March 2008

Quakes Announce Opening Day Roster

The press release isn’t on-line yet, so it’s below, but the Quakes have posted their Opening Day roster.

Conspicuous by their absence are C Hank Conger, 2B Ryan Mount and 3B Matt Sweeney. All three suffered spring training injuries. I’ll get updates on their status when I’m out with Rancho this weekend.

The mild surprise, in my opinion, is that Jordan Renz and Drew Toussaint remain at Rancho rather than moving up to Arkansas. Maybe this is temporary until the big guns return from the DL, or maybe they just weren’t ready. But I can’t help to think that adding those two to a healthy lineup with Conger, Mount, Sweeney and Mark Trumbo could add up to the most potent offense in the league.

The pitching staff could be the best in the league. Dynamite starting rotation, dynamite bullpen. The pitchers should keep the Quakes in the first-half divisional hunt until the wounded return to active duty.


Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Announce 2008 Roster

Quakes Roster Has Nice Mix of Old and New

 

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes will open up 2008 with quite a few new faces in the dugout. Twelve pitchers and thirteen position players will join Manager Ever Magallanes, Hitting Coach Francisco Matos, and Pitching Coach Dan Ricabal as announced by Director of Player Development with the Los Angeles Angels, Abe Flores.

 

The Quakes will feature five players that are rated in Baseball Americas “Top 30 Prospects” list headlined by pitchers Sean O’Sullivan (5) and Barret Browning (20), infielders Mark Trumbo (29) and P.J. Phillips (15), and outfielder Peter Bourjos (9). They will also feature former 1st rounder (37th overall) Trevor Bell in their starting rotation.

 

Rancho Cucamonga will bring back a few familiar faces for the 2008 campaign. With pitchers Aaron Cook and Jared Incinelli, catcher Flint Wipke, infielders Tadd Brewer and Larry Infante, and outfielders Jordan Renz, Cliff Remole, and Drew Toussaint, this version of the Quakes will have a good mix of young talent and strong veteran leadership.

 

To see the newest Quakes in action, they will host Azusa Pacific University Tuesday, April 1 at 6:05pm at the Epicenter, with the season opener scheduled for Thursday, April 4 at Lake Elsinore against the Storm.

 

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are the Advanced-A California League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and open their 2008 home schedule on Monday, April 7th at the Epicenter against the High Desert Mavericks. For information about ticket packages and group information, please call the Quakes at (909) 481-5000.

Bees Announce Opening Day Roster

The Salt Lake Bees have issued a press release announcing their roster.

The roster doesn’t appear to be on-line yet, so here’s the one that was part of the e-mail press release. The only mild surprise is Brad Coon making the leap to Triple-A; he split 2007 between Rancho Cucamonga and Arkansas.

PITCHERS (12)                    B-T      HT       WT      AGE    BORN

Adenhart, Nick                       R-R     6’3       185      21        8/24/1986

Alvarado, Giancarlo               R-R     6’4       210      30        1/24/1978       

Arredondo, Jose                    R-R     6’0       170      24        3/20/1984

Bonilla, Henry                        R-R     6’0       190      29        8/16/1978

Green, Nick                           R-R     6’4       200      23        8/20/1984

Kennard, Jeff                         R-R     6’2       220      26        7/26/1981

Loux, Shane                          R-R     6’2       210      28        8/31/1979

Olenberger, Kasey                R-R     6’4       235      30        3/18/1978

Pullin, Aaron                          R-R     6’3       200      27        2/17/1981

Rodriguez, Rafael                 R-R     6’1       170      23        9/24/1984

Serrano, Alex                         R-R     6’1       200      26        2/18/1981

Wilhite, Matt                           R-R     6’1       185      25        7/3/1981

 

CATCHERS (2)                    B-T      HT       WT      AGE    BORN

Budde, Ryan                         R-R     5’11     200      28        8/15/1979

Wilson, Bobby                       R-R     6’0       220      24        4/8/1983

 

INFIELDERS (7)                   B-T      HT       WT      AGE    BORN

Brown, Matt                           R-R     6’0       200      25        8/8/1982

Morales, Kendry                    B-R      6’1       225      24        6/20/1983

Patchett, Gary                       R-R     6’2       180      29        9/25/1978

Pavkovich, Adam                  R-R     6’2       185      26        12/31/1981

Rodriguez, Sean                   R-R     6’0       190      22        4/26/1985

Sandoval, Freddy                  B-R      6’1       200      25        8/16/1982

Wood, Brandon                     R-R     6’3       185      23        3/2/1985

 

OUTFIELDERS (3)              B-T      HT       WT      AGE    BORN

Brown, Dermal                      L-R      6’0       215      30        3/27/1978

Coon, Bradley                       L-L       6’1       175      25        12/11/1982

Evans, Terry                          R-R     6’3       205      26        1/19/1982

 

Kernels Announce Opening Day Roster

The Cedar Rapids Kernels have announced their Opening Day roster. It’s basically an amalgam of the 2007 Tempe Angels and Orem Owlz.

