Inside the Aces: Offseason Edition #14

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training soon — five days away to be exact — meaning a recap of Diamondbacks and Aces activity over the past month is in store. Additionally, our communications staff has been grinding away on the official 2016 Aces Media Guide over the past few weeks, so we’ll take an in-depth look at some potential pitchers who could don an Aces uniform this summer (possible position players revealed next week).

To top it off, the 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived to Aces Ballpark Wednesday. If you haven’t read the annual handbook, we’ll re-reveal the D-backs’ Top 30 prospects, highlighting former and future Aces along the way. And speaking of former Aces, two former Aces are playing for Team Australia in the first of four World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. Find out who has helped Team Australia to a pair of wins the past 48 hours.


Over the last few weeks, the D-backs made a trio of moves, all with significant impact on their 40-man roster.

The first move came on Jan. 13 when Arizona acquired right-handed reliever Cody Hall from division-rival San Francisco for a player to be named later. While the D-backs have yet to send a player to the Giants in return, Hall’s acquisition did bump reliever Matt Stites off the 40-man. Fortunately for the D-backs and Aces, Stites cleared waivers and was outrighted to Reno eight days later.

The second move — and largest of the three — occurred on Jan. 30 with a 5-player deal between Arizona and Milwaukee. The D-backs shipped former Aces RHP Chase Anderson, INF Aaron Hill and a lower-level, high-upside prospect in SS Isan Diaz to the Brewers for 2013 National League All-Star SS Jean Segura and RHP Tyler Wagner.

Ahmed

Nick Ahmed will compete with newly-acquired SS Jean Segura for the starting nod in Arizona. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

Hill’s departure paired with Segura’s arrival leaves a promising log-jam situation in the infield, although Paul Goldschmidt will undoubtedly man first base. No ifs, ands or buts.

MLB.com’s Barry Bloom caught up with Arizona’s general manager Dave Stewart who did confirm that Segura and Nick Ahmed will compete for the starting gig at shortstop. Whoever loses the shortstop battle could slide to second base, but it’s hard to ignore the likes of Chris Owings, Phil Gosselin and Brandon Drury who will fight for second as well.

Gosselin and Drury seem destined for utility roles as both have experience at third and short. Their flexibility position-wise certainly doesn’t hurt their chances of making the big league roster. With the flurry of activity by Arizona this off-season, don’t rule out another trade before Opening Day.

The third major move came Monday, Feb. 8 when the D-backs signed reliever Tyler Clippard to a two-year contract, helping solidify the back end of Arizona’s relief corps. Clippard’s signing knocked left-hander Will Locante off the 40-man roster. Locante can be claimed by another team, but nothing has come to fruition on that front.


Projecting the Aces’ 2016 pitching staff could and should be a bit easier to predict than 2015. For starters, right-handers Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley could man the No. 1 and 2 slots of the rotation, forming — on paper — the best one-two punch in Triple-A. Other possible starters include right-handers Zack Godley, Kyle Drabek, Matt Buschmann, John Omahen and Tim Stauffer.

Bradley

Right-hander Archie Bradley could open the 2016 season in Reno as the ace of the staff. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

Predicting the bullpen is another story. Right-handed options consist of Jake Barrett, Stites, Dominic Leone, Kaleb Fleck, Seth Simmons, Jose Cisnero, Adam Miller and Silvino Bracho. On the other hand, many southpaws could see time in Reno’s bullpen, including Matt Reynolds, Daniel Gibson, Keith Hessler, Adam Loewen, Scott Rice, Wesley Wright and Locante (if he clears waivers).


We didn’t have to turn many pages in Baseball America to find the D-backs’ Top 30 prospects. Because of alphabetical order, Arizona was the first of 30 teams listed. And unless Albuquerque or Altoona get Major League franchises in their respective cities, don’t expect Arizona to be bumped from their top spot any time soon.

