Results tagged ‘ Orem Owlz ’
The New Haven Advocate has posted a review of Odd Man Out. Click Here to read the review.
New Haven is where McCarthy’s college baseball career played out at Yale.
Reviewer Craig Fehrman makes this interesting observation:
(“I lied” seems to be the most common phrase in Odd Man Out as McCarthy feigns everything from bad report cards to a love of Chris Rock.)
Given the mounting allegations that parts of the book are untrue, that observation should be given some weight.
USA Today has an interview with Matt McCarthy, author of Odd Man Out, the controversial book about the 2002 Provo Angels. Click Here to read the article.
Two Q&A’s from the article:
Are you anticipating getting a phone call from any of these guys who you call out in the book — from Tom Kotchman to Erick Aybar?
I don’t know how they’re going to respond to the book. I just don’t know. I look forward to seeing how they’re going to respond. But I haven’t heard anything.
Are you anxious about how some of the incidents you recount are going to be received? From the lurid incident with Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo with the hot dogs or Tom Kotchman’s replacement of the rally monkey with something a little more X-rated?
You know, I just wanted to provide an unvarnished account of what it was really like. This was going on. I don’t have an axe to grind. I loved my time playing with the Provo Angels and the Angels organization. I thought it was an interesting time in baseball where you had this infusion of talent from Latin America and these guys were struggling with their new lot in life, just as I was.
UPDATE February 13, 2009 — Sports Illustrated has posted their excerpt online. Click Here to read the article. The links below show the article as printed in SI.
Click Here to read my review of the book, which was posted on January 30.
Odd Man Out, the book by 2002 Provo Angels pitcher Matt McCarthy, is excerpted in the current issue of Sports Illustrated. It’s the one with Alex Rodriguez on the cover (I suspect you know why).
You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the pages. Click Here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader if you don’t have it on your computer.
“What you say here, what you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here when you leave here.”
– Vince Lombardi
The third rail of professional baseball is what happens within the sanctity of the clubhouse. Talking about the private affairs of your teammates off the field is like talking about what happens in the bedroom with your partner. You just don’t do it.
Jim Bouton famously broke that rule in 1970 with Ball Four, the first of many “tell-all” books in the baseball world. The book documented his early career with the New York Yankees, but was largely about his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots. It’s noteworthy for having exposed what truly happens within the clubhouse.
For his efforts, Bouton became a baseball pariah, shunned by many of his former teammates. He was banned from the Yankees’ Old Timer’s Day until 1998.
Bouton made a nice life for himself with the book, providing a steady income, an occasional pundit appearance, and lasting notoreity in the history of a game that otherwise would have forgotten him once he retired.
A nice living won’t be an issue for Matt McCarthy, who is currently an intern at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. A Yale graduate, it’s clear his future is secure without having to worry about whether his former baseball friends will shun him.
So the question is, why did McCarthy feel motivated to write a “tell-all” book about his one season with the 2002 Provo Angels?
Matt’s book, Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, will be published by Viking (Penguin Group) on February 19. The book has already been reviewed by the Orange County Register, and will be featured in the February 23rd Sports Illustrated issue.
McCarthy doesn’t answer the motivation question in the book, nor does he conclude by explaining why he thinks his career flamed out after one season. Was it injury? An absence of talent? A failure to train him properly?
The book, apparently, is a fleshing out of a personal journal he kept while employed by the Angels. According to the promotional material:
“Odd Man Out” is a gripping tale of Matt McCarthy’s thrilling ride, from playing in college with an abysmal Yale baseball team, to getting the unlikely call that he had been drafted to play professionally. Through the course of one year in the minor leagues, Matt saw it all, from rampant use of steroids to bigotry in the locker room (white players and Latino players wouldn’t even attempt to speak to each other). Most baseball stories involve a highly sought after phenom who gets paid a record-breaking sum at the age of 18 to be a starter for a major league team. Matt’s story goes to the heart of the game, and shows that most of the players who get drafted struggle to make it through the minor leagues for the shot at making “The Big Show.” Matt never got that shot, but many of his teammates have gone on to make a major impact in the sport.
