Results tagged ‘ Tempe Angels ’

Minor League Camp Update (Courtesy of Baseball America)

Kary Booher of Baseball America has an excellent summary of events at the Angels’ minor league spring training camp. Among the notes of interest:

• Third baseman Luis Jimenez suffered a torn labrum and is out for the year. Jimenez was one of the big bats for Orem in 2008; he was ranked #10 on the 2008 Top 10 Prospects list.

• The last report on Hank Conger was that he’d start 2009 at Rancho Cucamonga, but now farm director Abe Flores says that Conger will go to Arkansas if he’s healthy.

• Mason Tobin has been converted to the bullpen and will open 2009 as the Quakes’ closer.

• 3B Matt Sweeney, who missed all of 2008 with an ankle injury, should start 2009 with Rancho Cucamonga.

• Jon Bachanov, the Angels’ 2007 1st round pick who underwent Tommy John surgery, should start pitching next month in extended spring training.

• Young-Il Jung, the other Tommy John patient, is a bit further out, projected to pitch in June.

5 for 6 Ain’t Bad

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.

Tempe Angels Championship Game 8/31

The Tempe Angels won the Arizona League’s first-half title, which clinched a spot in the league’s championship game, which is Sunday August 31.

Tempe has now clinched the league’s overall best record, which means they will host the title game against the team with the best second-half record. That will be either the Scottsdale Giants or the Peoria Padres.

Game time on Sunday August 31 is 7:00 PM Arizona time in Tempe Diablo Stadium, the parent club’s spring training park. The game is free, but no concession stands are open so bring your own food and drinks.

As with all Arizona League games, there’s no webcast, but will post play-by-play every half-inning. (The official scorer calls it in to MLB Advanced Media.)

Right now, all Angels affiliates are in the post-season except for Rancho Cucamonga. The Quakes are working on it.

Two Draft Picks Unlikely to Sign

Orange County Register beat writer Bill Plunkett reports the Angels met the asking price of two top draft picks, yet they’re unlikely to sign.

As the midnight deadline for teams to sign their 2008 draft picks approached Friday, Angels director of scouting Eddie Bane was prepared to lose two of the team’s top five selections without compensation.

The Angels have been unable to reach contract agreements with third-round sandwich pick Zach Cone (an outfielder from Stone Mountain, Ga.) and fifth-round pick Khiry Cooper (an outfielder from Bossier City, La.) despite having “met their price,” Bane said.

“We have offers on the table to both but don’t expect to get it done,” Bane said. “I could sugarcoat it but they both agreed in principle to terms and then changed their minds.

“I don’t understand it. But I know it happens.”

Before he was drafted, Cooper had signed a letter of intent to attend Nebraska and play baseball and football. Cone appears headed to Georgia to play baseball.

“We met his asking price twice,” Bane said of Cone. “We increased our original offer substantially to what he was asking. Both parents said, ‘OK, that’s enough’ and encouraged him to sign. The young man still said no.”

Top pick Tyler Chatwood, selected in the 2nd round, has allowed no runs in his last two starts for the Tempe Angels, but his SO:BB ratio is still horrific — 24:26 in 25.2 IP.

Third round pick Ryan Chaffee is still disabled by the broken foot suffered before the draft. No ETA.

The aforementioned Zach Cone, a supplemental third-round pick, seems unlikely to sign.

Fourth round pick Buddy Boshers has a 3.03 ERA in 29.2 IP for the Orem Owlz with a 27:13 SO:BB ratio and .207 AVG against.

Fifth round pick Khiry Cooper remains unsigned. Baseball America reported before the draft: “Cooper is best known for his football exploits, and he has signed a scholarship to play wide receiver at Nebraska. He also scored in double digits for Calvary’s basketball team. On the diamond, he’s a 6-foot-2, 180-pound athlete who’s going to need plenty of time to develop. He has plus speed and power potential, but he also has a long swing and is extremely raw.”

Sixth round pick Josh Blanco has a 3.52 ERA in 38.1 IP for Tempe with a 41:17 SO:BB ratio. He’s worked mostly out of the bullpen.

Seventh round pick Will Smith is 6-2 with a 3.17 ERA in 54.0 IP for Orem. He has a 54:5 SO:BB ratio and a .258 AVG against. The 6’5″ 19-year old lefty might be a sleeper for this November’s Top 10 Prospects Report, but I want to see him pitch myself first. If not during Orem’s post-season, perhaps in fall ball.

Eighth round pick Christian Scholl has a 2.08 ERA in 17 relief appearances (34.2 IP) for the Owlz. He has a 34:13 SO:BB ratio and .190 AVG against.

Ninth round pick Nick Farnsworth has an AVG/OBP/SLG of .291/.358/.500 playing first base for Tempe. He’s tied for second in the Arizona League for doubles with 12 and his third in RBI at 35. His .500 SLG ranks 11th.

