Tagged: Tempe Angels

Notes from Tempe, Day 1


Angels Director of Player Development Abe Flores and minor league Field Coordinator Todd Takayoshi talk about … your guess is as good as mine.

 

If Forrest Gump had played minor league baseball, his mother might have said that life is like fall instructional league. You never know what you’re gonna get.

The instructs are in the final week, and the Tempe Diablo minor league complex has several scouts, both Angels employees and others, roaming the grounds. Apparently the Angels and other organizations are holding a tryout combine for independent players, evaluating them to see if they might sign someone for next year.

National crosschecker Ric Wilson and Western Supervisor Bo Hughes are here. Their names have appeared in media rumors as possible candidates for the Angels’ vacant scouting director job.

Five more games, and everyone goes home for the winter. Many of the players were drafted in June, but for others they’ve been playing ball since minor league spring training in March.

Also here is Loek Van Mil, acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the Brian Fuentes trade. Van Mil is very tall. 7’1″ and looks it. Also in camp are 6’7″ Johnny Hellweg and 6’7″ Alex Burkard. As one observer noted, it’s a good start for one heck of a basketball team.

I’m shooting a lot of photos and video, but much of it will have to wait until I return home to Florida this weekend. I’ve posted some photos below as a gesture of good faith. Hopefully I’ll see everyone before I leave.

Today’s starting lineup against the Oakland A’s:

1. Andrew Heid CF
2. Taylor Lindsey 2B
3. Eric Oliver 1B
4. Gabe Jacobo LF
5. Jose Jimenez DH
6. Kole Calhoun RF
7. Jeremy Cruz 3B
8. Carlos Ramirez C
9. Wendell Soto SS
P. Heath Nichols

Nichols was scheduled to pitch the first three. He was followed by A.J. Schugel, Kevin Johnson and Daniel Tillman.

Instructional league games don’t work like regular season games. Teams have the option to field 10-man lineups with two DHs, which the A’s did. A manager may call an end to an inning if his pitcher is struggling, which happened several times today. Even if the home team has won, the bottom of the 9th might be played to get in some extra work. That happened today too; the Angels had won 6-2 but Oakland wanted to play the bottom of the 9th. Okay. The Angels scored another run to make it 7-2, and their manager promptly called an end to the game. Take that.

Ryan Chaffee is the scheduled starter for tomorrow’s game against the Dodgers.

Here are the promised photos. Lots more, I assure you. They’ll show up eventually in the FutureAngels.com web site’s Digital Photo Gallery.


Starting pitcher Heath Nichols walks in from his bullpen warmup. Catcher Carlos Ramirez is on the left, and roving pitching coordinator Kernan Ronan is on the right.

 


Heath Nichols on the mound.

 


Gabe Jacobo makes a throw from left field. He was a first baseman for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes during the regular season.

 


Kole Calhoun hits a double.

 


A.J. Schugel relieved Heath Nichols with two outs in the top of the third.

 


Andrew Heid triples to drive in Carlos Ramirez.

 


Carlos Ramirez scores on the triple by Andrew Heid.

 


Carlos Ramirez is greeted by his teammates after scoring on the triple.

 


Kevin Johnson was the third Angels pitcher in the game.

 


Daniel Tillman pitched the final two innings to close the game.

 

A Teachable Moment


Angels minor league catching coordinator Tom Gregorio works with Roberto Lopez during the 2009 fall instructional league.

 

‘Tis the season for fall instructional league, one of the most overlooked and least understood annual rituals of the baseball calendar.

Instructional league is often confused with the Arizona Fall League, but one has nothing to do with the other. The instructs end around the time the AFL starts. The instructs are held at a major league organization’s minor league training complex, while AFL is played in major league spring training stadia. And while the AFL usually has many of the top prospects in the upper levels of minor league baseball, instructional league rosters feature mostly players who were drafted or signed last June.

The AFL was created as a finishing school of sorts for top prospects, an opportunity to showcase them and accelerate their progress to a major league roster the next year. The instructs are more like extra homework for selected students.

Official stats are kept by the AFL, although how much they mean is debatable. The AFL is a part-time job as everyone plays a couple times a week, but few play every day. The dry desert air turns these games into high-scoring affairs — Coors Field with cactii. Some players try harder than others, and quietly everyone hopes they don’t get hurt. Although the original concept was to feature top prospects, in reality many organizations send players who project as setup relievers, utility infielders, or backup catchers. Each team has players from five teams, so to field a normal lineup a team needs “niche” players.

No official stats are kept or reported at the instructional league. The reason is the games are more like a glorified practice. Rules are loosely enforced. If a young pitcher falls behind in pitch count, his manager can simply call an end to the inning and the other team takes the field. It’s not uncommon to see ten-man lineups with two designated hitters. The DHs might take the field mid-game, with two position players becoming the DHs. Although the home team has won, the bottom of the 9th might be played anyway to get extra practice.

Yesterday I was at the Washington Nationals’ complex in Viera, Florida for their first instructional league game against the Atlanta Braves. Major league catcher Jesus Flores underwent shoulder surgery last fall and missed all of 2010. He was in the lineup yesterday but was scheduled to play only three innings. He homered in his first at-bat, but going into the bottom of the 3rd it appeared unlikely his slot in the lineup would bat in the inning. So the Nats simply sent him to the plate again with two outs, to get him an extra plate appearance.

