Results tagged ‘ Hank Conger ’
The Angels added catcher Jett Bandy and right-hander Dan Reynolds to the 40-man roster on Thursday, protecting both from exposure in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. To make room on the roster, which is currently full, the club designated catcher Jackson Williams and lefty Michael Roth for assignment.
That means third baseman Kaleb Cowart, the former No. 1 pick who has seen his stock plummet after back-to-back rough seasons in Double-A, has been left unprotected and can be plucked from the organization in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 11.
Cowart – taken out of high school with the 18th overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft – was considered one of the top prospects in baseball after scorching through both of the Angels’ Class A levels in 2012. Then he batted .221/.279/.301 in Double-A in 2013 and .223/.295/.324 in 2014, scrapping switch-hitting along the way and raising questions about whether he should transition to a pitcher.
The Angels still think highly of Cowart, who’s only 22 years old and has the tools to be a Major League third baseman – but they’re rolling the dice that another team won’t take a chance on him.
“I think the one thing we have to keep cognizant of is that he’s only 22 years old,” Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais, who’s in charge of scouting and player development, said of Cowart earlier this week.
“It’s not to the point where we were hoping it would be. Obviously a couple years ago he was really on a fast track and that slowed down. As much as anything, Kaleb has been frustrated by it. He’s used to being a good, productive player, and it just hasn’t been there for him.”
Bandy, 24, batted .250/.348/.413 in 93 games for Double-A Arkansas this past season, but threw out 40 percent of would-be base stealers and is expected to compete for a job as the backup catcher now that Hank Conger is with the Astros.
Reynolds, 23, went from a failed starter to a successful relief pitcher in 2014, posting a 2.90 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 9.1 in 42 appearances for Class A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A.
Roth, who has made 22 Major League appearances since being drafted in the ninth round in 2012, has been DFA’d for the second time this year. The first time was in late April, when he slipped through waivers and eventually finished up a solid season in Double-A, posting a 2.62 ERA in 22 starts. But Roth has a 7.79 ERA in 32 1/3 innings in the Majors.
Williams, 28, was selected off waivers from the Rockies on Oct. 22 after appearing in seven Major League games and batting .256/.353/.368 in 72 Triple-A games this past season.
If a player was 18 or younger during the First-Year Player Draft that resulted in him signing his first professional contract and five seasons have passed, or 19 or older the day of the Draft and four seasons have passed, he can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if not on his team’s 40-man roster.
Teams had until 9 p.m. PT on Thursday to add Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to the roster. Other notable Angels prospects left unprotected include outfielders Matt Long and Drew Heid, right-handers Austin Wood and Daniel Hurtado, and shortstop Erick Salcedo.
Translation: It’s the deadline to protect players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
If a player was 18 or younger during the First-Year Player Draft that resulted in him signing his first professional contract and five seasons have passed, or 19 or older the day of the Draft and four seasons have passed, he can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft — Dec. 11 this year — if not on his team’s 40-man roster.
The Rule 5 Draft is typically uneventful. Teams won’t let a player they have high hopes for be left unprotected and it’s really hard for a player to stick with his new club if he is selected (the player must be returned to his original team if at any point he’s not on the 40-man roster the following season). The Angels haven’t carried a Rule 5 pick on their Major League roster since reliever Derrick Turnbow in 2000, and only four of the nine Rule 5 selections from last year even played in the Majors. (The Angels picked lefty reliever Brian Moran, who spent the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery and was returned to the Mariners in October.)
But there have been some gems to come out of the Rule 5 Draft — namely, Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla – and Thursday’s roster decisions are a strong indication for how an organization feels about certain prospects. The Angels’ 40-man roster is currently full, so they’ll have to do some maneuvering to protect some Rule 5-eligible players.
