Aaron Peel Passes Away


Aaron Peel with the Tempe Angels in July 2008.

 

Former Angels minor leaguer Aaron Peel passed away. I was forwarded the below obituary. As soon as I find out anything more, I’ll post it.

SAN ANGELO Aaron Isaac Bradley Peel, 27, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, our loving son and brother passed away into the Lord’s hands. Aaron was born on Feb. 8, 1983, in Brownfield, Texas, to Ken and Renee Peel. He graduated from Seminole High School in Seminole, Texas. Aaron loved to play sports, especially baseball and basketball. He played so much baseball he earned a full scholarship to Texas A&M and later was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in 2002. Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, in Johnson’s Funeral Home chapel. Funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, at Johnson Street Church of Christ with Dr. Tommy King and Bryan Elliott officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Johnson’s Funeral Home. Aaron was preceded in death by his grandfather, Jack Peel; and a cousin, Shannon Peel. He is survived by his parents, Ken and Renee Peel; a sister, Amye Cobb and husband Michael of Eldorado, Texas, and their children, Lucy, Jacob and Jace; grandparents Kenneth and JoVeta Hayes of Water Valley, Texas, and Sandra Peel of Sterling City, Texas. He also leaves behind numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and the loves of his life, Marina, and her daughter, Lexi. Pallbearers are Matt Brown, Kevin Jepsen, Rob Guerra, Alex Ramos, Levi Hasty, Ross Whitfield, LJ Glass and Eric Sheets. Honorary pallbearers are Scott Peel, Michael Collins and Greg Porter. Our dear Aaron will be missed by all and his beautiful heart and soul will never be forgotten. Family and friends are invited to sign an online guest book at www.johnsons-funeralhome.com.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 21)

After nine innings of the deciding game in a best-of-five series, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and San Jose Giants were tied 6-6. In a way, it would have been fitting to call the series at that point and award co-championships, declaring the teams had fought to a draw.

But as we know, there are no ties in baseball, a champion must be declared, and so on they went to extra innings.

Quakes closer Eddie McKiernan took the mound, his third appearance in four days, and gave up a triple that scored on a sacrifice fly. To the bottom of the 10th, the Giants led 7-6.

In the bottom of the 10th, Mike Trout was hit by a pitch with two outs. He stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw. But Darwin Perez struck out, and San Jose captured the flag.

Thus ended what might have been the last game played by Rancho Cucamonga as an Angels affiliate. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported on September 15 that Brett Sports & Entertainment, the Quakes’ owners, may terminate the affiliation to sign with the Dodgers, who are currently at San Bernardino (called Inland Empire). The Angels would probably replace the Dodgers in San Bernardino, and if so it would be the first affiliation change for the Angels since after the 2000 season.

Some Quakes players continue on to the Angels’ fall instructional league in Tempe. Current Quakes going to “fall ball” include pitchers Orangel Arenas, Ryan Chaffee, Matt Oye, Dillon Baird, Luis Jimenez, Eric Oliver, and Mike Trout.

Seven Angels properties will play in the Arizona Fall League — Ryan Brasier, Robert Fish, Steven Geltz, Eddie McKiernan, Andre Romine, Brandon Wood and Jeremy Moore.

As for FutureAngels.com, I’ll be going to the instructional league for the October 11-15 games.

Once the major league season ends, we’ll start posting the Minor League Game of the Week, which are rebroadcasts of Angels minor league games I’ve archived over the years. These webcasts help with Angels withdrawals over the winter, but they’re also a way to listen to Angels minor league history.

Is it spring yet?

The Playoff Picture (as of September 20)


Manuel Flores threw eight shutout innings Sunday to help the Quakes advance to Game #5 tonight.

 

Manuel Flores wasn’t listed in the 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, and he probably won’t be in the 2011 edition either.

But last night he pitched like the Angels’ top prospect.

Flores pitched eight shutout innings last night as the Quakes beat San Jose 4-0, tying their best-of-five series at two games each. He struck out four, walked one and gave up only five hits.

Luis Jimenez was 2 for 4 with a triple and RBI. Mike Trout was 2 for 4 with an RBI.

