Tag: Justin Gemoll

Chukars’ notebook: Just like the rest of the MLB, Chukars’ games can go long

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Editors note: Every Sunday, Luke O’Roark will break down the Chukars, the Pioneer League, and give some insight on what’s going on inside the Kansas City affiliate.

Fans enjoy witnessing a Chukars’ win, but, it may take them a while to see one.
Friday the Chukars beat the Brewers easily, 13-1, in… three hours and 38 minutes. It wasn’t even the longest game of the season — that was Idaho Falls’ 13-10 win over Grand Junction on June 22.
It took four (!) hours.
For context: MLB games took about two hours and 56 minutes in 2015, according to a Fox Sports report. The average time increased to three hours and 26 seconds in 2016, per ESPN.
Intriguingly, MLB games are taking longer today than a they were decade ago, according to research from Baseball Reference.com.
“It’s tough,” Vance Vizcaino said of how long some games go. “We’ve got good opponents and our pitchers throw well and they throw strikes. And when we face good hitters, they’ll get hits.”
Still, the Chukars are trending around three hours a game in 2017.
In the month of July (so far), the average Chukars’ game takes two hours and 58 minutes. Eight of the Chukars’ 19 games took three hours or longer.

(FILE) Idaho Falls’ Julio Gonzales makes the throw to first base after getting the force-out on Missoula’s Dominic Miroglio at second base during Monday night’s game at Melaleuca Field. The double play ended the sixth inning.

The Chukars’ 12 games in June took even longer: three hours and 16 minutes. Nine of their 12 games went past the three-hour mark.
Considering the Chukars’ normal start time at home (7:15 p.m.), most games don’t finish until 10-10:30 p.m.
The quickest Chukars game this year was Tuesday’s 6-1 win against Missoula at two hours and 18 minutes.
“I mean, this game, it was 15-11 so that kind of explains (why it went long) a little bit,” Chukars catcher Chris Hudgins said on July 15. “I don’t know, really. We have extra time in between innings where we’re doing some stuff, entertaining the crowd so that could be a big part of it, but it could also depend on the tempo of the game.”
The justification behind why baseball games — whether at Melaleuca Field or the Kansas City Royals’s Kauffman Stadium — take so long? It depends on who you ask.
The length of baseball games has, historically, been longer than its major sports contemporaries because of pitches, time in between innings and the natural structure of the sport.
The MLB has tried to implement new rules in order to speed up the game. But baseball games are still about the same length of a “Lord of the Rings” movie.
“I wish I knew the answer,” Chukars’ manager Justin Gemoll said after Idaho Falls’ home opener. “Maybe an earlier start time would get us done earlier. We had a long day last night. We left (Grand Junction) around midnight and rolled in here around 8:30 in the morning, so quick turnaround.”
The Chukars are the only Pioneer League team to start home games at 7:15 during Monday through Saturday. Other teams start anywhere from 6:05 p.m. (Billings) to 7 p.m. (Ogden).
Pitcher David McKay said he actually enjoys the later starts.
“It’s not bad,” he said. “You get to sleep in.”
Secondly, the Pioneer League is also a developmental level for the MLB’s farming system. Players are trying different pitches and perfecting different components of their respective games.
With errors and mistakes being made, games have the potential to go longer because of more batters, pitches and chances for games to be extended. Vin Scully told the Boston Globe in a 2013 article that even minuscule changes, like Velcro, have added time to baseball games.

(FILE) Chukars infielder Offerman Collado (1) runs to second base during a regular season game against the Brewers on Wednesday night at Melaluca Field.

Other theories include the amount of promotions before first pitches and between innings.
“I don’t know,” pitcher Michael Silva said. “It’s just the game of baseball. Every game can be different and it happens everyday.”

Chukars transactions (as of July 18-22)

– The Chukars received outfielder Travis Jones from the Burlington Royals on July 19. Idaho Falls is Jones’ third destination this year. He played seven games for Burlington and nine games in the Arizona League before arriving in Idaho Falls.

Around the Pioneer League

With the first half of the regular season coming to a close, Orem leads the league at 23-8. Ogden is second in the Pioneer League South division (behind the Owlz) at 17-14. Grand Junction is third at 15-15. Idaho Falls is in fourth at 14-17.

In the North division, Billings (15-15) is only 0.5 games ahead of Missoula (15-16) atop of the standings. Helena is third (14-17), as Great Falls has the worst record in the league at 10-21.