The steroids and bigotry claims turned out to be more hype than reality, which is what I suspected.
McCarthy recounts a story told him by catcher Alex Dvorsky. Alex was 23 at the time, which is really old for the Rookie-A Pioneer League. He was one of the team’s top hitters, finishing the year with a .321 average, a .453 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. According to Matt, Dvorsky quoted manager Tom Kotchman as telling him, “You’re doin’ a good job and all, but we don’t need a catcher who hits singles. We need a catcher who drives in runs and hits the ball out of the park.”
Matt claims that teammate Heath Luther, a pitcher, told them this meant Dvorsky needed to use steroids. That’s quite a leap to “rampant” steroid use.
McCarthy was friends with Brian Barnett, the team’s third-string catcher. Matt never gives Barnett’s last name, just referring to him as “Brian” or by his nickname “Sunshine.” He writes that “Sunshine” told him, “I know of five white guys and one Dominican” on the team who are using steroids. Yet he also writes throughout the book that Barnett often exaggerates, so it’s hard to believe anything he says.
Again, hardly “rampant.”
As for the bigotry charge, it seems that a couple teammates from the Deep South had some predictably prejudicial attitudes towards the Latin players. And naturally, when there’s a language barrier in the clubhouse, the people who speak the same language tend to talk to each other, simply because it’s easier. But that’s not bigotry, which is defined by Dictionary.com as “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.” I really didn’t see much of that in the book, more like two radically different cultures clashing in the claustrophobic environment of the clubhouse. Other than one clubhouse fight between a white player and a Latin player, both sides pretty much seemed to tolerate each other’s presence.
The book will be controversial not because of the hype, but because it exposes the dismal and sometimes crude life style of a minor league ballplayer. In particular, it alleges embarrassing antics by future major leaguers, including Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Bootcheck, and Bobby Jenks. I wouldn’t want to be Aybar when he takes the field in Anaheim this April.
As with Ball Four, the clubhouse humor is not what anyone who was there would want published for the world to read. I suspect Kotchman, who still manages the franchise (renamed the Orem Owlz), will feel betrayed by what’s in the book. How Kotch runs his operation is no secret to those hundreds of ballplayers who’ve come through Happy Valley since 2001, and to those of us trusted to get a glimpse of it now and then. But the public who see Kotch and the players only on the field may be quite offended by some of the passages.
Professional baseball is really all about entertainment. Customers pay to watch a live performance. Only it’s not theatre, it’s not a play, it’s a sport.
How much is the public entitled to know beyond what’s on the field? It’s the same question as how much is the public entitled to know about movie stars, politicians, and other public figures and celebrities. My personal opinion is that they’re not entitled to anything beyond the entertainment they paid to see, but as we all know there’s a huge industry out there that profits from exposés and gossip.
Does the public have any more right to know what Tom Kotchman does in the clubhouse to motivate his players than they do to know what Steven Spielberg might do to motivate his performers? How much do we have a right to know?
The book is as much about Kotchman as it is about McCarthy. I’ve written a lot over the years about Kotch’s success with developing young players. It’s no secret I admire the man for his success, but also his dedication to his family.
That said, since I don’t believe the public has a right to what goes on in private, I won’t comment on the accuracy of what’s in the book about Kotchman. That’s up to Kotch, if and when he chooses to address the book’s contents. I suspect that time will come when he reports to Orem in mid-June, although once the February 23 SI issue hits the stands, he’s likely to be approached by plenty of media types for comment.
How will Angels management react?
I doubt anyone will get fired or punished. But I suspect an organization that already tightly guards the sanctity of its clubhouse will restrict access even more.
McCarthy’s book isn’t the only tell-all about to hit the shelves. Joe Torre has a book about his years with the New York Yankees. According to MLB.com, the Yankees may include a “disparagement clause” in future player and manager contracts to prevent similar leaks in the future.
