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Your 2006 Arizona Brewers -- Latest: Omar Aguilar

Like our other team feature threads, this one kicks off for the baby Brewers in Maryvale, and we use that term in a nice way -- most are just so, so young.


Season starts Friday, and like we did for Helena this week, we'll review their roster over the next day or two.


Our first news item involves Harold Mejia, who saw a lot of action at shortstop as a 17-year-old last summer (he'll be 19 in late August.). This year, we've learned the Dominican prospect will be converted to pitcher (RHP).


For the briefest of moments, Mejia brought comparisons of Alcides Escobar's start the year prior. In reality, Escobar has simply been an uber-prospect from the start when you consider Alcides' 17-year-old debut came in Helena, not Maryvale, and he's followed up with plus seasons in low-A at 18, and now high-A at 19, not to mention Escobar's Arizona Fall League stint at age 18 in 2005.

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Time is on his side

Former West Vigo standout Lenny Leclercq learning pro ropes in minor leagues

By Dennis Clark

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star


TERRE HAUTE ? A famous quote from 19th century French poet Victor Hugo ? ?Perseverance, secret of all triumphs? ? will be the way to future success in professional baseball for former West Vigo standout Lenny Leclercq.


Leclercq, drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th round of the amateur draft in 2004, has just begun his third season with the Brewers? rookie league team, the Arizona Brewers.


He had hoped to have moved up a rung on the Brewers? organization ladder this season, possibly to the Helena (Mont.) Brewers of the Pioneer League. That league is classified as rookie-advanced.


That?s where Leclercq?s perseverance comes into play.


Plus the fact he is still just 20 years old ? not turning 21 until Sept. 7. So youth is also on his side.


?It?s tough,? admitted Leclercq in a recent phone conversation. ?When [the Brewers] told us I wasn?t going [to Helena], it was disappointing. I?m still young ? but I?m the only one of my draft class in Arizona rookie ball.?


Though his Arizona League game schedule began on June 23, Leclercq has been training in Phoenix since early March. He began the season in extended spring training, then has participated in daily practices and ?unofficial? games until the ?official? season began.


So you think minor league baseball is all fun and games? Here is a typical day for Leclercq.


He leaves his hotel room of the Holiday Inn Express at about 5:15 a.m., arrives at the Brewer?s Maryvale Complex by 6. The players go through stretching and conditioning exercises, then a throwing program for infielders and outfielders, then work on hitting and game situation drills.


After a 30 to 40 minute break, the players start playing baseball games. In league season, the Arizona Brewers normally play four games in four days, then get the fifth day off.


The Arizona Brewers play their games at 10:30 a.m. in the first half of the season, at 7 p.m. in the second half of the season. The Arizona League games are not well attended, box scores indicating 24 and 15 fans attending games last weekend. Oh yes, temperatures ranged from 94-100 degrees.


?[Minor league life] is a lot different than what I expected,? Leclercq added. ?Trying to handle failure has been the biggest adjustment. You have to try to keep it in a positive manner.


?Rookie ball is a tough league to play in. It takes a toll. It?s not like Class A ball on up ? here we have to practice every day before we play games. And the heat is always a factor.?


Leclercq had a batting average of .253 in 2004, then .268 in 2005. In 83 combined games, he had eight doubles, four triples, two home runs and 19 runs batted in with 15 stolen bases. The one down side has been making consistent contact, striking out 102 times over the last two seasons.


?In extended spring training, I felt like I was hitting like I did back in high school,? assessed Leclercq. ?But just not hitting home runs.?


The competition in rookie ball is daunting, as dugouts are bulging with up to 35 active players. Major league rosters by comparison have just 25 active players.


Leclercq is also learning to play different positions, more than just his customary shortstop in high school. Last season, he played second base, center field, designated hitter, plus several starts at first base. He?s added third base to his fielding resume this season.


?I?d never played there in my life,? Leclercq laughed at the prospect of playing at the hot corner. ?I?ve played all positions, except catcher and pitcher. If I can play more positions, it can only help me later on.


?I like playing second base. I?m liking it most ? I?m getting the feel for that. I played one game at shortstop in extended spring training.?


So far this season, Leclercq has started in three of the first four AZL games. Through Tuesday, he was 2 for 9 with a pair of walks and no strike outs. He has two starts at third base, then played second base on Monday.


While the lower minor leagues don?t allow much contact with major league players, Leclercq has rubbed elbows with a few big leaguers. He has taken ground balls with Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks and played briefly with pitchers Ben Sheets and Rich Helling during rehab starts.


