Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Sean Rodriguez, right, is congratulated by Brandon Wood after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, June 1, 2008, in Anaheim, Calif.

By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Senior Editor

This next Spring Training in March of 2008 will mark the 3 year anniversary that Tony Reagins, the newly appointed General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels, opened his office to David Kellams & myself to interview 6 prospects that were in camp that day. Brandon Wood, Kevin Jepsen, Mark Trumbo, Sean Rodriguez, Warner Madrigal & Baltazar Lopez were all enjoyable interviews and solid people.

One thing is for certain in my chat with Tony Reagins that day, he runs a tight ship there and the players respect him. His knowledge of the game and his friendly personality not only gives me fond memories of that day in Mesa Arizona, but it also impressed upon me that this is a people person, one that should have no problems working successfully with opposing General Managers.

Nearly 3 years later it's time to dust off the interview sheets and transfer them onto the Blog. It's worth noting that this was the spring before Brandon Wood went on a tear in High-A Ball for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes clubbing 43 Home Runs with 115 RBI's, leading the minors in total bases. Since then the former #1 pick of the Angels in the 2003 amateur draft went on to become the #1 Prospect of the L.A. Angels.

Sean Rodriguez followed an average 2005 season with a stellar 2006 campaign slugging 29 Home Runs between two stops (High-A and Double-A) while hitting over .300, catapulting Sean Rodriguez into the Angels top 10 prospect list. With no disrespect to any of the other fine players I've interviewed, Sean was the best player interview I've ever done! What a humble individual with a passion for the game. Sean will not only be an asset to a club with his baseball skills, but also a blessing to the manager and teammates in the clubhouse.

Kevin Jepsen, a hard throwing right-handed starter that posted a fantastic season at Cedar Rapids in 2004 with a 3.43 ERA in 27 starts, has since been moved to the bullpen after struggling with arm injuries, trying to regain the velocity that had him throwing in the mid-to-high 90's at one point. Jepsen was tagged by some scouts as a future potential front-line starter or back end reliever down the road.

Angelswin.com Interviews (2005 Mesa, AZ camp)

Brandon Wood, L.A. Angels – Interview
Wood_Brandon.jpg picture by chuckster70

Q: (Angelswin.com) When did you start playing baseball?

A: (Brandon Wood) I started playing t-ball when I was five years old - my grandparents were always at my games.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Who was the most influential in your pursuit to the big leagues?

A: (Brandon Wood) My parents have been the most influential people; they really pushed me and made some big sacrifices financially to help me.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What baseball player was your favorite growing up?

A: (Brandon Wood) Derek Jeter. I was a Yankee fan. My dad brainwashed me.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Team you followed growing up?

A: (Brandon Wood) New York Yankees

Q: (Angelswin.com) Best 1-game performance in your career to date?

A: (Brandon Wood) Any game at Ogden! I didn’t hit a lot of homeruns last year, but it seemed like I always hit one when we played there. I also had a walk off HR in Cedar Rapids which was pretty cool.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: (Brandon Wood) I think every minor leaguer should be working on every aspect of his game, but for me specifically; I need to be more consistent with the bat and cut down on strike-outs by putting the ball in play more.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?

A: (Brandon Wood) My glove work, in fact from the time I was eight years old, I always took my glove with me to the park to take groundballs.

Q: (Angelswin.com) If there is one thing people should know about Brandon Wood the person, it is?

A: (Brandon Wood) I’m very laid back and love playing the game. I enjoy being a part of the team – in the minors, if you're not making friends, it's tough. I have fun with the Latin players and when we hang out I try to find ways to communicate with them because my Spanish is not that good.


The lighter side of Brandon Wood


Q: (Angelswin.com)What’s your favorite food?

A: (Brandon Wood) Mexican food

Q: (Angelswin.com) What kind of music do you listen to?

A: (Brandon Wood)
What’s in your CD player right now? -Country music

Q: (Angelswin.com) What’s your all time favorite movie? –

A: (Brandon Wood) Brave heart and Old School

Q: (Angelswin.com) Most visited website?

A: (Brandon Wood) I'm computer illiterate - I have no idea!

Q: (Angelswin.com) What do you like to do besides play baseball, what’s your hobby?

A: (Brandon Wood) I like fishing and hunting and video games - they help pass time on the road, but there's too many buttons.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What person are you going to call first when you get promoted to the big leagues?

A: (Brandon Wood) Mom and Dad, no question.

