Tagged: Webcasts

The Minor League Game of the Week

Ben Johnson was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI in the Bees’ May 18 game at Fresno.

May 18, 2007 — The Salt Lake Bees romp at Fresno in a Pacific Coast League contest.

Several players contributed to the offensive fireworks. Howie Kendrick was on rehab assignment with the Bees; he hit a three-run homer in the top of the 2nd. Right after him was Brandon Wood, who then hit a solo homer. Those who’ve followed the Angels minor leagues over the years know that Kendrick and Wood are good friends who hang together away from work. They were an infield duo with Provo in 2003, Cedar Rapids in 2004 and Rancho Cucamonga in 2005. Howie received a mid-season promotion in 2005, separating the duo except for a mutual 2005 stint in the Arizona Fall League. So this game was an opportunity to reunite them, with Kendrick at 2B and Wood at his familiar shortstop position.

Ben Johnson had three hits in this game for three RBI. Ben had been sent from Rancho to Salt Lake on May 10 while the Bees were a bit thin in the catching ranks, and returned to the Quakes after his May 20 appearance. Later in the season, he was promoted to Double-A Arkansas. He’s one of those "good soldier" organization players who goes whereever he’s needed; he might have the inside track on the Arkansas catching job to start 2008.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Sean O’Sullivan pitches on May 13 for Cedar Rapids at Clinton.

May 13, 2007 … Sean O’Sullivan, who will be named the Angels’ 2007 minor league pitcher of the year, gets the start as the Cedar Rapids Kernels visit the Clinton LumberKings.

This game has some visual aids.

I travelled to Cedar Rapids on May 12 to shoot four games — two in Clinton, then two in Cedar Rapids. The towns are separated by about 80 miles of farmland, so it was a two-hour drive one-way across rural Iowa.

The trip was well worth it, because Alliant Energy Field is an historic ballpark, built in 1937, and these "classic" parks are disappearing fast.

I shot plenty of video that day, which is in the FutureAngels.com Video Gallery. You need Windows Media Player and a high-speed Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch. Among the highlights:

Starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan. Sean went on to be named the Angels’ minor league pitcher of the year.

Ryan Mount’s steal of home. The play is in the 4th inning. P.J. Phillips takes off for second, and after he draws the throw from Clinton catcher Kevin Gossage (the nephew of “Goose”) Mountie takes off for home.

Aaron Cook closes for the Kernels in the 9th. It’s always fun to watch submarine pitchers, especially from home plate which is where this video was shot.

You’ll also find May 13 clips in these videos of Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger, Julio Perez, Chris Pettit, Matt Sweeney, and Mark Trumbo. Pettit went on to be named the Angels’ 2007 minor league player of the year.

This group should arrive largely intact in Rancho Cucamonga for 2008, the best group of talent to hit town since the 2003 team that featured Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Dallas McPherson, Ervin Santana, Jake Woods, Mike Napoli and more.

From a personal perspective, the trip was my first to Cedar Rapids since August 2003. It costs about a thousand dollars to do a trip to Cedar Rapids or Arkansas, when you add up plane fare, hotel room, rental car, meals and general running-around expenses. Even though four years had passed, everyone recognized me right away and were happy to see me.

Broadcaster John Rodgers didn’t know I was coming, but as soon as we crossed paths in the Clinton ballpark he gave me a big hug and invited me up to the press box. I was supposed to do analyst work with him on the May 15 game, but we got rained out. He recorded a pre-game interview which aired on May 17; you can hear it on the MiLB.com webcast archive.

Host parents Lanny Peterson and Tom Pumroy were generous enough to take me to breakfast. Host parents are one of the many unsung heroes in minor league baseball. They open their home to flat-broke minor leaguers who need only a clean bed and a shower because they’re so busy with baseball. Tom and Abby Pumroy host the Latin players as Abby is bilingual. Host parents get to know these players when they’re still accessible and often establish lifelong relationships, whether the player goes on to stardom or obscurity.

