Results tagged ‘ Cedar Rapids Kernels ’

2011 Begins


Mike Trout will face high expectations in 2011.

 

After a somewhat somnambulant winter, the Angels enter 2011 with more questions than answers.

The bullpen was strengthened by the signing of free agent lefty relievers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, but didn’t flush hundreds of millions of dollars into a “name” like Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre.

In 2009, the Angels led the American League in batting average (.285), were fourth in total bases (2,482), second in runs scored (883) and third in stolen bases (148).

In 2010, the Angels were 12th in average (.248), 11th in total bases (2,142), ninth in runs scored (681), and seventh in stolen bases (104).

What went wrong?

Many fingers are needed to point the blame, but in summary it boils down to several players had disappointing years. Their failure to produce anticipated offense was one major factor in the Angels’ decline from 97-65 in 2009 to 80-82 in 2010.

Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis failed to produce as projected. Kendry Morales broke his left ankle on May 29 when he leapt onto home plate to celebrate a home run. Juan Rivera had a down year.

If they all rebound in 2011, no one will care about Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre. But that’s a big “if.”

On the mound, Jered Weaver delivered a Cy Young Award-caliber season, and Ervin Santana pitched to expectations, but after that the pitching staff was somewhat disappointing. 2009 free-agent signee Joel Piniero missed about ten starts due to injury. Joe Saunders had a 4.62 ERA in 20 starts, then was shipped to Arizona in the Dan Haren deal. Haren had a 2.87 ERA in 14 starts. Scott Kazmir, now the lone lefty in the rotation, had a nightmare year with a 5.94 ERA.


Loek Van Mil was acquired from the Twins in the trade for Brian Fuentes. Van Mil is listed as 7’1″ tall.

 

The bullpen was another disappointment. Brian Fuentes had a 3.52 ERA in 39 relief appearances before he was sent to Minnesota in a September 1 trade for minor league pitcher Loek Van Mil. Fernando Rodney appeared in 72 games but had a 4.24 ERA. Scot Shields was 5.28 in 43 appearances, unable to recover effectively from a 2009 injury. The rest of the bullpen was a mix of young relievers — Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden, Michael Kohn, Trevor Bell, Bobby Cassevah and Rich Thompson — who offered future promise.

Nothing is certain in life, nor in the baseball universe. Splashy free-agent signees don’t guarantee anything.

They also siphon off a lot of money that could be invested into player development.

Years ago, Baseball America did a study where they concluded it cost about a million dollars to develop a major leaguer. I’m sure that number is much higher today, but it illustrates the impact on the budget when signing a player for a mega-buck contract. Using as an example Beltre’s six-year $96 million deal with the Texas Rangers, that’s $16 million a year that could have been invested in future talent.

The flip side of that argument is that an established major leaguer is more of a “sure thing” than a prospect. The failure in the last decade of the Angels’ minor league system to produce a hitter that lived up to expectations underscores that reality.

So can the Angels rely someone in the mix of Wood, Aybar, Kendrick and Mathis to step it up?

If not, the focus will shift to the next generation of prospects. Peter Bourjos arrived in early August and showed off his plus-plus defense, but only hit .204 in 181 at-bats. Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo had token appearances, but will probably return to Salt Lake.

After them, everyone awaits the arrival of the savior, Mike Trout.

But fans need to temper their enthusiasm. Let’s not forget he’s only 19 and has only a half-year of experience at advanced Class-A. For every prospect, there comes a time where he experiences failure for the first time. Can he adjust? That’s the true test, because for every professional baseball player his career is a series of adjustments as opposing pitchers seek out flaws and weaknesses. So let’s give the kid some breathing room, okay?

I look forward to a full healthy season for Randal Grichuk. He injured both hands in 2010, but during his last month of play with Cedar Rapids after his return he hit .366/.385/.645. As with many Angels minor league batters, Randal didn’t take many walks, but in that month he showed an improved knowledge of the strike zone, which is a good first step.


Charitably listed as 5’8″, Alexi Amarista hit .400 in 70 plate appearances during his late-season audition with Triple-A Salt Lake.