Arizona’s initial No. 1-10 prospects in BA were: SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Aaron Blair, Shipley, Bradley, 3B/2B Brandon Drury, RHP Yoan Lopez, LHP Alex Young, OF Socrates Brito, SS/2B Isan Diaz and C/OF Peter O’Brien.

With the trades of Swanson and Blair to the Braves and Diaz to the Brewers, a revised version of BA’s Top 10 for Arizona was created. Shipley sat at No. 1, while OF Gabby Guerrero, SS/2B Jack Reinheimer and SS Domingo Leyba entered the Top 10.

BA’s projections are by no means 100% accurate, but they did predict that Shipley (1), Drury (3), Brito (6), O’Brien (7) and Reinheimer (9) would open their 2016 seasons in Reno.

I know what you’re thinking…..woah.

woah similar to the woah when O’Brien crushed his first big league homer off eventual American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel.

Additional Top 30 prospects who could be in Reno, according to BA: Gibson (21), Miller (23), Barrett (24) and Bracho (29). All relievers, meaning the bullpen could be stacked as well.


OF Trent Oeltjen and LHP Travis Blackley both played for the Aces in 2009, with Oeltjen returning for a brief period in 2014. They’re now playing for Australia in the WBCQ.

Oeltjen came up big with a two-run double against Philippines in an 11-1 win yesterday. Today against South Africa, he recorded a sacrifice fly during a three-run first before drawing a walk and doubling in Australia’s 4-1 victory. Blackley has yet to appear on the mound, but he is expected to get the nod in tomorrow’s final against the winner of South Africa-New Zealand.

Oeltjen bat flips, for the win.

Meet the Front Office: Ed. 6

The two-week lapse in our “Meet the Front Office” blog series took place because of the large volume of viewers for our last post on Account Executive of Outside Sales, Jeff Turner.

*Jeff takes a bow*

However, as life goes, we must move on. Our series continues this week with Account Executive of Inside Sales, Connor Olson.

ConnorOlson

Olson dressed to the nines in front of a snowy Aces Ballpark. (Photo by Cheyne Reiter/Reno Aces)


Olson, 23, was raised in one of the many Chicago suburbs, St. Charles. Following high school, the avid Chicago Cubs, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Blackhawks fan left B1G country and joined the conference our country has grown to (putting it nicely…) hate.

The SEC. Thanks, Alabama.

On paper, Olson may come off as a bit of a fair-weather fan, but a staff-wide tip of the hat went to Olson when he revealed that he attended Ole Miss, rather than Roll Tide.

Ole Miss’ 23-17 win over Alabama in 2014 is at the top of Olson’s best sporting events ever attended. So in the spirit of the Ole Miss Rebels, Hotty Toddy.

At Ole Miss, Olson earned his B.A. in Business Marketing. Graduating college became his greatest accomplishment…

olemisstailgate

Olson’s Ole Miss friends wear polos, button-ups and ties to football tailgates. Should we expect a tailored suit from Olson daily in the work environment then? (Olson not pictured)

Until he joined the Aces! Olson’s first day with the Aces came on January 6, 2016. Having an office in a baseball stadium comes second to none when asked of his favorite thing about his job.


Other things to know about Olson…

Jobs held prior to joining the Aces?
I was a Souvenir Shop Associate and worked ballpark operations for the Kane County Cougars. I also worked for Disney in Orlando, Fla. as a merchandise intern.

Favorite place in Reno/Tahoe area besides Aces Ballpark?
Cal-Neva.

Celebrity crush?
Rashida Jones.

Go-to restaurant?
McDonald’s.

Favorite movie?
Moneyball.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Time travel.

Hobbies outside of selling seats?
Playing/watching baseball, eating and going to the movies.

Words to live by?
“Work hard, play hard.”

 

Meet the Front Office: Ed. 5

While the interview for our fifth edition of “Meet the Front Office” took place nearly a week ago, there was a quick realization that there aren’t enough hours in a day to write about Account Executive of Outside Sales, Jeff Turner.

So that’s why there was a delay on the post. Apologies, but remember, patience is a virtue.


