Tag: Arizona League

Chukars start second half with 7-6 comeback win over Grand Junction

Idaho Falls' Angelo Castellano tags second base and makes the throw to first in time for a double-play during Thursday night's game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls’ Angelo Castellano tags second base and makes the throw to first in time for a double-play during Thursday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

The Idaho Falls Chukars came agonizingly close to earning a Pioneer League South first-half title Wednesday. Now, they’ll have to outlast Ogden and Grand Junction for 38 more games to make it back to the playoffs.

I.F. took one step toward that prize Thursday with a 7-6 win over Grand Junction at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars erased another late three-run deficit, similar to Wednesday’s game at Missoula but in reverse of the crushing one-run loss.

Comeback trail

The Chukars went up 3-0 after the second inning, but that three-run lead slowly turned into a three-run deficit. After three strong innings, I.F. starting pitcher Matt Portland struggled to find the strike zone. He threw 37 balls against 40 strikes, walked five batters and allowed five earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched.

But the Chukars don’t stay silent with the bats at home games. In their first 19 contests at Melaleuca Field, their lowest offensive output was four runs. They scored fewer than six runs in only four home games, as well. The Chukars kept that category stagnant again Thursday.

I.F. hit three singles and drew a walk in the sixth inning, but the Rockies did just as much to blow the lead. First baseman Hunter Melton made a throwing error, and pitcher Lorenz Ozuna threw two wild pitches that each led to runs. The second tied the game.

Another error placed Chukars on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Jordan Ebert took advantage, driving in Luke Willis with a single to put I.F. up 7-6.

Grand Junction got a runner to third in the top of the ninth against Nick Andros, but the left-hander got a flyout to centerfield to end it.

One-run discrepancy

In the first half, the Chukars went a measly 5-11 in games decided by one run. But the bulk of that losing came on the road. They went 1-9 in one-run games away from Melaleuca Field.

It’s hard to chalk up those struggles to anything but bad luck, mostly because one-run game performance is so random (at least for MLB teams). The Chukars also improved to 5-2 in one-run games at home following Thursday’s win. Their overall home record is now 16-4.

Roster moves

The Chukars added a pair of first-year players on Wednesday left-handed pitcher Richard Lovelady and infielder Joe Dudek.

Lovelady was drafted in the 10th round of June’s MLB draft out of Kennesaw State University. He pitched 10.1 relief innings for the Arizona League Royals earlier this summer, posting a 1.74 ERA with 14 strikeouts and two walks.

Dudek was an undrafted free agent out of the University of North Carolina. He transferred to the University of Kentucky prior to the 2016 season but did not play for the Wildcats because of NCAA transfer rules.

Up next

The Chukars (23-16, 1-0 second half) and Rockies (16-23, 0-1) return to Melaleuca Field on Friday at 7:15 p.m. Arnaldo Hernandez (6.09 ERA) will get the start for I.F.

Chukars Notebook: Q&A with Royals senior coordinator for player development John Wathan

By VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

Few people have more knowledge of the Kansas City Royals’ organization than John Wathan.

Wathan, 65, is a Royals’ senior coordinator for player development. Wathan has been in Idaho Falls this week to evaluate the Chukars, along with director of minor league operations Ronnie Richardson, fellow senior coordinator for player development Chino Cadahia and Rafael Belliard, an infield coordinator and advisor to the general manager.

Wathan has spent 39 years with Kansas City. He played all 10 of his MLB seasons with the Royals, managed them for four years and worked in the team’s front office for a quarter century.

Wathan sat down with the Post Register on Thursday to discuss his job duties this weekend and overall.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

What does your role entail?

“I do a little bit of instruction. I used to do baserunning and bunting a lot, so I occasionally do that. More than that, I’m an evaluator. I go around to all seven clubs (affiliated with Kansas City) and evaluate all the pitching and the position players.”

Are you looking for anything specific this week in Idaho Falls?

“Nothing specifically. I’m just evaluating everything they do, from a hitting standpoint to defense to baserunning to pitching.”

How long do you spend watching each affiliate?

“I usually see every team five games, so I can see the whole starting rotation. Maybe I’ll see all of the bullpen, see all the guys play, position-wise. It’s enough time to make an evaluation.”

From the spring until the fall, are you traveling from team to team?

“I get home some. I live in Kansas City. I’ll be home for a few days, then head out again. I get home Monday, and I’ll leave Kansas City Thursday to Wilmington. I’ve seen (Double-A affiliate) Northwest Arkansas twice already. I usually see each team twice, with the exception of short-season clubs. This one, I’ll just see once.”

Civic Stadium

On Monday, Civic Stadium in Eugene, Ore., was engulfed in flames and declared a total loss by Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Randy Groves. Four juvenile boys were charged with second degree arson.

The baseball stadium has been unused since 2009, but before that, its history was rich. It opened in 1938, and in 1969, it became the home of the short-season Class A Eugene Emeralds, a Chicago Cubs affiliate since 2014.

The Emeralds, who moved to PK Park in 2010, are owned by Dave Elmore. The owner of Elmore Sports Group owns six other minor league baseball teams, including the Chukars.

Elmore, who has owned the Emeralds for more than 30 years, remembers how much the fans would intermingle around Civic’s concessions. He heard stories of fathers and sons bonding at the stadium, and people meeting their future spouses there.

“It was kind of a magical thing, and I think it was for a lot of people for a lot of years,” Elmore said in a phone interview Saturday. “I’m hoping that out of this will come a new desire and mission on the part of the community to rebuild it.”

The nonprofit Eugene Civic Alliance, which purchased Civic Stadium in April, vowed to build a sports complex where the stadium once stood, according to the Eugene Register-Guard.

Who’s hot?

OF/1B Alexis Rivera

Rivera has gone hitless in one game this season — an 0 for 4 performance against Ogden on June 24. He’s hit .368 in his last 10 games, one of which was Idaho Falls’ 25-2 win over Grand Junction on June 28. Rivera reached base in all seven plate appearances that game. Rivera leads the Pioneer League in home runs (7), RBIs (25) and walks (16).

Who’s not?

LHP Hunter Haynes

In four starts, Haynes has given up 25 runs (19 earned) on 27 hits and 10 walks in 15.1 innings pitched. He owns a 11.15 ERA, the second-worst among Chukars pitchers (reliever Brian Bayliss has a 12.71 ERA).

Roster moves

Here is a timeline of the Chukars’ roster moves so far this season:

June 21: Outfielder Riley King (a Helena, Mont., native who was selected in the 24th round of the 2013 MLB draft out of Carroll College) transfers to the Rookie-level Riley King.

June 22: Left-handed pitcher Brennan Henry (17th round, 2014 draft, Bellevue University) transfers from the Single-A Lexington Legends to Idaho Falls.

June 23: Idaho Falls adds left-handed pitcher Nick Green (10th round, 2014 draft, Utah) to its active roster.

June 29: The Chukars add left-handed pitcher Eric Stout (13th round, 2014 draft, Butler University) to their active roster.

July 2: Infielder Luis Valenzuela transfers to Lexington. Valenzuela hit .486 in 35 at-bats for the Chukars this season. The Chukars also add Arizona League infielder Logan Nottebrok (undrafted) to their active roster.

July 4: Idaho Falls adds outfielder Cody Jones (6th round, 2015 draft, TCU) to active roster from extended spring.