 

Two middle infielders are on the prospect radar. Jean Segura may switch to shortstop or remain at second base. He reminds me of a cross between a young Alberto Callaspo and a young Erick Aybar, but neither of those has produced the stellar numbers hoped for earlier in their minor league years. Diminutive Alexi Amarista may be the “feel good” story of 2011. He’s likely to start the year at Salt Lake, and the PCL is always generous to hitters, but he too draws few walks and tends to chase bad pitches.

If Aybar and Kendrick have another disappointing year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Angels have Segura at shortstop with Triple-A Salt Lake by season’s end as half of a double-play tandem with Amarista at second base.

The pitching prospect depth shallowed significantly in the last year, due to the Alberto Callaspo and Dan Haren trades. The Angels sent Sean O’Sullivan and Will Smith to Kansas City for Callaspo. Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Pat Corbin and Rafael Rodriguez went to Arizona for Haren.

I’ll be watching closely the progress of three pitchers — Tyler Chatwood, Trevor Recking and Garrett Richards.

Chatwood was the Angels’ 2010 minor league pitcher of the year. With High-A Rancho Cucamonga, he had a 1.77 ERA in 14 starts (81.1 IP), averaged 7.7 strikeouts per 9 IP and had a SO:BB ratio of 1.91. Promoted mid-season to Double-A Arkansas, his ERA climbed to 3.82 (68.1 IP), his strikeout rate dropped to 4.7 per 9 IP, and had a SO:BB ratio of 1.3:1. At age 20, he would have been one of the youngest starters in the Texas League, where he should resume in 2011.

Reckling was the 2009 minor league pitcher of the year, but at age 21 couldn’t handle Triple-A Salt Lake (8.53 ERA in 69.2 IP) and at mid-season found himself back in Double-A with Arkansas (4.56 ERA in 79.0 IP). Trevor is pretty much the only significant left-handed starting pitcher prospect left in the system, so the Angels need him to mature past his growing pains.

Richards will be 23 on May 27, and will probably start the season with Double-A Arkansas. Between Low-A Cedar Rapids (19 starts) and High-A Rancho Cucamonga (7 starts), Richards averaged 9.4 strikeouts per 9 IP. He has a mid-90s fastball, slider, changeup and curve ball. The curve could be a “plus” pitch but he seems reluctant to use it.

It’s possible that the Travelers’ opening night roster could include Chatwood, Reckling and Richards in what might be the elite starting rotation in the Texas League. Of the three, I think Richards has a chance to move up the fastest due to his age and overall repertoire.


Will Smith pitching for Orem in the 2008 Pioneer League championship series.

 

Oh, one another pitcher I’ll be watching — from afar — is Will Smith. Traded to the Royals, I’ve always thought his ceiling is underestimated by many observers. Prior to the trade, he had a strange odyssey that saw him move up from Rancho to Salt Lake as an emergency after the Bees’ rotation was decimated by promotions. He’d been sent down to Arkansas when he was traded. He finished the regular season back in High-A with Wilmington in the Carolina League, where he had a 2.80 ERA in eight starts (54.2 IP). Always stingy with the base on balls, Will struck out 51 and walked four.

Those numbers are not a typo.

The Royals then assigned him to their Double-A team’s post-season roster. Smith started the Northwest Arkansas Naturals’ title game against Midland, pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings. I wasn’t surprised, because I saw him on the mound for Rookie-A Orem in the 2008 Pioneer League playoffs. In a pressure game, Will goes into a higher gear.

If Smith returns to Double-A for 2011, it’s likely he will face his former Angels teammates for the first time since the trade. In a year or two, it might happen again at the major league level.

FutureAngels.com 2010 Top 10 Angels Prospects


Everyone loves Mike Trout, who ranked #1 on the FutureAngels.com 2010 Top 10 Prospects Report.

 

The FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report is now online. Click here to read the report.