It’s questionable whether the Yankees could impose a contract clause on their players without the approval of the players’ union, but they could certainly impose it on their manager, coaches, clubhouse attendants, and front office staff.
And they could probably do it to their minor league players, who don’t belong to the union and play for every little.
That’s where I expect this to go. The Angels, and other organizations, will develop legal documents which they will require their minor leaguers to sign that are similar to a non-disclosure agreement.
There’s a certain irony to a player publishing this tell-all book. A couple years ago I had a conversation with a certain Angels staffer about his concern that the players and coaches trusted me too much, that I might see or hear something I shouldn’t. After pointing out that I’ve never violated that trust, I noted that technology is evolving to where we really never have privacy any more. We now have cell phones with built-in still cameras and camcorders. What’s to keep a fan from leaning over a rail, snapping an embarrassing photo of a player in the runway, and then posting it all over the Internet? In fact, there’s a photo making the rounds right now on fan sites of a certain Angels prospect with a hookah pipe in his mouth, apparently at a party. And several players have started their own blogs.
On page 201 of Odd Man Out, McCarthy writes that pitcher Jaime Steward wrote a complaint diatribe on FutureAngels.com. Someone printed it out and taped it to each locker in the clubhouse. Personally, I have no recollection of the episode, but then I’m middle-aged and increasingly forgetful. I can’t find it in my archives.
In any case, the running theme here isn’t who’s trusted with access, it’s the failure of the player to properly conduct himself. That’s where the blame lies.
And that’s really the soul of this book.
McCarthy spends much of his time in the company of teammates who would never amount to anything. They spend their free time drinking heavily, chasing girls, or drinking heavily while chasing girls.
Is it any wonder why they had no career?
Sure, talent has a lot to do with it. Bobby Jenks managed to survive his demons and find a big-league career as a closer with the White Sox.
When you don’t have talent, then you have to work hard if you really want that big-league career.
And as smart as McCarthy is, apparently he never figured that out.
He hangs out with the peripheral players, lets himself be talked into binge drinking, tries chewing tobacco after giving into peer pressure, and seems to do everything except take his career seriously.
Yet he and his buddies wonder why it is they don’t play regularly. They grouse that they’re not given their shot. It couldn’t possibly be their fault, could it?
As a general rule, if a player gets drafted (or signed as an undrafted free agent), he usually has at least one projectable tool. For McCarthy, he was a left-hander who managed to throw a 90 MPH fastball during a tryout. He also had a slider and changeup.
When he pitched, his mechanics were terribly inconsistent. He writes that he was so nervous on game day, he frequently had to sit on the toilet.
Legendary pitching coach Howie Gershberg, who at the time was suffering from the cancer that would take his life the next year, has a cameo in the book. He visits Provo and takes McCarthy to the bullpen. Howie quickly spots flaws in Matt’s mechanics, and tells him what to do to correct them. Yet apparently Matt never does.
The next spring, Casey Kotchman and Howie Kendrick quickly spot flaws in McCarthy’s pickoff moves. Matt tips when he’s going to home, or when he’s going to first. Again, no indication he ever fixed the flaws.
The bottom line is that McCarthy was his own worst enemy, and the same goes for his buddies.
Were the Angels complicit in their failure?
Yes and no. It could be argued that coaches might have failed to detect a flaw in time, or might have suggested a change in mechanics that injured a player.
For the most part, though, my personal observation is that they get it right. Tom Kotchman’s track record speaks for itself. Over two decades, he’s taken teams to the post-season almost every year, some with a lot of talent, some with very little.
McCarthy wrote that none of the players in the clubhouse cared about winning. He claimed they only cared about themselves, and secretly rooted for each other to fail, viewing their teammates as rivals for the next rung on the promotional ladder.
This is one of the problems I have with the book. McCarthy frequently makes gross generalizations that he couldn’t possibly prove. Did he survey each and every teammate? Or was that his opinion? Frankly, I think it was the attitude of the people he hung out with.