The starting rotation features three left-handers — Michael Anton, Robert Fish and Trevor Reckling. On the right side are Mason Tobin and ace prospect Jordan Walden.

The outfield could be the fastest in the league with Clay Fuller, Tyler Johnson, Jeremy Moore and Anthony Norman.

The pop will have to come from the corner infield spots, in particular 1B Gordie Gronkowski and 3B Jay Brossman.

Travs Announce Opening Day Roster

The Arkansas Travelers have announced their Opening Day roster. No real surprises, other than Stephen Marek moves into the bullpen where he’ll be the closer. It was always assumed this move would come one day. Today is the day.

This ‘N That

The Angels have announced their Opening Day roster. Darren O’Day makes the leap from Double-A to join the Angels bullpen. Moving up from Triple-A are relievers Jason Bulger and Rich Thompson.

Dustin Moseley returns to the starting rotation. Nick Adenhart will report to Triple-A Salt Lake.

The minor league affiliates should be able to announce their rosters today or tomorrow. Soon as we know anything official, I’ll have it here.

You’ll need a subscription to read the article, but the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a lengthy article on the Angels’ minor league pitchers, focusing in particular on Nick Adenhart and Nick Green.

The article concludes:

Angels director of player development Abe Flores said the organization, long known for producing quality, versatile middle infielders, now is about to see a wave of young pitchers come through the ranks.

Players like Adenhart and Green, as well as former Travs Darren O’Day and Kasey Olenberger, who have made a bid to join the Angels’ bullpen, are the beginning of that wave, General Manager Tony Reagins said.

“We think that we can build some depth in the organization. We have some young kids that are exciting,” Reagins said. “Some of those kids were in camp earlier and the candidates that we have internally, Green, Adenhart, Olenberger, we’re optimistic. Hopefully we can get Escobar and Lackey back so those kids can continue to develop.”

Flores said continuity is one of the reasons the young pitchers have continued to develop as they have climbed the minor league ranks.

“All of our [roving pitching coaches] spend enough time in major league camp and are in constant contact with our major league staff that we’re uniform in our philosophy,” Flores said. “Nobody ever sits back scratching their head wondering ‘What are they doing up there?’ There is none of that. That’s been completely eliminated.”

The last paragraph is rather amusing, as occasionally I see some self-declared experts on Angels fan sites who claim there’s no communication at all between the Player Development staff and the parent club’s coaching staff.

The Quakes have an exhibition game Tuesday evening against Azusa Pacific University. I’m told the games will be webcast. If it is, I’ll have the webcast link on the FutureAngels.com home page.

New MLBlog Format

Don’t look at me, I had nothing to do with this.

I came to the blog today and found a notice that MLBlogs.com was down for a redesign.  When it finally came up, the design had changed — and in my opinion, for the worse.

Certain HTML tags which used to work no longer do. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find some documentation in their control panel, but I’m not counting on it.

Oh well, back to baseball …

UPDATE March 30, 2008 8:30 AM PDT — By the way, it appears that if you post a comment it won’t appear automatically. I looked at a new “Comment” feature in the control panel and found two comments that had been posted by readers last night, but didn’t appear publicly. Apparenly I have to manually review and approve them first. But do I get any notice of comments to be approved? Noooooooooo …

Is There a Doctor in the House?


Nick Adenhart’s start today could determine whether he starts 2008 in Anaheim or Salt Lake.

At this rate, the Angels’ opening night roster might be the Salt Lake Bees of Anaheim.

Players who might be on the disabled list when the season begins are pitchers John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Chris Bootcheck, Scot Shields and now outfielder Gary Matthews. None are likely to be out longer than late April, but at least for a couple weeks there will be opportunities for players who were otherwise destined for Salt Lake.

The surviving starting rotation includes Jon Garland, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana. The fifth job should go to either Dustin Moseley or Nick Adenhart, who starts today. Nick has never pitched above Double-A, but there’s some sentiment that three or four starts might do him some good to give him exposure to major league bats.