The Top 10 are:

1. Mike Trout OF (no surprise)
2. Hank Conger C
3. Jean Segura 2B
4. Garrett Richards RHP
5. Randal Grichuk OF
6. Mark Trumbo 1B-OF
7. Fabio Martinez RHP
8. Alexi Amarista 2B
9. Trevor Reckling LHP
10. Jeremy Moore OF

I’m sure there will be a lot of debate about who’s NOT on the list, starting with Tyler Chatwood who was named the Angels’ minor league pitcher of the year.

Chatwood is probably #11. I debated in my mind back and forth about Chatwood versus Reckling. Two factors weighed in Reckling’s favor. One is that, if you read his review, Reckling’s problem is command of his fastball. Chatwood has a killer 12-6 curve, but still can’t consistently throw it where he wants. It seems to me it’s easier to solve the fastball problem than the curve problem. The second factor is that, after they traded Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Pat Corbin and Will Smith, the Angels are desperately thin on left-handed starting pitcher prospects. Reckling has more value in terms of organizational depth than Chatwood, but that’s not meant as an insult at all, just a reflection of their lack of LHP prospects.

Chatwood’s strikeout rate dropped from 7.7 per 9 IP at Rancho to just 4.7 with Arkansas. Reckling’s rate wasn’t all that great either, but he was asked to pitch at a much higher level. Both are very young pitchers and, as I said, a reasonable argument could be made for either one to make the Top 10.

No relievers made the Top 10 list, although the Angels have many relief prospects — Jordan Walden, Michael Kohn, Ysmael Carmona, Steven Geltz and more. As I discussed in the article, my thinking has evolved on relievers. They work a relatively small part of a game, so in my mind it’s hard to say a guy who throws one or two innings is more valuable than one who throws five to seven, or a position player who’s in the lineup regularly. If we had an absolute killer closer on the cusp, I’d certainly give him serious thought, but this year I couldn’t justify in my mind one over any of the others.

I really wanted to find a place for Luis “Lucho” Jimenez, who I think is a great hitting prospect, but again who would I drop? You may have your own choices; as always, it’s a matter of opinion. And I’m sure there are many more for whom an argument could be made.

Anyway, enjoy reading the report and posting your comments. This is the tenth year I’ve written a Top 10 report; click here for the index.

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 11)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes begin tonight their five-game series with the Lake Elsinore Storm for the California League South Division title. Games #1 and #2 are in Lake Elsinore, Games #3 and (if necessary) #4 are in Rancho Cucamonga, and (if necessary) Game #5 is at Lake Elsinore. Garrett Richards will start tonight for the Quakes, with the Padres’ Chris Young making a rehab start for Lake Elsinore. The Angels announced last night that Joel Piniero will make a rehab start with the Quakes in Game #2 Sunday night. It doesn’t seem right that rehabbing major leaguers should be eligible for minor league playoff games.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kernels were eliminated last night, as they lost 6-2 to Clinton. The game was delayed nearly an hour due to rain, and announced starting pitcher Stephen Locke was scratched due to a bad back, so Tyler Kehrer took the start. Kehrer didn’t get out of the first inning, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks while recording only one out on a strikeout.

OREM — The Owlz lost Game #1 of their Pioneer League South Division playoff series, 2-1 to Ogden. Kole Calhoun hit a solo homer in the first inning to give the Owlz an early 1-0 lead. Heath Nichols pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and A.J. Schugel tacked on another inning-and-a-third. In the top of the 9th, Justin La Tempa gave up a one-out two-RBI single that gave the Raptors the lead. The Owlz got the tying run to third in the bottom of the 9th, but pinch-hitter Kaleb Cowart grounded out to end the game.

I’m a bit surprised that Cowart, one of the Angels’ first-round picks last June (#18 overall), wasn’t in the starting lineup. Cowart was assigned to Orem on the last day of the regular season after playing with Tempe. The Angels did something similar last summer with Mike Trout, who joined Cedar Rapids at season’s end after playing with Tempe in his first pro year. Trout had only a token appearance in the Kernels’ 2009 post-season. I guess the feeling is that the players who earned the post-season should be the ones who take the field, but minor league rosters turn over so much that the post-season roster often has little in common with the roster on Opening Day. If it were me, I’d want Trout or Cowart in the lineup because he improves my chances to win.