Sure, there may be individual instances of players who root against teammates, but my personal observation over eleven years of covering Angels minor league baseball is that it’s the exception, not the rule.
Matt’s perspective may also have suffered from the fact that he never played in the upper minors. That kind of attitude isn’t tolerated in Triple-A, one step away from the majors. The lower minors serve as a weeding-out process. If you have a lot of talent, the Angels will probably be more patient, but if you’re not a Bobby Jenks or Jose Arredondo you’re on very thin ice. Nobody owes you a career, and if you can’t prove you deserve one, odds are you’ll be out of the game pretty quick.
Had Matt concluded with a warning to future minor leaguers not to screw up like he did, the book would have concluded with a clearer focus. Instead, we’re left to conclude that six years later he’s moved on to his medical career and now wants to tell the world about what happens behind closed doors.
Register sportswriter Sam Miller interviewed McCarthy for his article. He quotes Matt as saying:
“I wanted to write an unvarnished book of what it’s like to go through this really intense experience,” he says. “There are some people who just don’t like being written about, no matter what the subject…. I just tried to write a book for people who wonder.”
Apparently McCarthy didn’t contact any of his former teammates to give them a head’s up about the book. Miller wrote that Heath Luther knew nothing about the accusations until the reporter contacted him. Heath said he’s 30 now, married with two children, his life on an entirely different career path. What happened six years ago has little relevance to who he is now. The same is probably true of Brian Barnett, Alex Dvorsky, Brett Cimorelli and others quoted at length. Their names will be on display for all the world to see in a few weeks, and an upheaval come into their lives due to immature behavior by immature people. They’re no longer immature (hopefully), so why hold them up for public derision not just in a book, but in a national sports publication?
I also worry about what this will do to the Orem Owlz operation. McCarthy quotes his teammates as having a lot of nasty (and, frankly, ignorant) things to say about the local Mormon population. Matt was lucky enough to be taken in by a host family who happened to be Mormon, and he figured out pretty quickly that his preconceptions were groundless. But I can imagine that Orem’s host parent program is going to have a lot of problems this year finding volunteers after the comments in the book circulate through the community.
McCarthy apparently hasn’t kept in contact with any of his teammates, so the pain caused by this book won’t affect him personally — unless someone files a lawsuit, which Luther suggests might happen. But as he embarks on his medical career, I have to wonder if Matt has considered what this book might do to the trust his patients will have in him. Doctor-patient confidentiality is as sacred as the confidentiality of the clubhouse. If McCarthy couldn’t be trusted to keep to himself the X-rated antics of his teammates, how will his patients know he can be trusted with embarrassing information?
Matt was right when he described his book as “unvarnished.” I can’t vouch for specific incidents, because I wasn’t there, but for the most part he’s got the look and feel of what life is like in the lower minors. If that interests you, then read the book. But that could have been accomplished without revealing information that will embarrass people who invested a lot of time in trying to help his career. Maybe that would have made the book a less interesting read. Maybe SI wouldn’t run excerpts. Maybe it wouldn’t sell at all.
Matt McCarthy pitched with the Provo Angels in 2002. His book “Odd Man Out” will be released by Penguin Group on February 19.
Back on January 12 I wrote that former Angels minor leaguer Matt McCarthy has written a book about his 2002 season with the Provo Angels.
Sam Miller of the Orange County Register has written a review of the book. Click Here to read Miller’s review.
I finished the book last night, and will have my own review shortly.
(FutureAngels.com makes a cameo on page 201 …)
According to the promotional material included with the review copy, it says that McCarthy will do a promotional book tour. He’s scheduled to be at the Barnes & Noble in Fullerton on March 4.
UPDATE January 30, 2009— The article is on the front page of the print edition of today’s Register.
Two interviews with top Angels pitching prospects are now online. You need Windows Media Player to listen.
