The High Desert Mavericks’ World Series connection

When you’ve had as many affiliations as the High Desert Mavericks have had over the years, they are bound to have connections with players from a multitude of organizations.
Since moving from Riverside in 1991, the Mavericks have had seven different affiliations, and are about to embark on their eighth, when the Texas Rangers come to town for 2015. And that doesn’t include the two years they were a co-op team in 1994-95 and had players from several organizations on their squad.

The California League is for players early on in their career path and that’s how two of this year’s World Series opponents: San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Kansas City Royals slugger Billy Butler ended up there.

But Bochy was there in 1991, as a manager for the San Diego Padres’ affiliate trying to work his way up. He had a successful career as a player, but was just starting out as a manager.
It was actually his second season in the league, having managed the predecessor to the Mavericks, the Riverside Red Wave to a 64-78 record in 1990. In 1991, he was back, led the Mavericks to a decent but not overwhelming 73-63 record, then led them to an impressive playoff run (sound familiar?), by beating Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez and the Bakersfield Dodgers (85-51) amnd then beating the Stockton Ports in the finals, who had beaten 92-44 San Jose in the semifinals.
I covered that team. It was my first real beat and I loved it. Bochy was patient with me (I was still in college and didn’t really understand how the minor leagues worked). While I was aware of how good Bochy was, most of my focus was on the rest of the team. But while Matt Mieske, Jay Gainer and J.D. Noland will be remembered by fans of the ’91 Mavs, they aren’t remembered for their careers. As it turned out, Bochy was the best prospect on that team.

Billy Butler was with the Mavericks in 2005, in their first season of a two-season affiliation with the Royals. Butler was a young 19-year-old kid with a ton of power (25 home runs in 379 at-bats), but no position to play. They tried him at third base, but that didn’t last long. He made 18 errors in 41 games at third, including four in one game that I witnessed personally. Shortly thereafter, they moved him to left field, where he could hit, but still couldn’t field: Among players with at least 18 games played in the outfield, he was last with a .932 fielding percentage. But he could still hit, and he had a decent eye, with 42 walks in 92 games and a .348 batting average his OPS of 1.054. As it turned out, his power was not High Desert-created. It was legit. And like Bochy, he was the biggest prospect on the team.

Now they’re facing each other. The 6-4, 245-pound Bochy and the 6-2, 225-pound Butler. Opponents in the World Series. Forever connected by Adelanto.

66ers close in on playoff spot

The second-worst team in the California League needs just 1 win in its final two games to make the playoffs.

That’s all the 66ers need Sunday or Monday at Lancaster to guarantee at least a tie for the South Division second half title. And a tie would not require a one-game playoff, but send the Sixers to the best-of-3 first round against Lake Elsinore.

The Quakes have a much longer road. Not only do they need the Sixers to lose their final two games, but they need to make up a one-game deficit to High Desert.

While the Sixers’ second half record is only 35-33, it would be remarkable to make the playoffs after going 25-45 in the first half, and losing their best position player, shortstop Jose Rondon, to Lake Elsinore in a trade.

Cal League South Division scenario update with 3 games left

After Friday’s games, the three-team race for the final South Division playoff spot has gotten tighter with 3 games left.

The 66ers beat Lancaster 12-8, the Quakes beat Lake Elsinore 9-0 and San Jose beat High Desert 12-3.

The 66ers and Lancaster are tied for 1st in the second half race. It’s as simple as this for the 66ers: If they win 2 of the final 3 games against Lancaster, they are in the playoffs. They could still tie for the second half title with LE, but as stated in a previous post, that would be enough to get the Sixers in. There would be no 1-game playoff.

Should the Sixers lose at least 2 of the next 3 games, the last spot would go to High Desert or the Quakes. After Friday’s games, those teams are tied for the last spot.

They COULD have a 1-game playoff. And it would be at High Desert on Tuesday, because HD won the season series, 13-11.

California League playoff scenarios with 4 games left

I just had an exchange of e-mails with Matt Blaney from the California League office to clear up the potentially confusing playoff scenario in the Cal League’s South Division w.