So the Owlz are down 1-0 in their best-of-three series. They must win tonight and tomorrow at Ogden, or they’re eliminated. Donn Roach (4-1, 6.04 ERA) is the announced starter for Orem.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 10)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes won 7-1 over High Desert to take the mini-series 2-0. They go on to face Lake Elsinore, which had a bye due to their first-half title, in a best-of-five series for the South Division championship. The series starts Saturday night at Lake Elsinore; Garrett Richards is the reported starting pitcher. Games #1 and #2 are in Lake Elsinore, Games #3 and (if necessary) #4 are at Rancho, and Game #5 (if necessary) is at Lake Elsinore.


UPDATE 2:45 PM PDT — A Quakes press release reports the Storm starting pitcher for Game #1 will be Padres’ right-hander Chris Young, assigned to Lake Elsinore on rehab. Now that’s just cheatin’. :-)


CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kernels lost 8-2 to Clinton to even their best-of-three series at one apiece. The deciding game is tonight at Cedar Rapids, with LHP Stephen Locke (8-7, 4.37 ERA) the announced starting pitcher. The winner goes on to face the winner of the Quad Cities – Kane County series, with Kane County the home team tonight.

OREM — The Owlz ended the regular season last night with a 14-12 win at Ogden in 10 innings. Kaleb Cowart, one of three Angels’ picks in the first-round of the June 2010 draft (#18 overall), was called up from Tempe and homered. His addition to the roster will be a big boost for the Orem offense. The Owlz finished the regular season 39-36, while the Raptors finished 44-31. The two teams play in a best-of-three series for the South Division title starting tonight at Orem, with Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 at Ogden. Although the Raptors have the better overall record, the Owlz were 11-5 this year against Ogden and just finished a four-game sweep — two in Orem, then two in Ogden. But in a short series, of course, anything goes. Heath Nichols (4-2, 3.57 ERA) is the announced starting pitcher for the Owlz.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 9)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes won Game #1 of their three-game series with the Mavericks, 12-5 at High Desert. Angel Castillo hit a grand-slam. Alberto Rosario, Mike Trout, Dillon Baird and Richard Cates also homered. Starter Manuel Flores gave up four runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and three walks. Orangel Arenas starts for the Quakes tonight at Rancho Cucamonga. The winner of the series will face Lake Elsinore in a best-of-five series for the South Division title.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kernels won Game #1 of their three-game series with the LumberKings, 3-2 at Clinton. Starter Ariel Pena gave up one run on one hit in 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks. David Carpenter got the win in relief, striking out three in 1 2/3 innings. John Hellweg notched a save. Jose Jimenez was 2 for 3 with a homer. Buddy Boshers will start for the Kernels tonight at Cedar Rapids, according to LumberKings.com. The winner of the series will face the winner of the Quad Cities – Kane County series in a best-of-three matchup for the Western Division title.

OREM — The Owlz clinched the South Division wild-card with a 4-2 win over Ogden. The Raptors won both halves of the division race, so they will have the home field advantage in their best-of-three playoff series starting Friday night. Game #1 will be at Orem, while Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 will be in Ogden. The two teams finish the regular season tonight at Ogden; as of this morning, the Owlz have won 10 of 15 games this season between the two teams, although overall the Raptors (44-30) have a better record than Orem (38-36).

I’ll also note that Damon Berryhill, Ogden’s manager, was Rancho Cucamonga’s hitting coach in 2002.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 8)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes begin a three-game series tonight against the High Desert Mavericks. Game #1 is tonight in Adelanto at 7:05 PM PDT. Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 are Thursday and Friday at Rancho Cucamonga. The winner goes on to face Lake Elsinore for the South Division title. The Storm got a bye for winning the first half. The Quakes won the second half and the Mavs are the division’s wild card.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kernels begin a three-game series tonight against the Clinton Lumberkings. Game #1 is tonight at Clinton at 6:35 PM CDT / 4:35 PM PDT. Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 are Thursday and Friday at Cedar Rapids. The Kernels won the Western Division first half, while Clinton won the division’s second half wild card. The winner goes on to play the other quarterfinal winner for the division title.

