April 2009

In Memory of Nick Adenhart

A friend sent along this poem published in 1896 by A.E. Housman.

To An Athlete Dying Young
 

THE time you won your town the race  
We chaired you through the market-place;  
Man and boy stood cheering by,  
And home we brought you shoulder-high.  
  
To-day, the road all runners come,          5
Shoulder-high we bring you home,  
And set you at your threshold down,  
Townsman of a stiller town.  
  
Smart lad, to slip betimes away  
From fields where glory does not stay,   10
And early though the laurel grows  
It withers quicker than the rose.  
  
Eyes the shady night has shut  
Cannot see the record cut,  
And silence sounds no worse than cheers   15
After earth has stopped the ears:  
  
Now you will not swell the rout  
Of lads that wore their honours out,  
Runners whom renown outran  
And the name died before the man.   20
  
So set, before its echoes fade,  
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,  
And hold to the low lintel up  
The still-defended challenge-cup.  
  
And round that early-laurelled head   25
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,  
And find unwithered on its curls  
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

Report: Nick Adenhart Killed in Car Crash

The Orange County Register reports that Nick Adenhart and two others were killed last night in a car crash in Fullerton. The Register says that the other vehicle may have been involved in a felony hit-and run.

According to the story, the Angels will hold a press conference later today.


UPDATE 10:00 AM PDT — Below is the official press release from the Angels. No other Angels personnel were involved. A press conference is scheduled for 10:30 AM PDT.

ANGELS’ ADENHART, TWO OTHERS, KILLED IN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT

 ANAHEIM, CA:   Angels Baseball this morning announced the passing of right-hander Nick Adenhart, the victim of a fatal automobile accident in Fullerton, CA.   Two other individuals were also killed in the incident. 

Adenhart, 22, was a passenger in a silver Mitsubishi along with three others.  Fullerton Police reported the Mitsubishi proceeded through an intersection, when a van ran a red light and broadsided the vehicle.  A female driver and male passenger were in the Mitsubishi were dead when police and fire department personnel arrived.   Adenhart died as the result of his injuries at UCI Medical Center earlier this morning.  No other members of the Angels organization were involved.

Adenhart pitched a masterful six innings in last night’s game against Oakland (6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO), leaving with a 4-0 lead before a late-inning rally resulted in a 6-4 Angels defeat.

Originally drafted by the Angels in the 14th round of the June, 2004 draft, Adenhart was in his fifth professional season and made the Angels Opening Day roster for the first time.  He opened the 2009 campaign with a 37-28 career minor league record and a 3.87 ERA (506.2 IP – 218 ER).  Adenhart made his Major League debut last May 1 against Oakland.  At the time, he was the youngest active-roster pitcher in the majors.

Adenhart earned his spot in the Angels rotation via a spring training in which he recorded a 3-0 record and a 3.12 ERA (26 IP – 9 ER) over the course of six starts.   During that span, he struck out 18 while allowing only five base on balls.

Adenhart is survived by his father Jim and mother Janet.  His family released the following statement:

“Nick’s family expresses sincere gratitude for all the help the Angels have provided.   He lived his dream and was blessed to be part of an organization comprised of such warm, caring, and compassionate people.  The Angels were his extended family.  Thanks to all of Nick’s loyal supporters and fans throughout his career.  He will always be in everyone’s hearts forever.”

Angels General Manager Tony Reagins issued the following statement on behalf of the club:

The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today.  We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragic loss.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nick’s family, friends’ loved ones and fans.”

Memorial services are pending.

Foreshock in Rancho Cucamonga

Monday was the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Media Day, meaning it was the first opportunity for the local media to meet the players assigned to the team.

The players themselves had arrived only a few hours earlier. Catcher Chris Rosenbaum blogged from Tempe just before his departure for California. They’d barely had a chance to get their lockers and uniforms, to explore the ballpark before they had to pose for the team photo.

You only see the photo, never what goes on before. Here are some photos as the professional photographer prepared to take the team photo.