?Last year we ran the bases with them [during Milwaukee?s spring training,? Leclercq said. ?It was fun being over there ? see how they do things.?


Last offseason allowed Leclercq to recuperate a bit from his rigorous schedule, returning to his home in West Terre Haute and working at L.S. Ayres.


?I?d go to [West Vigo] to do my hitting, working with all the [high school] kids before school, hitting and throwing with them,? Leclercq said.


If the television commercial is true about the effects of one night?s stay ? just think what six months in a Holiday Inn Express might accomplish.


Leclercq quickly rejected the validity of that notion. He will stick with perseverance.

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  • 1 month later...

Nice Brett Whiteside artice.




Pro ball is fast transition for ex-Mesquite star


Jason P. Skoda

The Arizona Republic

Aug. 11, 2006 12:00 AM



Life has been coming at Brett Whiteside at 100 mph since graduating from Mesquite High in the spring.


It comes in the form of an eight-ounce sphere with red seams. It dips and rises and cuts in every direction.


And sometimes it leaves bruises. advertisement





"I'm adapting to it, but catching someone throwing 100 mph takes time to get used to it," said Whiteside, who after playing mostly the outfield in high school is mostly catching since turning pro.


Whiteside was drafted in the 15th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in June and has started his pro career with the Brewers' team in the Arizona Rookie League.


Two Brewers pitchers, Jeremy Jeffress and Mark Rogers, the team's 2006 and 2004 first-round picks, respectively, have hit 100 mph with their pitches.


While their fastballs might handcuff Whiteside when he is behind the plate now and then, the right-handed hitter has done well at bat.


"In high school when someone threw 90-plus, he'd shut us down because you don't see many throw that hard," he said. "Now, I see 92-93 every day, and I am seeing the ball really well. I really didn't make any adjustments. I'm just putting the bat on the ball and now I adjust automatically to hard throwers because I see it more consistently."


His average has dipped of late - it was at .320 - but he is still hitting a respectable .274 in 27 games. In his first 95 at-bats, the Class 5A All-State honorable-mention pick had 12 extra-base hits, including a home run, and ranked second on the team with 19 RBIs.


As a senior at Mesquite, he hit .391 with nine doubles, five triples, a home run and 23 RBIs, but now he is getting paid to do it.


"It's amazing," said Whiteside, who signed a three-year deal. "I get a check every two weeks."


His paycheck should include charges for being the local concierge for his teammates. He lives in the team hotel, and most of the players who are away from home ask him for entertainment ideas.


He didn't have to look too far recently when his parents, Jack and Denise, had most of the team over to their home for a barbecue.


"They players had a blast," Denise said. "We gave some home-cooked food, and they went swimming. Brett is having the time of his life, and he enjoyed giving his teammates a chance to get away for a bit."


The most difficult thing for Whiteside has been talking to some of the Dominican players, even though he took two years of Spanish in high school.


"I can usually understand what they are saying," he said. "But I can't always say what I need to, but it's part of the experience.


"It's been incredible so far. I've always wanted to play professionally and I am learning something new every day."


Whiteside has enjoyed having his family and friends close by for support, but part of him wanted to be assigned elsewhere.


"I wanted to get away from Arizona a little bit," he said. "I was glad to be close to home, too, because it makes it easier, but I want to get out on my own, too.


"I am now, but I know my family is there if I need something. It will be interesting once I start playing in a different state and making long road trips."


When he does, life will be coming at him pretty fast, but Whiteside already has showed he can handle it.

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Thanks, minigoon! Nice find, and nice job resurrecting this thread, we obviously don't see as many features on the Marryvale kids.


That link also included this schedule:


A day in the life


Here is look at a typical day in advance of a night game for Brett Whiteside:


10 to 11 a.m. - Wakes up, eats breakfast and hangs out with teammates.


1:30 p.m. - Gets to the ballpark.


2:15 p.m. - Eats a light lunch.


3:15 p.m. - Stretching, then batting practice and fielding ground balls.


4:30 p.m. - Heads back to clubhouse, starts preparing.


5:30 p.m. - Showers to get refreshed and puts on uniform.


6:15 p.m. - Heads to dugout or bullpen depending on position that game.


7 p.m. - First pitch.


12:30 a.m. - Gets back to hotel room after team meeting discussing results and situations of the game.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Third baseman Zach McAngus (Washington State) is a Hawaii native, included in this article from Honolulu, just a quote or two:




Rookie leaguers get a taste

By Al Chase



Matt Inouye, Milton Loo, Kanekoa Texeira, Esteban Lopez, Patrick McGuigan and Zach McAngus made their professional baseball debuts in rookie leagues last summer.