Below are three to keep an eye on …
3B Kaleb Cowart: He was once the jewel of their system, but he’s struggled mightily in Double-A and could be converted to a pitcher if he doesn’t turn it around. Cowart (pictured) hit .221/.279/.301 in 2013, then .221/.279/.301 in 2014, going from switch-hitting to only hitting from the left side midsummer, and struggled once again in the Arizona Fall League. Still, he’s only 22. And he has a lot of talent. I can see a team taking a chance on him if eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
C Jett Bandy: Bandy hit only .250/.348/.413 in Double-A, but had an above-average caught-stealing percentage (40 percent) and Jerry Dipoto mentioned him as a potential Major League backup after trading Hank Conger. The Angels already have three catchers on their 40-man roster — Chris Iannetta, Carlos Perez and Jackson Williams — so they may have to just hope the 6-foot-4 Bandy doesn’t get picked up.
RH Dan Reynolds: The 23-year-old moved from the rotation to the bullpen in 2014 and might have turned his career around. Reynolds carried a 5.39 ERA in 26 starts for Class A Inland Empire in 2013, then posted a 2.90 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a 9.1 strikeout rate in 42 appearances for Class A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. But the Angels have a lot of right-handed-relief depth, so they can afford to keep Reynolds off the 40-man.
Mike Trout won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, collecting all 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association to become the youngest unanimous MVP in Major League history. In tune with that, I’ve compiled all the cool stuff Trout did this season in video form below. Enjoy.
March 31: Trout’s first at-bat of the season, after securing a six-year, $144.5 million extension, is a home run against King Felix …
April 4: Solo homer at Minute-Maid Park gets out in a mesmerizing 111.6 mph …
… Two innings later, he throws out a runner at home for his first outfield assist since September 2012 …
April 15: Trout does everything possible to win, hitting a ninth-inning, game-tying homer (shown here), then reaching on an infield single and stealing second in extra innings in an eventual loss to the division-rival A’s …
April 29: (Sort of?) robs a home run …
May 15: Diving catch in the first …
… first career walk-off in the ninth …
June 7: Game-tying grand slam off a dejected Chris Sale …
June 11: Robs Yoenis Cespedes of a home run (maybe) …
June 17: Trout hits two home runs in Cleveland, the last of which came on a low and inside pitch that shocked Hank Conger, who concluded Trout has “the fastest hands west of the Mississippi” …
June 27: Hits one 489 feet to dead center into the fountain at Kauffman Stadium, good for the longest home run in the Majors since 2012 …
July 3: Stumbling, shoestring catch, then finishes on his feet …
July 4: Another walk-off homer, this one on a Tony Sipp slider that almost hit the dirt (note: don’t pitch him low) …
Sept. 12: A triple on a standard liner in the gap …
Sept. 13: Another two-homer game …
Sept. 21: “I got hops,” Trout said, channeling the playground scene from “He Got Game” …
Oct. 5: Solo shot off James Shields, the lone highlight of a short-lived postseason debut …
The Angels had a busy Wednesday, acquiring a cost-controlled starter (Nick Tropeano), a veteran lefty reliever (Cesar Ramos) and a Minor League catcher (Carlos Perez) by sending backup catcher Hank Conger to the Astros and pitching prospect Mark Sappington to the Rays. They’re also waiting to finalize an $8-million deal with Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin.
What does this mean for the 2015 Angels and an offseason that’s still in its embryonic stage?
Here’s a CliffsNotes version …
- The biggest thing that comes to mind is that the Angels got more cost-controlled starting pitching. That’s what this was all about. Heck, that’s what this whole offseason is about, in a way. Tropeano now becomes No. 6 in their rotation depth chart, behind Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago. Behind him are Wade LeBlanc, Drew Rucinski, Jose Alvarez and (if he makes the transition from reliever to starter) Cory Rasmus, all guys who have a chance of contributing this season. I don’t want to make the Angels sound like some high-payroll version of the Rays when it comes to having cost-controlled starters, but Jerry Dipoto has done a pretty good job of it the last couple years despite a barren farm system and luxury-tax concerns.
