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.
Winning a Triple Crown is tough in the majors, but it’s almost as tough in the minors. Inland Empire outfielder Zach Borenstein has a shot.
Borenstein, a 23rd round draft pick out of Eastern Illinois, leads the California League in batting (.341). The next two players behind him in that category have been promoted and won’t have enough at-bats by the end of the year to qualify.
The other two categories might be tougher. Borenstein has 21 home runs, trailing only Rancho Cucamonga’s Scott Schebler (23) and Sixers teammate Michael Snyder (22).
In RBI Borenstein (76) trails just Andrew Aplin (84) and Matt Duffy (77), both of Lancaster. That might the toughest deficit to overcome because the two frontrunners have a decided advantage playing in the most hitter friendly venue in the league. It’s actually amazing the Borenstein is that close in RBI with Aplin having played 23 more games.
The last player to win a Triple Crown in the Cal League is Ruben Gonzalez who did so with the then San Bernardino Spirit in 1989. His numbers weren’t exactly overwhelming – a .308 batting average with 27 home runs and 101 RBI.
Borenstein also seems to have a legitimate shot at Cal League Player of the Year honors. He leads the league in slugging percentage (.649).
If nothing else, Borenstein has put himself on the Angels’ organization’s radar. He wasn’t listed in the top 30 prospects this year but it would be hard for Baseball America to leave him out next year given those numbers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers promoted RHP Carlos Frias from High-A Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday, forcing a Quakes manager Carlos Subero to alter his rotation.
Frias, 23, had been schedule to pitch against Inland Empire tonight at San Manuel Stadium but Subero handed the ball to Gustavo Gomez instead.
Frias was 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA in eight starts with the Quakes. He started the season at Low-A Great Lakes and made his first start with Rancho on June 15.
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).
Designated hitter Zach Borenstein of Inland Empire is this week’s California League Player of the week.
In seven games Borenstein hit .435 (10 for 23) with a double, four home runs, 14 RBI and seven runs scored. That solid showing was punctuated by a grand slam home run in Sunday’s 7-4 win over High Desert.
Borenstein hit an impressive .315 in the first half of the season but has posted a .411 since the All-Star break, collecting 24 RBIs in 16 games, even after missing three weeks with a hip injury.
He is hitting .333 on the season with 21 home runs and 74 RBI. He is second to Chris Taylor of High Desert in batting average and trails Scott Schebler of Rancho Cucamonga by one in the home run column. He is third in RBI despite playing 21 fewer games than leader Andrew Aplin of Lancaster who has 82.
Pitcher of the Week honors went to San Jose’s Clayton Blackburn.
The 66ers have changed utilitymen as the Angels released Redlands East Valley High product Trevor Hairgrove, and replaced him with Chance Ross. Hairgrove, who batted .194 in 51 games for the Sixers, was given his release on Monday, when the team returned from a road trip to Visalia. Hairgrove was 2 for 4 with a double in his final Sixers game.
Ross had spent time with the Sixers in May, when Hairgrove had a temporary assignment with Double-A Arkansas. With the Sixers, Ross was 7 for 29 (.241) with one home run and three RBIs. Most recently, he was with low Single-A Burlington, where he batted .250 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 40 games. He also played one game for Triple-A Salt Lake in May.
In other news, another Redlands East Valley product, Tommy Hanson, is scheduled to make a rehabilitation start for the Sixers at home at San Manuel Stadium on Thursday vs. Lancaster.
Here is the 2014 Cal League schedule, if you click on the link below. Quakes open at home on April 3, play the 66ers for the first time, at home on April 7, and 66ers open at home on April 10.
66ers will host on July 4, Quakes on July 3.
2014 California League Schedule(1)
Zach Borenstein, who hadn’t played since June 15 with a strained hip flexor after hitting .315 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs in 65 games, finally returned to the 66ers lineup on Wednesday. He was activated off the disabled list and had RBI singles in each of his first two at-bats at Lancaster. The Sixers had an open roster spot so they did not need to make another move.
Not so for the Quakes, who needed to find room for former big-league closer Carlos Marmol. Since Marmol is technically a minor leaguer and not on a rehab assignment, the Quakes needed to make room for him. The room was made with Pedro Baez, in his first year as a pitcher, getting promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. Baez was 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA and two saves in 32 appearances for the Quakes.
“Double-A will challenge him to make more progress,” Quakes manager Carlos Subero said. “It will help in his development.”
The Quakes and 66ers each made roster moves in advance of their series finale on Tuesday at San Manuel Stadium.
The Sixers had yet another pitcher go down with an injury, as right-hander Daniel Tillman went to the DL with a strained flexor tendon in his pitching arm. Tillman, who pitched for the Sixers the last two years, had made only two appearances since rejoining the team, the last time on July 4. In his place, the Sixers got right-hander Jairo Diaz. Diaz was 0-3 with a 3.97 ERA and eight saves for low Single-A Burlington before joining the Sixers.
The Quakes, meanwhile, brought outfielder Bobby Coyle off the disabled list. Since joining the team from Double-A Chattanooga a week ago, Coyle had been on the disabled list with an illness. Although he batted just .141 at Double-A, he did hit .288 with two home runs in 18 games with the Quakes earlier this season. To make room for Coyle, outfielder Devin Shines was placed on the disabled list.