Ryan Chaffee was selected in the third round, but didn’t pitch in 2008 due to a broken foot suffered earler in the year. Angels scout Tom Kotchman describes him as “a combination of John Lackey, El Duque and Mark Fidrych.” Ryan ranked sixth on the 2008 FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects list.
Matt McCarthy pitched with the Provo Angels in 2002. His book “Odd Man Out” will be released by Penguin Group on February 19.
I came across a listing on the Barnes & Noble web site that former Provo Angels pitcher Matt McCarthy has a book coming out on February 19 titled Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit.
According to the summary, the book will reveal “inside-the-locker-room tales of teammates who would go on to stardom, including Bobby Jenks, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana.” It promises to expose “dirty truths of the minors: the Americans and Dominicans don’t speak to each other, the allure of steroids is ever present, and everyone puts his own stats ahead of the team’s success.”
I’ll withhold judgment until I read the book, but the claims that “Americans and Dominicans don’t speak to each other” and “everyone puts his own stats ahead of the team’s success” simply aren’t true, from my eleven years of observation.
In last Tuesday’s blog, before the Pioneer League pennant series began, I warned, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.”
The Pioneer League’s three-game championship format has a knack for creating upsets, and that’s what happened in 2008 as the 52-23 Orem Owlz lost to the 39-37 Great Falls Voyagers, two games to one.
There are many reasons why the Owlz fell, the best-of-three format being one of them.
Here are some other reasons, from my perspective.
- For openers, the Owlz’ offense was largely silent. Orem hit 76 homers during the season (#2 in the league); three of the top five home run hitters in the league wore Owlz jerseys. But they hit only one homer in the playoffs, a solo shot by Beau Brooks in the 7th inning of Game #1 None of the leading home run hitters delivered.
- I saw Games #2 and #3 at Orem, so I can personally comment on those games. Time and again, the Owlz had opportunities to capitalize but failed. They won Game #2 3-2 in 13 innings, but left 16 runners on base and committed four errors. In Game #3, the left on nine runners. They had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the 2nd in Game #3, but the next two batters struck out.
- I won’t name names, but there were some truly boneheaded decisions by certain players. In the aforementioned bases-loaded situation with two outs, the batter on his own squared and tried to bunt, fouling off the pitch. No squeeze was on, so far as I could tell. He just decided to try it on his own. On another play, a Great Falls batter hit a pop fly that could have been easily handled by one infielder, but another infielder called him off — and missed the ball.
- Both sides griped about the umpiring, which isn’t unusual at any level, but the home plate umpire in Game #2 jumped the gun and tossed Luis Jimenez, the league’s home run leader. Jimenez tried to take home on a squeeze play (that really was called), but the bunt was missed and he was easily tagged out. “Lucho” hit the catcher hard, but it was a clean hit. He turned back to the plate and was immediately tossed by the umpire, who apparently thought Lucho was charging the catcher. The Owlz won that game in 13 innings, but it meant running the bullpen instead of saving some guys for Game #3.
- By no means is this intended as a slight against interim manager Brent Del Chiaro, but I think Tom Kotchman’s absence due to his wife’s illness cost the team a certain degree of intensity. Losing Kotch before the playoffs would have been like the U.S. hockey team losing Herb Brooks just before the 1980 Winter Olympics. The team is geared emotionally to respond to Kotchman; you could have resurrected Billy Martin but it wouldn’t have been the same.
I hope that one day the Pioneer League expands the title series to best-of-five. Until then, expect more mediocre teams to fly a pennant flag, diminishing the integrity of their championships.
BeesGal of The Sporkball Journals has her own perspective on the Angels minor league seasons that just ended. Click Here to read her latest blog entry.
Owlz outfielder-first baseman Roberto Lopez had a season for the ages, finishing the 76-game Pioneer League season with an AVG/OBP/SLG of .400/.480/.667 and the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Wednesday night, the Orem Owlz open the best-of-three Pioneer League title series at North Division champion Great Falls. The Owlz were 52-23, the Voyagers were 39-37.
Orem and Great Falls met in the 2007 playoffs. Orem finished 37-39. Great Falls finished 51-24.
