

Both video clips require Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch.

Last night was a larger crowd than Thursday. Behind the outfield is a street and then a berm that protects the north bank of the Arkansas River from flooding. Along that berm last night was a concert called Edgefest, which began at 2 PM and was scheduled to end at 11 PM. At times the concert music overwhelmed casual conversation in the ballpark, but once the game started it seemed like maybe they toned it down a bit.

Every town’s fans are unique. I’ve always enjoyed the Travs fans because, for the most part, they’re into the game. They’re passionate, they pay attention, and they have good fun heckling the other team. Because they’re a Cardinals market, I suspect these fans were raised on the style of baseball played by the 1980s St. Louis Cardinals, which were very similar to today’s Angels — no "big bats" throughout the lineup, more of a run ‘n gun style with strong pitching and a solid bullpen. These fans enjoy the running game, little ball, and in particular hustle.

One aspect of the move from Ray Winder Field is that Dickey-Stephens Park seems to attract more casual fans. I’ve heard a few hardcore baseball fans lament the dilution of Travs fandom, but it helps to pay the bills. The stadium was built with an Italian restaurant, several patios for private parties, and a wide concourse that allows customers to mill about watching the game. At Ray Winder, the concourse was below the stands. Those who designed this park were visionary, because they foresaw it not just as a minor league stadium but also a social destination. (One person last night compared it to a "singles bar," because of all the socializing on the concourse.) That will draw more people, and keep the operation financially healthy.

Speaking of singles bars … I’m staying at the visiting team hotel. Next door, just a short walk across the parking lot, is a *******. It’s a kick looking out my window at the Wichita players attracted to ******* like moths to a flame. Yesterday morning, it was only 10 AM but several of them were already sitting outside ******* waiting for it to open. One local told me it’s not unusual to see visiting ballplayers leave tickets at the ballpark for ******* Girls. Ain’t biology grand.

Yesterday morning I toured the Clinton Presidential Center, which includes the presidential library (museum) and a school for public service. It’s an incredibly impressive museum. As billed, it’s the first presidential library of the 21st Century with plenty of multimedia and interactive exhibits.

Living in Orange County, I’ve been to the Nixon Library many times, so it was interesting to compare styles. One theme common to all presidential libraries is that they tend to put a favorable twist on the president’s administration. Both Nixon and Clinton had their scandals. The Nixon Library dealt with Watergate by building a long narrow hall with a timeline that implied the Kennedy family was somehow responsible for Nixon’s disgrace. The Clinton affair has one small exhibit that places blame on rancorous Republican partisan politics.

In any case, both facilities are impressive and dignified, but clearly the Clinton museum (built years later) is much larger and detailed. The message of open and participative politics is emphasized throughout. For example, in one room you can open a row of binders and see the daily presidential itinerary for each day of Clinton’s administration. The Nixon museum really doesn’t have anything like that.

The School of Public Service is an old railroad station. Just to the north of the museum is a rusting abandoned railroad bridge. The old right-of-way is now a sidewalk in front of the museum. Follow that sidewalk to the south and it runs right behind the School. Pretty neat someone thought to preserve the right-of-way and the train station in such a clever way.

Finally … I’m tentatively scheduled to work a few innings on the radio tonight during Game #2 of tonight’s doubleheader. I figure I’ll be on the air somewhere around 8 PM PDT. You can listen to the Travs webcast through the MiLB.com Multimedia Gameday Audio page.

The June Draft – Day Two

Matt Scioscia attends a Lake Elsinore game in April 2000 with his father, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia.

With the first televised draft in the history books, Major League Baseball got back to business and conducted a more routine draft day.

In the past, with no glare of TV lights, the draft went 20 rounds on Day 1 and 30 rounds on Day 2. But with all the hoo-ha that accompanies a telecast, only five rounds were conducted on Day 1 this year, which meant thirty scouting departments pulled a 45-round marathon yesterday.

It should be noted that an organization’s general manager does NOT select the draft picks. That’s the scouting director’s job. The GM will participate in war room planning, but the scouting director is the expert and he’s the one who decides which players to draft.

Baseball America has a complete list of the Angels’ draft selections. To pre-emptively counter one of the usual cheap shots posted on Angels boards, the Angels will eventually sign about half of these guys. No, this is not further proof of Bill Stoneman’s supposed incompetence. EVERY team signs only about half of their draftees. They know many of these players have other plans, e.g. going on to college or playing pro ball in another sport. The draft is simply about acquiring the sole right to sign a player. It doesn’t mean he’s a future major league star who’s slipped away.

Frankly, teams don’t need all fifty of those guys. They have foreign players already under contract who are not subject to the draft, and any player not drafted can be signed as a free agent. Let’s also face the reality that when you get beyond the 10th round or so, the talent dropoff is fairly significant. If you look at the Baseball America Draft Almanac, which lists drafts every year through 2003, you’ll see that all teams don’t sign most of their lower-round picks. Those guys, if they do sign, are typically organizational players filling out rosters at Rookie-A.