Chukars notebook: Rinn continues to improve

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @Lukeoroark
Editors note: Luke O’Roark will break down the Chukars, the Pioneer League, and give some insight on what’s going on inside the Kansas City affiliate every week. Normally on Sundays, this week’s notebook comes on a Tuesday.

Robby Rinn has been all over the place.

Robby Rinn (via Chukars media)

Massachusetts. Rhode Island. Arizona. Idaho Falls. He’s been racking up the air miles since he was drafted in the 25th round by the Royals in 2016.

He’s also been racking up the hits since joining the Chukars this summer.

Rinn leads Idaho Falls in hits (33), at-bats (101), walks (16) and RBIs (24, good for third in the Pioneer League). For the Chukars, he’s second in doubles (7), tied for second in home runs (3), third in total bases (50), third in on-base percentage (.429), fifth in slugging (.495) and fourth in batting average (.327).

O.K., you probably get it — Rinn can do it all.

“He is very consistent for us,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “He’s got good at-bats and doesn’t try to do too much.”

Rinn’s handy work with a baseball bat began attending private schools in Warwick, Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts before walking on at Bryant University.

From there, he was drafted by the Royals in the 2016 MLB draft and spent 2016 in the Arizona League. He batted .280 in 189 at-bats, with 53 hits and 31 RBIs in 50 games.

Rinn, 24, has continued to improve in Idaho Falls.

“You get here and the players are more polished for sure,” Rinn said on June 26. “I mean, kids are still a lot more polished than I am, it’s just a different style it seems … Yeah, I’m from a small school and it was even hard for me to get to that small school because of the recruiting process in college, too, and it was hard for me to even get to this point so I’m just appreciating it.”

Gemoll said Rinn is the type of hitter managers look for in the middle of order. Rinn is batting fourth behind Amalani Fukofuka, and found some luck: he’s notched eight hits in the previous 10 games.

“He’s a strong guy, and keeps swinging in the zone as much as possible,” Chukars’ hitting coach Damon Hollins said. “Just gotta keep going up there and get his pitch.”

Team transactions (from July 8-17):

– The Chukars received Julio Gonzalez from the Burlington Royals, as Ricky Aracena was assigned to the Lexington Legends. Aracena played six games for Idaho Falls, registering 10 hits and 10 runs while batting .385.

– Dalton Griffin was listed as “suspended” on July 12, according to MiLB.com league transactions. Chukars manager Justin Gemoll did not clarify the reasoning behind the suspension. Griffin, 19, last played on July 7 against Ogden. He had one at-bat.

– On July 11, the Chukars swapped three players with the Arizona League Royals: Pitchers Danny Hrbek, Andrew Beckwith and Holden Capps came to Idaho Falls. In return, Jose De Leon, Randy Acevedo and Adres Sotillet were assigned to the Arizona League.

– Left-handed pitcher Josh Mitchell was also assigned to the Chukars on July 11.

– Vance Vizcaino was transferred to the Lexington Legends on July 15. Vizcaino was vital to the Chukars’ offense this season. He batted .287 with 25 hits and 16 RBIs in 22 games. Gemoll called Vizcaino “athletic” and “smart” on the field and is a player who can play multiple outfield positions.

– Jonathan McCray was assigned to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Monday. It will be McCray’s second stint in Carolina. With the Chukars, McCray tallied 30 hits, 54 total bases and 14 RBIs in 22 games.

Around the Pioneer League (as of July 17):

– Orem is the best team in the Pioneer League, sitting at 19-7. Missoula and Billings leads the Pioneer League North Division at 14-13. Idaho Falls is tied for fourth in the South Division at 12-15 (7.5 games behind Orem).

– Speaking of Billings, the Mustangs recently acquired Reds’ first-round pick Hunter Greene, according to the Billings Gazette. Greene was selected second overall in this year’s draft, signing a $7.23 million signing bonus.

– Orem and Ogden continue to be the league’s top offenses. Orem leads the league in hits (326), runs (237), RBIs (212) and batting average (.326). Ogden has the most home runs with 43 and OPS at .946.

– In terms of pitching, Great Falls leads the league in team pitching with a 4.39 ERA. The Voyagers have allowed a league-low 12 home runs.

– Grand Junction’s Shael Mendoza is the league’s hits-leader at 41. Orem’s David MacKinnon leads the league in batting average at .468.