Raised in Ashland, Oregon, Turner stayed in-state when deciding on college. He obtained his Master’s in Education from Western Oregon University before receiving his Master’s in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy.

Turner, 35, joined the Aces as an Account Executive in December of 2013 before turning his attention to Outside Sales in September of 2014. Prior to his move to Reno, the jack-of-all-trades Turner was the Assistant Box Office Manager/Group Sales Executive/Merchandise Coordinator (Ahhh, the perks of working for smaller MiLB teams) for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League, positions which he obtained after joining as an intern in September of 2012.

Jeff Turner

If you need a baseball coach, look no further. Turner wins titles. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

Turner also held various position as a middle school and high school health and physical education teacher, along with coaching high school baseball for 13 years. Turner even coached his legion team to a state and regional championship, the proud accomplishment falling just shy of…

Emceeing the Reno Aces 2015 holiday party. Turner brought his A-game personality to the post-work event. And to keep this blog PG, the holiday party could be described as fun. Very, very fun.


Other things to know about Turner…

Favorite place in Reno/Tahoe area besides Aces Ballpark?
My apartment or Baldini’s Casino due to their cheap food and lots of free play.

Celebrity crush?
Carrie Underwood.

Favorite sports teams?
Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Oregon Ducks (football) and Duke Blue Devils (basketball).

Go-to restaurant?
Genghis Grill in south Reno.

Favorite movie?
Shawshank Redemption.

Best sporting event you’ve ever attended?
When Nolan Ryan recorded his 5000th strikeout on August 22, 1989.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to teleport.

Favorite thing about your job?
Opportunity to meet so many different business people in the Reno area.

Words to live by?
“Get busy living or get busy dying.” – Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption.

Inside the Aces: Offseason Ed. #13

Baseball season is rapidly approaching. We’re just 86 days away from the Aces season opener against El Paso at Aces Ballpark, but there’s a countdown that will enhance your excitement for baseball even more.

The official countdown to the day pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.


Tailoring to Aces and Diamondbacks news, Arizona released their Spring Training reporting dates yesterday. Compounding with the reporting dates release, the D-backs officially announced their 23 non-roster invitees to camp as well.

Glaesmannswing

CF Todd Glaesmann earned a non-roster invite to big league camp following his strong 2015 campaign in Reno. (Photo by David Calvert/Reno Aces)

The list includes two former Nevada Wolf Pack stars, RHP Braden Shipley and C Brett Hayes. Four players who played for the Aces in 2015 also received invites, including: RHP Kaleb Fleck, OF Zach Borenstein, OF Todd Glaesmann and OF Evan Marzilli. Check out the article on Arizona’s non-roster invitees here.


Looking for an action-packed, fun-filled vacation? Want to see future Aces on the diamond, before they arrive to Reno? If so, a trip to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – the D-backs’ Spring Training site — should be on your list. Tickets for any and all D-backs Spring Training games can be purchased here. They officially went on sale this past Saturday.


Last Friday on ESPN 94.5 FM, Aces manager Phil Nevin spoke with Bryan Samudio & Alex Margulies on News 4 Sports Insiders about his offseason and what’s coming for the Aces in 2016. You can hear Nevin’s interview at the link below.

http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/play/6162074


Following the Shelby Miller trade which saw top prospect Dansby Swanson and former Aces ace Aaron Blair flipped to Atlanta, MLB.com’s Top 30 prospects list looks a bit different as we hit the New Year.

ArchieBradley

RHP Archie Bradley will enter 2016 near the back end of Arizona’s rotation, or atop Reno’s in Triple-A. (Photo by David Calvert/Reno Aces)

RHP Archie Bradley slid back into the No. 1 spot with Swanson’s departure while Shipley is now rated as Arizona’s second-best farmhand. 2015 Aces Brandon Drury (No. 5) and Peter O’Brien (No. 7) both cracked the Top 10 as well. The entire list along with bios can be found here.


A 2014 Aces reliever and mid-season PCL All-Star has found a home for 2016.