So far, Lancaster and Lake Elsinore are in the playoffs, but the 66ers, Quakes and High Desert are still in the running for the division’s last playoff spot, with 4 games remaining, including tonight.

Here’s how it breaks down.

  • The 66ers (tied for 2nd with LE, 1 game back of Lancaster), need to win the 2nd half to make the playoffs. BUT, they only need to tie for the 2nd half title. Matt said that if the 66ers tie with Lake Elsinore (they can’t tie with Lancaster, because they are playing Lancaster), for the 2nd half title, there would be NO 1-game playoff, because Lake Elsinore is already in the playoffs. The 66ers would get in and play Lake Elsinore in the first round.
  • The Quakes and High Desert can only get in if the 66ers are not involved in the 2nd half title. They WOULD have a 1-game playoff if the 66ers aren’t involved and if the Quakes and HD are tied. HD leads the Quakes by 1 game, with 4 left.
  • Here’s who plays who: 66ers at Lancaster, Quakes at Lake Elsinore, San Jose at High Desert.
  • In the North Division, it’s between Visalia and San Jose for the last playoff spot, with Visalia leading by 3 games. Bakersfield and Stockton are already in.

66ers manager Denny Hocking enjoys all-star experience

It was last week  that 66ers manager Denny Hocking managed the California League all-stars to a win over the Carolina League and he enjoyed the event.
“You never know when you’re going to be able to coach one of these again,” said Hocking. “It might’ve been different if I didn’t get to see my family all the time, but I really enjoyed it.”

Hocking managed the team and his coaching staff was his all-star staff) because the 66ers won the league title last year, even though Hocking wasn’t the manager. He is from Southern California and as a result is able to see his family all the time, so the all-star game didn’t keep him from seeing his family for one of the few times all season.

Hocking really liked the camaraderie the team showed.

“The guys really came together. It wasn’t like, a group of Lancaster players over here, Lake Elsinore players over there. They all came together as a team,” he said. “And i got a chance to learn a little bit more about some of the guys in the league.”

Jose Rondon, Corey Seager and Julio Urias named to Futures Game

Corey Seager, who just played in the California League/Carolina League All-Star Game last week, will be playing in yet another all-star game, the Futures Game.

He’ll be joined by fellow Quake Julio Urias and 66er Jose Rondon, among others. The game is played in the same big league park as the MLB all-star game this year, on the Sunday before that game. So this year, it’s July 13 in Kansas City.

Seager, a shortstop ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, was batting .355 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 66 games through Tuesday.

Urias is a bit of a surprise for some observers. He doesn’t turn 18 until August, and the Dodgers have been very careful with his innings this year so some didn’t expect him to have the added pressure of an all-star game. In 14 appearances (11 starts), Urias has pitched only 45 2/3 innings, lasting as long as five innings only once.

He is 1-1 with a 3.35 ERA and 48 strikeouts and 21 walks and is the Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect.

Rondon, who had been out with a strained hamstring, was a late addition to the team. He replaced Lancaster shortstop Carlos Correa (Houston’s No. 1 prospect), who suffered a broken right fibula and will miss the rest of the season.

Neither Rondon nor Urias made the Cal League all-star team, but Rondon has been solid, batting .329 with 14 doubles, three triples, 28 runs scored and 20 RBIs,

Before he had returned from the injury last weekend, Sixers manager Denny Hocking said he hoped Rondon would be rewarded with a spot in the Futures Game. Rondon is ranked as the Angels’ No. 12 prospect.

The format for the Futures Game is a U.S. vs. World, so Seager will play for the U.S. team and Urias (Mexico) and Rondon (Venezuela) will play for the World team.

Garey graduate named Cal League Pitcher of Week

Garey High School graduate Vincent Velasquez of the Lancaster JetHawks is the first California League Pitcher of the Week of the new season.

Velasquez, 21, appeared in three games. In 13 innings he gave up just three hits and one earned run while striking out 16.

He spent most of 2013 in the Houston Astros Low-A affiliate but earned a promotion late in the season to Lancaster.

Velasquez appeared in three games for the JetHawks late last season, going 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA.

He has obviously learned well.