- The question is whether this trade means that the likes of Howie Kendrick, David Freese and C.J. Cron will not be traded in order to attain more pitching. I wouldn’t rule it out. The offseason is young, and it’d be very easy to part ways with Kendrick — because a lot of teams would be interested, because he plays a position the Angels are deep at and because he’ll be a free agent at season’s end. But the important thing is the Angels no longer have to trade Kendrick — or anybody, really. Dipoto was a little coy on the subject during a conference call on Wednesday, but he did re-iterate this: “The team that you saw at the end of the season is probably something similar to what you’ll see at the start of the next, as far as our everyday players go. There could be a subtle change here and there, but we don’t anticipate anything dramatic at this point.”
- Ramos will be a “utility bullpen guy,” which means he can pitch multiple innings or match up against lefties. But he’ll remain in the bullpen, as currently their only lefty, and Dipoto didn’t sound like a guy who wants to go out and get a lefty specialist on the market. “I don’t think it’s a critical need by any stretch. We like the group of righties we have; we do have a couple of right-handers that are very effective against lefties, as well.” Once you get past Andrew Miller (pricey), it’s slim pickings anyway.
- Perez — solid defensively, not so much with the bat — will be in the mix for the backup job behind Chris Iannetta, along with Jackson Williams, Jett Bandy and whoever else the Angels get this offseason (probably on a Minor League contract). Conger’s absence doesn’t mean Iannetta will take on more of a workload. “We’re pretty comfortable with Chris being in that 110-115 [games] range,” Dipoto said.
- The money basically evens out, with Conger (first of three arbitration years) and Ramos (second of three arbitration years) slated to make a little more than $1 million this offseason.
- Dipoto said he doesn’t need a utility infielder, pointing to a packed infield that currently has Gordon Beckham and Grant Green as backups. But if Kendrick and Freese stay, Beckham could get non-tendered (it’s hard to allocate $5 million for a backup infielder). And Green still has a long way to go defensively at third base, and isn’t necessarily a guy you can count on to play shortstop regularly. Baldoquin, meanwhile, would still need some seasoning in the Minors. I expect the Angels to keep tabs on free-agent utility infielders this winter.
Conger: “I was taken aback at first because it was so early in the offseason, but that was about it. Over the years I’ve heard all kinds of things. You get used to it. But I’m excited. I’m excited to try to get a fresh start. It’s just tough, because I just felt like the Angels organization treated me so well ever since I got drafted in ’06. It was tough, but at the same time, I’m excited. Everybody in the organization, from the front office to the coaches – the patience that they put in, the commitment to myself, I’ll always appreciate that.”
Tropeano: “Obviously it caught me off guard, just being so surprising, my first time, but I’m absolutely excited for the new opportunity, and I’m just privileged and honored that the Angels would trade from me and give me this opportunity to show my talent.”
Sappington: “The Angels have been the most amazing organization and I appreciate the opportunity. … They’re a first class organization. They’ve done so many things and given me so many opportunities. It’s been great, and I’m looking forward to a new opportunity with the Rays. I’m going to miss everybody. I love a lot of people with the Angels and I can’t wait to meet my new teammates. It’s an awesome opportunity and I can’t wait to get going.”
Ramos: “We’re still in shock to be able to be an Angel and also really call it home for us. Came from L.A., and just excited, and just really looking forward to meeting everybody in person – new organization, new teammates, new everything. I also want to thank Tampa for giving me the opportunity to become an everyday Major Leaguer and learning a lot there.”
The Angels sent pitching prospect Mark Sappington to the Rays in exchange for veteran reliever Cesar Ramos on Wednesday, a deal announced moments after the club finalized a three-player trade with the Astros.
Ramos – a teammate of Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas at Long Beach State University – could potentially fill the Angels’ need for a lefty specialist, but he hasn’t been used in that role throughout his career.
The 30-year-old southpaw has posted a 3.90 ERA in 186 appearances spanning six seasons in the Majors, the first two of which came with the Astros. Ramos made 43 appearances (seven starts) for the Rays this past season, posting a 3.70 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and a 1.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 82 2/3 innings.
Ramos was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to make $1.3 million in his second of three arbitration years.