Tenth round pick Gabe Jacobo hits .327/.372/.600 in 150 AB for Orem before a promotion to Low-A Cedar rapids. After 67 AB in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League, his line is .299/.333/.463. At age 21, the Midwest League is a more appropriate test for him.

I’m backed up a good six months on photos. My other project is dormant for a little while, so I’ll try to do some catching up in the next week. I’m working on Orem photos now, and will start on Tempe thereafter.

Tempe Angels Clinch First-Half Title

The Tempe Angels have clinched the Arizona League’s first-half title, which means they’ll play in the title game August 31. Tempe is currently 20-7 (.741) with a three-game lead over the Mesa Cubs and Surprise (a town, not an exclamation) Rangers. The Angels knocked off the Rangers yesterday 11-5, clinching the first half.

Tempe isn’t a team loaded with “name” top prospects. Their best hitter is first baseman Chris Garcia, who’s repeating the league after splitting 2007 between Tempe and Orem. Garcia was selected in the 15th round of the June 2007 draft out of St. Petersburg College — which means he was yet another Tom Kotchman signing.

Garcia’s current AVG/OBP/SLG are .418/.519/.537. Out of 28 hits, five are doubles and one is a homer. Yet he walks more than he strikes out — a SO:BB ratio of 12:13 in 67 AB — which fits in nicely with the Angels’ “Contactball” style of play.

Third baseman-center fielder Terrell Alliman is a Canadian selected in the 43rd round of the June 2007 draft. Milwaukee drafted him in 2006 out of high school, but he went on to community college. Alliman’s numbers are .368/.419/.487, but again there’s not much power so far. Alliman has five doubles and two triples in 76 AB but no homers.

Infielder Kevin Ramos is 10th in the AZL in slugging percentage at .542, the only Tempe Angel in the league’s Top 10. Ramos, a Panamanian, turned 22 on June 6 which is pretty old for this league; he’s 15 months younger than Brandon Wood, to give you a contrast. But Ramos also plays Contactball — in 72 AB, he has a 6:4 SO:BB ratio. He also seemed a pretty savvy ballplayer to me. When I was in Tempe, he was standing on second when the Peoria Padres pitcher went into a stretch. The pitcher was ignoring him, so Ramos just took off for third and made it standing up. You can see Kevin steal third in the July 22 Game #1 video link.

The Mesa Cubs lead the AZL in homers with 30. The Angels have 7. Yet the Angels are second in runs scored, 186 to the Cubs’ 212. Tempe generated runs by doing what we always do — play Contactball. The Angels have the fewest strikeouts in the league, tied with the Cubs. The Angels’ SO:BB ratio is 182:125, the Cubs’ is 182:115. But as you might suspect, the Angels are far more aggressive on the basepaths. The Angels’ SB:CS ratio is 50:14, while the Cubs’ is 28:15.

The Angels’ pitching staff is one of the best in the league. The team ERA is 3.64, second only to the Rangers at 3.37. We lead the league in strikeouts at 234 and our 1.29 WHIP — (Walks + Hits) / (Innings Pitched) — is the league’s best.

19-year old right-handed starter Manaurys Correa leads the AZL with a 1.59 ERA, in strikeouts with 50, and in innings pitched at 39 2/3. He’s walked only six.

Before he was sent to Rancho, 20-year old Alexander Torres had a 1.54 ERA in four starts and a 24:10 SO:BB ratio in 23.1 IP.

Tyler Chatwood, the Angels’ first 2008 pick in the 2nd round of the June draft, is still rounding into pitching shape but should be dominant as the second half comes to a close.

When I was with the team earlier in the week, it was so exciting to see them buy into Contactball at such an early stage in their careers.

Upstream, the Orem Owlz (23-13) finish their first half today with a 1/2 game lead over Casper. Orem’s game last night was suspended due to rain, and will be completed before today’s regularly scheduled game. If Orem wins both games today against Idaho Falls, they clinch the division. The Owlz were trailing 4-3 last night after four innings when the game was suspended. If the Owlz lose one of the games, it gets murkier unless Casper loses to Ogden. Should the Owlz and Ghosts finish tied, Casper gets the post-season nod because of their superior record head-to-head.

The Salt Lake Bees remain comfortably in first place in the PCL’s Pacific North with a 63-44 record and a seven-game lead over Portland. Down in the Cal League, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes seem to be finally kicking into gear, with a 20-15 record and a one-game lead over Lancaster in the South Division.

And the parent club has the best record in baseball at 64-39. Their .621 pace projects to 100 wins, one better than the 2002 championship year.