Anyway, lots of fond memories from this series, and the May 13 game was one of them. Click Here to listen. It’s actually Clinton’s webcast, featuring broadcasters Gary Determan and Dave Lezotte. Dave also handles media relations and was very helpful with my access to their park. Dave’s career began with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he worked with former Angels broadcaster and minor leaguer Daron Sutton. We talked about Sut, which is one of the great things about the “inside” part of baseball — you can always strike up a conversation about mutual friends. The uniforms may differ, but for the most part it’s one big happily dysfunctional family.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Brad Coon led the Angels’ system in 2007 with 56 stolen bases.

April 30, 2007 … The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes visit the Visalia Oaks in an early California League contest.

Center fielder Brad Coon is the star of the show. Normally known as a speed merchant with little power, Brad muscled up for a homer and triple. At season’s end, Coon led the Angels system with 56 stolen bases. In 74 games (299 AB) with Rancho, his AVG/OBP/SLG were .258/.311/.344. Promoted on June 27 to Double-A Arkansas, in 58 games (226 AB) his numbers were .301/.372/.385.

In the recently published FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report, I wrote about how pitcher-friendly is the Travs’ Dickey-Stephens Park, so let’s look at Brad’s home/road splits. At home, his line was .265/.311/.363. On the road, his line was .336/.427/.407. (113 AB for both.)

People ask me who’s a “sleeper” in the system. Coon might fit into that category, although at age 25 (December 11, Happy Birthday) he’s behind the age curve. The Angels are into speed, and Brad is someone the Angels have hoped would move up quickly.

Tampa Bay top prospect Justin Upton is in the lineup for the Oaks. Robert Mosebach gets the start for the Quakes.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Nick Green ranks #8 on the new FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report.

April 26, 2007 … The Arkansas Travelers host the Tulsa Drillers in an early-season Texas League contest.

Travs starting pitcher Nick Green, recently ranked #8 on the FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects Report, shows why he’s worked his way into the top prospect rankings with authoritative analysts. In seven innings, Nick allowed no runs, only one hit, struck out five and walked one.

There’s another subplot to this story that wasn’t evident at the time.

Tulsa starter Jonathan Asahina took a line drive in the face in the 5th inning, suffering what was eventually diagnosed as a fractured skull. He didn’t appear in a game until August 4. Travs broadcaster Phil Elson calls the injury the most frightening he’d seen in six years of broadcasting … but that would only last until July 22.

When the Drillers returned in mid-July to Dickey-Stephens Park, they had a new hitting coach, Mike Coolbaugh. He’d joined the team on July 3, replacing coach Orlando Merced. In the 9th inning of the July 22 game, Coolbaugh was coaching first base. A line drive foul struck him in the neck, killing him almost instantly.

So this game serves as a prologue for an even greater tragedy yet to come.

A reminder that you can donate to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund, which supports his wife and two children.

Because of Coolbaugh’s fatal injury, major league general managers voted on November 8 to require base coaches to wear helmets starting in 2008.

Click Here to listen to the April 26 game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Jeff Mathis was the starting catcher on April 26 when the Bees hosted Sacramento.

April 26, 2007 — The Salt Lake Bees host the Sacramento River Cats in a Pacific Coast League squareoff between the Triple-A affiliates of the Angels and the Oakland A’s.

Jeff Mathis and Joe Saunders, two names mentioned recently in trade rumors, are in the starting lineup. The game also features the first rehab appearance by Chone Figgins after breaking two fingers in spring training. Brandon Wood had just been called up to the big leagues, so Kendry Morales returned to Salt Lake and makes a critical pinch-hit appearance late in the game.

The webcast begins with a pre-game interview of Matt Brown by Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Nick Adenhart took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of his Double-A debut April 7 at Frisco.

April 7, 2007 … Nick Adenhart squares off against major leaguer Eric Gagne as the Arkansas Travelers visit the Frisco RoughRiders.