If Adenhart gets the job, then Moseley goes to the bullpen in long relief. Right now, bullpen jobs are guaranteed for Frankie Rodriguez, Justin Speier, and Darren Oliver. If Moseley is in the rotation, that means three jobs at least for guys who would have started 2008 in Salt Lake. Those three would appear to be Rich Thompson, Jason Bulger and the surprising Darren O’Day, who like Adenhart lacks Triple-A experience. Alex Serrano, a 2005 minor league free agent signing after he was released by the Rockies, is also making a run.

So much inexperience might tend to move Moseley back to the bullpen, with Adenhart making a few starts until someone returns. Chris Bootcheck threw yesterday but will need a little more time before he’s ready to join the Angels; when that happens, Moseley could go into the rotation and Nick reports to Salt Lake.

Gary Matthews’ sprained ankle postpones a painful decision for the Angels, choosing between outfielders Reggie Willits and Nathan Haynes. Willits has options left, which means he can be sent to Salt Lake, whereas Haynes would have to pass through waivers and would probably be claimed by another organization.

Regardless of how it plays out, thank goodness Angels management ignored all those demands by certain fans and sportswriters last winter to flush the farm system for the mythical “big bat.” All that depth is protecting the parent club roster right now, instead of cavorting for Florida or some other team. How foolish it would be to risk the future of the organization on one mortal who can get injured at any time. Not many teams could absorb the loss of Lackey, Escobar, Bootcheck, Shields and Matthews without blinking.

UPDATE 5:45 PM March 25, 2008MLB.com reports that Kelvim Escobar has been shut down after suffering a setback in his rehab program.

Hank Conger: Extra for Experts

Following up on the overblown reports about Hank Conger’s injury … I remembered today another Angels minor league catcher who had similar experiences in his career a few years ago.

In 2000, his rookie season, he played only ten games in rookie ball due to a lower back strain. Conger had a similar injury last year.

In 2003, he missed most of the season after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder for a torn labrum, an injury apparently more severe than what’s reported for Conger.

That catcher was Mike Napoli.

For reasons unfathomable to me, some people out there want to spin a hysterical fantasy that Conger’s career is over as a catcher. All one has to do is look at Mike Napoli and see that the people peddling this tale have no idea what they’re talking about.

Minor League Spring Training – March 18


Jordan Renz is congratulated by Travs manager Bobby Magallanes after homering in today’s spring training game against the Oakland A’s Double-A squad.

Beginning with the rumor du jour

I spoke with Hank Conger this morning about the rumors that appeared in yesterday’s Orange County Register and Rotoworld.com suggesting he faced surgery and a season lost if his labrum injury doesn’t improve in the next couple weeks.

Hank’s physical condition is his business — that’s not my opinion, it’s the law — so I won’t discuss in public what Hank said. But in summary, it boils down to Hank’s situation is not as dire as reported.

I’ll refer you to this article on MLB.com, which concludes:

"You have to be excited about his upside," Scioscia said. "His shoulder has him a little behind, but he should be fine. He’s very intelligent, and he’s come a long way behind the plate. He has terrific power from both sides."

That about sums it up. He’s a little behind, but he should be fine.

On to today’s exhibition games.

I wrote down the lineups for the Triple-A and Double-A games, but those turned out to be bupkis when Robb Quinlan walked up. The Angels sent over Robb and Reggie Willits to play in the Triple-A game, and Bobby Wilson to catch scheduled starting pitcher Joe Saunders.

Saunders was scheduled to pitch the first five innings, followed by Jason Bulger, but when Joe was done it was Rich Thompson who pitched the next two innings. We never saw Bulger.

So this was the starting lineup, I think:

SALT LAKE

1. Reggie Willits CF
2. Gary Patchett SS
3. Sean Rodriguez DH
4. Matt Brown 1B
5. Robb Quinlan 3B
6. Bobby Wilson C
7. Adam Pavkovich 2B
8. Raymi Dicent LF
9. Aaron Peel RF

The Double-A lineup was something like this:

ARKANSAS

1. Cody Fuller CF
2. Nate Sutton 2B
3. Pat Reilly DH
4. Jesse Hoorelbeke 1B
5. Jordan Renz RF
6. Cliff Remole 1B
7. Tim Duff C
8. Matt Pali RF
9. Larry Infante SS

Flint Wipke was listed as the starting catcher, but Duff took the field. Wipke played in the later innings.

Miguel Gonzalez was the starting pitcher, followed by Francisco M. Rodriguez (not the big-league Frankie, last year’s Rancho pitcher), David Austen, Baron Short, Von Stertzbach and Kevin Jepsen. Or at least that was the list before the game.

Click Here to watch video highlights of the day. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch.

Among the highlights, you’ll see Reggie Willits’ leadoff double, then he steals third, and later scores on a triple by Matt Brown. You’ll also see Joe Saunders strike out two batters.

