Plenty of familiar faces for Angelenos

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In assembling the Glendale Angelenos' inaugural roster, coach and team president Tony Riviera gathered college baseball players from up and down California and even from across the country. But, for the foundation of the first-year California Collegiate League squad, Riviera had to look no further than the team's own backyard, so to speak, at Stengel Field.

Of the 40 players that will open the season on the team's roster, 11 are fresh off carrying the Glendale Community College baseball team, which also calls Stengel home, to the finest season in program history, one that ended one win shy of the title game of the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championships.

"It certainly was a good audition [for the Angelenos]," Riviera said of the Vaqueros' epic season.

Vaqueros position players included on the roster will be infielders Sako Chapjian and Ellis Whitman and outfielder Sean Spear.

Glendale college pitchers Ryan Sherriff, Thomas Korn, Michael Noteware, Greg Astor, John La, Gus Garcia, Michael Sherwin and Jamie Rosales have also been added to the club.

Eight of the current Angelenos, including Chapjian, Whitman, Sherriff and Spear, a USC transfer who was also selected in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Washington Nationals last year, played for Riviera with the SoCal Cardinals of the Southern California Collegiate League in 2010.

"We wanted them acclimated in the city of Glendale because we felt that would make a big difference in getting a joint venture, for lack of better words, with Glendale college," Riviera said of the former Cardinals turned Vaqueros, and now Angelenos. "We've got a very solid working relationship [with Glendale college] and we'll feed them players and they'll feed us players."

Riviera has also formed a pipeline with the University of Arkansas. Outfielder Franco Broyles, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2009, pitcher Randall Fant (Boston Red Sox, 2009) and pitchers Jeff Harvill (Philadelphia Phillies, 2010) will represent the Razorbacks.

"We've got three of their top guys that would be impact players for them next year," Riviera said. "They've all been drafted. …I think any time you're playing in the SEC, you're a big-time college player. But I also think that on any given day, any of these guys that are on the [team] today could play in the SEC."

The roster includes six players from Cal State Dominguez Hills — infielder Ricky Vasquez and pitchers Nick Plantz, Devon Ramirez, Sean Wardour, Jonathan Keener and Derrick Dingeman — five from Cal State Northridge — pitchers Josh Goosen-Brown, Alex Muren, Drew Muren, Carlos Gonzalez and infielder Matt Tellesco — and two from Cal State Los Angeles, pitcher Nick Rodarte and catcher Chad Nacopoy, a Crescenta Valley High graduate.

Outfielder Erik Scott and pitcher Greg Fowler are from New Mexico Highlands.

"Each person that is on this roster was really hand selected," Riviera said. "It wasn't just, 'Hey, give me a guy,' so I had to see these guys, meet with these guys face to face and make sure that it was a fit from a chemistry standpoint.

"When you're compiling a team, you really want to make sure everybody is a fit so there aren't any clubhouse problems or any problems on the road. You certainly want to make sure that someone doesn't have bad habits, so you do the due diligence and make sure that these guys truly understand that they're on a short leash."

The remainder of the squad, which includes Sacramento State catcher Derek Goodwin, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, was drawn from junior colleges across the state, with Kaz Halcovich of USC the only other NCAA Division I player outside of the Arkansas trio.

"I think what happens too often that people mistake a junior college player as a guy who can't play at the Division I level," said Riviera, who added that the Cal State and junior-college recruiting approach has allowed the team to get in extensive practice and bonding time ahead of the season and may give the Angelenos a leg up on other CCL clubs that must wait for their Division I players to return from their college postseasons. "There's some great junior college players and I would have given Glendale college any chance against any Division I school this year. When they were good, they were really good and there were very few teams that could beat them."

Riviera also said the size of the roster will allow the Angelenos to remain competitive while still keeping their players fresh for fall baseball commitments.

"Typical [CCL roster size] is about 35," Riviera said. "You never know what's going to happen and I think that last year when we played in the Southern California Collegiate League we won our first 15 games and then we had a bunch of injuries and then we didn't have any arms.

"We want to make sure, No. 1, that we have a very large pitching staff and the reason is because you want to make sure your pitchers are returned back to their schools in really good shape."

The team opens up its first-ever season on June 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Stengel Field.

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