The Owlz won two straight to take the pennant.
So a word of caution before you think the title is a sure thing.
Personally, I’ve always hated the league’s best-of-three format. The North and South Division alternate which division gets the home-field advantage in the playoffs. In odd-numbered years, it’s the North Division. In even-numbered years, it’s the South Division.
The road team for Game #1 becomes the home team for Games #2 and #3, which really makes that first game so pivotal.
If you’re the home team for Game #1 and win, then all you have to do is win one of two on the road. If you’re the road team for Game #1 and win, then you just have to win one of two at home to take the title.
So if Orem can knock off Great Falls in Montana, they come home Friday night with a huge advantage. It’s 600 miles from Great Falls to Orem. How’d you like to be the Voyagers on the team bus Thursday knowing you have a 14-hour bus trip ahead of you only to have two must-win games ahead of you before a hostile crowd?
Interestingly, the Owlz have been a better road team than home team in 2008 — 28-9 on the road, 24-14 at home. The Voyagers have been a better home team, 21-17 versus 18-20 on the road. So both teams play to their strengths Wednesday night, and their weaknesses Friday and Saturday.
Short series statistics aside, it’s been a memorable year for a team that seven or eight years from now could be compared to the 1999 Boise Hawks team that was also loaded with future Angels. That Tom Kotchman team (43-33) had future major leaguers Alfredo Amezaga, Tom Gregorio, Gary Johnson, Robb Quinlan, Dusty Bergman, John Lackey and one start by some guy named Francisco Rodriguez. Sure, most of those kids had no more than a token appearance, but considering that on the average only one in ten minor leaguers ever set foot in a big-league dugout, seven players is an impressive achievement.
Kotch’s 2001 Provo Angels (53-23) also had its share of future major leaguers — Nick Gorneault, Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Dallas McPherson, Steve Andrade, Pedro Liriano, Ervin Santana, Steven Shell and Jake Woods.
Outfielder-first baseman Roberto Lopez demolished the league, finishing with an AVG/OBP/SLG of .400/.480/.667. In 67 games, he hit 28 doubles and 14 homers. His 72 RBI were the most for an Angels short-season team since Robb Quinlan had 77 for Boise in 1999. Lopez walked more than he struck out — 23 strikeouts to 34 walks in 270 AB.
Lopez turns 23 on October 1, making him very old for the league. I’ve seen older players do well before in the Pioneer League, only to flame out at higher levels, so it’s a good idea to remain a bit skeptical until Roberto proves himself at Double-A and Triple-A. Nonetheless, his remarkable plate discipline — even for this level — is a good sign. Kotchman told me back in June that he thought Lopez might project as a corner fourth outfielder in the major leagues.
Two other names more easily fall into the prospect category. 20-year old third baseman Luis “Lucho” Jiminez finished with a line of .331/.361/.630; his 15 homers edged Lopez and teammate Angel Castillo who each had 14. But Jimenez committed 13 errors and has been the DH since August 12.
Castillo, 19, had a line of .281/.345/.533 yet whiffed once every 3.2 at-bats. But as Kotch said, the ball makes a different sound when it comes off his bat; if Angel can harness his raw talent, he might be the best prospect of the three.
Lefty starter Jayson Miller was named the pitcher of the year with a 2.33 ERA in 81 IP, but as with Lopez you have to be a bit skeptical due to age. Jayson turns 23 in November; he was selected in the 30th round of the June draft. Looking back at the 2001 Provo Angels, lefty Jason Dennis had a 2.05 ERA in 75 IP and was the left-handed pitcher on the league’s post-season all-star team, but he too was 23 and by 2003 was in independent ball.