Sappington, a fifth-round Draft pick by the Angels in 2012, posted a 7.05 ERA in 17 starts to begin the 2014 season, then found success upon being moved to the bullpen. The 23-year-old power right-hander had a 3.38 ERA in 25 relief appearances in Double-A and high A down the stretch, posting a 1.09 WHIP and striking out 13.8 batters per nine innings.
“The Angels have been the most amazing organization and I appreciate the opportunity,” Sappington said after making an appearance in the Arizona Fall League.
“They’re a first-class organization. They’ve done so many things and given me so many opportunities. It’s been great, and I’m looking forward to a new opportunity with the Rays. I’m going to miss everybody. I love a lot of people with the Angels and I can’t wait to meet my new teammates.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Angels sent backup catcher Hank Conger to the Astros for young starter Nick Tropeano and Minor League catcher Carlos Perez.
The Angels traded backup catcher Hank Conger to the Astros in exchange for young right-hander Nick Tropeano and Minor League catcher Carlos Perez, clearing up some payroll space and, most importantly, acquiring some much-desired cost-controlled starting pitching.
Tropeano, 24, posted a 3.03 ERA, a 3.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 0.99 WHIP in 124 2/3 innings while serving mostly as a starter in the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate. Originally a fifth-round Draft pick by the Astros in 2011, Tropeano made four starts for the Astros this past season – 11 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings – and owns a 3.26 ERA in his four-year Minor League career.
Tropeano is listed at 6-foot-4 and will be under club control for six full seasons. The Angels went into the offseason targeting cost-controlled starting pitching that was ready to contribute in the Majors, and though Tropeano doesn’t necessarily boast a power arm, he can be an option for the back end of their rotation.
Conger, a product of Huntington Beach, was taken by the Angels with the 25th overall selection of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft and established himself as a backup and occasional platoon option with Chris Iannetta these last two seasons, posting a .235/.301/.364 slash line in 172 games from 2013-14.
Conger was set to make a little more than $1 million in his first year of arbitration.
Perez, a 24-year-old who has yet to make his Major League debut, was acquired from the Blue Jays in the 10-player deal that sent J.A. Happ to Toronto in July 2012. Perez was originally signed out of Venezuela, has good defensive tools and is a career .277/.359/.393 hitter in the Minor Leagues.
Here’s what several members of the Angels had to say after clinching the American League West on Wednesday night …
Leadoff man Kole Calhoun, on popping the first bottle of champagne after the A’s lost: “I was more nervous to pop that first bottle of champagne than I was to play baseball.”
Catcher Hank Conger, on watching the game from the clubhouse: “They came back that ninth inning, and everybody was like, ‘Don’t jinx anything, don’t pop anything yet.’ As soon as they made that last out, that groundball, everyone erupted, man. Everybody was hugging each other, champagne was flowing everywhere, man, it was unbelievable.”
President John Carpino, on the fans sticking around to watch: “It’s so special. It’s so special. Look at these people. It’s 11:15 and the game has been over for an hour and a half. Angels fans have a lot of passion.”
Third baseman David Freese, on battling adversity: “You look at every team, up and down the league, and every team goes through adversity, things like that. This group just keeps plugging away. It shows. To win a division like this, it’s unbelievable. What a great group.”
Ace Jered Weaver, on coming out and seeing the fans: “Indescribable, really. This is the only reason why they’re here; they want to see us win. It’s been long overdue. Hopefully we can make a good push here in the postseason.”
Owner Arte Moreno, on his favorite part about the team: “There’s probably not one sentence you can say. They all love each other, they all like each other, they have fun together, and we have a really great mix of veterans, and we have a lot of young people. People were questioning how many young people we have in the organization, but just a lot of young guys stepped up this year.”
Manager Mike Scioscia, on returning to the playoffs after a four-year absence: “It feels great. We had gotten close, but we won our division, and we couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
Center fielder Mike Trout, on playing in the postseason: “I’m just going to go out there, play my game and help my team win. I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. I know the atmosphere is going to be awesome, and it’s going to be fun for sure.”