– Billings’ Moises Nova holds the league’s best ERA at 2.49 in 21.2 innings pitched.

Chukars beat Brewers, 7-5, at home

By Paul Lambert | prsports@postregister.com
“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug,” or so sang Dire Sraits in their remake of the Mary Chapin Carpenter hit.

Many times the bug this season, the Idaho Falls Chukars played the role of windshield Friday night, riding timely hitting and clutch pitching in a 7-5 win over visiting Helena Brewers.

Darell Miller Jr. Provided via Idaho Falls Chukars

“We got some big hits in some big spots, and were lucky to get out of here with a win tonight,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said. “These kids are young and competitive, and they’re giving it their all.”

Idaho Falls starting pitcher Janser Lara left the bases loaded in the first, wriggling off the hook thanks to strong defensive plays from shortstop Julio Gonzalez and left fielder Vance Vizcaino.

Lara reached his pitch count early, leaving five Missoula runners on base through two shutout innings, but not before running his team-best strikeout total to 22 (over 15 and 2/3 innings)

Cleanup hitter Darrell Miller, Jr., got the Chukars on the board in the first, driving home Amalani Fukofuka with a line drive to left.

The hit was Miller’s 20th as a professional, and he has now had a hit in every game of his 9-game professional career, coming into the game hitting .528.

Miller, Fukofuka and Vizcaino all came around to score in the first, staking Lara to an early 3-0 lead.

Adding to a fun night for the Idaho Falls catcher, Miller also gunned down Helena’s Chad McClanahan on a steal attempt to end the third inning.

“It has been unreal,” Miller said of his early success as a pro. “I love this town, and the Royals organization really helps you learn things in a way to help you get the most out of every situation.”

Also putting the handcuffs on a would-be Helena thief, Fukofuka gunned down Payton Henry who was attempting to tag up and take third on a flyball to right – drawing a standing-ovation from a large number of the 2,874 in attendance at Melaleuca Field.

The Chukars added one in the fifth and three more in the sixth, taking advantage of three Helena errors to score four runs and take a 7-2 lead

That 3-spot in the sixth came in handy as the Brewers kept whittling away in the latter innings, scoring one in the seventh and two more in the eighth.

Leading 7-5 entering the top of the ninth, Idaho Falls called on former Pittsburgh Panther standout Josh Mitchell who picked up his first professional save.

The crafty southpaw worked a 1-2-3 inning to wrap things up, striking out Nicolas Pierre for the final out, giving the Chukars their 11th win of the season.

The Chukars (11-14) continue their seven-game homestand tonight, playing the first of four against the Missoula Osprey (13-12). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15.

Brewers down Chukars, 7-4, with extra base hits

By Luke O’Roark | Loroark@postregister.com | @Lukeoroark
The scoring came in spurts Wednesday, but when it did, it came in bunches.
The Brewers batters were controlled at the plate, but it was extra base hits that downed Idaho Falls at home in a 7-4 loss at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars fall to 9-14 and have lost eight of the previous 10 games. They are now 4-7 at home.
Chukars’ pitcher Robert Garcia (0-1) showed decent control on the mound: five hits allowed, four earned runs and eight strikeouts. He did allow one home run in the first inning. The Chukars are 5-9 when they allow a home run this season.

Chukars infielder Tyler Straub (18) gets ready to catch the ball while Brewers infielder Dallas Carroll (29) goes to slide to the base during a regular season game at Melaluca on Wednesday night.

But when the Brewers did make contact with Garcia’s pitches, they did damage. Six hits went for extra bases — four doubles and two triples.
“Those guys jumped on us early,” Chukars’ hitting coach Damon Hollins said. “Big three-run home run at the plate, and obviously we have to do more at the plate. We got to bear down a little bit.”
The Brewers took an early 3-0 lead after Payton Henry hit a home run off Garcia in the first inning. Dallas Carroll and KJ Harrison crossed home plate, too.
Vance Vizcaino, one of the Chukars most consistent batters, responded to the early 3-0 deficit with a two-run home run of his own. The home run was his second this season.
“Well, he’s a very smart baseball player,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said of Vizcaino. “He’s athletic. He can play multiple outfield positions. He can run. He can bunt. As you saw tonight, he can hit with some power.”
Up 3-2, the Brewers (12-11) then answered Vizcaino’s home run with four runs though five frames and held their lead in the bottom of the ninth in controversial fashion.