This year, the Oakland A’s are fielding two teams in the Arizona instructional league, the first time I’ve seen an organization field two squads. That’s another reason not to put any value in statistics. What happens when they play each other? Certainly players can move back and forth between the two rosters.

Stats are kept internally, of course, but under the above circumstances you can understand why they wouldn’t be “official.” Another reason is more basic — no official scorer is present at these games. There’s no neutral party to keep score and report it to Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which now keeps official stats for MLB and the minors.

The emphasis is on instruction, as the name implies. For many of the players, this is their first opportunity for intense instruction in the ways of professional baseball. Most organizations have their own unique style of baseball. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has implemented a regimented developmental philosophy and process throughout the organization. It begins with instructional league.

I’ll be at the Angels’ camp for the October 11-15 games. October 11 is against “A’s #1”, October 12 is the Dodgers (the first time I’ll see them since they moved to Glendale from Vero Beach), and October 13 is the Giants. October 14 and 15 are home-and-away games against the Cubs in Mesa.

As always, I’ll bring back plenty of photos and video, not just of the games but also of instruction. Click here for the roster; it will be my first opportunity to see 2010 draft picks such as Kaleb Cowart, Chevy Clarke, Taylor Lindsey, Ryan Bolden and more.

But older players are there too, for one reason or another. Some are making up for lost time due to injury. Others are learning a new position, a new pitch, or trying to fix bad mechanics.

The experience is fascinating for a baseball fan, because a player’s day isn’t focused on winning the game that afternoon. It’s about teaching how to win. And it’s here on the minor league fields of an organization’s complex that the teaching begins.

For a fan, you can walk in for free and watch the training up close. Nearly every Angels player currently on the parent club roster spent at least one fall at instructional league. You can learn as they do.

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.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 4)

Statistics are as of the morning of September 4.

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 72-69, a half-game behind Tacoma in the Pacific North division. They just completed a four-game sweep of Fresno and beat Reno last night 11-4, while Tacoma (72-68) lost 10-7 in 12 innings at Fresno. The Bees have three left at home against Reno, while Tacoma will be on the road at Fresno for three. So the Bees still have a pulse.


UPDATE 11:00 AM PDT — In response to an e-mail … The half-game difference between Salt Lake and Tacoma is due to a Rainiers game against Oklahoma City on May 26 that was rained out. The game was cancelled because the two teams do not face each other again in 2010. The minors pretty much don’t care about making up games that may impact a title race, so Tacoma will continue to have that half-game advantage on Salt Lake through season’s end.


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 27-40, ten games behind third-place Springfield, with three games to play.

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 35-32, two games behind the first-place Quakes (37-30). High Desert (35-32) is tied for second place with Lake Elsinore. Rancho has three games left to play, on the road at Lancaster. The Mavericks have three to 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. 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 81-56, five games ahead of Rancho Cucamonga at 76-61 and nine ahead of High Desert at 72-65. With three 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 36-31 with three 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 it’s unclear whether he’ll 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.


UPDATE 9:30 AM PDT — I checked with Angels management about Fabio’s status. He won’t pitch in the playoffs but could pitch in fall instructional league.


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 2-8. The Owlz just dropped two out of three at home to Casper, and lost last night 5-2 at Idaho Falls. The Ghosts also lost, 8-6 at Ogden, so they remain in second place at 17-15 while the Owlz are in third at 16-15. Ogden at 19-12 is 2½ games ahead of Casper and three ahead of Orem.

Should Ogden win both halves, they’ll face the team with the second-best overall record. Right now, that would be the Owlz at 35-34, 1½ games ahead of Casper (34-36). Orem has six games left, starting with two more on the road at Idaho Falls (24-46 overall). They finish with four games against the Raptors, two at home and then two at Ogden. Casper is at Ogden for two more, 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 six 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.

The Playoff Picture (as of September 3)

Statistics are as of the morning of September 3.

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 71-69, 1½ games behind Tacoma in the Pacific North division. They just completed a four-game sweep of Fresno (73-67) and have four games left at home against Reno (67-72). Tacoma (72-67) will be on the road at Fresno for four. So the Bees still have a pulse.

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 27-39, ten games behind third-place Springfield, with four games to play.

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 34-32, two games behind the first-place Quakes. High Desert (35-31) is in second place, one game behind the Quakes and one game ahead of Lake Elsinore. Rancho has four games left to play, on the road at Lancaster. The Mavericks four to 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. 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 80-56, five games ahead of Rancho Cucamonga at 75-61 and eight ahead of High Desert at 72-64. The next best team is Lancaster, 27 games behind Lake Elsinore, so it would seem that the Storm, the Quakes and the Mavericks are all a lock for the post-season. 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 35-31 with four 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 it’s unclear whether he’ll 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 an OPS (OBP + SLG) of .870 in the second half after a putrid .596 first 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 2-7. The Owlz just dropped two out of three at home to Casper, so the Ghosts have gone into second place at 17-14 while the Owlz are in third at 16-14. Ogden at 18-12 is 1½ games ahead of Casper and two ahead of Orem.

Should Ogden win both halves, they’ll face the team with the second-best overall record. Right now, that would be the Owlz at 35-33, 1½ games ahead of Casper (34-35). Orem has seven games left, starting with three on the road at Idaho Falls (23-46 overall). They finish with four games against the Raptors, two at home and then two at Ogden. Casper is at Ogden for three, then at home against Idaho Falls at four. The Owlz are fairly well-positioned to qualify for the playoffs, but they’ll have to play better during their remaining seven 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.