Category Archives: CAL LEAGUE SOUTH

STORM SWEEPS PORTS WITH 6-3 WIN

The Lake Elsinore Storm reached the .500 mark on the season with a 6-3 win over Stockton on Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep over the Ports. DH Ty France hit a bloop double in the third inning that drove in two runs and LHP Joey Lucchesi went five innings for the win.

With the home victory and Rancho Cucamonga’s loss in San Jose, the Storm are now one game out of first place.

Lucchesi was named Cal League Pitcher of the Week on April 30 and after notching the win to go to 3-0, he now has a WHIP of 0.86 and an ERA 1.66. Over 38 IP he has walked just 10 and struck out 44.

After France’s double, a popup that got lost in the sun, put the Storm up 2-0 in the third inning, Stockton came back with three runs in the top of the fourth. Lake Elsinore tied it in the bottom of the fourth, then went up 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth with a WP that scored a run and an RBI single from 2B Peter Van Gansen.

The loss dropped Stockton to 16-18, four games behind Modeso in the North.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday-through-Monday four-game series are on tap:

STOCKTON at LANCASTER

INLAND EMPIRE at SAN JOSE

MODESTO at LAKE ELSINORE

RANCHO CUCAMONGA at VISALIA

QUAKES’ PETERS, STORM’S LUCCHESI HONORED

Rancho Cucamonga’s DJ Peters has been named Cal League Player of the Week while Lake Elsinore’s Joey Lucchesi took home Pitcher of the Week honors.

Peters slashed .400/.545/.960 and had two doubles, four homers and 11 RBI in 25 ABs. Saturday night against the Storm, Peters went 2-for-5 with a HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.

Lucchesi threw six shutout innings at Visalia last Tuesday, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out eight.

ALL MILB PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
ALL MILB PITCHERS OF THE WEEK

 

WEEKEND MATCHUPS

All eight Cal League teams are 21 games into the season with the Modesto Nuts (13-8) and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (13-8) atop the divisions. Modesto has a two-game lead in the North over Stockton (11-10) and Visalia (11-10) and is three games up on San Jose (10-11).

The Quakes are four games clear of Lake Elsinore and Lancaster, both 9-12, while Inland Empire sits five games out at 8-13.

Three game sets are on tap for the weekend as follows:

RANCHO CUCAMONGA at LANCASTER
STOCKTON at SAN JOSE
LAKE ELSINORE at INLAND EMPIRE
VISALIA at MODESTO

Starting for Rancho Cucamonga tonight is RHP Mitchell White (1-1, 2.35). White is the Dodgers #10 prospect per MLBPipeline and ranks #19 by Baseball America. Opponents are hitting .248 against the 2016 second-round draft pick and White’s WHIP is 0.98.

In San Jose tonight, the Giants will send RHP Mike Connolly to the mound. Connolly is making his fourth start and checks in with a record of 1-2 with a 1.26 ERA. The 2013 draftee out of Maine has walked four against 13 strikeouts on the season.

 

 

BUEHLER DEALS, QUAKES OUTLAST 66ERS

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes pulled out a 5-4 win over the Inland Empire 66ers in a Friday night matchup that saw early offense before a tense finish at LoanMart Field. IE couldn’t do much with Quakes starter Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ #11 prospect, and fell behind 4-0 after two innings.

Buehler left after three scoreless frames, throwing 47 pitches and allowing just one hit and one walk. The 66ers then mounted their offense and got a run in the fourth on a Matt Thaiss homerun. The Quakes made it 5-1 with a single run in the fifth before Inland Empire plated two in the sixth to pull to within 5-3.

An eventful ninth inning saw the 66ers score another run while coming up short as Rancho’s Andrew Istler notched his second save despite allowing three hits and IE’s fourth run.

The Quakes got to IE starter Jake Jewell for five runs (3ER) on five hits, including Ibandel Isabel’s  fourth homer, a solo shot in the second. But Garrett Nuss came on for the 66ers and threw three scoreless innings in relief to keep his team in the game.