Jake Wakamatsu hit a double in the bottom of the ninth, but, per umpires Rob Headley and Tyler Johnson, forgot to tag first. He was then called out when Brewers Parker Bean lobbed the ball to first base — sending Wakamatsu to the dugout and dampening the Chukars’ attempt at a comeback.
“He said he hit the edge of the corner, but if the umpires say he missed it, there’s no replay at this level, we have to go with what they say,” Hollins said. “Obviously it sucks for us. To have him on second base with no outs in a three-run game right there, figured to have something going and to have him go back, it sucks but at the same time, you gotta make sure you’re clear on what you’re doing and (umpires), they’re human, too.”

“From my vantage point, he hit first and got to second for a double, but then their dugout starts yelling,” Gemoll said. “So it was one of the things, where, unfortunately, the umpire said he did miss the base and they called him out.”

What’s important:

Despite a stronger showing than its three-game sweep on the road to Orem, Idaho Falls’s offense couldn’t keep up with Helena’s extra-base hits.

Player (s) of the game:

Vance Vizcaino. Went 2 for 4 Wednesday including a two-run home run.

Quotable:

“These type of games at this level, it’s going to be like that. You know, you gotta find a way to bear down, pitchers got to find a way to make adjustments, and as the offense, you gotta fight. You gotta come out and compete every single pitch.” – Chukars hitting coach Damon Hollins

Notables:

– Wednesday’s attendance was announced at 3,183.

– Manager Justin Gemoll was tossed out of Wednesday’s game after arguing with umpire Tyler Johnson in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jake Wakamatsu hit a double, attempting to rally the Chukars, but was called out at first after he failed to tag first tag.

– A fire alarm went off during Wednesday’s game, causing minor turmoil. It was called a false alarm by PA announcer Javier Hernandez. The alarm then went off again.

– Infielder Dalton Griffin is listed as “suspended” according to MiLB.com. The website does not state how long he will be suspended for. Gemoll did not clarify Griffin’s suspension after Wednesday’s game.

– Amalani Fukofuka (batting a .338 on 80 at-bats) changed his walk-up song for the fourth time Wednesday. He’s played 19 games.

– The Chukars received four pitchers from the Arizona League: Holden Capps, Andrew Beckwith, Josh Mitchell and Daniel Hrbek. In exchange three were sent to AZL: Randy Acevedo, Jose De Leon and Andres Sotillet. Acevedo pitched 19 innings and had a 6.63 ERA. De Leon (1-0) had a 9.35 ERA in 8 and 2/3 innings pitched. Sotillet (0-2) had a 10.57 ERA in 15 and 1/3 innings pitched. He started four games.

Chukars infielder Offerman Collado (1) runs to second base during a regular season game against the Brewers on Wednesday night at Melaluca Field.

– Delta Dental of Idaho is partnering with the Chukars to collect canned food for the Community Food Basket of Idaho, per a press release sent to the Post Register. Fans, and those who want to partake in the food drive, can bring canned food to Melaleuca Field Thursday evening (July 13) at 6 p.m.

Upnext:

Idaho Falls will return to Melaleuca Field to play Helena to continue a seven-game homestand. First pitch Thursday is 7:15 p.m.

Chukars can’t register hits, lose to Owlz at Melaleuca

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register
The hits kept coming for Orem and Idaho Falls Saturday at Melaleuca Field.
Only one team used them to its advantage, however.
Orem beat Idaho Falls 9-3 behind 17 hits, pushing the Chukars to 0-2 at home this season. Orem’s Richard Fecteau lead all batters by going 3-for-5 at the plate for three RBIs. Roby Rinn lead the Chukars by going 2-for-4 at bat.
After struggling to register hits early on, the Chukars (3-3) looked to rally in the sixth inning.
With bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, and the crowd beginning to stomp on the bleachers, Logan Gray walked home and Jonathan McCray ground out scored Dalton Griffin.
The two runs wasn’t enough, though.
Similar to Friday night, the Owlz’s offense came out hot. Orem (5-1) started the game with a 2-0 lead after Brandon Sandoval and Marsh hit a double and triple, respectively. Richard Fecteau would then score Marsh with a single.
A double-play would get starting pitcher David McKay, and the Chukars, out of the early jam.
The Chukars would add a run in the bottom of the inning thanks to a Robby Rinn RBI with two outs. But the Owlz would add on two more runs in the fourth.
Five Owlz runs in the final four frames put the game away, as the Chukars couldn’t add runs after the sixth.
Simply put: anything the Chukars did offensively Saturday, the Owlz did better.