Right-hander Derek Eitel, who went 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 30 relief appearances in 2014, began 2015 with the Aces as well. Eitel struggled out of the gate, posting a 5.73 ERA in 10 relief outings. The-then 27-year-old was demoted to Double-A Mobile where his ERA took a turn for the worse, ballooning to 7.71 in just four appearances. The D-backs then released Eitel on June 8. Later that month, he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor league deal, but was released again in early August. Eitel found a job with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association before pitching in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. He impressed San Diego scouts enough to have his contract purchased by the Padres last Tuesday.

If Eitel can return to his 2014 form, there’s a chance he will open the 2016 season with Triple-A El Paso, playing against his former teammates at Aces Ballpark. He and 2014-15 Aces 1B/LF Nick Evans could both be donning Chihuahuas uniforms in the first-base dugout come April 7.

 

Meet the Front Office: Ed. 4

The 2016 version of the Aces front office features many new faces compared to 2015. With that being said, the fourth edition of “Meet the Front Office” features one of our newest additions, Account Executive of Corporate Partnerships, Max Margulies.

Margulies, raised in San Diego, joined the Aces staff on November 30, 2015. After earning his B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Oregon (Quack, Quack), or as Margulies stated, “The University of California at Eugene”, the-then 22-year-old spent the 2015 season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season A, Giants) as a Marketing & Sales intern.

Margulies’ dream of marrying celebrity crush Rachel McAdams became just that — a dream — when his experience at Salem-Keizer instead drove him toward a career within the sports industry.

Max Margulies

Margulies, a fan of the movie Anchorman, quoted the great Ron Burgundy at the Aces Sales Academy training by saying, “Hey everyone, come see how good I look!” (Photo by Samantha Hicks/Reno Aces)

And he’s now one of the latest and greatest additions to the Aces’ front office.


Other things to know about Margulies…

Favorite sports teams?
Oregon Ducks, Michigan State Spartans, Chicago Cubs, Boston Celtics and the New England Patriots.

Favorite place in Reno/Tahoe area besides Aces Ballpark?
Siri’s Casino.

Go-to restaurant?
In-and-Out Burger.

Favorite movie?
Anchorman.

Three words to describe yourself?
Calm, geeky, night owl (Okay, four words…).

Best sporting event ever attended?
2012 Rose Bowl between Oregon and Wisconsin. The Ducks won 45-38 for their first Rose Bowl victory in 95 years.

Hobbies?
Playing basketball, body surfing, long boarding.

What would you bring to a staff potluck?
Store-bought potato salad.

Words to live by?
Go Ducks.

Inside the Aces: Offseason Edition #12

With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, the Aces’ 2016 season-opener is creeping upon us. 93 days away to be exact. April 7, 6:35 p.m. first pitch against the El Paso Chihuahuas at Aces Ballpark — mark those calendars!

AcesBallparksnowy

The suite-level view of Aces Ballpark as of January 5, 2016. (Photo by Cheyne Reiter/Reno Aces)

And if you’ve got a shovel, keep one handy…there may be white stuff on the field.


The biggest news over the last two weeks regarding the D-backs and Aces was released earlier this morning.

Earlier today, D-backs released the coaching staffs and coordinators for their entire organization. The Aces return two of their 2015 coaching staff members, including manager Phil Nevin and hitting coach Greg Gross. Details on Nevin, Gross, the new pitching coach, coach, athletic trainer and strength & conditioning coach can be found here.

Mike Parrott, the Aces’ pitching coach from 2009-2015, will hold the same position with Short-Season A Hillsboro in the Northwest League. Luis Urueta, Reno’s additional coach last season, begins his first season as Arizona’s Short-Season field coordinator.

Meanwhile, former Aces catcher Robby Hammock begins his second season as manager for Double-A Mobile.

Hammock catching

Robby Hammock, shown catching for the Aces in 2011, begins his second consecutive season as Mobile’s manager. (Photo by David Calvert/Reno Aces)


The D-backs made a pair of signings over the last few weeks, both as left-handed insurance for the relief corps.