_________________________

Sean Rodriguez, L.A. Angels - Interview
Rodriguez_Sean.jpg picture by chuckster70

Q: (Angelswin.com)When did you start playing baseball?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) When I was 5 or 6 years old! I played coach-pitch my first year.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Who was the most influential in your pursuit to the big leagues?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) God!!! He’s is the reason I am where I am today, he has blessed me so much so I have to say its God that has been the most influential. I wouldn’t have stayed on the right path otherwise. My parents have had a big influence as well.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What baseball player was your favorite growing up?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Omar Vizquel and Alex Cora!. When I was at the University of Miami he’d (Alex Cora) come out and help me when I was on the field with my defensive woes or if he noticed something I was doing wrong. Right in the middle of the game, mind you.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Team you followed growing up?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Well it used to the Yankees when I was younger but I really don’t like what they are all about now. So currently my favorite team is the Florida Marlins. Mainly because it’s where I am from and I like their club.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Best 1-game performance in your career to date?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Well, can’t remember one game but in one week in early august I went 13-for-25 for an average of .520. I hit three home runs, drove in ten runs, and crossed the plate ten times.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) My mental approach! I used to get down after I had a bad game and I my dad would remind me that I need to get over it, put my trust in God and focus on the day at hand instead of worrying about yesterday.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Definitely versatility and my defensive! I want to be ready to play anywhere at anytime if the ball club needs me at a particular position. If I can play a lot of positions (I can play all infield and outfield positions now) it will boost my stock and expedite my path to the big leagues. If I hit and the manager knows I can play anywhere he’ll find a place for me in the lineup.

Q: (Angelswin.com) If there is one thing people should know about Sean Rodriguez the person, it is?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) My relationship with God. He is the reason I am here today, he is the reason for my ability to play the game of baseball. I want to give glory to him for every good thing that I accomplish. I kneel at the position I am playing before each inning and say a quick prayer to God.


The lighter side of Sean Rodriguez


Q: (Angelswin.com) What’s your favorite food?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) A Cuban dish that consists of chicken and rice with Cuban spices. Yum!! I like Mexican food as well.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What kind of music do you listen to? What’s in your CD player right now?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Michael W. Smith. I also like other Christian artists, gospel and trance music.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What’s your all time favorite movie?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Bad boys and the entire Rocky Series. When I hear that song, “Eye of the Tiger” it gets me fired up for the game.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Most visited website?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Don’t usually go online much except to check my bank account and to send email to my family and friends.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What do you like to do besides play baseball, what’s your hobby?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Workout, hang out with friends but really, just prepare for the next day and game mentally and physically.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What person are you going to call first when you get promoted to the big leagues?

A: (Sean Rodriguez) Definitely my parents or if I can’t get them, my brother who’s a catcher in the Washington Nationals organization. My dad is a coach for the Florida Marlins as well.

_____________________

Kevin Jepsen, L.A. Angels, Interview
KevinJepsen.jpg picture by chuckster70

Q: (Angelswin.com) When did you start playing baseball?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) I began playing t-ball at the age of six.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Who was the most influential in your pursuit to the big leagues?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) My dad has helped me the most in my pursuit of making it to the bigs. My dad was always carting me and his two sisters to our respective sporting events year round. In my freshman year, I was a tight end/defensive end on the football team, but that's my his football career ended. Beginning my sophomore year I played baseball exclusively.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What baseball player was your favorite growing up?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) Loved watching Barry Bonds and Will Clark.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Team you followed growing up? Growing up I followed the Giants (living in Reno made that pretty easy).

A: (Kevin Jepsen) Best 1-game performance in your career to date? In Cedar Rapids last year I tossed a 1 hit complete game shutout. Struck out 10

Q: (Angelswin.com) What part of your game needs the most improvement?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) I feel that I need to work most on my command of my pitches and keeping the pitch count low, which will allow him to work deeper into games.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) I think my greatest asset is my fastball velocity. My fastball is clocked in the mid-nineties and has hit 98 mph on the radar gun before. I like to keep hitters off balance with my change-up that sits in the 85-86 mph range. I am working on a slider that I feel will be a very good pitch in the future but it still needs some work command-wise.

Q: (Angelswin.com) If there is one thing people should know about Kevin Jepsen the person, it is?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) The one part of my personality people should know is that I just love having fun playing ball. I am pretty laid back, like to hang out with friends and listen to music. I am not high strung.


The lighter side of Kevin Jepsen


Q: (Angelswin.com) What’s your favorite food?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) My favorite food is Mexican. I could eat it everyday.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What kind of music do you listen to? What’s in your CD player right now?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) I really enjoy country music, but find time to mix in The Eagles as well.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What’s your all time favorite movie?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) My favorite comedy movie is Dumb & Dumber and his favorite action movie is the Boon dock Saints.

Q: (Angelswin.com) Most visited website?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) I usually don’t have time to go online but when I do it’s mostly to do my online banking.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What do you like to do besides play baseball, what’s your hobby?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) When I am not working out at the Mesa facility I like playing golf.

Q: (Angelswin.com) What person are you going to call first when you get promoted to the big leagues?

A: (Kevin Jepsen) When I get the call to the big club the first person I am calling will be his mom who still Lives in Reno.
Love to hear what you think!

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