Positioning the players for the photo. Notice there are two rows of folding chairs but three rows of players. The front row sits, the middle row stands, and the third row stands on the folding chairs.

Joking around as the players are being positioned for the photo.

The team photo as shot from an observer’s perspective.

 

After the photo shoot, most of the players passed by and I shot individual photos of them, which will start showing up in the FutureAngels.com Digital Photo Gallery in the next day or so.

Then I recorded video interviews with manager Keith Johnson and pitching coach Dan Ricabal. The two played together for the 1995 San Bernardino Spirit, then a Dodgers affiliate, that won the California League pennant. That was the team’s last year at old Fiscalini Field; the next year, they moved into the new ballpark now known as Arrowhead Credit Union Park. Although they attended the groundbreaking ceremony in 1995, Thursday’s opener will be the first time that Johnson has been in the ballpark. Ricabal was with the Quakes last year.

In the evening, I went over to the Best Western for the players’ welcoming dinner hosted by the Quakes Booster Club. This is the first opportunity for the players to meet potential host parents who will provide them with temporary housing, and to work out local transportation to the ballpark each day. I filmed most of that too, because it’s an aspect of minor league life few people see unless they’re a booster or host parent.

You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch. Here are the links:

I’ll be at San Bernardino tonight to cover the season opener. Trevor Reckling is scheduled to start for the Quakes. Kelvim Escobar has been scratched from his rehab start due to minor soreness.

Minor League Releases

Baseball America posted yesterday the latest round of releases by the Angels:

RHP Brian Chambers, RHP Matt Hammons, RHP Josh Keller, RHP Baron Short, LHP Doug Brandt, 2B Jerry Gonzalez-Lopez, 3B Larry Infante, OF Donato Giovanatto, OF Tyler Johnson, OF Drew Toussaint.

Former Angels released by other organizations include OF Adam Greenberg by the Reds, RHP Greg Jones by the Indians, 2B Tomas Perez by the Rockies, and OF Josh LeBlanc by the Marlins.

Quakes Announce Opening Day Roster

Press release from the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes:


Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Announce 2009 Roster

Fresh Faces to Join Some Familiar Ones at the Epicenter

 

Rancho Cucamonga, CA- The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes will open up 2009 with 13 players that have never worn a quakes uniform. 12 pitchers and 13 position players will join first-year Quakes’ Manager Keith Johnson, Hitting Coach Damon Mashore, and Pitching Coach Dan Ricabal as announced by Director of Player Development with the Los Angeles Angels, Abe Flores.

 

The Quakes will feature seven players that are rated in Baseball America’s “Top 30 Prospects” list headlined by pitchers Trevor Reckling (4), Mason Tobin (10), Robert Fish (20) and Alex Torres (24), infielders Matt Sweeney (18) and Andrew Romine (22), and outfielder Clay Fuller (16). They will also feature a former Division III National Champion Tim Kiely (Trinity College, Connecticut) in their starting rotation

 

Rancho Cucamonga will bring back a few familiar faces from the 2008 campaign. With pitchers Ryan Braiser, Jeremy Haynes, Sammy Leon, and Jordon Towns, catchers Alberto Rosario, Chris Rosenbaum and Brian Walker, infielders Efren Navarro, P.J. Phillips and Abel Nieves, and outfielder Anthony Norman, this version of the Quakes will have a good mix of young talent and strong veteran leadership. Also new to the squad are three other members of the Cedar Rapids playoff team from 2008, infielder Jay Brossman and outfielders Jeremy Moore and Julio Perez 

 

To see the newest Quakes in action, they will host Azusa Pacific University Tuesday, April 7 at 6:05pm at the Epicenter, with the season opener scheduled for Thursday, April 9 at Inland Empire against the 66ers. The Quakes Home Opener is Monday, April 13 at 7:05pm against the Visalia Rawhide.