Dean Kremer (1-0) went four innings for the win, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Thaiss is the Angels’ #2 overall prospect and the homer may have been a good sign as the 2016 first-round pick hasn’t gotten it going at the plate yet (.170/.302/245).

Rancho Cucamonga C Will Smith (#16 BA prospect) threw out two runners trying to steal while going 1-for-4 at the plate.

The series continues Saturday night at 7:05PM.

 

JETHAWKS GET TO WHITE, DROP QUAKES 11-9

The Lancaster Jethawks roughed up Rancho Cucamonga’s Mitchell White for six early runs (3 ER) and totaled 12 hits in an 11-9 win at The Hangar Tuesday night. The Jethawks have taken the first two games of the four-game series to tighten up the Cal League South race.

White, last week’s Cal League pitcher of the week, went 1 2/3 innings and allowed four runs and a walk. The first inning was marred only by a fielding error by 1B Ibandel Isabel. But White didn’t make it to the end of a six-run second inning that featured two HBPs, a wild pitch and an error.

Lancaster scored 10 runs over the second, third and fourth innings to put the game out of reach of Rancho’s late comeback attempt. LF Sam Hilliard went 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Jethawks. SS Drew Jackson went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.

OTHER SCORES

VISALIA – 2
SAN JOSE – 3

LAKE ELSINORE – 2
INLAND EMPIRE – 3

STOCKTON – 7
MODESTO – 8

 

BLAZE, MAVS TO MOVE, CAL LEAGUE TO 8 TEAMS

f1b6a883-8f83-43b5-9b55-19a1f19c2f7cThe California League announced on Monday that the Bakersfield Blaze and the High Desert Mavericks will move to the Carolina League next season in a realignment of advanced-A leagues. The two cities will see their clubs cease operations and the California League will play with eight teams in 2017.

Bakersfield has been in the Cal League for 75 years while High Desert is finishing its 26th season in Adelanto.

The Blaze, famously, had problems with their aged stadium, Sam Lynn Ballpark, which has home plate facing the setting sun which necessitates later start times. The dugouts are way up the lines and it is lacking modern amenities that are now standard in weight training facilities and indoor batting cages.

imagesThe Mavericks got caught up in a nasty fight between the city and ownership. Both sides thought their counterpart to be unreasonable and litigation cast a cloud over the start of the 2016 season. As a result, High Desert was the logical choice to join the Blaze in downsizing the league and keeping with an even number of teams.

The Blaze have long had the lowest average attendance in the Cal League and High Desert has the second-lowest. This season the Blaze is averaging a mere 848 fans, despite the first-place club on the field in the second half. The Mavericks, first-half champions in the South division, are averaging 1,056. It’s a long way to next next lowest average attendance figure, Visalia’s 1,731. The rest of the league draws more than 2,000 per game on average.

It is sad to see a 75-year old club leave the league, but Bakersfield didn’t have a leg to stand on. Despite the first-rate staff that had the minor league experience down pat, the fans just didn’t come out. Attempts had been made to get a new facility but they fell through and the final years of Bakersfield baseball have seen sparse crowds in an outlier of a facility. That’s a tough way to go out. The fantastic staff deserved much better.

High Desert’s situation didn’t really have to happen, but the baseball played in the Mavs’ home stadium is unusually high-octane, even by Cal League standards. Again, it isn’t good to see a community and a league lose a franchise, but when the name of the game is player development, the wind-affected play in Adelanto has made it hard to evaluate both pitching and hitting.

The Cal League is clearly one of the most offense-heavy leagues in minor league baseball. Could they have continued to make it work out there? Of course. It’s unfortunate to have politics kill the whole deal. 1,000 people a night isn’t as large of an average crowd as most of the rest of the league, but it isn’t peanuts either. A lot of people spent a lot of summer nights watching the Mavs over the years. And then there are the employees.

