With the Owlz – Day Three

Angels scout Jeff Scholzen is filling in for Owlz hitting coach Francisco Matos.

On the way to the ballpark, the radio voice announced that Salt Lake City was experiencing "an air quality red alert," and asked the citizenry to “curtail your driving.”

Maybe this was blind panic for Utahns, but to me it looked like a typical Southern California hazy day.

If you’ve been following the news, you know that wildfires are burning in central Utah. The smoke has drifted northward, tainting the air.

Anyway, I got to the ballpark early to record interviews.

The must-listen, of course, is with Owlz manager Tom Kotchman, who also scouts Florida for the Angels and is the father of Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman. Click Here to listen to the Tom Kotchman interview.

I also recorded an interview with Jeff Scholzen, an Angels’ scout best known for Brandon Wood. Click Here to listen to the Jeff Scholzen interview. I’ve known Jeff for a couple years — he asked in 2005 I send him a DVD with all those Brandon Wood homers for Rancho I videotaped that are in the FutureAngels.com Video Gallery — but I’d never known he actually played briefly in the Angels system in the early 1990s when their Midwest League affiliate was in Quad Cities. Jeff is substituting this week for Francisco Matos, who went home to watch his daughter in a softball tournament.

The third interview is with Owlz’ general manager Zachary Fraser. Click Here to listen to the Zachary Fraser interview. I’ve known Zach since he joined the Provo Angels staff years ago. In 2005, when Provo moved to Orem, he was named co-general manager with the now-departed (no, he didn’t die, he just left) Ryan Pace. Zach and Ryan at the time were the youngest GMs in minor league baseball. Zach might still hold that title. I was surprised to hear Zach say that the Angels are often the team on the national baseball telecasts shown in the Salt Lake area. Maybe the local programmers figure that with two Angels affiliates in the market, Salt Lake and Orem, they should show more Angels games.

A surprise face in the ballpark was Salt Lake Bees’ catcher Bobby Wilson, recently promoted from Double-A Arkansas. Bobby played ball in high school with Casey Kotchman at Seminole High School, and was signed by Tom Kotchman. The Bees are off for the Triple-A All-Star break; rather than just “lie around” as Bobby put it, he chose to drive down to Orem to take batting practice. That kind of hard work ethic gets notice, especially in the Angels organization where Mike Scioscia expects much of his catcher prospects.

Esmerlin Jimenez was the starting pitcher Monday night for Orem.

Anyway, on to the game …

It was another romp, 13-2 over poor Casper whose defense is simply abysmal. They’ve committed 52 errors in 21 games. Nearly one fourth of the runs they’ve given up have been unearned. And those are just the physical errors.

I suspect Kotch forced a few mental errors out of them last night. In the bottom of the 4th, catcher Anel de los Santos led off with a fly ball to left that LF Scott Robinson dove for and missed; it was ruled a single. RF Trevor Pippen then reached on an error by 2B Zach Murry, and de los Santos went to third.

As time was called, Kotch ran over to first and whispered something to Pippen, then came back and whispered in de los Santos’ ear. He then turned to the next batter, CR Ryan Kiniry, and gave a long series of signs.

Hmmmm …

Clearly the Casper battery thought something was up, because they started deploying the defense expecting a squeeze.

On the first pitch, Kiniry showed bunt … but didn’t chase it. Ball one.

On the second pitch, Kiniry showed bunt … but didn’t chase it. Ball two.

You get the idea.

Two pitches later, the rattled pitcher walked Kiniry to load the bases.

Did Kotch fake it all?! Was there really a play on?! I’ve no idea. But if there were a sign on, would he have been so demonstrative about it?!

Either way, the Owlz went on to score five runs in the inning, thanks in part to yet another error and a passed ball.

In the bottom of the 5th, SS Andrew Romine sliced a ball down the left-field line where it’s 306′ at the pole and got himself a grand-slam. Click Here to watch the grand slam. (You need Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection, e.g. cable modem or DSL.) Turns out that Andy is from Lake Forest in south Orange County. He was the Angels’ 5th round draft pick this year.

The Owlz used yet another wacky promotion last night. “Batman” was apparently some fan dressed up as the Adam West version of the Caped Crusader. For one half-inning, he gets to go retrieve the visiting team’s bat, while exhorting the crowd to cheer as the 1960s Batman TV show theme plays over the P.A.

You can see all this and more on the video highlight clip on FutureAngels.com. Click Here to watch the July 9 game highlights.

I fly home tomorrow to Orange County, so I’ll be scarce for a few hours.


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