On Dec. 14, Arizona signed 34-year-old southpaw Scott Rice to a minor league contract before assigning him to Reno on Dec. 29. Rice was very productive in relief for the Las Vegas 51s last season. In 56 relief appearances, he posted a 2-1 record with a 1.82 ERA.

Then on Dec. 22, 30-year-old lefty Wesley Wright inked a minor league contract with Arizona. Wright has an abundance of Major League experience. Over eight MLB seasons, he’s posted a 4.16 ERA in 371 total outings, four of them starts.


Three former Aces found themselves new clubs over the last few weeks.

2B Jake Elmore signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Dec. 11. Elmore did receive an invite to spring training as well. In 2012, Elmore hit .344 in 108 games for Reno.

SS Stephen Drew signed a 1-year, $3 million contract with the Washington Nationals last week. Drew donned an Aces uniform briefly in both 2009 and 2012. Details on his signing can be found here.

On New Year’s Day, former Aces C Ed Easley (2010, 2013) signed a minor league contract with a spring training invite with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Easley hit .334 in 87 games for the Aces in 2013.


ICYMI yesterday, Aces OF Todd Glaesmann passed along some very unfortunate news about his 6-month-old nephew.

Glaesmann’s nephew, George Graham Leatham, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 1. The family has started a GoFundMe page here, with their goal of $20K already over halfway complete. Please send prayers and if possible, any amount of a donation to help the family with day-to-day costs and medical bills.

 

Inside the Aces: Offseason Edition #11

The past week was another quiet one for the Diamondbacks after they made two of the bigger splashes this offseason. Remember, they signed 2015 Cy Young runner-up Zack Greinke and acquired right-hander Shelby Miller from the Braves for a haul of young talent, ultimately allowing them to sit back as the rest of the offseason unfolds.

In the spirit of giving, however, the D-backs did host their annual holiday party at Chase Field which brought youngsters out in droves. Former Aces pitcher Archie Bradley took part in the event as well, among others. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert has more on the D-backs’ holiday tradition here.


In 2015, the Aces had one of the more power-packed lineups in all of Minor League Baseball. As a team, Reno combined for 138 home runs, fourth-most in the PCL and seventh-most among all full-season clubs in the minors.

Reno was led by Jamie Romak’s franchise-record-tying 27 home runs, and Peter O’Brien finished one off the pace with 26. Nick Evans added 17, Todd Glaesmann belted 14 and Danny Dorn — despite numerous promotions to Arizona — still managed to hit 10.

Romak300x250

Jamie Romak tied Cody Ransom’s single-season franchise record with 27 long balls last season. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

With Romak set to play in Japan next year, and Evans (Padres) and Dorn (free agent) no longer members of the Arizona organization, the Aces 2016 lineup will look very different. Fans can expect O’Brien, Glaesmann and Mike Freeman to return in some aspect, but the remaining five (excluding the pitcher’s spot) are up for grabs.

Back in September, O’Brien told Arizona Manager Chip Hale that he was open to a return to catching, according to Fox Sports Arizona’s Dave Lumia. O’Brien primarily played right and left field for the Aces last year, but with A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas and Socrates Brito in Arizona’s outfield mix, even with the departure of Ender Inciarte to the Braves in the Miller deal, O’Brien’s clearest path to the Majors is undoubtedly behind the plate.

If O’Brien sticks as a catcher, right field at Aces Ballpark could be manned by Kyle Jensen who signed with Arizona back on November 11. He looked rather comfortable in right on this play last season for Oklahoma City.

Jensen started 63 games in right, 22 at first base and another 12 in left last year for the OKC Dodgers. The 27-year-old’s defensive versatility provides him a spot in the lineup regularly, extremely important because of his raw power.

Over the last five years, Jensen has played in — on average — 130 games per season. During that stretch, he’s also averaged 25 home runs per season, all but replacing the power void left by Romak’s departure.


A handful of former Aces were a part of trades and signings this past week.