What’s important:

The Chukars made contact with the ball, but couldn’t garner runs. They left 11 runners on base and had the worst offensive outing of the season in terms of hits with eight (lowest hit count previously was 10).

Player (s) of the game:

Pitcher David McKay (0-1). McKay struck out seven batters, walked another, and allowed nine hits in five 2/3 innings pitched. His command was solid thanks to a variety of off-speed pitches and sliders, but was finally pulled after the Owlz took a 5-1 lead in the sixth inning. He finished with a 5.91 ERA.

David McKay. Photo via Idaho Falls Chukars

Quotable:

“I thought our kids competed well. We got some chances with guys on base. We just didn’t get the big hit and that’s just baseball. They’re not always gonna fall. The idea is to keep battling, keep putting the pressure on and if you keep doing that, and guys come through with a big hit here or there, and it’s a whole different outcome.” — Chukars’ manager Justin Gemoll

Notables:

Attendance was announced as 2,879.
There was some turmoil right at the start of Saturday’s game: plate umpire Jake Bruner stopped the game after the left batter’s box was too muddy. To add on to the confusion, the Owlz changed up their lineup after they were announced to the Chukars’ broadcast booth.
The Chukars picked up another right-handed pitcher with Geoffrey Bramblett (30th round pick in 2016). Bramblett was previously in Lexington, going 3-1 in eight games pitched with the Legends. He had a 6.57 ERA. In 2016, he pitched 11 games for the Burlington Royals. The addition gives Idaho Falls its 13th pitcher this season.

Upnext:

Idaho Falls will play Grand Junction (1-5) Sunday at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is at 4 p.m. The Chukars won their season-opening series against the Rockies, 3-1.

Fukofuka looks to return to MVP-like form during second stint with Chukars

Chukars outfiielderAmalani Fukofuka (8) poses for a portrait during the 2017 Chukars Media Day on Saturday afternoon. The Chukars opening game is this Monday at Grand Junction Rockies.
Taylor Carpenter / tcarpenter@postregister.com, 6/17/2017, Lens 30, ISO 200, FStop {fstop}, Shutter 1/250, Aperature {aperature},

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register
Amalani Fukofuka was a bit earnest coming out of the Chukars’ bullpen Saturday.
He, along with the rest of the team, had just taken official team portraits during media day. They had an exhibition game that night against the Idaho Falls Bandits — an American Legion Baseball team of local high schoolers. Melaleuca Field was supposed to be lax.
But Fukofuka, the former Chukars MVP is back — focused and ready to be a leader in his second stint in Idaho Falls.
“I remember a lot,” Fukofuka said. “(2015) was one of my favorite years I played. I love the people. I love the area. I’m excited to play.”
Fukofuka returns to Idaho Falls in search of the confidence that made him a fan favorite two seasons ago with the Chukars. He’s serious about returning to top form.
During his first go-around at Melaleuca, Fukofuka tallied 95 hits, 38 RBIs and three home runs in 280 plate appearances. He batted .339 in 67 games.
But he struggled last summer with the Lexington Legends, the next stop in the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system. His batting average dipped to .200 in 110 games with the Legends. He struck out 136 times. He had just 110 total bases in 2016, a drop from his 140 total bases a year prior with the Chukars (he also did it in 43 less games).
“I was striking out a lot in Lexington,” Fukofuka said. “So, I’m making a few adjustments to my swing. Here’s the place to do it, adjust, so I can get back up there.”
Chukars’ manager Justin Gemoll said Fukofuka started to put more pressure on himself during his tenure with the Legends and got “out of his game plan”.