For example, yesterday I mentioned that you’ll see many players chosen in the lower rounds from Florida. That’s because Tom Kotchman wears two hats in the organization — Florida scout and Orem Owlz manager. He knows what he needs to surround top young talent with players who can play supporting roles, e.g. a catcher who can’t hit but can call a game, block a ball, and keep baserunners honest.

I count eight Floridians chosen by the Angels this year. Kotch isn’t the only Angels scout in Florida, so you can’t credit him of all of those picks. He did recommend Jon Bachanov, the first round pick. But one lower round pick who has to be a Tom Kotchman call is 47th rounder William Falasco, a right-handed pitcher from Seminole High School. The Kotchman family lives in Florida. Tom’s son Casey, Arkansas Travelers catcher Bobby Wilson and Salt Lake Bees reliever Greg Jones all graduated from Seminole.

Two significant rule changes will affect the negotiation process. Teams have only until August 15 to sign draft picks, otherwise it’s wait ’til next year. In the past, teams had until one week before the next draft to sign a player, unless that player attended a four-year college, at which point the rights were lost. A player could maintain his eligibility by attending a junior college, which made him a "draft and follow." But MLB chose to do away with DNFs, so no more hiding out at the local J.C. while negotiating a contract.

The main reason for the rule changes was to reduce signing bonuses. Super-agent Scott Boras — who is technically not a player’s "agent" until he signs, he’s just an advisor — is the main target, but historically the Angels have been pretty successful with Boras, who lives in nearby Newport Beach. Boras frequents Angels games and is often seen in casual conversation with owner Arte Moreno and with Bill Stoneman. They waited out Chris Bootcheck in 2000, and they waited out Jered Weaver in 2004.

I always laugh when I see some person post on a bulletin board that Boras is "ruining" a player’s career. How someone’s career is "ruined" by a multi-million dollar payday out of high school or college is beyond me. Bootcheck and Weaver are in the major leagues, hardly "ruined." And in the end, it’s the player’s call whether to sign. Boras doesn’t hold the lad captive in a dungeon. Nor have I ever seen Boras level a pistol at a GM’s head. If a team doesn’t want to deal with Boras … draft someone else.

Angels scouting director Eddie Bane has maintained predecessor Donny Rowland’s philosophy of "high-risk, high-reward" draft picks. Drafting a Boras client is always a risk. But Bane has been pretty successful with high-risk picks that yielded high rewards. One example is Nick Adenhart, who was the top high school pitching prospect in the nation in 2004 until he blew out his elbow and underwent "Tommy John" surgery. The Angels selected him anyway, in the 14th round of the June 2004, paying him about half of what he’d received if he’d been drafted in the first round. The Angels supervised his rehab and patiently brought him along. Now he’s a 20-year old top prospect pitching in Double-A ball.

This year’s "high risk" candidate is third-rounder Matt Harvey, a right-handed high school pitcher selected out of Connecticut. Harvey is a Boras client who reportedly anticipated a first-round selection. Bane was quoted as saying the chances are "not good" that Harvey will sign for anything less than first-round bonus money. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Another risk is Patrick White, a high school outfielder selected in the 27th round. The Angels drafted White in the fourth round out of high school in 2004. At the time, they thought they had a verbal commitment from him to sign, but then White went to college. Three years later, they’ll give him another shot, but according to media reports he’ll probably return to West Virginia for his senior year.

Two other names of note … The Angels selected Mike Scioscia’s son Matt with the 41st round pick. Matt has already committed to attend Notre Dame, but you never know. I saw Matt at age 11 or so attend a Lake Elsinore Storm game with his dad in April 2000, back when the Storm were an Angels affiliate. Who knew. The other name with a genetic connection is Brandon Lodge. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lodge "is the stepson of former Angels infielder Bobby Grich and the son of television personality Roger Lodge." Brandon was chosen in the 46th round.

For those players who sign quickly, they’ll report to a mini-camp at Tempe Diablo, the Angels minor league complex, and will then either report to Orem or remain in Tempe for Arizona League. Hope you boys enjoy 110-degree weather.

The June Draft

Just a quick note … Any coverage about the June draft will be on the main site at www.futureangels.com. I also recommend www.baseballamerica.com for the best coverage.

Today is Day Two, which I like to think of a "Tom Kotchman Day." You’ll see a bunch of guys from Florida drafted who will wind up on the Orem roster in a few days. The lower rounds are mostly for very high-risk players (i.e. those unlikely to sign) and organization players who might have a skill that will help fill out a roster at the lower levels, e.g. a catcher with no bat but who can handle pitchers well. Since Kotch both scouts Florida and manages the Rookie-A Orem team which starts play in two weeks, it’s only natural he’d recommend someone he knows will make his team better — which is probably one reason why he goes to the playoffs every year.

So at day’s end, check Baseball America to see how many guys were drafted out of Florida.