Last Tuesday, right-handed reliever Tony Barnette signed a two-year Major League deal with the Texas Rangers. Barnette pitched for the Aces in 2009 and won 14 games in 29 starts, striking out 121 along the way. All three are single-season records. Barnette spent the last six seasons playing for Yakult in Japan. In 2015, he racked up 41 saves while posting a 1.29 ERA in 62 2/3 innings.

Catcher Bobby Wilson will join Barnette at Texas’ spring training after agreeing to a minor league contract with the Rangers. Wilson hit .267 (72-for-270) in 76 games for Reno in 2014.

Outfielder Alfredo Marte signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles. In 2013 and ’14 combined, Marte played in 164 games for Reno. Overall, he hit .298 (173-for-581) with 39 doubles, 18 homers and 93 RBIs in an Aces uniform.

On Wednesday, A.J. Schugel was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners after being designated for assignment by Arizona on December 11. Schugel went 2-7 with a 10.18 ERA in nine starts for Reno last season.

Also on Wednesday, right-hander Allen Webster was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates after being DFA’d on November 20, then traded from Arizona to Pittsburgh on November 25 for cash considerations. Webster reportedly agreed to a contract with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization.

Thursday, OF Keon Broxton was traded with RHP Trey Supak from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for 1B Jason Rogers. Broxton played in five playoff games for the Aces during the 2012 Triple-A National Championship run, but he went just 1-for-10 at the plate in limited action.


One major signing and one major trade took place last week, with both directly affecting the D-backs in their pursuit of the NL West crown.

First, the San Francisco Giants signed Johnny Cueto to a six-year, $130 million contract, just $10 million more than the D-backs apparently offered in early November. That gives the Giants a rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Cueto and Jeff Samardzija at the top with Jake Peavy and Matt Cain filling in as the No. 4 and 5 starters, respectively. If Peavy and Cain regain any of their past form on the bump, the Giants’ rotation is among the best, if not the best in all of baseball. It is an even year, after all…

Meanwhile, the Dodgers appeared to have a trade completed for Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman two weeks ago, only to see it fall through. They also appeared to have right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma signed to a three-year deal, but it also fell through after Iwakuma’s physical. Iwakuma then re-signed with the Seattle Mariners just a few days ago.

Los Angeles instead became involved with the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox on a three-team swap that saw 2015 NL All-Star and Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier go from Cincinnati to Chicago. Los Angeles acquired right-handed pitching prospect Frankie Montas, infielder Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson from the White Sox while sending infield prospects Jose Peraza and Brandon Dixon with outfield prospect Scott Schebler to Cincinnati.

The Dodgers are loading up their farm system, potentially for a trade of a high-impact starter. Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, along with Miami’s Jose Fernandez are rumored to be their leading candidates.


Our next offseason edition of “Inside the Aces” will come on January 4. Right now, the Aces season opener is just 108 days away.

Have a very happy and safe holiday season!

 

Meet the Front Office: Ed. 3

A quiet week on the Diamondbacks front regarding trades and signings doesn’t mean our front office comparisons to Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller will discontinue. Thinking outside the box, we’ll compare our next front office interviewee to a former D-backs pitcher who was a rather imposing figure on the mound.

Let’s meet the soft-spoken, 6-foot-8 Will Hurlburt, Sales Coordinator for the Reno Aces; call him the Randy Johnson (6’10”) of our latest and greatest offseason blog series.


Born in Southern California but raised in nearby Fallon, Hurlburt is one of a select few Aces front office employees to call Nevada home.

Hurlburt, who likens to his dad’s characteristics, competed at the Division-1 level for football, albeit for a three-week period. He practiced at Washington State as a preferred walk-on — seeing time at left tackle — before an injury dashed his hopes of playing for the school he loves.

Will Hurlburt headshot

Hurlburt proudly sports his Wazzu colors at the front desk in the office.

However, the injury didn’t stop Hurlburt from earning his Bachelor’s in Sport Management with a minor in Business Administration.