Chukars manager Justin Gemoll talks to reporters during the 2017 Chukars Media Day on Saturday afternoon.
Taylor Carpenter / tcarpenter@postregister.com, 6/17/2017, Lens 125, ISO 200, FStop {fstop}, Shutter 1/640, Aperature {aperature},

“He’s got all the tools,” Gemoll said. “Just getting back to trusting himself and relaxing a little bit.”
A return to Melaleuca could help the 21-year-old. Change can be a good thing. And Fukofuka has the right attitude and characteristics to turn it around, Gemoll said.
“He’s very responsible and he does what he needs to do,” Gemoll said. “Professional athletes, a lot of the dedication, confidence, is behind closed doors and fans don’t always see that. But it’s how you take care of yourself off the field, how hard you workout in the gym, what you’re eating.
(Fukofuka) checks all those boxes.”
Idaho Falls provides a second-chance for Fukofuka. For others, it provides a new beginning.
Jake Wakamatsu, son of Royals’ bench coach Don, broke his right hand a year ago. He only played three games for the Royals’ Arizona League team.
Wakamatsu has had a journey of his own: he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school in the 48th round. He decided to attend Arizona State. But after recruiting scandals hovered around ASU in 2011-2012, he transferred to Arizona Christian University. Then, he broke his throwing hand.
He said he just wants to see the field again after a year hiatus. Now healthy, Wakamatsu has a chance to build up his repertoire and advance up through the Royals’ minor system.
“Anytime I get on the field, just play my hardest,” Wakamatsu said. “And just see how it goes. Try to keep moving up.”

Chukars announce opening-day roster

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register
The Idaho Falls Chukars announced its 2017 opening-day roster around 11:40 a.m. Thursday.
Twenty-four players will suit up in Chukars uniforms for the start of the season — including fan favorite and 2015 all-star outfielder Amalani Fukofuka, per Chukars media spokesman Logan Ratick. Fukofuka registered 95 hits, 53 runs and 38 RBIs on a .339 batting average over 67 games during his 2015 campaign with the Chukars. He spent all of 2016 with the Lexington Legends.

Amalani Fukofuka

Other former Chukars players set to return to Melaleuca Field are shortstop Ricky Aracena and pitcher Julio Pinto, who appeared in two games in 2015.
Sixteen of Idaho Falls’ players are free agents, according to the roster released to local media Thursday. Eight of them are draft picks from the 2013, 2015 and ‘16 draft classes. Fukofuka is the highest-drafted player (fifth round in 2013).
An interesting flair: 11 Chukars have international roots (seven are from the Dominican Republic; four are from Venezuela). The Chukars also don’t have any left-handed pitchers currently on their roster (the Royals drafted 15 left-handed pitchers in this year’s draft).
The Chukars have one college player, Darrell Miller Jr. from UCLA, who is the nephew of NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller. His father, Darrell Sr., runs the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., and played five season with the Los Angeles Angels.
Miller Jr. isn’t the only Chukar with a genealogy filled with professional athletes.
Jake Wakamatsu is the son of Royals’ bench coach Don Wakamatsu. Jake was previously drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB draft. His brother, Luke, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2015.

Justin Gemoll

Idaho Falls has five returning coaches on its staff. Manager Justin Gemoll returns for his third year guiding the Chukars. He’s led Idaho Falls to a 78-74 record (.513 winning percentage) in two season. He played for the Omaha Royals (Triple-A Royals affiliate) in 2005.
The Chukars play an exhibition game against the American Legion Baseball Idaho Falls Bandits at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Melaleuca Field. Idaho Falls’ season officially starts Monday at Grand Junction. Its home opener is June 23 against Orem.
The complete roster is below (player, B/T, year acquired, hometown, previous team):

Pitchers (12):

Randy Acevedo RHP/FA ‘15/Pimentel, Dominican Republic/DSL Royals
Jose De Leon RHP/FA ‘15/Bahrahona, Domionican Republic/DSL Royals
Emmanuel Estevez RHP/FA ‘15/Dajabon, Dominican Republic/DSL Royals
Jeremy Gwinn RHP/12th Rd. ‘16/Woodland Park, CO/AZL Royals
Garrett Harris RHP/FA’16/College Station, TX/AZL Royals
Janser Lara RHP/FA ‘15/San Cristobal, Dominican Republic/DSL Royals
Christopher Marte RHP/FA ‘15/Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic/DSL Royals
David McKay RHP/ 14th Rd. ‘16/Melbourne, FL/Lexington Legends
Cody Nesbit RHP/22 Rd. ‘16/La Porte, TX/AZL Royals
Julio Pinto RHP/FA ‘12/ Guacara, Venezuela/Lexington Legends
Michael Silva RHP/FA ‘16/Valencia, CA/Burlington Royals
Andres Sotillet RHP/FA ‘15/Cumana, Venezuela/DSL Royals

Catchers (2):

