February 2008

The Minor League Game of the Week

Esmerlin Jimenez pitched six shutout innings on July 9, 2007 when the Orem Owlz hosted the Casper Rockies.

July 9, 2007 — The Orem Owlz host the Casper Rockies in a Pioneer League contest.

It’s a decidedly one-sided contest. Let’s be blunt. The Casper team was awful. They lost this three-game series by scores of 11-10, 7-3 and 13-2. Casper committed 13 errors in the series; Orem only one. (You won’t play long if you make a lot of errors in front of Tom Kotchman.) Nine of the Owlz’ runs in the series were unearned.

The Rockies finished the season 22-53 (.293) overall.

Easy pickin’s.

I was there for the series, shooting photography for both teams. The Casper Rockies are owned by Kevin Haughian, who was the General Manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm in the 1990s when they were the Angels’ affiliate in the California League. Before that, he was the Assistant GM for the Palm Springs Angels, the franchise that relocated to Lake Elsinore after the 1993 season. Kevin’s an all-around good guy so I try to help out his team by shooting road shots if I see them in Orem.

Video highlights of the series appeared on this blog after each game. Click Here to watch video highlights of this game. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch.

Orem starter Esmerlin Jimenez pitched six shutout innings, but shortstop Andrew Romine stole the spotlight with a grand-slam for his first professional homer. You’ll see it in the video.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player.

Quakes, Angels, City of Rancho Cucamonga Schedule Press Conference

The Anaheim Angels line up before a 1999 exhibition game at Lake Elsinore.

I received a press release in the mail Thursday afternoon from the Quakes. It announced that a press conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon featuring Quakes ownership and management, Angels’ GM Tony Reagins and farm director Abe Flores, and various Rancho Cucamonga city officials. The conference is scheduled for Rancho Cucamonga City Hall.

That’s a lot of horsepower for a routine press conference.

If I had to guess, they’re going to announce extending the affiliation between the Angels and Quakes, although past announcements were much more low key.

So I’m wondering if there’s more afoot.

Although unlikely, one thought that crossed my mind is that maybe Quakes owner Hank Stickney is selling the team to the Angels. I kinda doubt it, but you never know.

A more plausible possibility is the resumption of the traditional exhibition game that was played in Lake Elsinore at the end of spring training in the 1990s. Lake Elsinore was the Angels’ California League affiliate from 1994 through 2000. For several years in the late 1990s, the Angels returned a day early from spring training and played a Thursday night exhibition game at Lake Elsinore before returning to Anaheim for the Freeway Series with the Dodgers.

When Bill Stoneman took over as General Manager in November 1999, the Angels put an end to minor league exhibition games. Soon after, the Basic Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball was amended to stipulate that minor league teams could not demand exhibition games as a condition for agreement to an affiliation. The Angels had to play an exhibition game mid-season in 1999 at their Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, stopping off on the way from New York to Seattle. I remember the Mariners had to play an affiliation mid-season with their Low-A affiliate in Appleton, Wisconsin.

So far as I know, there’s nothing to prohibit a parent club from playing an exhibition game with an affiliate if they’re agreeable. Now that former farm director Tony Reagins is the general manager, perhaps he has a different perspective on the issue.

If you’ve been reading this blog in recent months, you know I’ve been researching the history of the Angels minor leagues, starting with the inaugural 1961 season. During their historic first spring training, the Angels were based in Palm Springs but played exhibition games all over the Inland Empire. The 1961 Angels Media Guide shows games scheduled for San Bernardino and Indio as well as Palm Springs. I know from interviews that the Triple-A squad was based in Riverside.

So maybe the Angels have decided to resurrect their old history of playing spring training exhibition games in the Inland Empire.

Nine years have passed since the last exhibition in Lake Elsinore, and the Inland Empire’s population has exploded since then. So if that’s what they’re going to announce, expect The Epicenter to quickly sell out for that event.

Whatever it is, I plan to attend the press conference and will videotape the event. Look for the video on-line by Monday evening.

Baseball America’s Top 30 Angels Prospects

The Baseball America 2008 Prospect Handbook arrived today. The Top 30 Angels prospects are:

1. Brandon Wood 3B-SS
2. Nick Adenhart RHP
3. Jordan Walden RHP
4. Hank Conger C
5. Sean O’Sullivan RHP
6. Stephen Marek RHP
7. Sean Rodriguez SS/2B
8. Nick Green RHP
9. Peter Bourjos OF
10. Anel de los Santos C
11. Hainley Statia SS
12. Jose Arredondo RHP
13. Young-Il Jung RHP
14. Ryan Mount 2B
15. P.J. Phillips SS
16. Trevor Reckling LHP
17. Matt Sweeney 3B
18. Terry Evans OF
19. Chris Pettit OF
20. Barret Browning LHP
21. Mason Tobin RHP
22. Rich Thompson RHP
23. Jeremy Haynes RHP
24. Jon Bachanov RHP
25. Bobby Wilson C
26. Jason Bulger RHP
27. Robert Fish LHP
28. Andrew Romine SS
29. Mark Trumbo 1B
30. Clay Fuller OF

Contrast with last November’s FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects list.

About Sweeney, BA analyst Alan Matthews wrote, "He needs to make conditioning more of a priority, and Sweeney was sent home from instructional league for undisclosed reasons." Well, maybe I can shed some light on that. Matt tweaked a knee during a morning drill. I was only there for a couple days, but he was relegated to video duty during the games. My guess is the injury was severe enough that he wasn’t going to play again during the fall, so they sent him home. That’s just my speculation.

Matt was sitting next to me while I was videotaping on September 22. I was standing behind my camcorder, he was sitting on a bucket with an Angels camcorder. We were both down the third-base line beyond the visitors’ dugout. A line-drive foul whistled just past both of us. The video (which isn’t on-line) shows the ball as a blur in front of the camera. I was later told by players that it almost hit me, but I didn’t notice as I was watching the camcorder viewer.

After what happened to Mike Coolbaugh last July, we’re all a little more careful. But if your number is up …I just know I’m going to be more careful in 2008.

You can order the BA book by clicking on this link.