PCL Finals Are Set: A Look at the Reno Aces
The finals are also set in the Pacific Coast League as the Omaha Storm Chasers — the 2013 PCL and Triple-A National Champions — are back to defend their title against the Reno Aces. For the second time in three seasons, the Aces are back in the PCL Finals. The Aces, who beat the Las Vegas 51s, lost game one of the series, but battled back to win the last three games. The Aces and the Storm Chasers played in the 2012 PCL Championship, with the Aces winning the series and the PCL championship in four games.
One of these two PCL teams will play in Uptown Charlotte at BB&T Ballpark on September 16. The winner will face the winner of the IL Finals, which features Pawtucket against Durham.
Let’s take a look at the…
Triple-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks
Their manager and hitting coach are familiar names to International League fans. The Aces are led by manager Phil Nevin, who spent the past three seasons as the manager of the Toledo Mud Hens. After not making the playoffs in three seasons with the ‘Hens, Nevin is in the PCL Finals in his first season with the Aces after leading the team to 81 wins in the regular season. As a player, Nevin spent 12 seasons in the majors and hit 41 long balls in 2001 with San Diego. Overall, he hit 208 career home runs at the Major League level.
Another recognizable name in the IL on the coaching side is Greg Gross, Reno’s hitting coach. Gross, a former Philadelphia player and hitting coach, was the first hitting coach of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and spent more than two seasons with the ‘Pigs (2008-2010). During the 2010 season, he was promoted to Philadelphia and took over for the fired Milt Thompson. He stayed in Philly through the 2012 season.
Mike Parrott is the pitching coach of the Aces and has a tie to the Charlotte area. Parrott was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round (15th overall) of the 1973 draft. As a player, Parrott made his way through the Baltimore system and played for the Charlotte O’s in 1976. He pitched in five games and posted a 0-2 mark with a 5.29 ERA. It was his only stint in Charlotte as he found himself in Triple-A Rochester the next year.
LHP Clayton Richard was sharp for the Charlotte Knights in 2008 — posting a 6-0 record with a 2.45 ERA in seven starts. He tossed one complete game that season. The following season, Richard was sent to the San Diego Padres by the White Sox as part of the package to acquire Jake Peavy. He spent parts of five seasons in San Diego with the Padres and went 40-39 with a 4.16 ERA in 108 games (107 starts). In parts of six Major League seasons, Richard owns a 46-47 record with a 4.33 ERA. He just recently signed a Minor League deal with Arizona (July 30) as he is working his way back from injuries. He’s made just one regular season start with Reno (August 28) and earned the win after allowing three runs on 11 hits over 5.1 innings pitched.
Catcher Blake Lalli is from Pittsburgh, PA, but he played his college ball at Gardner-Webb University. He was named to the All-Atlantic Sun Conference’s first team as a third baseman in 2005 and as a catcher in 2006 while with Gardner-Webb. This season with Reno, Lalli hit .275 (78-for-284) with three home runs and 29 RBIs.
Mike Freeman played his college ball at Clemson University. The Orlando, FL native hit .307 (67-for-218) this season for Reno with one home run and 25 RBIs in 71 games. He hit .333 (4-for-12) with a double and three RBIs in the first round of the playoffs (four games).
KEEP AN EYE ON:
Veteran slugger Mike Jacobs is on the Reno roster and he can still hit the long ball. Jacobs, who hit 100 home runs over parts of seven seasons in the majors from 2005-2012, hit .299 (150-for-501) this season with 79 runs scored, 37 doubles, 19 home runs and 97 RBIs over 135 games in the regular season. His power continued into the playoffs and he smacked two home runs over the first round (four games). In 13 seasons in the minors, Jacobs has 180 career home runs. There’s no doubt he would love playing at BB&T Ballpark on September 16 — a hitter’s ballpark!