Ramon Ortiz pitches in fall instructional league for the Mesa Angels in October 1998 against the Mesa Cubs at Fitch Park. He was considered at the time to be one of the Angels’ top pitching prospects.
A year ago, I wrote a blog titled “Where Are They Now?” that was about the current whereabouts of past Angels minor leaguers. I’d intended for that to become a regular feature, but here we are more than a year later and I haven’t written one since.
The Salt Lake Bees recently faced the Fresno Grizzlies, a Giants affiliate, and who happened to be Fresno’s starting pitcher but Ramon Ortiz, a long-ago top Angels pitching prospect. He was relieved by Ronnie Ray, another former Angels minor leaguer.
So I was reminded that I really need to write another Where Are They Now.
Let’s start with those guys, followed by some others requested in the last article …
Ramon Ortiz was at one time the top pitching prospect in the Angels’ system and part of the 2002 roster that won the World Series. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in December 2004 for Dustin Moseley, a trade that on the whole has worked out favorably for the Angels. Ramon has drifted around baseball, spending 2008 in Japan. The Giants signed him last winter and assigned him to Triple-A Fresno. It’s hard to believe that Ramon is 36 years old now. His current record with the Grizzlies 1-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 54.2 IP, mostly in relief with a 54:20 SO:BB ratio. He’s vulnerable facing left-handed batters, who are hitting .312 against him. Righties are batting .221. The Angels are looking for relief help; anyone want to take a chance on Ramon?
Ronnie Ray was traded with Dusty Bergman to the San Francisco Giants on August 30, 2005 for veteran reliever Jason Christiansen. The Angels needed a veteran lefty arm in the bullpen, while Ray and Bergman were two lower-level arms who didn’t project as top pitching prospects. Ronnie has quietly moved up through the Giants’ system to Triple-A Fresno. His current record is 1-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 25 relief appearances (41.0 IP). Bergman pitched in independent ball the last two years; the most current record I can find is 17 games between two teams in the American Association in 2008. Searching for his stats, I was reminded that Dusty appeared in one game for the Angels in 2004.
Matt Hensley appeared in 16 games for the Angels as a reliever in 2004. He was let go by the Angels after the 2007 season, when he missed nearly the entire seaon after elbow surgery. I found a record that he pitched in relief nine games last year in the independent Atlantic League, but nothing since.
Greg Jones pitched in the Angels bullpen for parts of four seasons. Given his minor league free agency, Jonesy signed with the Dodgers in 2008 and made 28 relief appearances with Triple-A Las Vegas. The Dodgers released him in July 2008, and he finished the year in independent ball in the Atlantic League. He signed a minor league contract in March with the Cleveland Indians, but was released.
Nathan Haynes was acquired from the Oakland A’s along Jeff DaVanon and Elvin Nina on July 29, 1999 in exchange for Omar Olivares and Randy Velarde. Haynes was projected as a top-prospect center fielder but a series of injuries fairly well derailed his career. He retired in 2004 after playing briefly in the Giants’ system, returned to pro ball in the independent leagues in 2006, was re-signed by the Angels, and made his major league debut with Anaheim in 2007. In March 2008, Tampa Bay claimed him on waivers, and he split the season between the parent club and Triple-A Durham. Given his minor league free agency last winter, he signed with the Texas Rangers in January but was cut from the parent club roster during spring training. It appears that he retired rather than accept a minor league assignment.
Few will recall that Dodgers reliever Travis Schlichting passed briefly through the Angels system as a third baseman. The Angels acquired him in December 2005 in exchange for catcher Josh Paul. Travis played third base for Cedar Rapids for 31 games in 2006, then the Angels converted him to the mound for five games in August at the Tempe rookie camp. After spending 2007 in independent ball, Schlicting signed with the Dodgers and made 33 relief appearances with their Double-A Jacksonville team in 2008, posting a 3.77 ERA. He was reassigned in mid-June to Triple-A Albuquerque after two relief appearances with the Dodgers; he’s allowed no runs in four relief appearances with the Isotopes.