OREM — The Owlz won 5-3 over Ogden, while the Casper Ghosts also won 7-6 over Idaho Falls. Orem and Casper are playing for the South Division wild card. With two games left, the Owlz have a 1½ game lead over Casper. The wild card winner goes on to play the Ogden Raptors, who won both halves of the Pioneer league South Division title race. Orem is at Ogden the next two nights, while Casper will be at home hosting Idaho Falls. One Owlz win or Ghosts loss puts Orem in the playoffs.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 7)

Statistics are as of the morning of September 7.

The regular season is over for the full-season minor leagues. The Pioneer League still has a few days to go. Here’s an update on the playoff status for each of the Angels affiliates.

SALT LAKE — The Bees finished 73-71, 1½ games behind Tacoma in the PCL Pacific Conference North Division. Bobby Cassevah, Hank Conger, Kevin Frandsen, Matt Palmer and Mark Trumbo were called up to Anaheim after the season finale.

ARKANSAS — The Travelers finished with an overall record of 55-85, worst in the Texas League. They finished last in the North Division in both halves — 26-44 in the first half, 29-41 in the second half. The Travs sent two 2010 players to Anaheim, Michael Kohn and Jordan Walden.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes finished with an overall record of 78-62, three games behind South Division rival Lake Elsinore (81-59) for the California League’s best record. Rancho was 39-31 in the first half, then 39-31 in the second half which won them the second-half title. The Quakes will face the High Desert Mavericks (75-65 overall) in a best-of-three series starting Wednesday; Game #1 is in Adelanto, then Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 are at Rancho Cucamonga. The winner goes on to face the Storm for the South Division title.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kernels finished with an overall record of 82-56, third-best in the sixteen-team Midwest League. Cedar Rapids won the West Division’s first-half title with a 43-25 record; in the second half, they finished 39-31. They’ll face the Clinton Lumberkings (74-65) in a best-of-three series starting Wednesday night at Clinton, with Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 at Cedar Rapids.

OREM — The short-season Pioneer League plays a 76-game schedule divided into two halves of 38 games each. The Owlz finished 19-19 in the first half, four games behind Ogden (23-15). Two weeks ago, Orem appeared poised to go off on another one of those famous Tom Kotchman runs as they won eight of ten between August 13 and 22 to move into first place for the second-half title, but since then have gone 3-10.

The Ogden Raptors have clinched both halves of the South Division title, so the team with the second-best overall division record will play Ogden in the playoffs. In that race, the Owlz are 36-36, 1½ games ahead of Casper at 35-38. (The half-game difference comes from an Owlz’ rainout August 30 at Billings that won’t be made up.) Both Orem and Casper have three games left. The Owlz play tonight at home against the Raptors, then go on the road at Ogden for two. The Ghosts host Idaho Falls at home for the remaining three. One Orem win and one Casper loss are enough to clinch the post-season for the Owlz.

TEMPE — The Arizona League plays a 56-game schedule which ended Sunday August 29. The Angels finished 24-31, last in the AZL East, so no playoff this year for the rookie league team.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 6)

Statistics are as of the morning of September 6.

Today’s the final day of the regular season for the full-season minor leagues. Here’s an update on the playoff status for each of the Angels affiliates.

SALT LAKE — The Pacific Coast League plays a 144-game schedule. Unlike lower levels, it’s all one season, not divided into two halves. The Bees (73-70) were eliminated last night. They won 6-3 over Reno, but Tacoma (74-68) won 9-0 at Fresno, so the Rainiers have a 1½ game lead with one game left on the schedule. Expect the Angels to start calling up Bees players to Anaheim, with Mark Trumbo at the front of the line.