Freddy Fermin R/R/FA ‘15/Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela/DSL Royals
Darrell Miller Jr. R/R/FA ‘17/Fullerton, CA/UCLA Bruins

Infielders (7):

Ricky Aracena R/R/FA ‘14/San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic/Lexington Legends
Offerman Collado R/L/FA ‘15/Santiago, Dominican Republic/AZL Royal
Logan Gray R/R/13th Rd. ‘16/Leawood, KS/Burlington Royals
Jonathan McCray S/R/24th Rd. ‘15/Riverside CA/Wilmington Blue Rocks
Robby Rinn L/L/ 25th Rd. ‘16/Warwick, RI/AZL Royals
Tyler Straub R/R/FA ‘16/Alberquerque, NM/Burlington Royals
Jake Wakamatsu L/R/FA ‘16/Keller, TX/AZL Royals

Outfielders (3):

Amalani Fukofuka R/R/5th Rd. ‘13/Hayward, CA/Lexington Legends
Christian Vasquez L/L/FA ‘13/ Barquisimeto, Venezuela/Burlington Royals
Vance Vizcaino L/R/11th Rd. ‘16/Wake Forest, NC/ Burlington Royals

Coaching staff:

Justin Gemoll/Manager/San Jose, CA/Idaho Falls Chukars
Jeff Suppan/ Pitching coach/ Los Angeles/Idaho Falls Chukars
Damon Hollins/Hitting coach/Vallejo, CA/Lexington Legends
Ramon Castro/Bench coach/Valencia, Venezuela/Idaho Falls Chukars
Justin Kemp/Trainer/Spearfish, SD/Idaho Falls Chukars
Jesse White/Strength and conditioning/Globe, AZ/Idaho Falls Chukars

Chukars announce their 2017 coaching staff

Gemoll
Gemoll

A new hitting coach will sit in the Idaho Falls Chukars dugout this summer.

Damon Hollins will replace Andre David as the Chukars’ hitting instructor for the 2017 season, the Chukars announced Friday. Manager Justin Gemoll and pitching coach Jeff Suppan will return to Idaho Falls for their third straight seasons, and Justin Kemp will serve as the Chukars’ head athletic trainer for the second straight year.

This is not Hollins’ first stint as the Chukars’ hitting coach. He held the same position in 2013 and 2014. Hollins spent the previous two seasons as the hitting coach for the Single-A Lexington Legends. 2017 will be Hollins’ eighth year in the Kansas City Royals’ organization.

David was named the hitting coach for the Burlington Royals, Kansas City’s other Rookie-level affiliate, according to the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News. Former Chukars manager Omar Ramirez will become Burlington’s manager this upcoming season, as well. Ramirez, who managed the Legends the last two years, spent three seasons in Idaho Falls. He and Hollins won a Pioneer League title in 2013.

The Chukars did not name a bench coach on Friday. Ramon Castro has occupied that role the previous two seasons.

Chukars end the 2016 season with a fitting win

Idaho Falls Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque hits a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday against the Orem Owlz at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars won the season finale 10-8. (Photo courtesy of Steven Thayer)
Idaho Falls Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque hits a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday against the Orem Owlz at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars won the season finale 10-8. (Photo courtesy of Steven Thayer)

The Idaho Falls Chukars ended their season in fitting fashion.

The game lasted three hours and 10 minutes, I.F.’s 25th game with a duration of at least three hours. The Chukars and Orem Owlz traded leads three times and scored boat loads of runs. And no Chukars game would be complete without some errors.

I.F. finished the 2016 season with a 10-8 win over Orem Thursday night in front of 2,194 fans at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars didn’t make the Pioneer League playoffs, but they finished the season with a 40-36 overall record the best in the South Division.

“When you’re not in the playoffs, it’s easy to check out,” Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque said. “But I felt like we finished strong and did good throughout the year. We were above .500, and we competed every game.”

Crooked numbers

The Chukars entered Thursday’s game with 507 runs scored, 35 more than second-place Ogden. With 10 on Thursday, I.F. finished the season averaging 6.8 runs per game.

Run prevention, however, wasn’t the Chukars’ strong suit, as Thursday showed.

Chukars opening day starter Arnaldo Hernandez took the hill in the final game, which didn’t go as well as his first start. Hernandez pitched five innings in I.F.’s 8-2 win over the Ogden Raptors on June 17, allowing one earned run on three hits. On Thursday, the first five Orem batters reached base, and three of them scored.