For all the crap he took from fickle fans, press pundits and the statheads who blindly believed in Billy Beane, recently retired Angels GM Bill Stoneman deserves a lot more recognition and gratitude than he’s received. The Angels should be the early favorite for the Organization of the Year award. While other teams are out flushing prospects for a quick-fix, the Angels just sail along in first place, protecting their prospects for the future. They’re able to do that because Bill Stoneman was smart and patient, while his critics were neither.  Beane, meanwhile, is dismantling his roster to replenish a farm system depleted by his failed Moneyball theories. The A’s should sink below the .500 mark any day now.

From top to bottom, the Angels are a finely-tuned organization, a business model left behind by Stoneman.

Tempe Angels Videos Now On-Line

Video highlights from the Tempe Angels games I worked earlier this week are now on-line. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch.

July 21 vs. Phoenix A’s
July 22 vs. Peoria Padres Game #1
July 22 vs. Peoria Padres Game #2

Tyler Chatwood, the Angels’ top 2008 draft pick, is the starting pitcher in Game #2 of the July 22 doubleheader. His “plus” curve is on display in the video.

I also shot some video clips around the backstop so you can see what goes on during a game. Pitchers from both sides usually sit on the aluminum bleachers, charting or working radar or just hanging out. So this will give you an idea of the informal environment with camp teams.

All three clips have video of post-game celebrations on the field.

More Photos from Tempe

Back from Tempe, and I’m quite well toasted, thank you for asking.

I’ll work on videos today. Meanwhile, enjoy some photos from yesterday’s twinbill.

If you don’t see a loved one — or if you’re a player, photos of yourself — please be patient. I have a lot more than what you see here. They’ll be on eventually in the Digital Photo Gallery.


Alexi Amarista is listed at 5’6″ 150 lbs. on the roster. He played right field in the first game and second base in the second game.



Nick Farnsworth was the Angels’ 9th round draft pick in June.



Manuel Flores started Game #1 and struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings.



Josh Davies began his career as an Angel, signed out of Australia as an infielder. After he was released, the Padres signed him and converted him into a pitcher. Click Here to watch video I filmed in August 2004 of his first pro homer.



Outfielder Chris Fox might have the nickname “Pigpen” after this game. He ended the day with a .326 batting average.



Tyler Chatwood started Game #2. He was the Angels’ top draft pick in June; his “plus” curve was as advertised. (Video to follow.)



Lefty Kevin Ferguson relieved in the 6th inning of Game #2. This is one of my favorite “trick” shots, through the chain-link backstop. The 400mm lens pretty much washes out the chain link, and in glare like the batter’s helmet it will create a diamond effect. The trick is to get just the right angle to capture pitcher, batter, ball and umpire.



Catcher David Golliner is about to throw the ball after the umpire called a third strike.



Nolan Brannon is listed on the roster as a catcher, but he played third base in Game #2. He’s taking an aggressive lead off second base in this photo.


First Photos from Tempe

I don’t care if it’s a dry heat or not, it was damn hot today and scheduled to be hotter.

In the end, it was too hot for the Phoenix A’s, who lost 5-4 to the Tempe Angels in 11 innings.

I always enjoy watching A’s – Angels matchups in the summer league, because this is where the youngsters start to learn their organizations’ styles of play. The A’s batters almost always take the first pitch, while Angels players are always aggressive on the basepaths.

The A’s Moneyball style seems to be going the way of the dodo, though, because I actually saw A’s batters swing at first pitches today. Normally they never swing at a first pitch, so we might as well throw it down the middle for a strike and put the batter behind in the count. The A’s also stole five bases; leadoff hitter Jose Crisotomo swiped two bags and repeatedly drew pickoff attempts to keep him close. In 14 games, Cristotomo has 7 SB in eight attempts.

We played our style of play, running the bases aggressively to force the defense to make perfect plays. We’re certainly in their heads, if today’s A’s managerial strategy is any indication. In the bottom of the 9th, we had the winning run on 3rd with two outs; A’s manager Ruben Escalera actually pitched out, thinking Kevin Ramos might try to steal home.

In the bottom of the 11th, leadoff batter Aaron Peel’s speed caused A’s shortstop Wilfredo Pena to commit a throwing error. Chris Garcia’s single sent Peel to third. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Escalera intentionally walked Raddy Sierra to load the bases. Sure, Garcia’s run is as meaningless at second as it is at first, except now Escalera has put reliever Juston Street in the position of having to throw strikes with no margin for error. Ramos hit a sacrifice fly to score Peel, and the Angels won.

I shot plenty of video, but won’t have the time to post it for a couple days. Tomorrow we have a makeup doubleheader against the Peoria Padres starting at 9 AM. Each game is seven innings, as are all minor league twinbills. Gametime temperature is predicted to be 89 degrees but the humidity will make it feel like 94. By the time we’re done somewhere around 2 PM, it’ll be 101 but feel like 104. 2008 top draft pick Tyler Chatwood is scheduled to start Game #2.