McAngus (Kamehameha) was considering playing independent baseball after completing his career at Washington State when a regional scout for the Milwaukee Brewers called.


"He said they had an opening in the Arizona League. It was kind of out of the blue," said McAngus, who jumped at the opportunity.


Signed by the Brewers as a nondrafted free agent, McAngus played 41 games at third base and hit .260 with 11 doubles, two triples, two homers and 18 RBIs.


"I think I did pretty well. My average was a little disappointing. It took time getting used to wood bats," McAngus said.


He will graduate in December with a degree in sports management.


"I'm just trying to focus on baseball and play as long as I can. When I'm done, I want to stay involved with baseball, perhaps work in a front office," McAngus said.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Boy, there's still plenty of reason to be excited about this kid:


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Ready to pitch In

By Dhyana Levey



Livingston, CA -- Omar Aguilar is almost fully recovered from an arm injury -- and his dream of pitching in the major leagues has been reborn. Now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization, the 21-year-old Livingston native wants to make sure other young athletes in this area don't make the same mistakes he did.


Aguilar is back in Livingston, on break and awaiting spring training in Arizona. From there, he will find out which minor league affiliate he will play for.


But in the meantime, he is offering lessons to children with dreams of a pitching career. He currently coaches his first student at the Merced College baseball field and hopes more will join.


"I was throwing in ways that stress the ligaments," he said. "I never had a pitching coach, I did my own stuff. That's what led to my injury."


In January 2005, he tore a ligament in his right elbow during a Merced College game. That didn't stop the Brewers from drafting him and paying for his "Tommy John" surgery. Also known as an ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, this major medical procedure is common among pitchers.


After about eight months of rehabilitation, he was able to play a couple games with the Brewers' Arizona rookie ball team before returning to Livingston.


He now coaches Hoover Middle School student Scott Rowan, 13, on Thursday evenings in Merced. Rowan pitches for his school's baseball team and wants to continue playing the position.


"I love controlling the game and being in a position that starts it all," he said. "But I've been worried about my mechanics and want to avoid future injuries."


Rowan said he is learning how to keep his shoulders intact while keeping good balance in his pitching motions.


"He taught me how to stay focused and not let your emotions show so the batters know you are on top of the game," he said.


Aguilar started playing Little League baseball at age 5 in Livingston.


"When I was young, everyone saw that I threw hard," he said. "I wanted to hit more than pitch. I think every kid wants to hit that home run at the end of the ninth inning ... but I was better at pitching."


His father died of alcohol poisoning when he was 5. His mother, Irma, raised him and his two sisters.


"Mom was the one who always went to the games, brought me Gatorade," he said with a smile.


He pitched for Livingston High School's baseball team, making the all-conference team three years in a row.


The San Francisco Giants took notice of his skills during his senior year. Aguilar was drafted by the Giants in the 27th round. If he accepted, he could have started in their rookie ball or minor league team and move up.


He turned it down.


"I wanted to go to college," he said. "I also wanted more money."


He graduated high school in 2003 and signed up at Merced College to study criminal justice.


He took his 98-mph fastball to the Merced College baseball team.


A Giants scout came calling again, selecting him in the eighth round of the draft.


"Going from a small high school to being drafted -- that's a big deal," said Matt Winton, Livingston High School baseball coach. "Offers were going back and forth."


Aguilar turned the Giants' offer down again.


"I got caught up in the whole situation," Aguilar said. "I thought I was worth more money."


In retrospect, he said he wishes he had accepted.


After his sophomore year in college, he tore a ligament in his elbow.


A scout from the Brewers contacted him in May 2005.


"They said 'we know you are hurt. We'll help you recover,' " Aguilar said. "The Brewers were the only ones interested in accepting me now."


He accepted the offer and had his surgery in Arizona the following November, about one year ago.


In early February he'll start spring training.


"I'm excited for him," Winton said. "When he signed, he was relieved. I'm happy he got to one of his goals."


Aguilar hopes after spring training he'll make it to the Brewers' minor league team, the West Virginia Power.


If he never makes it into the major leagues, his backup plan is to become a police officer.


"But I hope I'll make it," he said. "Everyone hopes they'll make it."


Omar Aguilar, 21, of Livingston wants to teach children the right way to pitch, so they don't get the same injury he did while pitching at Merced College. He is teaching children like Scott Rowan, 13, of Merced the proper way to pitch a baseball, before he goes to Arizona to start spring training for the Milwaukee Brewers organization.





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