Hernandez pitched 4.1 innings on Thursday. The right-hander allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits and a walk, and he struck out two.

I.F.’s offense immediately bailed Hernandez out from his rough start. The Chukars scored six runs on five hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the first.

Orem rallied to take an 8-7 lead in the fifth, but I.F. responded in the seventh. Joe Dudek opened the scoring with his sixth home run of the season, a deep two-run shot to center field. The next batter, Manny Olloque, hit a blast to left field to finish the scoring for the night.

Enmanuel Cammacho pitched three scoreless, hitless innings, and Richard Lovelady pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his sixth save of the season. The left-hander was lights out in his 13 games with I.F. Lovelady finished with a 1.84 ERA, 16 strikeouts and seven walks.

“Every guy got better,” Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said. “It’s a developmental league. These guys grew together as a team and figured out how to win some ballgames.”

The Chukars also committed two errors in the game, upping their season total to 167 (2.2 per game). The next closest team was Ogden, which finished with 131 errors.

Player of the game

Chukars third baseman Manny Olloque

Olloque and Dudek each hit a home run and a double. Olloque added a single to finish 3 for 4, while Dudek was 2 for 4.

Thursday’s performance ended an impressive 2016 season for Olloque. The Pioneer League postseason all-star had a .330 batting average, eight home runs and an OPS over .850.

The biggest area Olloque wants to improve is defense. The 20-year-old committed 25 errors this season, including two on Thursday.

“I lost focus,” Olloque said. “I look forward to instructs and get better on defense.”

Meibrys Viloria named Pioneer League MVP

Viloria
Viloria

Idaho Falls Chukars catcher Meibrys Viloria, who batted over .400 for most of the season, won the Pioneer League’s 2016 Ralph Nelles Award as the league’s most valuable player.

Viloria, a 19-year-old catcher from Cartagena, Colombia, through Monday led the Pioneer League in batting average (.381), doubles (28) and RBIs (54). And one season after not having an extra-base hit for the Burlington Royals, Viloria is second in the league with 37 extra-base hits. He is also second with 53 runs and third in on-base percentage (.442) and slugging (.619).

The international free agent owns the Pioneer League’s longest hitting streak of 2016 at 20 games from July 7 to Aug. 7.

“It’s a great credit to him and the year he’s had,” Idaho Falls manager Justin Gemoll said in a news release. “He does a lot of good things blocking balls, controlling the running game and leading the pitching staff, and offensively he’s had a great approach and been consistent all year long. He’s one of those kids who comes ready to play and wants to play every day. His energy is infectious for our team and he got after it all season long.”

Viloria is the third Chukar to win the award since Idaho Falls became affiliated with the Royals. Clint Robinson, currently with the Washington Nationals, won the award in 2007, while Ryan O’Hearn, now at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, was honored in 2014.

Viloria, Olloque honored

Idaho Falls teammates Meibrys Viloria and Manny Olloque were named to the 2016 Pioneer League end of season All-Star team, the league announced late Monday. The award is voted on by the league’s managers and honors the best players at each position.

Viloria, who was named the league MVP Tuesday, leads the league in batting average, doubles and RBIs through Monday.

Olloque, in his third minor league season, was hitting .319 through Monday with 15 doubles, seven homers, 49 RBIs and 50 runs scored.

Tuesday’s game

CHUKARS 6, OWLZ 5: At Orem, Utah, Idaho Falls built a 5-1 lead and then held on late to beat Orem the day after it was eliminated from the Pioneer League playoffs.

Idaho Falls starter Alex Luna was solid again, allowing two runs on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts over six innings. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-hander improved to 5-1 and saw his ERA drop to 3.90.

The Chukars scored single runs in the first and third innings and plated two in the fourth to go up 4-1. I.F.’s lead went to 6-2 after single runs in the sixth and seventh. Orem, which rallied in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings Monday to win, scored three times in the eighth to cut the lead to one. But Christian Flecha worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to close it out.

Idaho Falls shortstop Ricky Aracena had one of his best offensive games of the season, going 3 for 3 with two walks, a double and three RBIs. He also stole a base and was error-free in the field. Rudy Martin was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and Luke Willis was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

The Chukars (38-36 overall, 16-21 second half) return to Melaleuca Field for the final two games of the season. Idaho Falls and Orem will play Wednesday and Thursday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. both nights.