ARKANSAS — The Texas League plays a 140-game schedule divided into two 70-game halves. The Travelers finished 26-44 in the first half, 16 games behind Northwest Arkansas in the North division. They’ve clinched last place in the second half with a record of 28-41, but broke a ten-game losing streak last night with an 8-1 win over Springfield. Travs fans can look forward to receiving next year many of the players on Rancho Cucamonga’s title-contending team. Speaking of which …

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The California League also plays a 140-game schedule divided into two 70-game halves. The Quakes finished 39-31 in the first half, good but not good enough to win the Cal League South, falling seven games behind Lake Elsinore (46-24). The Storm have been more like a squall in the second half, currently at 35-34, three games behind the first-place Quakes (38-31). High Desert (37-32) is in second place, one game behind Rancho. The Quakes play tonight at Lancaster, while the Mavericks play at Lake Elsinore.

The Cal League has a rather convoluted playoff procedure, in part because they add an extra tier of playoffs. Click here to read the playoff procedures. Basically, the first-half team (Lake Elsinore) gets a bye while the second-half winner plays the team with the next best overall record in a best-of-three playoff. The Storm were eliminated last night from any possibility of winning the second half, so it’s down to the Quakes and Mavericks. If Rancho wins at Lancaster, and/or High Desert loses at Lake Elsinore, the Quakes take the second-half title. If Rancho loses and High Desert wins, then the two teams finish in a tie. According to the league’s playoff procedures, the tie would be broken by the two teams’ head-to-head record, which gives the Mavs the title as they lead the Quakes 14-13 head-to-head. All that’s really at stake right now is home field advantage for the first-round mini-series; the team that wins the second-half title is the home team for Games #2 and #3 in the first round.

Clear as mud?

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Midwest League also plays a 140-game schedule split into two halves. The Kernels won the Western Division first half with a 43-25 record, so they’re automatically seeded into the post-season. They’re currently 38-31 with one game left today at Beloit. The current roster bears little resemblance to the first-half powerhouse. Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin were traded to Arizona. Garrett Richards and Orangel Arenas were promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. Fabio Martinez Mesa has been on the disabled list since August 1 with right shoulder tendonitis and won’t be available for the playoffs. League MVP Mike Trout was also promoted to Rancho along with third baseman Luis Jimenez. Randal Grichuk has returned from the disabled list, which will help, and Carlos Ramirez has hit much better in the second half.

OREM — The short-season Pioneer League plays a 76-game schedule divided into two halves of 38 games each. The Owlz finished 19-19 in the first half, four games behind Ogden (23-15). Two weeks ago, Orem appeared poised to go off on another one of those famous Tom Kotchman runs as they won eight of ten between August 13 and 22 to move into first place for the second-half title, but since then have gone 2-10. The Owlz lost last night 10-9 in 10 innings at Idaho Falls. The Ghosts also lost, 11-7 at Ogden, so they remain in second place at 17-17 while the Owlz are in third at 16-17. Ogden at 21-12 is 4½ games ahead of Casper and five ahead of Orem. (The half-game difference comes from an Owlz’ rainout August 30 at Billings that won’t be made up, and an Ogden rainout at Great Falls the same day.)

Ogden has clinched both halves, so they’ll face the team with the second-best overall record. Right now, that would be the Owlz at 35-36, 1½ games ahead of Casper (34-38). Orem has four games left, all against the Raptors, two at home and then two at Ogden. Casper has left four games at home against Idaho Falls (26-46). The Owlz are still in control of their destiny; they need to win three of four against Ogden to clinch the wild card, otherwise they must rely on Casper to lose to Idaho Falls, which just swept the Owlz in a three-game series. Two Orem wins and one Casper loss in the next four days are all the Owlz need.

TEMPE — The Arizona League plays a 56-game schedule which ended Sunday August 29. The Angels finished 24-31, last in the AZL East, so no playoff this year for the rookie league team.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 5)

Statistics are as of the morning of September 5.

Here’s an update on the playoff status for each of the Angels affiliates.

