Chuck Richter - Senior Editor
We interrupt our regularly scheduled program and bring you news from Eddie Bane in our February edition of "The Bane Connection". The regular scheduled program (The Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels Baseball) will be published on time tonight, with #32 taking center stage. For now, let's get on to the first edition of our monthly feature of 2008 with Eddie Bane, Director of Scouting of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Q: (Angelswin) - Today the full squad reports to spring training, but catchers and pitchers have been around for over a week now, what have you seen or heard in camp of who's making a good impression on the mound, behind the dish and at the plate?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Hi folks, nice to talk with you again. My job almost insures that I will know almost nothing except what I read and hear about spring training. We have great pro scouts led by Gary Sutherland who watch everything in Tempe. Tony is also a really good scout and he is watching everyday as is Bill Stoneman and Ken Forsch. We have plenty of eyes in Arizona. In addition, the coaches and Mike are evaluating every day. Lastly, it is much too early to put a value on what is going on right now. As an old friend and scout of mine, Moose Johnson said, "I'm going to wait until the blocking and tackling starts before I make a choice."
Q: (Angelswin) - With all of the Francisco Rodriguez contract talks worrying some fans about him potentially walking at season end, who in the minors if that happens, do you think has the mentality, as well as the skills, to be a future closer or set up guy for the Angels?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Frankie's deal is way over my pay grade. Let's see how that comes out over time.
You always are looking at minor league pitchers and what roles they can fill in the big leagues. Stephen Marek is the name everyone talks about because he did that job at San Jacinto. Darren O'Day has a feel for pitching in relief. Even Jordan Walden's name gets thrown in because he throws so darn hard, but it is far too early for Walden's name to be in any discussion like that. We would like to see a big year out of a pitcher like Ryan Aldridge also.
Q: (Angelswin) - Do you see anyone skipping a level to start the 2008 minor league season? Some have said Walden may skip Cedar Rapids and start in Rancho Cucamonga. What can you tell us about that and who is on the "fast track" to Anaheim in your opinion?
A: (Eddie Bane) - We have a lot of guys that could be on a so-called fast track, but in this organization we have good players at every level so you have to earn your way. If say, Sean O'Sullivan wants to get to Arkansas this year then the opportunity is there, but he will have to pitch better than the other guys in Rancho. Pretty simple process.
Q: (Angelswin) - Ervin Santana finished the season strong out of the bullpen which included some successful spot starts, while having a very good winter ball showing in the Dominican. What has Ervin done to improve his game from September of 2007 until now?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Ervin Santana is still a young man. He gets penalized because he had success in the major leagues at a young age. Fair or not that is the way it is. Look how many games Ervin has won at his age. Then look at some of the Baseball America sweethearts in the minor leagues. The "sweethearts" on other teams minor league rosters are often older than a pitcher like Santana. The Angels do not shy away from signing college players, but the younger the player, the more time we have to get the player to be an "Angel baseball player".
Believe me the baseball industry certainly recognizes what an "Angel baseball player" looks like. We are thrilled to have Ervin Santana in our organization and I wish we could sign 10 more just like him on the international market.
Q: (Angelswin) - What plans are ahead for Kendry Morales? It seems like he has no position to play with the big league club and the DH spot is being filled by 4-5 outfielders.
A: (Eddie Bane) - Kendry Morales is as good a hitter as the Angels have. Guys like Morales will play. No doubt about that. Kendry still has work to do and needs to do those things with the bat and with the glove. He will. Nobody in the major leagues has so many hitters that they cannot find a spot for a hitter with this type of plus plus power and the plus bat that Kendry has. He is still really young and somewhat like Ervin Santana, seeing it appears that he has been around a long time, but that is only because he was playing at a very high level at a very young age. We are thrilled with Kendry and see him progressing nicely for us and we look forward to him getting plenty of at bats this season.
Q: (Angelswin) - Speaking of winter ball, Erick Aybar had a tough time both on offense and more importantly for him, on defense in the Dominican. What's going on with Erick and do you think he should be the front runner for the starting SS job, or would you prefer Brandon Wood or Maicer Izturis for the opening gig at SS? Is Brandon Wood defensively up to par with Aybar and Izturis right now?
A: (Eddie Bane) - My preferences on who I like will be known only to other Angels employees, unfortunately for our readers. Wood can play defense at shortstop with anyone. Brandon will benefit from advance reports greatly because his positioning on each player will be really important. The ball gets on the defender quicker at the big league level because a big man is the one hitting the ball. When Vlad Guerrero hits a ball it gets on the hitter quickly.
Macier Izturis can play SS in the major leagues. Erick Aybar will be evaluated on how he plays this spring and how he has played for the Angels in the past. Alfredo Griffin is a true infield genius and Rob Piccilo in the minor leagues give Erick as much help as he will ever need. Scouts should have to pay money in order to sit and listen to Griffin and Rob talk about infield play. I certainly trust our infielders with those guys and anything they come up with good enough for me.
Q: (Angelswin) - With the talented group of prospects at Rancho Cucamonga this year, do you think you'll make it out often to see the Quakes in 2008? What a team the Quakes are going to have this year, I'm predicting good things from the farmhands that assemble at the Epicenter.
A: (Eddie Bane) - Our Rancho club is going to be the place to be this season. Players like Mount, Phillips, O'Sullivan, Trevor Bell and others would be in this amateur draft if they had not signed. They would all be 1st round players if in this draft. But, they also to a man are happy they signed with the Angels and got their career started. Mark Trumbo may be in Rancho and if we can get tap into his power potential this year then people in Rancho will see some of the longest Home Runs they have seen in awhile. Matt Sweeney and Hank Conger should also be in Rancho and they are 2 players that would not even be in this situation if they had went to college.