19-year old southpaw starter Will Smith might be a more projectable talent. At 6’5″ with a little more room to grow, you have to be reminded of Randy Johnson although he doesn’t quite have the Big Unit’s plus-plus velocity. Nonetheless, you have to be impressed by his numbers — a 3.08 ERA in 73 IP, and an insane 76:6 SO:BB ratio. Let’s also note he was a Tom Kotchman find; Kotch was scouting in north Florida and saw Will pitching for Gulf Coast Community College. The Angels drafted him in the 7th round; Baseball America reports he signed for $150,000, which might be one of the bigger steals in recent years when we look back at the 2008 draft.
Right now, the rotation for the playoff series appears to be Miller in Game #2 and Smith in Game #3. Manuarys Correa, who spent most of the year with Rookie-A Tempe, will have the start in Game #1 at Great Falls. Correa had a 2.65 ERA in 57.2 IP with the Arizona team and a 67:10 SO:BB ratio. The Pioneer League was a different story for the 19-year old, posting a 6.20 ERA in five games (four starts).
Of course, the Owlz will be missing their most valuable asset, Tom Kotchman himself. He remains in Florida tending to his ill wife. Interim manager Brent Del Chiaro and veteran pitching coach Zeke Zimmerman carry on in his place.
I’ll be in Orem for Games #2 and #3, so look for highlight videos — and, hopefully, a championship dogpile.
Owlz outfielder Roberto Lopez has a shot at the Pioneer League triple crown.
The Angels system came within one run of placing all six minor league teams in the post-season.
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes lost a one-game sudden-death playoff Tuesday at Inland Empire, 7-6 in 13 innings. Flip that score and all six teams are playing capture the flag.
Still, five out of six is darn good. And although I don’t count them because they’re an academy operation, the Dominican Summer League Angels finished 47-24 in a virtual tie for first in their division. They won their first best-of-three series 2-0 over the DSL Rangers, but were eliminated in the second round 2-1 by the DSL Nationals.
With players called up from Salt Lake to Anaheim for September, the Angels have moved around some minor league chess pieces to compensate. Catcher Tim Duff and second baseman Adam Morrissey reported to the Bees from Arkansas, and Quakes second baseman Ryan Mount also reported to Salt Lake. None of them are in tonight’s starting lineup at Sacramento.
Arkansas got catcher Hank Conger from the Quakes to complement catcher C.J. Broussard who reported from Rancho Cucamonga a couple days ago. Hank will probably DH most of the time; he hasn’t caught since August 22 as the Angels continue to treat gently his shoulder recovering from a slight labrum tear in spring training.
Cedar Rapids got infielder-outfielder Alexi Amarista from the Tempe Angels. Charitably listed at 5’8″ 150 lbs., for some of we long-timers he evokes memories of popular diminutive infielder Joe Urso, who played for the Lake Elsinore Storm in the mid-1990s. 19-year old Amarista finished with an AVG/OBP/SLG of .332/.416/.431 in the Arizona League.
Orem won both halves of the Pioneer League South Division. They’ll face their I-15 rivals, the Ogden Raptors (Dodgers affiliate), in a best-of-three starting Saturday in Ogden. Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 will be in Orem. The winner of that matchup will face either Billings or Great Falls in the title series.
Should the Owlz get to the championship round, I’ll fly up for Games #2 and #3 at Orem scheduled for September 12 and 13. It looks like manager Tom Kotchman won’t return as he remains in Florida to tend to his ailing wife, so I’m going to videotape as much as I can to send him the highlights.
Owlz outfielder Roberto Lopez has a shot at the Triple Crown. He’s first in average at .402 (Great Falls’ Tyler Kuhn is second at .370), second in homers with 14 (trailing teammate Luis Jimenez and tied with teammate Angel Castillo), and first in RBI with 69 (teammate Jimenez has 63). Regarding the RBI record, Robb Quinlan had 77 RBI with Boise in 1999, which is probably the best short-season record in the Angels system in recent years, although I haven’t researched it. Lopez has three games including tonight to catch Quinlan.
Just in … Cedar Rapids shut out Clinton (Rangers affiliate) 3-0 tonight to take a 1-0 lead in their series. Arkansas’ game against Northwest Arkansas was postponed due to the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. They’ll try again on Thursday.