His numbers this season are even more noteworthy, given that two of those three appearances came in hitter friendly Lancaster.

Velasquez, 6-foot-3, right-hander, is the Astros No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America.

Quakes, 66ers lose a day after 14-inning marathon

On Wednesday, the Quakes and 66ers played an epic 14-inning game, finally won by the Sixers despite needing to pitch the final three innings with two different position players: infielder Brian Hernandez and outfielder Andrew Ray.

A day later, in the 66ers first home game of the season and the Quakes’ first road game, both teams lost.

The Sixers (2-6)  loss was 8-3 to High Desert (6-2) as the Mavericks pounded out 18 hits and the Sixers committed three errors and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Wade Hinkle was 2-for-2 with a home run, a double and two walks. Jordy Lara had four hits, finishing a double short of the cycle for the Mavericks.

The Quakes lost in more excruciating fashion. Playing at Modesto (1-7), they carried a 5-4 lead to the bottom of the ninth against Luis Meza (0-1).

With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, Wilson Soriano singled and stole second. After a walk, a fielding error by Quakes first baseman Chris Jacobs allowed the tying run to score and put runners on second and third. Sean Dwyer’s single to center scored the game-winning run.

For the Quakes (3-5) , Pratt Maynard hit two doubles and drove in two runs.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 2014 roster

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 2014 Opening Day Roster. Team opens at home on Apr. 3 at 7:;05 p.m.
Manager: 7 P.J. Forbes
Hitting coach: 35 Mike Eylward
Pitching coach: 33 Matt Herges
Pitchers
35 Chris Anderson R/R (No. 5 prospect)
27 Geoff Brown L/L
45 Freddie Cabrera R/R
29 Lindsey Caughel R/R
16 Daniel Coulumbe L/L
31 Owen Jones R/R
40 Fabio Martinez R/R
34 Luis Meza R/R
18 Rob Rogers R/R
43 Matt Shelton R/R
21 Blake Smith L/R
17 Julio Urias L/L (No. 3)
38 Tom Windle L/L (No. 12)
Catchers
10 Jose Capellan R/R
23 Pratt Maynard L/R
Infielders
5 Brandon Dixon R/R (No. 30) 3B
44 Chris Jacobs R/R 1B
6 Adam Law R/R 3B
24 Tyler Ogle R/R 1B
19 Steven Proscia R/R 1B
12 Corey Seager L/R SS (No. 2)
3 Scott Wingo L/R 2B
Outfielders
14 James Baldwin L/R
11 Robbie Garvey L/L
13 Jeremy Rathjen R/R

Inland Empire 66ers 2014 Opening Day Roster

Here is the 66ers roster Opening Day Roster for 2014 opener is Thursday Apr. 3 at High Desert
Manager: 7 Denny Hocking
Pitching coach: 38 Matt Wise
Hitting coach: 18 Brenton Del Chairo
Bullpen coach: 35 Steve Hernandez
Athletic Trainer: Omar Uribe
Strength and Conditioning coach: Sergio Rojas
Pitchers
21 Austin Adams right-handed relief pitcher
37 Cameron Bedrosian RRP (No. 10 prospect)
19 Jake Boyd RRP
26 Ryan Crowley LSP
29 Tyler DeLoach LSP
17 Jairo Diaz RRP
22 Grant Gordon RRP
24 Alex Keudell RSP
12 Kyle McGowin RSP (No. 29)
23 Chris O’Grady RRP
25 Danny Reynolds RRP
15 Nate Smith LSP
20 Kurt Spomer RRP
Hitters bats/throws
Catchers
9 Abel Baker L/R
13 Cal Towey L/R (No. 19)
5 Zach Wright R/R
Infielders
4 Alex Allbritton R/R 2B-SS-3B
14 Brian Hernandez R/R 1B-3B
16 Wade Hinkle L/L 1B
10 Sherman Johnson L/R 2B
27 Jose Rondon R/R SS (No. 12)
Outfielders
2 Chevy Clarke S/R RF/CF
1 Rolando Gomez L/R CF/RF
8 Brennan Gowens L/R RF/CF

6 Andrew Ray R/R LF (No. 28)