 

The Quakes are the High Class-A Affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. For more information about purchasing tickets, please call the Quakes Ticket Office at (909) 481-5252 or order online at www.rcquakes.com.

Bees Announce Opening Day Roster

Click Here for the Salt Lake Bees press release announcing their 2009 Opening Day roster.

Kernels Announce Opening Day Roster

Press release from the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Kernels release 2009 Opening Day Roster

April 6, 2009 – The 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels have broken Spring Training camp and are on their way to Cedar Rapids! The 25-player roster includes two of the LA Angels Top 30 Prospects, as ranked by Baseball America, in RHP Will Smith (#12) and RHP Manuarys Correa (#19).

The roster includes nine members of the 2008 MWL playoff team as pitchers Chris Armstrong and Michael Davitt; catchers Anel De Los Santos and C.J. Bressoud; infielders Alexi Amarista, Hector Estrella and Gabe Jacobo; and outfielders Angel Castillo and Carlos Colmenares return to Cedar Rapids. RHP Vladimir Veras, who played in Cedar Rapids in 2007 but was injured last season, also is a member of the 2009 team.

Pitching will once again be the Kernels’ strong suit as the projected starting rotation features RHP Manuarys Correa, RHP Michael Davitt, LHP Manuel Flores, LHP Jayson Miller and RHP Will Smith. The bullpen looks strong too with two closers: LHP Andrew Taylor (5 saves) and RHP Jeremy Thorne (8 saves – .121 BA against).

The Kernels’ offense should feature lots of speed as OF Robert Auer and INF Alexi Amarista both had over 20 stolen bases in short-season play. Gabe Jacobo (10 HR/56 RBI) and Angel Castillo (14 HR/47 RBI) should supply some power and RBI production.

The 2009 Kernels are scheduled to arrive in Cedar Rapids at 4 pm tonight (Monday) and are scheduled to play an exhibition game against Kirkwood Community College at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, April 7th as part of ‘Meet the Kernels Night’.

Opening Day at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium is scheduled for Thursday, April 9th when the Kernels take on the Beloit Snappers at 6:35 pm. Tickets are on sale online at http://www.kernels.com, or by calling the Kernels Ticket Office at (319) 896-7560. Ticket Office hours are 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday.

Travs Announce Opening Day Roster

Press release from the Arkansas Travelers.


Travs Announce Opening Day Roster
Team Arrives Monday, Holds First Practice Tuesday

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Travelers, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, announce their opening day roster for the 2009 season.  Under third-year manager Bobby Magallanes, the Travs will attempt to defend their 2008 Texas League championship with a team that boasts many of the top prospects in the Angels organization.

The Travs should feature one of the most dynamic offenses in the Texas League.  Mark Trumbo returns to hold down first base for the Travs after leading all Angels minor league players with 32 home runs and 93 RBI in 2008.  Trumbo also ranked in a tie for second in the minor leagues with 286 total bases.  One of the top hitting prospects in baseball, Hank Conger is slated to be the everyday catcher.  Conger recovered from a torn labrum to post a strong second half in 2008 (.303-13-75) at Rancho Cucamonga, then led the Travs in the playoffs with 13 RBI.  Ben Johnson also returns to play the outfield as well as catcher and first base.  Johnson had the best season of his career posting a .262 batting average and 20 homers plus 77 RBI in 106 games at Arkansas.

Second baseman Ryan Mount also put together a great second half after an injury at Rancho Cucamonga (.290-16-49).  Hainley Statia begins the season with the Travs at shortstop for the second year in a row.  The slick-fielding Statia was limited to 59 games in 2008 due to hamstring injuries.  Wilberto Ortiz, one of the Travs 2008 playoff heroes, will take over at third base.  Ortiz batted .266 between Arkansas and Rancho Cucamonga, then collected a team-high 10 hits during the postseason.

