The Los Angeles Angels have promoted and subsequently demoted Reggie Willits to the Triple-A Salt Lake City Bees nine times in the last five seasons. He was recently taken off the team’s 40 man roster and for the first time since being seventh round pick of the Angels out of Oklahoma State in 2003 and likely faces not being a member of the organization going forward in 2012. In a very good in depth story, Willits talks about the toll his baseball career has taken on his family, working extra hard to compete with the bigger and stronger superstar players, and his plans for life after baseball when that time comes.
The last time Jerome Williams pitched in the big leagues it was 2007 and he went 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts for the Washington Nationals. Since then the former 1st round pick of the San Francisco Giants back in 1999 has literally gone around the globe in an effort to return to the majors. Since his stint with the Nationals, Williams has been a member of the Las Vegas 51’s, Sacramento Rivercats, Salt Lake City Bees, Inland Empire 66ers, Long Beach Armada, Lancaster Barnstormers, and even the Uni-President Lions in Taiwan. When Williams phone rang Tuesday night, he didn’t answer it. A text message later, he found out he was headed back to the big leagues for the first time in over four years. He responded with 2/3 of an inning of scoreless ball closing out Anaheim’s 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday. Williams was promoted after going 7-2 with a 3.91ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Salt Lake covering 73.2 innings in which he struck out 60 while walking just 15. In the story by Angels beat writer Bill Plunkett who is a must follow on twitter @billplunkettocr, Williams talks about his disbelief at being back in the big leagues, the long journey between now and 2007, and overcoming the label of being “lazy” during his first run in the majors with the Giants, Cubs, and Nationals.
American League Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Trumbo quietly leads the Los Angeles Angels in home runs with 22 and has driven in 63 runs while hitting a respectable .261 on the season. After being selected in the 18th round of the 2004 draft, Trumbo finally caught his big break after six seasons in the minors, when Kendrys Morales was unable to return from an ankle injury suffered during the 2010 season. Despite putting up double digit home run totals in every season in the minor leagues, with a career high of 36 in 2010 with the Salt Lake City Bees, Trumbo accumulated a large number of critics who doubted his ability to translate the minor league power into the big leagues, and some even doubted he’s make it out of the low minors. In the story, Trumbo talks about finding motivation to silence his critics with every big league swing. It’s a very good read.
In 1908, Luther Taylor completed an eight year career for the New York Giants. In the 103 years that have passed, there has never been another deaf pitcher in the major leagues. Los Angeles Angels farmhand Ryan Ketchner is on the cusp of being the first in the last century. This season at Triple-A Salt Lake, the 29 year old right hander has posted a 5-6 record with a 5.88ERA in 18 starts. He’s previously pitched in the Detroit Tigers organization and made it as high as Triple-A Toledo in 2009 and 2010. He has yet to make it to the majors. In the story Ketchner talks about his hearing impairment, meeting former deaf major leaguer Curtis Pride, the challenges of playing without being able to hear, and the advantages his lip reading abilities give him and his teammates. It’s a fascinating read.