Angels oust Haselman, Emmanuel of Sixers staff

Some of the decisions the Angels have made are dumbfounding. Here’s another one. Despite winning the High-A California League Championship, the organization has severed ties with Inland Empire manager Bill Haselman and pitching coach Brandon Emmanuel.

The organization has done very little right at the major league level the past few years, one would think they’d reward those that did a superb job at the minor league level. Well, think again.

The Sixers had a very unique team chemistry. All teams say they have it but this team REALLY had it. It was obvious in watching the team as much as I did this season. Players had nothing but good things to say about the coaching staff. One player even told me at the end of the season he would rather NOT get promoted to Double-A because he enjoyed playing for this team and coaching staff so much and wanted to compete in the playoffs with them.

The Sixers did finish two games under .500 at 69-71. But that isn’t necessarily an issue. Players get injured. Players get promoted and demoted. Winning really does take a back seat to player development.

Look at what the team did in the postseason. The Sixers had to beat Rancho Cucamonga, coming from behind in the final inning of the decisive game.

Then they beat Lancaster in the same manner, winning a 15-inning thriller in the decisive game. And that was a Lancaster team loaded with top-notch Astros prospects and heavily favored to win it all.

To win the title the  Sixers knocked off San Jose, a team that the Giants annually makes sure is loaded  for a postseason run.

The only good thing about this farce of a decision is it comes early enough Haselman and Emmanuel will both have no trouble landing jobs with other organizations.

The Mariners would be a good bet for Haselman. Not only did he play in that organization, but he lives in the Northwest. He did some television analyst work there before going to the Angels and was very well received.

The Mariners organization is in transition so that moves makes the most sense.

The others let go were

Double-A Arkansas hitting coach Ernie Young
Class A Burlington manager Jamie Burke
Class A Burlington pitching coach Trevor Wilson



Players of the week named in Cal League

Both California League honors went to players from North Division teams this week.

Jonathan Gray of Modesto is the Pitcher of the Week. He had two starts and gave up just five hits and two runs (one earned) with one walk and a whopping 18 strikeouts in 10 innings.

  After four so-so Pioneer League outings, Gray jumped to the Cal League, where he has been utterly dominant. The 21-year-old Oklahoma product gave up 15 hits in 13 1/3 innings with Grand Junction; in 24 innings with Modesto, he’s allowed just 10 hits while striking out 36.

This was his second Pitcher of the Week honor in the Cal League.

Mac Williamson of San Jose is the Player of the Week. . The third-round pick out of Wake Forest in 2012 hit .481 (13 for 27) with three doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI and 10 runs scored.

Williamson has found his stride in the second half of his first full season. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound outfielder is batting .329 with with 15 homers and 49 RBI in 61 games since the All-Star break and has powered San Jose to nine straight wins.

Williamson homered four times in six games last week, has an extra-base hit in eight straight games and multiple hits in five of seven contests. The surge has pushed Williamson into third place in the Cal League homer race with 24 blasts.


“Best Tools” singles out top players

Kyle Crick has a 1.58 ERA in 45 2/3 innings for San Jose.

Baseball America has announced the results of its annual Best Tools survey which asks the managers in each league to evaluate the prospects they think are best at each position in each facet of the game.

Inlnad Empire had one player singled out as Alex Yarbrough was named Best Defensive Second Baseman. I think Eric Stamets should have been named Best Defensive Shortstop but Modesto’s Trevor Story was named.

Rancho Cucamonga’s Jon Garcia, who has since been promoted, was named Best Outfield Arm.

Here is the rundown:

Best Batting Prospect – Addison Russell, Stockton

Best Power Prospect – Mac Williamson, San Jose

Best Strike Zone Judgment – Nolan Fontana, Lancaster

Best Baserunner – Travis Jankowksi, Lake Elsinore

Fastest Baserunner – Travis Jankowski, Lake Elsinore

Best Pitching Prospect – Kyle Crick, San Jose

Best Fastball – Kyle Crick, San Jose

Best Breaking Pitch – Clayto Blackburn, San Jose

Best Changeup – Tanner Peters, Stockton

Best Control – Ty Blach, San Jose

Best Reliever – Jake Barrett, Visalia

Best Defensive Catcher – Austin Hedges, Lake Elsinore

Best Defensive 1B – Max Muncy, Stockton

Best Defensive 2B – Alex Yarbourgh, Inland Empire

Best Defensive 3B – Juan Silverio, Bakersfield

Best Defensive SS – Trevor Story, Modesto

Best Infield Arm – Trevor Story, Modesto

Best Defensive OF – Travis Jankoswki, Lake Elsinore

Best Outfield Arm – Jon Garcia, Rancho Cucamonga

Most Exciting Player – Addison Russell, Stockton

Best Managerial Prospect – Webster Garrison, Stockton




It’s All-Star time for Quakes, Sixers

Most of the Quakes and Sixers will have a few days to regroup and prepare for the last 70 games of the season. But a handful are heading to San Jose for Carolina-California League festivities to be hosted by the San Jose Giants on Tuesday.

The Sixers (37-33), an affiliate of the Angels, have four players named to the team. They are pitchers Mark Sappington and Kramer Sneed, infielder Alex Yarbrough and outfielder Zach Borenstein. Sappington and Borenstein will not play. Borenstein, who originally planned to take part in the Homerun Derby, injured his knee legging out a double in Saturday’s game at High Desert.

The Quakes (31-39), the Dodgers affiliate, will be represented by outfielder Noel Cuevas and third baseman Ryan Mount, although mount is also injured and won’t take part.

The Carolina League won last year’s game 9-1. It was held at Winston-Salem.

This will be the 17th meeting between the two. The series is deadlocked at 7-7-2.

The second half of the season gets underway on Thursday. The Quakes will start out at Lancaster while the Sixers will host Lake Elsinore.

California League rosters announced

Mark Sappington is 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA in nine starts for the 66ers.

The California League All-Star team that will take on one from the Carolina League on June 18 in San Jose has been announced. Both local teams are represented.



Jake Barrett, Visalia Rawhide; Ty Blach, San Jose Giants; Carlos Contreras, Bakersfield Blaze; Edwin Escobar, San Jose Giants; Drew Grenier, Stockton Ports; Chris Jensen, Modesto Nuts; *El’Hajj Muhammed, Bakersfield Blaze; Josh Osich, San Jose Giants; Brady Rodgers, Lancaster JetHawks; Mark Sappington, Inland Empire 66ers; *Hunter Strickland, San Jose Giants; Dan Winkler, Modesto Nuts.


Jeff Arnold, San Jose Giants; Robert Kral, Lake Elsinore Storm.


*Ryan Cavan, San Jose Giants; *JiMan Choi, High Desert Mavericks; Matt Duffy, Lancaster JetHawks; *Jake Lamb, Visalia Rawhide; Geson Montilla, Visalia Rawhide; *Ryan Mount, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes; Max Muncey, Stockton Ports; *Cory Spangenberg, Lake Elsinore Storm; Chris Taylor, High Desert Mavericks; Angela Villalona, San Jose Giants; Alex Yarbrough, Inland Empire 66ers.


Andrew Aplin, Lancaster JetHawks; Jabari Blash, High Desert Mavericks; Zach Borenstein, Inland Empire 66ers; Noel Cuevas, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes;Preston Tucker, Lancaster JetHawks.

Field staff (All San Jose)

Andy Skeets, Manager; Mike Couchee, pitching coach; Lipso Nava, hitting coach; Dave Getsoff, trainer; Dustin Brooks, strength and conditioning.

* Denotes player who will not play due to promotion or injury


66ers win, tie for 1st; Quakes are swept

Drew Heid led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a home run, giving the Sixers (8-5) a 7-6 victory over the Modesto Nuts at San Manuel Stadium on Wednesday.

The win boosted the Sixers (8-5) into a tie for first place in the South Division with the High Desert Mavericks (8-5), who lost at Lancaster.

Continue reading “66ers win, tie for 1st; Quakes are swept” »

Flores, Quakes force Game 5, where pitching will be key again

Manny Flores pitched eight shutout innings and he combined with Nick Pugliese on a six-hitter as the Quakes blanked San Jose 4-0 in Game 4 on Sunday night at the Epicenter, evening the best-of-five Championship Series at two games apiece.

The pitching matchup for Game 5 will decide whether the Quakes win their first league title since 1994 or San Jose repeats as league champions.