Game #5 is tonight at The Epicenter.

The Giants will start staff ace Justin Fitzgerald on three days’ rest. The 24-year old right-hander was 10-6 with a 3.45 ERA. In Game #1, he shut out the Quakes for seven innings, striking out nine, walking none and allowing six hits. If you’re looking for a silver lining, in his last start at Rancho on July 29 Fitzgerald took the loss, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings.

Kyle Hurst will start for the Quakes. He began the year with Low-A Cedar Rapids, where he had a 2.84 ERA in nine relief appearances. Promoted to Rancho Cucamonga in mid-May, Hurst toiled largely in mid-relief until he joined the starting rotation in early August. In seven starts, Kyle had a 5.05 ERA. If you’re looking for a silver lining, in his last four starts (26 1/3 innings) Hurst had a 2.73 ERA with seventeen strikeouts and four walks.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll know who is the 2010 California League champion.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 19)


Mike Trout was 4 for 5 and hit two homers, but the Quakes lost Saturday 12-7 in 11 innings.

 

It was everything you’d want in a championship playoff game — except for the final score, if you’re a Quakes fan.

The Quakes had an early lead, gave it up, got it back, lost it again, rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the 8th to tie it up, went into extra innings, but fell apart in the top of the 11th to lose 12-7 to the Giants.

So now San Jose goes up two games to one in the best-of-five series. Rancho Cucamonga must win today and tomorrow, or the Giants repeat as California League champions.

Mike Trout was 4 for 5, hit two homers, scored four runs and drove in two, and took a walk for good measure.

Starter Ryan Chaffee gave up three runs (one earned) on four hits in six innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Jose Perez took the loss in relief; he gave up all five runs (four earned) in the top of the 11th. You can grouse about the three unearned runs, but San Jose committed four errors and the Quakes scored only two unearned runs, so the opportunities were there.

Game #4 is 5:05 PM PDT today at The Epicenter. Left-hander Manuel Flores (5-9, 4.23 ERA) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Quakes, while righty Oliver Odle (12-7, 5.78 ERA) starts for San Jose.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 18)


Garrett Richards struck out eight and gave up only two hits in seven innings as the Quakes evened the series Friday night at San Jose.

 

The Quakes are on a bus somewhere in Central California as they head home to Rancho Cucamonga for Game #3 of their championship series against San Jose.

The Giants are on their own bus, but they face the challenge of winning two out of three on the road if they want to capture the flag. The Quakes must win two out of three as well, but they’ll do it in front of their own fans.

Quakes ace Garrett Richards delivered last night, allowing only one run on two hits while striking out eight and walking only one.

The unlikely hero was Jon Townsend, a utility infielder who evolved into the Quakes’ starting second baseman most nights in the second half. Townsend, an undrafted college senior signed in July 2008 by Tom Kotchman, hit only .243 in 2010 and had a slugging percentage of just .354.

But Jon had a career game last night, three for four with a homer and double for 2 RBI.

So it’s on to Game #3 tonight at The Epicenter.

Ryan Chaffee is the scheduled starting pitcher for Rancho Cucamonga. Considered one of the Angels’ better pitching prospects, Chaffee (another Tom Kotchman sign) was 8-8 with a 4.33 ERA in 2009 for Cedar Rapids.

2010 has been a disaster. Chaffee lost his confidence and his control, ending the season 7-6 with a 6.36 ERA in 20 starts (104 2/3 innings). But in his last three regular-season starts, Ryan showed a glimmer of hope, giving up five earned runs in 20 1/3 innings with 16 strikeouts and three walks. Chaffee also won the deciding game of the Quakes’ three-game series with Lake Elsinore on September 13, allowing one run on two hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and four walks.

Chaffee will face Kyle Woodruff, who was 3-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 83 1/3 innings for San Jose. Woodruff was a reliever until he moved into the Giants’ starting rotation in late July, making eight starts in the second half. As a starter, Woodruff had a 2.70 ERA. Kyle started for San Jose at The Epicenter on July 27, giving up two runs on four hits in six innings.

