Monday, May 11, 2015

PCL travel: Raley Field -- Sacramento, Calif.

Trips to Raley Field in Sacramento are always one of my favorite stops in the Pacific Coast League. Since I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is about 90 minutes away, the trips into my own personal family reunion and friend reunions. 

Since opening in 2000, Raley Field and the River Cats staff have consistently been one of the model triple-A franchises. They're annually either first or second in attendance, and run a first-class operation. It's always interesting to see how they incorporate their corporate sponsorships into making their ballpark unique and fan-friendly.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

This is what a 14-inning scorebook looks like after a 17-inning game

I was actually hoping the game would last 19 innings. My longest game was 18 innings. If you're going to play that long, you might as well break a personal record. All things considered, the scorebook is not that messy. Imagine if the score was 15-14, instead of 5-4. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

PCL Travel: Cashman Field -- Las Vegas, NV

Our visit to Las Vegas the last four days brought something very unusual: a rainout.

It was only the eighth time since Cashman Field opened, in 1983, that a game was postponed due to rain. What's most fascinating to me is that they don't have an infield tarp at this ballpark. Actually, fascinating is an understatement. I'm amazed, flabbergasted, astonished, mesmerized by this factoid.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

PCL Travel: Cheney Stadium -- Tacoma, WA

The oldest ballpark in the Pacific Coast League is Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. It was built in 1960 when minor league baseball returned to Tacoma for the first time in 55 years. It's undergone renovations in 1992, 1998, 1999 and 2011. Yet it still retains some of its unique history.

For example, the light towers are originals from old Seals Stadium in San Francisco. Bigger bonus: the light towers actually still work. Without getting out a tape measure, I want to say the lights are the lowest in the PCL.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

2015 Isotopes Opening Night Notes

The Albuquerque Isotopes raise the curtain on the 2015 season tonight with the opener of a four-game series against Reno and the start of a season-opening, eight-home homestand that brings Tacoma to town on Monday ... the Isotopes begin the season at home for the second time in the last three years, and sixth time overall in 13 years … the Topes are 9-3 on Opening Night … they’ve never faced Reno in a season or home opener … last year’s lid-lifter in Tacoma was postponed due to rain, the only time that’s happened in Isotopes history, and completed the following day in a doubleheader … Reno won the season series last year, 9-7, including winning five of eight at The Lab.

The 2015 season is the first for the Isotopes as an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies … it’s the 13th season for the Isotopes, after six years with the Florida Marlins (2003-08) and six years with the LA Dodgers (2009-2014) … counting the 29 years of the Albuquerque Dukes (1972-2000), this is the 42nd year of triple-A baseball in the Duke City … this is the 56th year of affiliated minor league baseball in Albuquerque (including double-A Dodgers from 1962-71, KC Athletics from 1960-62, Cincinnati Reds 1958, NY Giants 1956) … overall, this is the 69th year of professional baseball in Albuquerque, dating back to the 1915 team in the Class-D Rio Grande Association.

Glenallen Hill becomes the sixth manager in Isotopes history (not counting Ron Hassey, who was named manager for 2005, but took a job as Mariners bench coach before the season began) … Hill managed the Rockies previous triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs the last two seasons … now in his 11th season as a member of the Rox organization … played 19 years of professional baseball, 13 in the majors with the Blue Jays, Indians, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, Yankees and Angels … lifetime slash line of .271/.321/.482 with 1,005 hits, 187 doubles, 21 triples, 186 home runs, 586 RBIs and 96 stolen bases … won a World Series with the Yankees in 2000. 

The Isotopes are one of six PCL teams that switched affiliates this offseason, the highest turnover for the league since expanding in 1998. Even after the musical chairs, the Pacific and American Conferences each have five NL teams and three AL teams, so the frequency of using the designated hitter will be unchanged. The Rockies switched three affiliates: triple-A from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque; double-A from Tulsa in the Texas League to New Britain in the Eastern League; and Short-Season from Tri-City to Boise in the Northwest League.


Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa starts for the Isotopes tonight, becoming the first starting pitcher to make a MLB rehab appearance on Opening Night in Isotopes history. De La Rosa was originally tabbed by Rockies manager Walt Weiss to start the Rockies home opener tomorrow at Coors Field, but a spring training groin injury sidelined him. De La Rosa last pitched in the minors in 2012, when he made seven starts at four levels as part of his return from “Tommy John” surgery. The last time he pitched in the minors, not on a rehab assignment, was four starts for triple-A Omaha in 2008, when he went 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA. DLR has 94 career starts in the minors and 104 relief appearances. In the majors, DLR has 191 starts, 62 relief outings, an 84-68 record, 4.60 ERA and 1,132.1 innings.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

We've got a roster

The Colorado Rockies announced the Opening Night rosters for their four full-season minor league affiliates over the weekend. 

Here's a link to the release that our PR stud Lee VanHorn wrote about the Albuquerque Isotopes roster. It will change a lot. Last year, the Topes had 188 transaction and 60 different players. The Rockies were besieged by injuries in the major leagues last year, so their previous triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs ended up with over 200 roster moves.

Here's a few notes about the first 25 players on the 2015 Isotopes roster:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Topes roster becoming more clear

The Rockies optioned infielder Charlie Culberson to the minor leagues and sold catcher Audry Perez to the Orioles today, so the triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes roster is becoming more clear. Cactus League games conclude Wednesday. Minor league exhibition games conclude Saturday morning.

Here's a look at the possible Isotopes roster, with the usual caveats that I'm not in Arizona watching the minor league games, this is strictly my opinion, and nothing is coming from the Rockies or Isotopes:

Catchers (2): Ryan Casteel (who can play first base) and Dustin Garneau will be the catchers, unless something drastic occurs.

Infielders (5 or 6): Ben Paulsen, Culberson, Cristhian Adames, Angelys Nina and Omar Quintanilla appear solid. The sixth spot could be Rafael Ynoa (if he doesn't make the Rockies) or Jose Rivera. Or they go with five infielders because most of the outfielders can play infield too.

Outfielders (4 or 5): Kyle Parker, Josh Vitters, Tim Wheeler, Tim Smalling and Jeremy Barfield. The last I heard, Roger Bernadina's wrist was still tender and he'd start the season back at extended spring training. If Bernadina is healthy, perhaps Barfield goes to double-A New Britain.

Starting pitchers (5): Chris Rusin, Aaron Laffey, John Lannan, Jair Jurrgens, Chad Bettis and Jon Gray are all possibilities. You never know what clauses are in the contracts of the veterans that would impact where they go. It sounds like like Eddie Butler and David Hale will be on the disabled list. Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood will definitely start the season on the DL. Also keep in mind that Rockies ace Jorge De La Rosa could be making 1-2 rehab starts for the Topes early in the season.

Relief pitchers (7 or 8): Jairo Diaz, Jorge Rondon, Tommy Kahnle, Gus Schlosser, Yohan Flande, Kenny Roberts and Kraig Sitton are all strong candidates. Scott Oberg had an impressive spring and remains in big-league camp. Unless he beats out Rafael Betancourt  for the final spot in the Rockies bullpen, he's in Albuquerque. Don't sleep on Austin House, the former New Mexico Lobo either.

The biggest problem with my predictions for the pitchers is that I'm totally neglecting six minor league free agents: Leuris Gomez, Jason Gurka, Jason Lowey, Brett Marshall, Justin Miller and Jose Ortega. It's nothing personal. I'm sure a few of them will be on the Topes. I just don't know where they all fit.