First baseman Albert Pujols, on the group: “Great chemistry. Like I’ve said before, you don’t just win with one or two guys. It takes 25 guys for us to accomplish our goals. We have a great group of guys, starting in Spring Training. I’ve been saying it all year long. And we believe in each other. We’re picking each other up.”
Starter C.J. Wilson, on his start: “It’s good. It’s what I need to do. If we’re going to win, I need to pitch like that.”
General manager Jerry Dipoto, on what it took to turn it all around: “It’s just a thrill. Mike and the staff had a great year. They did an unbelievable job, kept everybody together and cohesive. Obviously we made some changes along the way, but most importantly it was the character and the makeup of the guys. When the boat left the dock this spring, that’s what we talked so much about, and that’s what these guys did. They really did. They bound together. Very proud of them.”
Those are the only two guys in Angels history to record an immaculate inning, which consists of nine pitches and three strikeouts. Ryan did it on June 9, 1972, in the second inning against the Red Sox. Richards did it on Wednesday, in the second inning of a 4-0 win over the Astros.
“That was my guy growing up,” Richards said after eight shutout innings. “It’s cool. It’s cool to be put in a group with a guy like that. I didn’t even realize it until after the game. It was fun. It was a fun game to be a part of.”
Yes, Richards is way too young to grow up idolizing Ryan. He’s 26, which means he was 5 years old during the Hall of Famer’s final season with the Rangers in 1993. But his father was a big fan of Ryan, and that made Richards, raised in Southern California, a fan, too.
“I met him one time in Texas,” Richards said. “It was awesome.”
Here’s how the bottom of the second went (video here) …
Jon Singleton: 96-mph fastball (foul), 88-mph slider (swinging), 79-mph curveball (swinging).
Matt Dominguez: 95-mph cutter (looking), 97-mph fastball (swinging), 97-mph cutter (looking).
Chris Carter: 97-mph cutter (swinging), 79-mph curveball (swinging), 88-mph slider (swinging).
Three others have thrown an immaculate inning this season (Justin Masterson of the Indians on June 2, Cole Hamels of the Phillies on May 17 and Brad Boxberger of the Rays on May 8), and Richards’ is the 55th in Major League history. Thirty-three have come in the National League, twenty-two have come in the American League. Ryan also accomplished it with the Mets in 1968, and Lefty Grove did it twice in one season (1928, with the A’s). Nobody has ever done it more than once in the same game (here’s the full list).
“That’s just the type of stuff you rarely ever see,” catcher Hank Conger said. “But with a guy like Garrett, that’s the type of things that can happen, especially with his type of stuff.”
Very little has been reported with regards to a potential Mike Trout extension ever since the Angels’ 22-year-old center fielder agreed on a $1 million for 2014 (a record for a pre-arbitration player).
Is that good or bad?
“I haven’t heard anything, either,” Trout said. “Is that good or bad? Uh, I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I’m just getting ready for the season, worried about getting off to a good start.”
The Angels have been very tight-lipped about talks and Trout’s agent, Craig Landis, typically keeps everything close to the vest. Asked if there’s any reason to think things have hit a snag because it hasn’t happened yet, Trout, who’s uncomfortable talking contract, said, “No, no. … We’re getting ready for the season.”
Trout landed awkwardly on a dive attempt on Sunday, then struck out looking in his next two plate appearances and was the only everyday player who wasn’t in the Angels’ lineup on Monday.
But he felt fine.
“It was all right,” Trout said. “It scared me more than anything. But I think the rug burn hurt more than the fall. I’m not sore or anything today. Good to go. I dived, when I rolled, the glove came off my hand. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. Usually I just slide. If the glove didn’t come off, I would have caught it. Seen a lot of injuries happen like that.”
Here are some notes from Monday morning (lineup here) …
- The tentative pitching schedule the rest of the week: Jered Weaver will pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday, C.J. Wilson will start against the A’s in Phoenix on Wednesday, Hector Santiago will go against the Dodgers on Thursday, Joe Blanton will start against the Dodgers on Friday, Garrett Richards will start the Freeway Series finale on Saturday and Tyler Skaggs will start Sunday (an off day; so probably in a Minor League game or sim game of some sort).
