The view from outside still impresses

In 2005, longtime baseball man Tom Gamboa managed the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a squad which featured most of the talented youngsters who have contributed to the major league team this year. Now a member of the Padres' minor league staff, we caught up with Gamboa for his thoughts on the players he had in Arkansas.

You really had some incredible talent in your stint with the Travelers last year. What stands out in your mind?

Tom Gamboa: Oh my gosh. I have worked for ten different teams in my career and I really have to tip my hat to the Angels. In spring training of 2005, Mike Sciocia took me and some coaches out to dinner and he said, ‘you are new here and it is interesting to get a fresh opinion on the players in big league camp.

I said, ‘Mike, this is my tenth team and I have never been in a minor league camp with any of the teams in my background with so many legitimate major league players. And not just fringe guys.

I told him at the time, ‘As good as your career has been with the Angels, I think your best years managing are ahead of you because I think the cream of the crop in the farm system are going to be better than the 2002 team you had.

Walk us through those players.

I was fortunate enough to have seven guys off the club I was managing who are now playing for the Angels and making an impact.

The Cuban DH Kendry Morales joined our club in midseason and hit 15 home runs in a month and a half.

Mike Napoli is going to hit 20 home runs as a rookie and wasn't even with the team to begin the season.

Erick Aybar has been up with the club several times – a very exciting shortstop.

Reggie Willits has been with the club – a real gifted centerfielder and an ideal type leadoff man. He stole 41 bases and can really run them down in the outfield.

Tommy Murphy – a five tool player has spent considerable time there this year.

Jered Weaver is already doing well in the big leagues and I don't think he lost a game for us at Arkansas. He just dominated.

Howie Kendrick is a guy that defensively will be adequate at second or third base but offensively I will be shocked if he does not win a batting title in the American League somewhere down the road. He is a young Bill Madlock type of hitter with great balance, tremendous hand-to-eye coordination and he has some power and can run. And Kendrick only came to our club when Alberto Callaspo moved up to Triple-A. The Angels have since dealt him to the Diamondbacks and he was terrific.

What was your impression of the Angels' approach?

The Angels scouting staff have really done a terrific job in acquiring the talent they have, especially when you consider their big league team always finishes first or second.


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