SALT LAKE — The Pacific Coast League plays a 144-game schedule. Unlike lower levels, it’s all one season, not divided into two halves. The Bees are 72-70, 1½ games behind Tacoma (73-68) in the Pacific North division with two games to play. The Rainiers have one fewer game to play as their May 26 game against Oklahoma City was cancelled due to rain and won’t be made up. The Bees lost last night 6-5 to Reno while the Rainiers won 3-1 at Fresno. The Bees must win both remaining games at home against Reno (68-73) while Tacoma must lose both remaining games at Fresno (74-68) for Salt Lake to go to the post-season.

ARKANSAS — The Texas League plays a 140-game schedule divided into two 70-game halves. The Travelers finished 26-44 in the first half, 16 games behind Northwest Arkansas in the North division. They’ve clinched last place with a current second-half record of 27-41, and have lost ten in row. They have two games left to play at home against Springfield, and then Travs fans can look forward to receiving next year many of the players on Rancho Cucamonga’s title-contending team. Speaking of which …

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The California League also plays a 140-game schedule divided into two 70-game halves. The Quakes finished 39-31 in the first half, good but not good enough to win the Cal League South, falling seven games behind Lake Elsinore (46-24). The Storm have been more like a squall in the second half, currently at 35-33, two games behind the first-place Quakes (37-31). High Desert (36-32) is in second place, one game behind Rancho, and one game ahead of Lake Elsinore. The Quakes have two games left at Lancaster, while the Mavericks have two games left at Lake Elsinore.

The Cal League has a rather convoluted playoff procedure, in part because they add an extra tier of playoffs. Click here to read the playoff procedures. Basically, the first-half team (Lake Elsinore) gets a bye while the second-half winner plays the team with the next best overall record in a best-of-three playoff. Should the Storm win the second half too, then the teams with the second-best and third-best records would play. If you look at the overall records, Lake Elsinore is in first at 81-57, five games ahead of Rancho Cucamonga at 76-62 and eight ahead of High Desert at 732-65. With two games games left to play, the Mavericks can’t catch the Quakes for the second-best record. All that appears to be at stake right now is home field advantage for the first-round mini-series; the team with the better finish is the home team for Games #2 and #3.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Midwest League also plays a 140-game schedule split into two halves. The Kernels won the Western Division first half with a 43-25 record, so they’re automatically seeded into the post-season. They’re currently 37-31 with two games to go. The current roster bears little resemblance to the first-half powerhouse. Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin were traded to Arizona. Garrett Richards and Orangel Arenas were promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. Fabio Martinez Mesa has been on the disabled list since August 1 with right shoulder tendonitis and won’t be available for the playoffs. League MVP Mike Trout was also promoted to Rancho along with third baseman Luis Jimenez. Randal Grichuk has returned from the disabled list, which will help, and Carlos Ramirez has hit much better in the second half.

OREM — The short-season Pioneer League plays a 76-game schedule divided into two halves of 38 games each. The Owlz finished 19-19 in the first half, four games behind Ogden (23-15). Ten days ago, Orem appeared poised to go off on another one of those famous Tom Kotchman runs as they won eight of ten between August 13 and 22 to move into first place for the second-half title, but since then have gone 2-9. The Owlz lost last night 11-10 at Idaho Falls. The Ghosts also lost, 15-4 at Ogden, so they remain in second place at 17-16 while the Owlz are in third at 16-16. Ogden at 20-12 is 3½ games ahead of Casper and four ahead of Orem. (The half-game difference comes from an Owlz’ rainout August 30 at Billings that won’t be made up, and an Ogden rainout at Great Falls the same day.)

Should Ogden win both halves, they’ll face the team with the second-best overall record. Right now, that would be the Owlz at 35-35, 1½ games ahead of Casper (34-37). Orem has five games left, starting with today on the road at Idaho Falls (25-46 overall). They finish with four games against the Raptors, two at home and then two at Ogden. Casper is at Ogden today, then at home against Idaho Falls for four. The Owlz are fairly well-positioned to qualify for the playoffs, but they’ll have to play better during their remaining five games to outrun Casper.

TEMPE — The Arizona League plays a 56-game schedule which ended Sunday August 29. The Angels finished 24-31, last in the AZL East, so no playoff this year for the rookie league team.

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