It’s a sad, sad situation for a pretty stable league. But at the end of the day, you can see the logic in the realignment decision-making. The California League will continue to thrive. It will just do it without these two clubs, and that is sad for the people affected in these communities.

BALLPARK DIGEST STORY by Jeff Goldberg

 

PITCHER OF THE WEEK – MATT BOWER, LANCASTER

Matt Bower went five strong innings against Lake Elsinore to earn Cal League Pitcher of the Week honors. Bower allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out 10 over five shutout innings. It was the lefty’s first start at Lancaster after coming up from Quad Cities.

ORTIZ SHINES FOR HIGH DESERT WITH 6IP, 1H

Photo: MiLB.com

Photo: MiLB.com

The High Desert Mavericks rode the arm of Luis Ortiz and a 14-hit attack to pound out a 9-1 victory over the Visalia Rawhide on Saturday night. The home Rawhide hurt their own cause with a season-high six errors as well.

The visiting Mavericks broke open a 1-1 contest with a string of deuces in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, then put up two more runs in the ninth.

Ortiz, the Rangers’ #4 prospect in Baseball America’s rankings, allowed just one hit over six innings, a solo homer to Colin Bray in the third inning. The right-hander threw 59 pitches with 41 of them strikes while striking out five against 0 walks.

The Mavericks (24-12) have taken the first two games of the four-game set in Visalia and remained a game back of first-place Rancho Cucamonga (25-11) in the South division. The Rawhide (23-12) saw their lead in the North trimmed to two games as the San Jose Giants knocked off Modesto.

SCOREBOARD

MODESTO – 7
SAN JOSE – 11

LAKE ELSINORE – 1
LANCASTER 5

HIGH DESERT – 9
VISALIA – 1

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – 5
INLAND EMPIRE – 3

STOCKTON – 6
BAKERSFIELD – 9

 

MAVS’ DEMERITTE HAS 3H, 2HR….AGAIN

imagesHigh Desert 2B Travis Demeritte had a great opening night, going 3-for-4 with 2HR in a Mavericks win over Inland Empire on Thursday. The #21 prospect of the Texas Rangers enjoyed it so much, he tallied another three hits and two more bombs on Friday.

All this damage came from the leadoff spot as Demeritte drove in eight runs over the two games.

A 2013 first-round draft pick, Demeritte showed this kind of pop in his first full pro season, bashing 25 homers as a 19-year old in 2014. But last year was a step back with only 53 games played and a PED suspension.

The Mavericks, who lost to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the South Division finals last season, are off to a 2-0 start and have put up 19 runs over the two games.

 

POST-SEASON AWARDS ANNOUNCED

The California League handed out post-season honors on Friday with A.J. Reed taking home the MVP award while Antonio Senzatela was named Pitcher of the Year. Reed tore up the league in 82 games with Lancaster before being promoted to AA in July. Senzatela has made 23 starts for the Modesto Nuts and leads the circuit in ERA (2.40) and  WHIP (1.05).

The full list of honorees is as follows:

2015 CALIFORNIA LEAGUE POSTSEASON ALL-STAR TEAM
NAME POS TEAM MLB ORG
Tyler Ogle C Rancho Cucamonga LAD
A.J. Reed* 1B Lancaster HOU
Jamie Westbrook 2B Visalia ARI
Ryan McMahon 3B Modesto COL
Christian Arroyo SS San Jose SF
Eric Aguilera UT Inland Empire LAA
Cody Bellinger DH Rancho Cucamonga LAD
Tyler O’Neill OF Bakersfield SEA
Brett Phillips OF Lancaster HOU
Raimel Tapia OF Modesto COL
Dan Altavilla P Bakersfield SEA
Anthony Banda P Visalia ARI
Chase Johnson P San Jose SF
Antonio Senzatela P Modesto COL
J.R. House Manager Visalia ARI
Gil Heredia Coach Visalia ARI
Rex Whitney Turf Manager Rancho Cucamonga LAD
Vic Zapien Clubbie Stockton OAK

* Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year
† Pitcher of the Year

(Table from official California League webpage)