- Obviously, Weaver is the Opening Day starter. But Mike Scioscia won’t announce it until he comes out of his last session OK.
- The Angels will not be opening the season with an eight-man bullpen. Scioscia floated the idea earlier in spring, but that was never really much of a possibility.
- Asked about opening the season with an all-righty bullpen, with Brian Moran (left elbow inflammation) and Sean Burnett (recovery from August forearm surgery) slated to open the season on the disabled list, Scioscia said: “In our bullpen things are still taking shape. [Jose] Alvarez really looked good down there and he’ll pitch for us at some point this week. [Nick] Maronde has shown well. Those guys, I think they’re all in the general mix of pitchers. But again, we’re not going to take a lefty just to take a lefty. We’re going to take a lefty who’s functional and will get a lefty out to hold a lead. If that emerges, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll just see where our bullpen is.”
- Asked if he needs to have somebody out of the bullpen who can pitch multiple innings, Scioscia said: “That’s ideal, but mainly we need a guy who can hold leads. With the off days we have in April [they have seven of the first eight Thursdays off], hopefully we can get going without having to have that traditional length in the bullpen.”
- As for the bench? My prediction is the same one I’ve had since the start of spring: Hank Conger, John McDonald, Ian Stewart, Collin Cowgill. Obviously, though, J.B. Shuck is a prime candidate after a great rookie season last year. And Matt Long has had a very good spring (though he still looks like a longshot). Scioscia was, predictably, non-committal. “There’s so many combinations that we’re looking at right now,” Scioscia said. “Obviously we’re going to need a versatile infielder, your second catcher will be on the bench. And how those other bats fall in will be something that we’re going to determine this week.”
- Chris Iannetta is expected to get the majority of time behind the plate this season, though Conger will get plenty of time. “Chris has shown the ability to catch a little bit more, but I think also the ability to have Hank to balance that and take a little pressure off Chris from having to extend himself will keep Chris fresh and keep Hank productive,” Scioscia said. “But they’re both going to get plenty of playing time.”
- Most of the Angels will fly out of Tempe, Ariz., on Tuesday night and work out at Angel Stadium on Wednesday (the day of the last Cactus League game).
If you’re coming to Tempe Diablo Stadium today, you’re going to see Josh Hamilton — back at his customary 240 pounds — make his Spring Training debut. He’s batting third and serving as the designated hitter, and will get two or three at-bats.
St. Patrick’s Day is exactly two weeks from Opening Day, but Hamilton said Sunday that starting the season on the disabled list “isn’t even on the table,” even though he typically likes to get somewhere between 45 and 55 at-bats to get ready for the regular season. He can load up on at-bats in Minor League games, and he’s been taking part in live batting practice in each of the previous three days.
- Raul Ibanez, as you might have noticed, debuts at first base today — a position he hasn’t started since 2005. If Ibanez and/or Calhoun can prove capable of playing first base, then Scioscia won’t have to change his lineup on the days Albert Pujols DH’s.
- Garrett Richards will pitch on the main field at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 1 p.m. PT during the Angels’ off day on Tuesday, against another organization’s Triple-A team. Hank Conger will catch, and Ernesto Frieri is also slated to pitch. Richards will get up at least six times.
- Pujols got permission to leave the team today in order to attend an event benefiting the Pujols Family Foundation in Chicago. He’s expected back on Tuesday.
- Speaking of Pujols, we’re five days away from the first official game of the regular season (in Australia), which is a good time to look at the Angels’ No. 5.
- The Angels optioned five players to Triple-A Salt Lake: Right-handed reliever Josh Wall, left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers, first baseman Efren Navarro, third baseman Luis Jimenez and shortstop Tommy Field. They’re now at 44 players.
- Mike Scioscia will stay at home to watch Hector Santiago; pitching coach Mike Butcher (and probably a ton of scouts) will go to Mesa, Ariz., to watch Joe Blanton.