Meanwhile, nothing new on the Quakes-Dodgers affiliation rumor. I’ve checked with several sources, and about all I’ve been able to determine is … well, there’s this rumor.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 17)

The Quakes were blown out 10-0 last night at San Jose, falling behind 1-0 in their best-of-five series for the California League pennant.

If you think precedent is a sign of things to come, then you should be happy.

The Quakes lost Game #1 of their last series, the best-of-five for the South Division title against Lake Elsinore. Rancho lost that one 5-0, committing seven errors. The Quakes went on to win the next three straight.

Game #2 is tonight at San Jose. Garrett Richards is the announced starting pitcher for the Quakes, with Kelvin Marte starting for the Giants.

Richards began 2010 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Low-A Midwest League. In 19 starts, he was 8-4 with a 3.41 ERA. In 108 1/3 innings, he struck out 108 and walked 34. Promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga in late July, Richards was 4-1 with a 3.89 ERA for the Quakes. In seven starts (34 2/3 innings), he struck out 41 and walked nine.

Come November, Richards may be ranked the Angels’ top pitching prospect on the 2010 FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report. I filmed his May 2 bullpen session at Cedar Rapids, so you get to see his pitch location and movement much closer than game action. Click here to watch the video. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection required.

Marte pitched this year at three levels in the Giants’ system. I’m guessing he was rehabbing from an injury, because he pitched in relief for six games in July with the Giants’ Rookie-A team in the Arizona League. He moved up to Low-A Augusta in the South Atlantic League where he appeared in seven games, making four starts. In 26 1/3 innings, Marte had a 2.73 ERA, striking out 16 and walking seven. He made one start for San Jose on September 4, giving up six runs in 3 2/3 innings to Visalia. In Game #2 of their playoff series against Modesto, Marte gave up three runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings with no strikeouts and a walk.

Elsewhere …

I haven’t found out much more about the hot rumor that the Quakes will dump the Angels for the Dodgers. Lots more rumors, but not much in the way of facts. I suspect we’ll hear more once the playoff series is over.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 16)


Orangel Arenas begin 2010 in the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ starting rotation. He’s the scheduled starting pitcher tonight for Rancho Cucamonga at San Jose.

 

Let’s get ready to rumble!”

– Michael Buffer

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes open the California League championship series tonight at San Jose. Orangel Arenas is the projected starting pitcher, according to RCQuakes.com. As of this writing, San Jose hasn’t announced a starting pitcher.

Stirring the pot is a story in today’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reporting that Quakes management apparently intends to let its affiliation with the parent club Angels expire.

One thing certain is there are at least three California League franchises that have not yet renewed their PDC’s: the Quakes (with the Angels), the [Inland Empire] 66ers (with the Dodgers) and Bakersfield [Blaze] (with the Texas Rangers).

The buzz around the Epicenter this season is the Quakes would go after the Dodgers as a new affiliate.

Under Hank Stickney, the prior owner, the Quakes changed affiliations after the 2000 season from the Padres to Angels. (Click here to listen to the December 2000 press conference.) The Quakes filed to terminate their Angels affiliation after the 2002 season, but after exploring the market finally renewed their agreement, and it’s been a largely peaceful arrangement until now.

Stickney sold the team in the spring of 2009 to Brett Sports & Entertainment. (Click here to watch the March 2009 press conference.) The 2009 season was a transition year as the old regime worked alongside the new, but afterwards nearly all the Stickney people left and/or were replaced.

The Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (AKA “Minor League Baseball”) restricts how much a minor league team can demand from a potential parent club. About a decade ago, minor league teams commonly demanded the parent club play an exhibition game. The Angels played a few exhibition games in Lake Elsinore at the end of spring training in the late 1990s, and played an exhibition game at Erie, Pennsylvania in 1999 for their new affiliate in the Eastern League. But MLB put an end to that, so exhibition games are a rarity these days.


Angels players line up for an exhibition game at Lake Elsinore on March 31, 1999. That’s minor league outfielder Juan Tolentino in the middle between Mo Vaughn on the left and Darin Erstad on the right.