The outfield is anchored by centerfielder Peter Bourjos, who led the California League with 50 stolen bases while posting a .295 batting average, 9 home runs, 51 RBI and 83 runs scored.  Patrick Breen will be at one of the corner outfield spots after signing with the Angels in October as a free agent.  Breen was named the 2008 Most Valuable Player of the independent Golden Baseball League when he hit .396 with 28 homers and 94 RBI.

Also returning to the Travs are outfielder Coby Smith (.275-2-16 in 61 games), utilityman Nate Sutton (.276-7-44) and catcher Flint Wipke.  Gary Patchett will be the infield utilityman after spending the last two seasons at Salt Lake.

On the mound the Travs feature two of the Angels’ top starting pitching prospects with opening day starter RHP Sean O’Sullivan and RHP Jordan Walden.  O’Sullivan led the California League in wins in 2008 (16-8, 4.73 ERA), whle Walden (9-8, 2.76 ERA between Rancho Cucamonga and Cedar Rapids) led all Angels farmhands with 141 strikeouts.  Midwest League All-Star LHP Mike Anton (13-9, 3.87 ERA between Rancho and CR) is the only lefty in the rotation.  RHP Amalio Diaz (10-8, 4.32 ERA at Arkansas and RC) returns while RHP Trevor Bell (7-8, 3.91), the Angels’ 2005 first round draft choice, rounds out the rotation.

In the bullpen, the Travs find RHP David Herndon as the probable closer.  After a switch to relief midway through the 2008 season Herndon saved 17 games, second most in the Angels’ system.  LHP Barret Browning returns to the Travs after a strong 2008 campaign where he struck out 73 batters in 65.1 innings.  RHP Bobby Mosebach (9-12, 4.62 ERA) has made the switch to relief after leading the Texas League with 177.1 innings pitched.  Mosebach was returned to the Angels in March after being selected by the Phillies in the Major League Rule draft.

RHP Jeremy Hill is the elder statesman (31) on the club after posting 23 saves in the Mexican League in 2008.  Hill also is the only member of the opening day roster with experience in the Major Leagues pitching 11 games with the Royals in 2002 and 2003.  RHP Marco Albano, RHP Chad Blackwell and RHP Bobby Cassevah round out the relief corps.

The Travs arrive at Little Rock National Airport Monday afternoon and will hold a public practice at Dickey-Stephens Park on Tuesday beginning at 5:00 p.m.

The regular season opens Thursday night against the Midland RockHounds with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

The Worst of the Worst

2000 Erie SeaWolves manager Don Wakamatsu
2000 Erie SeaWolves manager Don Wakamatsu (right) with Reading Phillies manager Gary Varsho, April 21, 2000. Wakamatsu is now the manager of the Seattle Mariners. Varsho is the bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Back on March 27 I posted an article about the best teams in Angels minor league history, and promised you a look at the all-time worst teams.

Well, here we go.

The top ten — bottom ten?! — teams with the worst winning percentage are:

  1. 2004 Mesa Angels 12-44 .214
  2. 1973 Idaho Falls Angels 23-48 .324
  3. 2000 Erie SeaWolves 47-94 .333
  4. 1987 Quad Cities Angels 47-91 .341
  5. 1998 Butte Copper Kings 26-50 .342
  6. 1990 Mesa Angels 19-36 .345
  7. 2002 Arkansas Travelers 51-89 .364
  8. 1980 El Paso Diablos 50-86 .368
  9. 2006 Arkansas Travelers 51-87 .370
  10. 1998 Vancouver Canadians 53-90 .371

As we saw with the best of the best, many of these are short-season teams, which tend towards more extreme results in a shorter period. If we look at full-season teams (i.e. more than 100 games), the worst ten are:

  1. 2000 Erie SeaWolves 47-94 .333
  2. 1987 Quad Cities Angels 47-91 .341
  3. 2002 Arkansas Travelers 51-89 .364
  4. 1980 El Paso Diablos 50-86 .368
  5. 2006 Arkansas Travelers 51-87 .370
  6. 1998 Vancouver Canadians 53-90 .371
  7. 2002 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 52-88 .371
  8. 1965 El Paso Sun Kings 53-87 .379
  9. 1972 Stockton Ports 52-85 .380
  10. 1964 Hawaii Islanders 60-98 .380

Mesa was the Angels’ Rookie-A “camp” team in the Arizona League through 2005, when the minor league complex was moved to Tempe at the renovated spring training site. These are usually the youngest and most inexperienced players in the organization.

