Thursday, Sept. 3 would have marked the end of the Reno Aces’ 2020 season. The cancellation of Minor League Baseball put the Aces’ year on hold, but there are plenty of memorable moments since the Triple-A franchise moved to downtown Reno in 2009.
To reflect on the team as a whole, Tahoe Onstage put together an all-time Aces lineup. Players in the lineup are solely based upon their Aces tenure. Several names were left off the list, most notably 2017 Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker.
Below is the nine player starting lineup followed by a manager and first and third base coach.
Catcher (C): Konrad Schmidt
Konrad Schmidt kicks off the lineup with his versatile bat and defensive prowess behind the dish. Schmidt totaled 193 games over three seasons in Reno, finishing with 16 homers and 96 RBIs. He was named a PCL All-Star in 2011 and was the primary catcher for the Aces’ historic 2012 season capped-off by a PCL title and Triple-A National Championship.
Schmidt didn’t have eye-popping numbers during his Aces tenure, but his impact on the organization remains.
First base (1B): Kevin Cron
No Aces player has put together as torrid an offensive stretch than Kevin Cron. The slugging first baseman leads the franchise with 60 career home runs and broke the single-season record with 38 last season. In just two seasons with Triple-A Reno, Cron ranks third all-time in RBIs (202), seventh in walks (97) and eighth in total bases (454).
Cron’s spot on first base takes Aces greats including Walker, Mike Jacobs and Bradon Allen out of the lineup. But his monstrous two years with Reno are too impressive to overlook.
Second base (2B): Ildemaro Vargas
Primarily a plug-and-play shortstop, Ildemaro Vargas totaled 116 games at second base and slots into the Aces’ all-time lineup. In 314 games from 2016-19, Vargas ranks first franchise history with 439 hits, 88 doubles and countless smiles. He is second all-time with 220 runs and 624 total bases.
Nicknamed “El Tigre”, Vargas was a fan favorite during his tenure with the Diamondbacks organization. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 11.
Shortstop (SS): Chris Owings
Chris Owings was a 2013 PCL All-Star and won the PCL MVP award that same season, batting .330 with 12 homers and 81 RBIs in 125 games. His 180 hits that season are the second-most in Aces history.
Owings spent four seasons with the Aces, but didn’t log more than 21 games in three of them. His 2013 campaign places him among the Aces greats with 104 runs, 263 total bases and 20 steals.
Third base (3B): Jack Reinheimer
Third base was a toss-up between a trio of defensive Swiss Army knives in Jack Reinheimer, Kristopher Negron and Taylor Harbin. Reinheimer logged 55 games at third over three seasons with the Aces and edges two tough competitors for the position.
Reinheimer ranks fourth all-time in games played (311), fourth in hits (323) and sixth in doubles (56). His quick glove and powerful right-handed swing makes for a solid fit in the lineup.
Left field (LF): Peter O’Brien
Left fielder Peter O’Brien brings more thump to the Aces’ all-time lineup. In 136 games over two seasons with Reno, he’s tied for third all-time in homers (50) and sixth all-time in RBIs (182).
O’Brien finished the 2015 season with 26 homers, 35 doubles and 107 RBIs to earn his first PCL All-Star appearance. He was later named a Postseason All-Star that same year. Similar to Cron, O’Brien’s impressive statistics put him in the lineup despite just two seasons in Reno.
Center field (CF): Adam Eaton
Adam Eaton patrolls center field for the Aces’ all-time lineup. Eaton was named 2012 PCL MVP, batting .381 with 46 doubles, 45 RBIs and 38 stolen bases. His .381 batting average, 186 hits, 46 doubles and 38 stolen bags are all Aces single-season records.
Eaton appeared in 139 games over two seasons with Triple-A Reno. He’s accumulated 822 games in the major leagues with three different teams, but he’s remembered as one of the best players to don an Aces jersey.
Right field (RF): Cole Gillespie
Cole Gillespie rounds out the outfield with his plus-speed and reliable bat in the lineup. Over four seasons with the Aces from 2009-12 Gillespie ranks first all-time in games played (374), at-bats (1,272), runs (272), steals (51), triples (30) and total bases (647). He’s also second in RBIs (221), walks (211), hits (399) and doubles (74).
Gillespie’s name is filled throughout the Aces’ record book. His dependability on both sides propelled the Aces to postseason success. His impact in Reno earns him a spot on the Aces’ all-time lineup.
Pitcher (P): Braden Shipley
The battle for who starts on the hill was between right-handers Braden Shipley and Charles Brewer. Brewer has Shipley beat with 307 career strikeouts, the most in franchise history. But Shipley is first all-time in career wins (25) and innings (394.0) so he gets the starting nod.
A UNR alum, Shipley’s 15th overall selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013 is the highest draft pick by any Wolf Pack player in school history. He spent four seasons and appeared in 98 games with the Aces, racking up countless records along the way.
Shipley signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals this offseason, but he’ll be remembered as the great Ace on the mound.
Manager: Brett Butler
Brett Butler gets the nod to manage the Aces’ all-time lineup. From 2009-13, Butler accumulated a 366-352 record and led the Aces to their first PCL championship and Triple-A National Championship Game in 2012. His No. 2 jersey was retired during their 2017 home opener.
Third base coach: Greg Gross
For his enthusiasm and knowledge of the game, former Aces skipper Greg Gross is penciled in as the third base coach. Gross managed one season with Reno in 2018 before Chris Cron took the position in 2019.
Gross remained on staff with the Aces last season, often serving as a third base coach and mentoring the younger players. He is often recognized as one of the best pinch hitters in MLB history.
First base coach: Cody Decker
It can’t be an Aces’ all-time lineup without Cody Decker. Decker didn’t stuff the stat sheet over two seasons with the Aces, but he made countless memories during his time in the Biggest Little City.
Decker tied the bow of his 11-year career with a walk-off blast on July 5, 2019. When Decker had an off day, he still went to work as a first base coach, making teammates and opposing players chuckle throughout the game.
— Isaiah Burrows