Eric Gagne?!

The former Dodgers closer and free agent signed a deal during the winter with the Texas Rangers. Still recovering from a 2006 herniated disc injury, and not far beyond recovery from “Tommy John” surgery, Gagne needed more work so the Rangers assigned him on rehab to their Double-A affiliate in Frisco, Texas, a Dallas-Ft. Woth suburb.

Gagne pitched only the first inning, and gave up a solo homer to shortstop Sean Rodriguez.

Later in the season, Texas would trade him to the Boston Red Sox.

Adenhart, meanwhile, was ranked the Angels’ top pitching prospect entering the 2007 season. At age 20, he was one of the youngest starting pitchers in the Texas League. His debut was outstanding, taking a no-hitter into the 6th inning.

Nick’s name now comes up in trade talks, most recently in rumors about Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

The annual FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report will be on-line by the end of the month. As you might suspect, he’ll be the top-rated pitcher, assuming he isn’t traded. More about Nick in that article.

The official box score shows it was 43 degrees at game time. The Midwest and much of the nation was in the midst of a cold snap at the time.

The Travs’ Phil Elson calls the game. Phil is a very talented young broadcaster. I’ve said many times he’ll be a big-league broadcaster one day. This webcast is the direct feed between Phil and the station, so you’ll hear him talking to the engineer between innings instead of the radiocast commercials.

Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Dodgers’ first baseman James Loney was among the Las Vegas players in the lineup April 5 at Salt Lake.

April 5, 2007 … It’s opening night at Franklin Covey Field as the Salt Lake Bees host the Las Vegas 51s in a Pacific Coast League contest.

Put another way, it’s a matchup of the Angels’ and Dodgers’ Triple-A teams, with plenty of future major leaguers in the lineups.

Among the future Dodgers that day were Tony Abreu at 2B, James Loney in RF, and Andy LaRoche at 3B. Loney would go on to play 1B for the Dodgers, but in the early days of the 2007 season the Dodgers played Mitch Jones at first for the 51s.

The future Angels starting for Salt Lake included Nathan Haynes in CF, Jeff Mathis at C, Brandon Wood at 3B, Kendry Morales at DH, Nick Gorneault in LF, Terry Evans in RF, and Matt Brown at 2B.

Having been raised in Southern California, I always perk up when the Angels’ and Dodgers’ minor league teams square off in the minors. Those contests are now possible at four of the six minor league levels:

  • Triple-A: Salt Lake vs. Las Vegas
  • Advanced-A: Rancho Cucamonga vs. Inland Empire
  • Class A: Cedar Rapids vs. Great Lakes
  • Rookie-A: Orem vs. Ogden

An Arizona League matchup is likely in 2009 when the Dodgers move from Vero Beach to Glendale AZ, so they should face the Tempe Angels.

The only remaining linkup would be in Double-A, where the Dodgers have their affiliate in Jacksonville FL. The Dodgers had a long and rich history in the Texas League, most recently with San Antonio, but a management decision a few years ago to concentrate their affiliations on the east coast to be near Vero Beach led the Dodgers to leave Texas for Florida. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers file to terminate on Jacksonville after the 2008 season and seek to return to the Texas League, but many of those teams are affiliated with regional favorites so their opportunities may be few.

Anyway, Click Here to listen. You need Windows Media Player.

The Minor League Game of the Week

Matt Holliday

Brad Hawpe
Today’s Colorado Rockies stars Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe were in the Tulsa Drillers lineup on July 6, 2003 to face Bobby Jenks and the Arkansas Travelers.

The new Minor League Game of the Week has a deliberate World Series flavor.

As the Colorado Rockies took the national spotlight with their incredible post-season run, I thought, "Hey, I know some of those guys." Sure enough, some of them were playing for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers in May 2003 when I visited Ray Winder Field in Little Rock to photograph the Arkansas Travelers.