Prior to joining the Aces in February of 2015 in his current role, the 23-year-old was a sales agent at Northstar California and also interned at Churchill County High School in Fallon, focusing on athletics.

When not at work, Hurlburt can be found dunking basketballs or off-roading at Peavine Peak, his favorite spot to overlook the Reno-Sparks area.


Other things to know about Hurlburt…

Three words to describe yourself?
Very, very tall.

Favorite sports teams?
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New Orleans Saints, Washington State Cougars and the Golden State Warriors, led by former Wazzu sharpshooter Klay Thompson (and maybe a guy named Steph Curry).

Best sporting event ever attended?
The 2010 Apple Cup between Washington-Washington State.

Hobbies?
Riding my Honda Shadow motorcycle or shooting target practice.

Favorite movie?
Star Wars.

Celebrity crush?
Mila Kunis.

Go-to restaurant?
Brothers Barbecue.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Married with kids while living and working in Reno.

Words to live by?
Never give up.

 

Inside the Aces: Offseason Edition #10

There must be something about the combination of snow, freezing temperatures and hot chocolate in early December that causes Major League Executives and General Managers to go bananas with free agent signings and trades.

That ‘something’ is also known as The Winter Meetings.

This year’s Winter Meetings took place in the Music City (Nashville), and as expected, a flurry of major trades and signings ensued.

The Mets signed INF Asdrubal Cabrera, INF Ben Zobrist and OF Jason Heyward agreed to contracts with the Cubs, the Nationals traded 3B Yunel Escobar to the Angels, 2B Starlin Castro was sent to the Yankees from the Cubs, 2B Neil Walker and LHP Jon Niese were flip-flopped in an East Coast swap, 1B Adam Lind rejoined the American League in a Brewers and Mariners trade, Padres 2B Jedd Gyorko was sent to St. Louis in exchange for OF Jon Jay, 3B Brett Lawrie was traded again, this time going from the Athletics to the White Sox, and former Aces LHP Wade Miley was shipped from Boston to Seattle.

Got all that? A flurry indeed, and I’m no longer talking snow.


The snowball fight of trades and signings — talking snow again — included the Diamondbacks as well.

Arizona’s aggressive pursuit of starting pitching didn’t stop after their stunning signing of Zack Greinke — which was made official last Tuesday with an introductory news conference (check it out below, courtesy of Fox Sports) this past Friday.

Even after the addition of Greinke, rumors swirled of Arizona’s heavy interest in Atlanta Braves right-hander Shelby Miller. The Braves initially wanted former Ace and 2015 All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock in return, but Arizona declined.

Instead, the D-backs acquired Miller in exchange for three players, two of them rated among Arizona’s Top 3 overall prospects by Baseball America and MLB.com. Former Aces outfielder Ender Inciarte was the lone big leaguer sent to Atlanta, but the D-backs also sent the No. 1 pick of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft, SS Dansby Swanson, and the ace of Reno’s 2015 starting rotation, Aaron Blair, to Atlanta. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert has more on the blockbuster deal here.

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Despite pitching in many hitter-friendly PCL ballparks, Aaron Blair finished 7-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) for Reno. (Photo by David Calvert/Aces)

The 23-year-old Blair, born and raised in Las Vegas, was dominant for the Aces down the stretch last season. He set a new franchise-record when he lasted 6+ innings in each of his final 11 starts. He also surrendered 3+ earned runs in just four of his 12 total starts, the outlier being an eight-run barrage in his Aces and Triple-A debut on June 17 vs. Tacoma.


A total of 65 players, including 48 in the Triple-A phase, were selected in the Rule 5 Draft last Thursday, the final day of the Winter Meetings. Baseball America has the complete draft results here.

Two former Aces were drafted in the first round of the Triple-A phase. Right-handed pitcher Blayne Weller was selected by the Los Angeles Angels (No. 20) while utilityman Garrett Weber was taken with the 23rd pick by the Texas Rangers.