 

I’m not sure what it is the Brett brothers hope to gain by playing the Dodgers off the Angels. Although it’s a down year on the field for both parent clubs, the Dodgers in the public consciousness are a dysfunctional business operation, in part due to the divorce trial between Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie over who owns the Dodgers. The PBA governs standard fees and various other business arrangements between a parent club and its minor league affiliate.

Will changing affiliations result in more ticket or advertising sales? Hard to say. Many surveys over the years have shown that the casual minor league customers — who buy the majority of single-game tickets — have no clue who they’re watching. They go to have a good time. So I doubt an affiliation change will affect sales.

Will hardcore Angels fans be replaced by hardcore Dodgers fans? Probably not enough to make a meaningful difference.

The new ownership changed the way attendance is counted. The Stickney regime counted tickets sold, not actual attendees, so the Quakes annually led the league in attendance. Using a different method in 2010, Rancho Cucamonga finished seventh at 2,153 per game, while San Bernardino fifth at 2,561. Perhaps that’s the number driving the Bretts’ interest in exploring an affiliation change, but I really doubt the difference has to do with a theoretical Dodgers’ popularity. The San Bernardino affiliation over the years changed from the Dodgers to the Mariners and back to the Dodgers. No one seemed to care much.

Of the two minor league operations, San Bernardino (now known as “Inland Empire”) has been considered less desirable than Rancho Cucamonga, largely because of location. Arrowhead Credit Union Park, originally known as The Ranch back when the 66ers were known as the Stampede, is located in an industrial neighborhood with a reputation as a high crime area. The Epicenter is also in a light-industrial area but close to commercial and residential developments, and part of a multi-use sports complex.

It’s about 40 miles from Angel Stadium to The Epicenter, while it’s almost 50 miles to Arrowhead Park. California’s car culture laughs at a ten-mile difference, but on weeknights when the commute is brutal I doubt many Angel fans would make the drive. Rancho Cucamonga would be about ten miles closer to Dodger Stadium than San Bernardino, but again I doubt many Dodger fans would care.

So I’m not sure what the Brett brothers intent to accomplish.

Anyway, on to tonight’s championship series.

Various indicators would seem to give a slight edge to the Quakes.

Head-to-head in 2010, the two teams only played six games — three at San Jose, three at Rancho Cucamonga. The Quakes won four of six. They last faced each other in a three-game series July 27-29 at The Epicenter. The Quakes swept the series by scores of 4-3, 6-5 and 5-3.

The California League’s 140-game schedule is divided into two halves of 70-games each. San Jose in the first half was 45-25 to win the North Division and earn a post-season slot, but in the second half the Giants were only 31-39 and finished last. The Quakes were a more consistent team, finishing 39-31 in both halves. But don’t underestimate the Giants, as they just swept Modesto (73-67 overall) in their three-game series.

The first two games of this five-game series are at San Jose, but after that the remaining three are at Rancho Cucamonga. If the Quakes can pick up one win in San Jose, then they need two of three at home to win the title.

The rotation after tonight is unannounced, but Garrett Richards last pitched on September 11 so he’s well-rested. Ryan Chaffee last started on September 13, so it could be Richards on the 17th and Chaffee on the 18th but we’ll see. Manny Flores started on September 14 so he would align for Game #4 (if necessary) on the 19th.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, the Angels have a rich history with San Jose. It was an Angels affiliate from 1962 through 1969. The 1962 San Jose Bees won the California League pennant, the first Angels minor league team to win a title. Dick Simpson hit 42 homers that year, an Angels’ minor-league single-season record that stood until Brandon Wood hit 43 with the Quakes in 2005. Woody hit #43 on the last day of the season against … San Jose. Click here to watch Wood’s 43rd homer.


Brian Harper as the manager of the Mesa Angels in July 2002.

 

San Jose Giants manager Brian Harper began his professional baseball career as the Angels’ fourth-round pick in the June 1977 draft. He made his major league debut with the Angels on September 29, 1979 but was traded in December 1981 to the Pirates for infielder Tim Foli. Harper returned to the Angels organization in 2001 and managed their Rookie-A team in the Arizona League through 2005. He managed the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees in 2007. Click here to listen to a July 2005 interview with Harper, including his observations about a rehabbing minor league pitcher named Nick Adenhart.


