The Angels haven’t made the official announcement yet, but the word is that Denny Hocking will manage the 66ers in 2013.
He is expected to be joined by hitting coach Brent Del Chiaro, and pitching coach Matt Wise and bullpen coach Steve Hernandez. Del Chiaro and Hernandez were part of the 66ers’ 2013 California League championship team.
Hocking, 43, was the Angels manager in the rookie-level Arizona League last year, leading the Angels to a 30-26 record. He was a big-league infielder from 1993-2005, primarily with the Minnesota Twins but also briefly with the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals. He batted .251 with 25 home runs and 226 RBIs in his career. He went to West Torrance High School and El Camino College.
His pitching coach in the Arizona League last year was Wise, a Bonita High graduate was a big-league pitcher from 2000-2008 with the Angels, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.
After the 66ers won the title, manager Bill Haselman and pitching coach Brandon Emmanuel were let go by the Angels.
All 10 teams in the California League have the day off. The Inland Empire 66ers will be at Angels Stadium where the parent team will be hosting the Texas Rangers in a 7:05 contest.
The Sixers (60-54 overall, 23-21 second half) resume California League play on Tuesday at High Desert.
The Inland Empire 66ers will go the rest of the way without the anchor of their pitching staff as ace Mark Sappington has been promoted to Double-A Arkansas of the Texas League.
Sappington, 22, was 11-4 with a 3.37 ERA that ranked him second in the California League. He was on track to match a team record for wins in a season of 14, last accomplished by Ryan Ketchner in 2003.
In 22 starts (130 2/3 innings) the 6-foot-5 right-hander had recorded 111 strikeouts while allowing 49 earned runs, 103 hits and 62 walks. He ranked third in the Cal League in ERA, tied for second in wins and led it in innings pitched. He was voted to the mid-season All-Star team.
He is the No. 9 ranked prospect in the Angels organization by Baseball America.
The Inland Empire 66ers and Rancho Cucamona Quakes both return from an off day in pursuit of a California League playoff berth and will start a head-to-head three-game set at 7:05 tonight at San Manuel Stadium.
The Sixers (58-50 overall, 21-17 second half) finished second to Lancaster in the first half and are second in the second, two games behind that same opponent. They are in good position to make the postseason as a wild card if they don’t win the half at 4 1/2 games better than Seattle affiliate High Desert and eight better than the Quakes for the second playoff spot.
If Lancaster, a Houston Astros affiliate, wins the second half too, the two teams with the next best records would advance.
The Quakes (50-58, 19-19) have been a much better team in the second half and come into the set having won seven straight series. They are four games behind Lancaster for the half and 3 1/2 behind High Desert for the second wild card, assuming Lancaster wins the second half.
The Sixers are led by reigning Cal League Player of the Week Zach Borenstein while outfielder Scott Schebler has spearheaded the Quakes resurgence.
Carlos Frias (2-3, 4.11) is the scheduled starter for the Quakes while the Sixers counter with All-Star Mark Sappington(10-4, 3.42).
The minor leagues are all about player development. That has always been clear. Yes winning a championship is nice but the priority is getting players ready to move on to the next level so they can eventually help the parent club.
Players want to climb the ladder as quick as possible and for most, playing in the High-A California League still seems like it’s pretty far from the big leagues.
But some promotions don’t seem to make sense. For example, pitcher JonMichael Redding of Rancho Cucamonga would seem to warrant a promotion. He pitched shutout ball against Inland Empire on Sunday and lowered his ERA to 2.00. He would be the top pitcher in the league when it comes to ERA if he had enough innings to qualify but has been used primarily as a reliever.
When the parent Dodgers had a chance to promote a starter earlier his month it chose to move up Garrett Gould, holder of a 2-7 record and 7.04 ERA.
Redding, 25, is in his fourth year in the Cal League and has been putting up good numbers this year. Gould, who turns 22 later this month, was in his second year and his numbers with the Quakes were worse than they were last year.
Well it’s all about money. Gould was a second-round draft choice so the Dodgers have more invested in him. The higher the draft pick, the more chances that player will get to prove himself. Not that Redding was a slouch. He was a fifth-rounder.
The same can probably be said for reliever Eric Cendejas of the Sixers. He has had two solid years in the Cal League. He had a 2.87 ERA in 47 appearances last year and has a 2.74 in 34 this season.
Yet two Sixers relievers have been promoted ahead of him. Granted both those players had numbers worthy of promotion, unlike Gould. But still Cendejas was a 33rd draft choice. He has to wonder when his shot will come.
Sometimes players have to hope if their numbers don’t them promoted in one organization, maybe another will take notice and they can get a shot elsewhere.
Mark Lowe, now a reliever for the Angels, was back in San Manuel Stadium (back then Arrowhead Credit Union Park) on Tuesday for the first time since he was with the 66ers for the first two months of the 2006 season. Back then, Lowe was with the 66ers when they were a Seattle Mariners affiliate. On Tuesday, he was with the 66ers as part of a rehabilitation assignment as he recovers from a stiff neck.
That was the last 66er team to win a California League championship. But it was a magical year for Lowe in a different way. By the end of the season he wasn’t winning a Cal League title, he was in the big leagues.
“I felt like that year, I couldn’t do anything wrong,” Lowe said.
Lowe recalled one 66er game from 2006 in particular that I remembered as well. That year he had been converted from being a starter to being a reliever, but he was pressed into duty as a starter in Game 2 of a doubleheader against High Desert in San Bernardino on April 15, 2006.
Lowe pitched five dominating innings in the seven-inning contest, allowing only one baserunner to reach base. With two outs in the fourth, a throwing error by third baseman Ronnie Prettyman allowed Rusty Brown to reach first base. Lowe struck out eight in five innings.
“I remember wanting to go back out for the sixth, since it was only a seven-inning game, but they wouldn’t let me,” Lowe said.
Reliever Aaron Trolia allowed a two-out double to Juan Senreiso in the sixth, breaking up the no-hit bid. Stephen Kahn pitched the seventh for the save in the 3-0 win and the trio of pitchers settled for a combined one-hitter. The game turned out to be Lowe’s only California League victory.