Weller went 1-3 with a 4.62 ERA in six games (four starts) for the Aces in the final month of the season, and will likely open 2016 with Triple-A Salt Lake. Weber hit .353 in 54 games for the Aces in 2014 before posting a .303 average in 77 games with Reno in 2015. Weber will likely open his 2016 campaign with Triple-A Round Rock.

Despite losing a total of six Minor Leaguers to Rule 5 selections, the D-backs did select four players themselves in the Triple-A phase. Catcher Eduardo de Eleo (Yankees), shortstop Robelys Reyes (Cardinals), outfielder Chad Oberacker (Athletics) and outfielder Devin Harris (Giants) were scooped up by Arizona in the draft, with the latter two being the most likely Aces in 2016.

If Oberacker does find himself in Reno in 2016, fans would certainly appreciate plays like this.

Reminds you a bit of Todd Glaesmann last season, yeah?


To close out their active week, Arizona signed six players to Minor League contracts last Friday, five of whom were assigned to Reno while earning invites to Arizona’s 2016 MLB Spring Training.

The five assigned to Reno are below, with their 2015 teams listed as well.

OF Jason Bourgeois – Triple-A Louisville, Cincinnati
INF Joaquin Arias – Triple-A Sacramento, San Francisco
RHP Matt Buschmann – Triple-A Durham, Louisville, Triple-A Norfolk
RHP Jose Cisnero – Double-A Pensacola
RHP Tim Stauffer – Triple-A Rochester, Minnesota, Triple-A Las Vegas, New York (NL)


Aces from this past season who have signed elsewhere this offseason include: INF Nick Evans (Padres), OF Nick Buss (Angels) and RHP J.C. Ramirez (Reds).

Additonally, former Aces from previous years agreed to minor league contracts. 1B Brandon Allen agreed to a deal with the Reds while LHP Patrick Schuster signed with the Athletics.


In case you’ve missed the questionnaires with two of our Aces Account Executives, you can check them out here and here!

Last but not least, if you’re an Aces blog follower but not living in the Reno/Tahoe area, the answer to your question is a resounding yes. It did in fact snow recently, and it’s very, very cold…only 115 days until the season opener at Aces Ballpark!

Meet the Front Office: Ed. 2

Jillian Stoker, an Aces Account Executive of Group Sales, was our Zack Greinke (not literally) when she stepped up and signed a contract (not literally) to be the first interviewee for our latest and greatest offseason blog series.

So consider Nick Gassner, another Account Executive of Group Sales, the Shelby Miller of our blog series. He saw a winning formula and wanted to join in on the fun.

Nick Gassner professional

Just 23 years old, Gassner’s rise through the sporting world workforce is far from finished.

By the way, you can learn more about Stoker here.


Like Stoker, Gassner, 23, was born and raised in California. Growing up in Valley Springs — just over three hours from Reno — Gassner learned and adopted the quality of hard work from his father.

While working on a double major in finance and operations & technology management at the University of Portland, the sport-loving Gassner worked for, you guessed it, the Sports Information Department for the University.

After graduation, Gassner secured ticket sales positions with the Klamath Falls Gems (Summer, 2013) and nearby Major League Soccer franchise, Portland Timbers (2013). He then moved on to the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers where he was the Media Room Assistant for a year before joining the Aces as the Sales Coordinator in May of 2014.

Gassner’s hard work in downtown Reno earned him a promotion to his current title with the Aces, which he has held since September of 2014.

Outside of selling ticket packages, Gassner’s No. 1 hobby is golfing, ideally on the fairways of local Somerset.


Other things to know about Gassner…

Favorite place in Reno besides Aces Ballpark and the golf courses?
The River Walk.

Who’s your celebrity crush?
Jennifer Aniston.

Favorite sports teams?
Oakland Athletics, Portland Trail Blazers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

On that note, your favorite sports moment?
When the Trail Blazers eliminated the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, thanks to a buzzer-beater by Damian Lillard in Game 6.

Favorite movie?
Moneyball.

Go-to restaurant?
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

Words to live by?
If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.

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