Even though you might think the 2004 Mesa team had no talent, there were a couple players who went on to big-league success.

Alexi Casilla was the second baseman. He had an AVG/OBP/SLG of .258/.332/.313 as a 20-year old. He was traded on December 9, 2005 to the Minnesota Twins for reliever J.C. Romero. He made his major league debut less than one year later, on September 1, 2006. He played 95 games at 2B for the Twins in 2008.

Angels reliever Jose Arredondo was on the 2004 Mesa Angels — as a shortstop. It was during this season that the Angels decided to give Jose an audition on the mound. They discovered his mid-90s velocity and the rest is history.

Arredondo wasn’t the only infielder-pitcher convert. Josh Davies, an 18-year old Aussie, was released by the Angels in 2007 and signed by the San Diego Padres, who tried to convert him into a pitcher. Josh had a 6.45 ERA in 18 relief appearances in 2008 for the Peoria Padres, and was released.

Brian Harper was the Mesa manager. Selected by the Angels in the 4th round of the June 1977 draft, Harper was traded to the Pirates for Tim Foli and is probably best known as the catcher for the world champion Minnesota Twins in 1991. He’s now the roving catching instructor for the San Francisco Giants.

Click Here to listen to a 2004 interview with Brian Harper. Windows Media Player required.

The 2000 Erie SeaWolves didn’t have inexperience as an excuse. It was simply lack of talent, although there were a few key injuries.

Angels infielder Justin Baughman resumed his career at Double-A Erie after missing all of 1999 due to a horrific broken leg suffered playing winter ball in Mexico. Justin was really never the same; after he retired, he coached briefly in the Angels system before taking the head coaching job at his alma mater, Louis & Clark University.

Nathan Haynes was a top-prospect center fielder, but a series of injuries were to derail his career. Nathan was actually out of baseball in 2004-2005, starting playing independent ball in 2006, was re-signed by the Angels and reached the majors with Anaheim in 2007. He’s currently in the Texas Rangers system.

Catcher Shawn Wooten would go on to the 2002 World Series. But he wasn’t the SeaWolves’ #1 catcher. That job was shared with Bret Hemphill and Woot’s West Covina buddy Kevin Lidle.

John Lackey joined Erie for eight starts at the end of the season, after a promotion from High-A Lake Elsinore. Lack was 6-1 with a 3.37 ERA and 43:9 SO:BB ratio in 57.1 innings.

Lackey would return to Double-A in 2001, but not in Erie. The SeaWolves terminated their two-year relationship with the Angels, choosing to affiliate with the nearby Detroit Tigers. The Angels wound up in Little Rock, with the Arkansas Travelers, and won the 2001 Texas League pennant.

Don Wakamatsu, Erie’s manager in 2000, was promoted to Minor League Field Coordinator, meaning he coordinated all minor league operations in the field and answered to Darrell Miller, the Director of Player Development. In 2003, he moved on to become the Texas Rangers’ bench coach under Buck Showalter. Wak was named the Seattle Mariners’ manager on November 18, 2008, and selected several former and current Angels minor league instructors for his coaching staff.

Click Here to listen to a 2000 interview with Don Wakamatsu. Windows Media Player required.

Dominican League Prospects to Watch in 2009

Ben Badler of Baseball America lists top Dominican Summer League prospects who should play in the United States in 2009.

Two Angels made the list, right-handed pitchers Baudilio Lopez and Fabio Martinez Mesa. Click Here to read about these two young arms and other prospects.

Both should be on the Tempe Angels roster come summertime.

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