Two of the Drillers, Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe, homered in that series, a portent of things to come. The Rockies’ presence in the World Series this week is proof of what happens when a team is patient and builds from within instead of caving to the instant-gratification demands by a few big-mouths in the press and fandom who don’t represent the majority that know better.

On July 6, 2003, the Drillers hosted Arkansas and faced Travs’ starting pitcher Bobby Jenks. This game really sums up all the problems Bobby had while he was an Angels property. This was his first Double-A start after rehabbing an elbow injury two months earlier. It was his second year at Arkansas after being suspended in 2002 for trying to sneak alcohol onto the team bus. And Bobby’s weight problems were rather obvious.

When shut down after his May 2 appearance, Jenks had made five starts, pitching 23 innings, striking out 27, walking 19 while allowing only 16 hits and had a 3.52 ERA. In this game, he started off wild, but when he left the mound after the 5th inning he’d allowed no runs, only one hit, and struck out six while walking four.

After the 2003 season, Jenks pitched in the Arizona Fall League, then went on to winter ball. With only a few weeks’ rest, he reported early to the Angels’ spring training camp in mid-February. With an already brittle elbow, it’s no wonder it stress-fractured on him again on April 19, 2004 when Salt Lake was at Fresno. FutureAngels.com was there; Click Here to watch the video of Jenks’ injury. (You need Windows Media Player and a high-speed Internet connection to watch.) By the way, the trainer racing to Bobby’s rescue is Adam Nevala, who today is one of the Angels’ trainers.

Jenks went to the minor league camp in Mesa for rehab and didn’t pitch again that year. While in Mesa, ESPN: The Magazine published an unflattering profile of Bobby in which he admitted to burning his own flesh for kicks. Jenks was suspended not for the article, but for a reported fight with a Mesa teammate.

Even with all the disciplinary problems, the poor physical conditioning, and the bum elbow, the Angels kept him around — until December 17, 2004, when they attempted to move him off the 40-man roster to the Triple-A roster, so they could make room on "the 40" for pending free agent signee Orlando Cabrera. That meant he had to pass through waivers. The Chicago White Sox claimed him.

Some people engage in revisionist history, posting on fan boards that the Angels stupidly "released" their best pitching prospect. The facts are (1) Jenks wasn’t released, he was claimed on waivers as the Angels tried to put him on the Triple-A roster, and (2) Jenks’ career at that point was pretty much in the toilet.

After that season, Jenks’ minor league career ERA was 4.97. In 391 IP, he had 401 strikeouts but also 270 walks — 6.2 free passes per nine innings. The last time anyone had seen him throw in a game — that would be the above video clip — his velocity was down into the mid-80s. He self-restraint was not far above that of a wild animal, and his ill-advised ESPN interview didn’t help. Beating up a teammate wasn’t the last straw, but Jenks’ future was so clouded at that point that it didn’t make much sense to continue protecting him on the 40-man roster while risking the loss of top prospects in much better physical condition and with their heads screwed on straight.

Fortunately for Bobby and his family, the White Sox acquisition seemed to wake him up to the reality that he could lose his means of income and spend the rest of his life pumping gas for a living. (And in a self-serve world, there aren’t many calls for that skill these days.) Jenks was on the mound when the White Sox won the 2005 World Series, and those blinding themselves to the facts surrounding Bobby’s departure started a disinformation campaign on fan boards to make it look like the Angels had let him go without cause.

So with all that historical context, Click Here to listen to the game. You need Windows Media Player to listen. The Travs’ broadcaster is Phil Elson, who will be a big-league broadcaster one day, you’ll see.

The Minor League Game of the Week

He’s a relief pitcher now, but in 2003 Warner Madrigal was an outfielder with the Provo Angels.

August 15, 2003 … The Provo Angels host the Missoula Osprey in a Pioneer League contest. Click Here to listen. You need Windows Media Player.

The recording has a few delays at the beginning. That’s due to Internet congestion during the original webcast. It clears up after a minute or two.