UPDATE 11:30 AM PDTThe Quakes have issued a press release listing the rotations for both teams.

UPDATE 5:30 PM PDT — A post on the Orange County Register sports blog mentioned an August 29 article on BallparkDigest.com which claimed the Dodgers are about to buy part of the Quakes:

Though nothing’s been officially announced — and won’t be until the end of the regular season — word is that the Los Angeles Dodgers are negotiating a purchase of a chunk of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High Class A; California League) and will switch affiliation to the team.

It sounds far-fetched to me, but stranger things have happened.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 15)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Down 5-2 at the 7th inning stretch, the Quakes posted a run in the bottom of the 8th and scored three in the bottom of the 9th to win 6-5 over Lake Elsinore and take the South Division title. Angel Castillo delivered a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the 9th to drive in the tying and winning runs. Castillo was 3 for 5 in the game with 3 RBI. Dillon Baird hit two doubles, and Gabe Jacobo was 2 for 4 with a triple.

The Quakes advance to face the San Jose Giants in the California League’s championship series, starting Thursday night. Games #1 and #2 are in San Jose, then games #3 and (if necessary) #4 and #5 are at Rancho Cucamonga.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 14)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes won 6-1 over Lake Elsinore to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series for the California League’s South Division title. Ryan Chaffee allowed one run on two hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and four walks. Gabe Jacobo homered and tripled. Dillon Baird also homered.

The Quakes can take the series and advance to the championship round with a win at home tonight. Manuel Flores (5-9, 4.23 ERA) is the announced starting pitcher against Matt Lollis, who didn’t pitch in the Cal League this year but was 5-2 with a 1.66 ERA in nine starts for Ft. Wayne in the Low-A Midwest League. If the Quakes lose, Game #5 is tomorrow night at Lake Elsinore.

The winner goes on to face the San Jose Giants, who swept Modesto 3-0 for the North Division title. San Jose has a rich chapter in Angels’ minor league history. It was the Angels’ first California League affiliate in 1962. Then known as the Bees, they won the league pennant that year, the first Angels team to win a title. In 2010, their manager is Brian Harper, who was drafted in 1977 by the California Angels and played briefly in the majors for the parent club before he was traded to Pittsburgh in December 1981 for Tim Foli. Harper returned to the fold in 2001 as the manager of the Rookie-A Mesa Angels for five years and managed Triple-A Salt Lake in 2007.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 13)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — What goes around, comes around. On Saturday night, Lake Elsinore started rehabbing Padres’ pitcher Chris Young and shut out the Quakes, 5-0. Last night, it was Rancho’s turn to play the Rehab Card, as the Angels’ Joel Piniero delivered five innings of no-hit ball before giving up two runs on three hits in the sixth. The Quakes had a 4-2 lead going into the 9th, scored three in the top of the frame, then Allan Dykstra hit a three-run homer off Eddie McKiernan in the bottom of the inning to make it interesting, but Rancho won 7-5 to even the series. Darwin Perez was 3 for 4 with a homer, Mike Trout was 3 for 5 with a triple and stolen base, and Dillon Baird hit two doubles. The best-of-five series shifts to Rancho Cucamonga starting tonight for Games #3 and #4. Ryan Chaffee will start for the Quakes.

OREM — It was the one game to decide who would win the Pioneer League South Division and go on to the championship series. The Owlz scored seven runs in the top of the 1st, but no lead is safe in the Pioneer League. The Ogden Raptors scored three in the bottom of the 1st, and four in the bottom of the 4th to tie it at 7-7. In the end, Ogden outscored Orem 12-9 and that ended the 2010 season for the Owlz. Jake Rife was 3 for 5 with a homer and double. Although they won’t go on to the title series, this marks the tenth straight year that the Provo Angels/Orem Owlz franchise has gone to the post-season under Tom Kotchman since the franchise moved from Helena for the 2001 season.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.