I like the way Arte lets us develop players. We are allowed to take HS players and let them progress. Some other teams will take college players and let them get to the big leagues quicker than the Angels will. Our philosophy is that the new players have to get in line and beat out the guys in front of them. Look at the rotation in Rancho this year and a prospect will be pitching every single night. I don't see any other organization being able to do that.
Q: (Angelswin) - When you talk to opposing teams' scouts, what Angels prospect is mentioned with glowing reports the most from them?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Teams usually start paying extra attention to your players when they get to the Cal League level. But, they already know about the obvious guys like Adenhart, Conger, Sweeney and a few others. Obviously, the good teams like the Twins nabbed Alexi Casilla from us a few years ago when Terry Ryan scouted him in Cedar Rapids. Scouts are everywhere and they know where the good players are and in what organizations they play in. One of our good problems is that we are starting to get some backup and guys are going to have to beat out another good player to make it to the show. Good problem to have, but we need to make good choices and put the right guys on the field.
Abe Flores only has so many innings in the minor leagues and the right players need to get those innings.
Q: (Angelswin) - Eddie, what can you tell us about the amateur draft and what a day in the life of draft day for Eddie Bane and the Angels is like?
A: (Eddie Bane) - The other day in Houston, Texas was typical from what I want in our Angels scouts and myself. Kevin Ham knew about a HS pitcher throwing at 10:30. The game started at 10, but we made it because our guys are always early. At 12 noon I was able to get Robbie Grossman, a HS hitter at Cy Fair in Texas, in batting practice. A couple innings of that game and then a HS match up of pitchers at 3:30.
Fortunately, the 3:30 game was close to the Bush Airport in Houston. The flight to Phoenix left on time and when I drove by ASU after landing in Phoenix I noticed the lights were on. I walked into ASU's ballpark at 9:30 and Miami of Ohio was playing Oregon St. I noticed that most all of the scouts were gone except Bo Hughes, our west coast supervisor. Bo was still at the game and still working. Other clubs may do this type work, but I am sure that our Angels scouts work like this each and every day.
I wish there were more days like these where you got 6 players in one day, but sometimes you have to hunt and peck to see just one draft.
Q: (Angelswin) - Following up that question, has Tony Reagins communicated to you any changes as far as who to draft in this years' 2008 amateur draft. Do the Angels go for best available, HS over College? Positional need, or closest to the big leagues?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Tony has communicated to me that he wants us to get it "right". I understand what that means. Find the player, sign the player and then go do it again and again. That is what I love and Tony knows that. I look forward to it and also look forward to getting into Latin America more often and helping Clay Daniel with some of the big time guys in Latin America. Also want to see if we can find more Young Il Yung's in Asia. He was hurt last year, but this young man, if healthy has a huge future.
Q: (Angelswin) - What player or players do you predict has a break out year in 2008 (Like Brok Butcher, Nick Green, Chris Pettit and Sean O'Sullivan did in '07) and why?
A: (Eddie Bane) - That is all up to the players themselves. The players in Rancho have been able to play together for quite awhile now. Orem, Cedar Rapids and now Rancho. This will be the last time that will happen in my opinion. 5-6 of these guys in Rancho are going to have huge years and will be knocking on the door in Orange County real soon. The players need to understand how really close they are now to being major leaguers ball players.
As far as big years I would think Pettit wants to prove last year was for real. Green is being shown a golden opportunity and O'Sullivan could be on the door step in no time because he has feel for pitching unlike any of our other guys. Sean just does not throw strikes. Sean throws the ball where he wants just like really good major league pitchers do. Sean has to get in(he has) good shape and stay there. The game comes easy for Sean and sometimes that can be a hindrance. I know scouts in SoCal are kicking themselves for talking themselves out of O'Sullivan when he was an amateur.
Q: (Angelswin) - Injuries in camp, are there any players that have been shut down due to injuries and will get a late start heading into the 2008 minor league season?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Not that I know of, but then again that is more of an Abe Flores question. One thing on Abe Flores. Abe was my asst for my first years with the Angels. With the changes Abe become our minor league director. I had no idea all the things that Abe did to make my job easier. He will do a great job, but he is missed. His job is being taken now by Tory Hernandez with some of the stuff in Justin Hollander's camp. Tory is really really good. He even is able to help with our arbitration stuff while still knowing what is going on will all of my scouts on the road. Pretty incredible stuff.
Q: (Angelswin) - Finally, on a personal note, this was a long off-season, what did Eddie Bane do during the off-season?
A: (Eddie Bane) - Eddie Bane does not have an off-season and none of my scouts do either.
Somebody plays baseball almost every day of the year now. Guys organize camps that run on Christmas Eve for heavens sake and a guy like Bear Bryant in Alabama will always leave me a message that he saw some kid play in Mississippi on Christmas Eve. That is his way of topping our other guys and showing how hard they work. It is a good thing to have guys trying to outwork each other and our guys do it every single day.
The only thing that really happened baseball and personal-wise in the off-season was that I was informed that I am a finalist for the College Baseball Hall of Fame and that my youngest daughter Veronica had a big year at Chapman GPA-wise. She is a great kid.
The inductees will be announced shortly so we shall see what happens with that. Just being a finalist is an overwhelming thought for me. People for some reason have a long memory from my playing days at ASU. It also helps working for Arte Moreno and the Angels, it keeps your name in the limelight.
Lastly, good luck to the Angelswin.com readers. I really love the fact that so many people care about the Angels. That is a great feeling. Thanks a lot folks and good luck to all in the upcoming baseball season.
This concludes our time with Eddie Bane for this month's feature. Check back with us in March for the next edition of "The Bane Connection". Also, feel free to send questions to us that we may be able to pass on to Eddie for future columns at: firstname.lastname@example.org