Three future major league Angels are in the lineup — Reggie Willits, Howie Kendrick and Matt Brown. Catcher Bobby Wilson, who was at Salt Lake this year and will be the next callup should Jeff Mathis or Mike Napoli falter, is the DH in the game.

A couple other players in this game are of interest.

Warner Madrigal, now a relief pitcher who was with the Cedar Rapids Kernels this year, was a young power hitter prospect back in 2003. He’s in the lineup for Provo, batting cleanup and playing right field. Warner was 5-for-5 in the game with a triple, double and three singles. In 2008, you’ll probably see him in the Rancho Cucamonga bullpen with his high-90s fastball.

The starting pitcher is Abel Moreno, who finished the year at 10-0 with a 2.38 ERA and was named the Pioneer League’s pitcher of the year. He disappeared from the Angels’ system after the 2004 system, unable to get a visa to leave the Dominican Republic. Abel ran into legal problems of a non-criminal nature, ending his career for the time being. But I just did a Google search and found he played this year in the fledgling Israel Baseball League where he was 1-3 with a 5.60 ERA in six starts.

The Return of the Minor League Game of the Week

Casey Kotchman homered to help Scottsdale overcome a ten-run deficit.

Today marks the return of the Minor League Game of the Week webcasts on FutureAngels.com. Each week from now through Opening Day 2008, I’ll post on the site a recording of a minor league webcast involving one of the Angels’ minor league affiliates.

Click Here to listen to this week’s game, a 2003 Arizona Fall League contest between the Peoria Javelinas and the Scottsdale Scorpions. Angels players on the Scottsdale roster included Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Dallas McPherson, and Nick Gorneault. Former Angels farmhand Tim Bittner was the starting pitcher, and current Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher was the Scottsdale pitching coach that fall.

The game was noteworthy for many reasons, one being that Scottsdale rallied from a 14-4 deficit in the bottom of the 7th to win 15-14. You’ll hear a couple current major leaguers from other organizations play in the game, including the Dodgers’ James Loney and Seattle’s Cha Seung Baek (he starts for Peoria). A tragic aspect is the presence in the lineup of Cincinnati outfielder Dernell Stenson, who was murdered a week later.

Minor league webcasts started in the late 1990s. The first I recall was the Durham Bulls, who archived their radiocasts for later playback. A few minor league teams invested in setting up their own webcasts, but it was only in the last couple years that most teams have added a webcast option. A big difference is that Minor League Baseball’s web site MiLB.com offers to webcast games for free, a big savings for the teams as they usually had to pay some Internet service provider to do it for them.

I started archiving our minor league webcasts in 2003. I use a product called Total Recorder from High Criteria which basically captures anything coming over a computer’s sound card. The professional version has a timer feature that will go to a specific URL, which allows me to program recordings overnight and during the day while I’m at work. Since all five Angels affiliates now webcast through MiLB.com, it’s a matter of setting Total Recorder to go to the URL for the last night’s webcasts and saving them to an MP3 file.

At season’s end, I send CD-ROMs with the MP3 files to the broadcasters at each affiliate so they have them for their archives. I keep an archival set myself. They now go back five seasons to 2003.

The first few games this off-season will be "classic" games from prior seasons, but by December we’ll be listening to 2007 games. Part of the idea when I started these archives was to play in future years memorable games featuring players who went on to the big leagues. So in future years, we’ll do more "classic" games, maybe in parallel with current season replays.

These recordings are a great way to keep your baseball flame burning during the off-season. Many times during the dead of winter I turn up the volume on my computer and fill the house with a "classic" game called by one of our many talented broadcasters. There’s nothing like listening to John Rodgers, Phil Elson or Steve Klauke describing a humid July pitchers’ duel when outside it’s a dreary Sunday afternoon.

So enjoy, and please feel free to post a comment about these games. I know people listen to them because I see the hits in my site’s logs. I’m just curious to know what are your experiences with these webcasts.