My wife and I hit the road at 2 PM to drive home to California, so expect video to start showing up on sometime on Wednesday.

Tempe Angels manager Ty Boykin.


Today’s starting pitcher Manaurys Correa.


Pitching coach Trevor Wilson consults with pitcher Manaurys Correa. John Rickard is the catcher.


Center fielder Matt Crawford chases down a fly ball to end the first inning.


Third baseman Ludwig Glaser is from Germany. He tripled and singled in the game.


Reliever Abe Gonzalez struck out two in his one inning of work.


Sidearmer Nick Pugliese’s scoreless inning lowered his ERA to 1.32.


Adam Younger replaced the injured Alexi Amarista in the lineup and had two singles in three at-bats.


Catcher Ikko Sumi is from Yokohama, Japan.

They Don’t Play in Peoria

I showed up at the Peoria Sports Complex this morning to cover today’s Tempe Angels game against the Peoria Mariners, only to find the game was called due to wet grounds.  I heard thunder in the middle of the night but wasn’t aware it had rained enough to bang the game.  These fields don’t have tarps, so any significant rainfall means a game will be cancelled.

I was once again reminded that the Mariners’ complex is adjacent to a local tributary called Skunk Creek.  Fill in your own punch line.

On Deck for Tempe

With six hours to go until I find out how much gas costs in the middle of the desert …

Kernels beat writer Jeff Johnson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette notes in his blog that the Angels have still taken no action to help the flood victims in Cedar Rapids:

Still waiting for the Los Angeles Angels to even acknowledge there has been a flood in Cedar Rapids. The word is the Angels are waiting for the Cedar Rapids Kernels to tell them where it’s best to donate some money. Why are you waiting, Angels? It’s not hard to figure out: try the Red Cross, try the Kernels Foundation, try something! Despite what certain members of the Kernels front office and board of directors believe, there is absolutely NO loyalty in professional sports. The quicker you learn that, the better off you’ll be. You are running a business, and it’s very apparent you are not giving your business its best chance of success by continuing to partner with a Major League organization that NO ONE around here cares about. Or apparently doesn’t care much about you.

Since some fan sites tend to see one line on a Transactions page and misinterpret it because they lack context, this appears in today’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:

The Quakes made three moves after Thursday’s game.

Catcher Alberto Rosario (.202) was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake City to fill in for Tim Duff, whose wife just gave birth.

Right-handed pitcher Marco Albano (2-3, 7.11) went to Double-A Arkansas and catcher Ikko Sumi came from rookie ball to fill in for Rosario.

Is it too early to talk about magic numbers?

Yes, if you’re talking about the American League, although the Oakland A’s seem to have run up the white flag by trading away Rich Harden and Joe Blanton, the latest victims of Billy Beane’s mad scientist experiment. If he’d run scouting and player development properly instead of implementing the failed “Moneyball” mumbo-jumbo spawned from sabermetrics, his farm system wouldn’t have been so barren that he had to hock his veteran players to replenish it.

But it’s not too early if you’re talking the Orem Owlz and Tempe Angels.

The Pioneer League has a 76-game schedule divided into two 38-game halves. Owlz manager Tom Kotchman is a master at manipulating these split-season sprints to get his teams into the playoffs. The Owlz are currently 21-9 — best record in the league — with eight games to go and a 1 1/2 game lead over Casper. Orem’s magic number is eight. I don’t know what the league rule is should they tie; head-to-head, Casper leads 4-2, so Orem should plan on taking the division outright. They can put it way by winning two home games hosting Casper on Thursday and Friday.

The Arizona League has a 56-game schedule split up into two 28-game halves. No divisions, all nine teams are together. (When the Dodgers arrive next year, they’ll have ten and the schedule will change.) Tempe is 15-6, three games ahead of the Mesa Cubs and Surprise Rangers. (Surprise is a town, not an exclamation.) So the Angels’ magic number is five to win the first half. The first half winner plays the second half winner in a one-game championship.

A shout out to Owlz pitch Will Smith, who totally dominated Great Falls last night in the Owlz’ 10-0 romp over the Voyagers. Smith pitched six shutout innings, struck out nine, walked none, and gave up only two hits. For the season, in 29.1 IP he has a 34:3 SO:BB ratio and a 2.15 ERA. It should come as no surprise that he was a Tom Kotchman find in the 7th round, a 19-year old 6’6″ left-hander who might start drawing comparisons to Randy Johnson in a few years if his velocity develops.

Kotch could add another signing of his, 3rd rounder Ryan Chaffee, when he’s healthy. Chaffee was supposed to be ready about now, recovering in Tempe from a broken foot, but I haven’t seen his name in any Tempe box scores yet. I’ll determine his status in the next couple days.