I was shooting still photography when Jordan Renz homered for the Double-A lineup. It was an impressive shot to left-center field.

I head home in the morning with plenty of video and photography in storage. Eventually they’ll appear on-line at www.futureangels.com.

Minor League Spring Training – March 17


Mike Scioscia talks with pitcher Tommy Mendoza and catcher Hank Conger after their bullpen session.

Rumors of Hank Conger’s demise are premature.

Apparently it started with a blog entry by Orange County Register sportswriter Bill Plunkett. He wrote:

I noticed Hank Conger warming up pitchers in one of the bullpens. Conger was catching the pitches — and then flipping the ball under-handed to a coach standing nearby who would throw it back to the pitcher.

Not a good sign.

During a break, I went up to Conger and asked him why he wasn’t throwing. Turns out he has a slight tear of the labrum in his right shoulder.

The shoulder has been bothering him since early in spring training. Invited to the major-league camp to start the spring, his throwing was limited. When the discomfort continued after he was re-assigned to the minor-league camp, Conger underwent an MRI which revealed the tear.

He has begun a rehabilitation program that could last as long as four weeks, meaning he will most likely miss the start of the minor-league season and stay behind at the extended spring training camp in Tempe. Surgery remains a possibility at some point.

The Angels’ first-round pick in 2005, Conger has already had to deal with wrist and back issues in his first two professional seasons.

Citing the Register blog, the fantasy baseball site Rotoworld.com overreacted and posted:

Conger is expected to rehab for a month before attempting a return. Depending on how the strengthening program takes, he could undergo surgery that would likely cost him the rest of the season. The lost year would likely be very significant to his development, and it shows that the Angels might have guessed wrong when they opted to develop him as a catcher. There’s a good chance he’ll end up at first base or DH anyway, and that wear and tear associated with catching could prevent him from reaching his ceiling as a hitter.

To quote Drew Barrymore in E.T., "Give me a break."

An athlete who throws a lot suffers a slight labrum tear and that’s definitive proof the team "guessed wrong" developing him at that position?!

Joe Saunders had a much more severe labrum tear and missed the entire 2003 season. Did the Angels "guess wrong" developing him as a pitcher?!

What a stupid thing to say.

Nevertheless, I’m already seeing hysterical overreactions on Angels fan boards who think a roto web site knows more about developing ballplayers than the professionals with decades of experience in the game.

For the record, I watched Hank this morning engage in a full range of workouts. He took batting practice, he participated in catcher fielding drills, he caught Tommy Mendoza in the bullpen. Afterwards, Hank and Tommy met with Angels manager Mike Scioscia and minor league pitching instructor Kernan Ronan.

I didn’t see anyone giving Hank the Last Rites.

That said, a fan told me yesterday he’d heard that rumor, but it must not be that big a deal if Hank is participating full-time in drills. I will ask Hank myself tomorrow if I get the chance and if he’s willing to talk about it. But let’s not get all hysterical and declare his catching career over until all the facts are in.

Scioscia, pitching coach Mike Butcher, and much of the front office were in attendance because the parent club had the day off. Jon Garland started the Triple-A game and gave up three runs in five innings. Mike Napoli caught Garland and then exited.

The starting lineup for the Salt Lake game was:

SALT LAKE

1. Nathan Haynes CF
2. Hainley Statia SS
3. Mike Napoli C
4. Matt Brown DH
5. Terry Evans RF
6. Brandon Wood 3B
7. Chris Pettit LF
8. Freddy Sandoval 1B
9. Sean Rodriguez 2B

… with Garland as the starting pitcher. He was followed by Brok Butcher for three innings, then Rafael Rodriguez pitched a scoreless 9th.

The Arkansas starting lineup was:

ARKANSAS

1. Josh LeBlanc CF
2. Cliff Remole DH
3. Ben Johnson C
4. Corey Smith 3B
5. Michael Collins 1B
6. Drew Toussaint LF
7. Matt Pali RF
8. Ryan Leahy 2B
9. Kevin Ramos SS

… with Shane Loux the starting pitcher. He was followed by Fernando Rodriguez, Robert Mosebach, and Kevin Jepsen.

As I warned yesterday, don’t take these lineups too seriously. It’s way too early for assignments to the various affiliates, and as players are returned from big league camp you can expect a domino effect, with players at upper levels being pushed down a level or two.

Click Here to watch video highlights from today’s games. The pitcher/catcher battery is Garland and Napoli. You’ll also see Scioscia talking to Mendoza and the moribund Mr. Conger (if you believe the roto site).

Tomorrow is my last day at camp, then I return home on Wednesday.

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