On one hand, is Quakes right-hander Kyle Hurst, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 3. The Quakes haven’t needed him to pitch since they swept High Desert in 2 games and ousted Lake Elsinore in Game 4 of the best-of-five South Finals.

Hurst’s overall numbers aren’t impressive. He had a 5-3 record and a 5.31 ERA in the regular season. But, he was 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his final four starts in the regular season. His one appearance against San Jose? Don’t ask. It was June 1 at San Jose and he allowed eight earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in a spot-start. But that was long before he started to figure things out.

San Jose right-hander Justin Fitzgerald, who pitched seven shutout innings in Game 1, will pitch on three days rest in Game 5. That’s almost unheard of in the minor leagues, even in the playoffs.

Fitzgerald was 10-6 with a 3.45 ERA in the regular season, but never even pitched with as few as four days off between starts in the first half. In the first half  he had at least five or six days off between each of his starts. In the second half, it was four or five. Between his first two playoff starts, he had four days off.

This is the 24-year-old Fitzgerald’s third pro season and the first pro season in which he started. So he has never started on three days rest as a pro.

Quakes can’t rally a second time, lose in 11

After a stirring rally from 3 runs down in the ninth to send the game into extra innings the Quakes couldn’t rally from a five-run deficit in the 11th and lost 12-7 in Game 3 on Saturday night at the Epicenter. San Jose’s win puts the Giants one win away from back-to-back titles. Game 4 is Sunday at the Epicenter at 5:05 p.m.

With the score tied 7-7 in the top of the 11th, Jose Perez (0-1) came in to pitch for the Quakes. Perez had retired San Jose in order in his only inning in Game 2 and he struck out Francisco Peguero to begin the inning. But catcher Alberto Rosario couldn’t handle the pitch and Peguero reached on the passed ball. Juan Perez sacrificed Peguero to second and Jose Flores tripled to right center, giving San Jose the tie-breaking run. Johnny Monell, already with three home runs in the series, was intentionally walked and then Charlie Culberson was un-intentionally walked to load the bases. Brandon Crawford then unloaded a grand slam to center field and suddenly it was 12-7. Perez retired the next two batters but the damage was done. The Quakes only got one runner on in the bottom half of the inning.

The Quakes rallied in the ninth in improbable fashion. Jon Townsend led off the inning by striking out, but reached first on a wild pitch. With one out, Darwin Perez walked and Mike Trout singled to right-center to score Townsend. It was the Quakes’ only hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Right fielder Peguero bobbled the ball to send Perez to third and Trout to second and when center fielder Juan Perez’s throw to the infield skipped all the way through, Perez scored and Trout took third. Alberto Rosario’s suicide squeeze bunt scored Trout barely under the throw, tying the score 7-7.

In the 10th, the Quakes had a golden opportunity to win the game. Gabe Jacobo led off with a single and with one out, Angel Castillo got his first hit in 12 at-bats in the series to send Jacobo to second. But Townsend grounded into an inning-ending double play, sending the game to the 11th.

Quakes routed in Game 1, 10-0

After Game 1 of the South Finals when the Quakes lost 5-0 to Lake Elsinore and made seven errors in the process, Quakes fans were concerned. But the Quakes came back to win the next 3 games.

In Game 1 of the Cal League Championship Series on Thursday, the Quakes fell 10-0 at San Jose.

There were some similarities.

Both games the Quakes had defensive issues. They didn’t have 7 errors on Thursday, but the 2 errors they did have led to six unearned runs. Both starters (Garrett Richards against Lake Elsinore and Orangel Arenas on Thursday) pitched well enough to win.

The defense and hitting were worse against Lake Elsinore (they showed little life on offense), but the pitching was worse on Thursday. Although an error by left fielder Eric Oliver opened the door to five unearned runs in the seventh, Arenas (and then reliever Christian Scholl) were unable to make the big pitches to mimize damage. Scholl then gave up three more runs (one unearned) in the eighth.

The bottom line is, the Quakes showed the ability to overcome 1 bad game. That Lake Elsinore game was more than double the previous most errors they had in any game this season (three), but they recovered. Game 2 Friday will be a good indication of whether they’re able to repeat the magic of the Lake Elsinore series.