Dodger minor league enthusiasts are very familiar with Connor Wong who was selected by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2017 First-Year player Draft out of the University of Houston. The 22-year-old catcher is now plying his trade with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the High-A California League.
During the current season he has posted a .272/.337/543 triple slash along with 11 home runs and 28 runs batted in. He has played primarily behind the plate with a three game trial at second base.
Connor Joe burst upon the scene with the Tulsa Drillers of the AA Texas League after being acquired by the Dodgers from the Atlanta Braves for International Bonus Pool Money last September. He is a former 39th overall selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the University of San Diego in 2014. Playing primarily as a third baseman the 25-year-old Joe has posted a slash line of .328/.458/.604 during the 2018 season along with eight home runs and 20 runs batted in.
Meanwhile with the Great Lakes Loons of the Class-A Midwest League Connor Strain has launched his professional career after an injury related delay. The 6’1”/181-pound right-hander was selected by the Dodgers in the ninth round of the 2017 June draft out of the University of Evansville.
The fifth-year senior having red-shirted the 2016 season with a forearm injury recorded a 2-5 record in 2017, but put up other impressive numbers posting a 2.62 ERA in 14 starts while striking out 68 batters in just over 68 innings of work.
His 2.62 ERA in 2017 was the second-best in the Missouri Valley Conference and tops among all full-time starting pitchers in the league. He was recognized for his efforts with a berth on the All-Conference First Team.
Evansville head baseball coach, Wes Carroll, describes Strain as a competitor who has overcome adversity through injury. In an interview with the Courier Press Carroll spoke of his main pitching weapons.
“Connor throws a heavy sinker, 91 to 93 (mph). It feels like a bowling ball when you try to hit it,” Carroll said. “The key for him is he was able to get his off speed over for a strike to feed off it. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is off the charts and being a ground-ball pitcher, you’re going to have a lot of success.”
As with all youngsters Strain no doubt expected to be drafted but yet was pleasantly surprised when he found out he had been drafted by the Dodgers.
“It is pretty cool. “I didn’t know until a scout from the Dodgers called me. I kind of blacked out and said, ‘I’m really excited,’ over and over.”
“Getting drafted is like a dream come true. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. I know I will have to continue to work hard every day to make the most of it. I hope one day that I could be wearing Dodger Blue in the major leagues.”
Strain , now 23, did not make another appearance following the completion of his college year in 2017. He finally was able to make his 2018 professional debut with the Loons on May 17 pitching two scoreless innings against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
In five appearances with the Loons over 8.1 innings he has posted a 2.16 ERA and a WHIP of 0.96. He has walked two and struck out four. His ground out/fly out ratio is 2.8.
A quick one Mark. If you have trouble with Walker, not sure how you can handle Strain.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT – 06-02-18 by AlwaysCompete
OKC – 4-2 Win over Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals)
Daniel Corcino started and went 6.0 strong innings allowing 1 unearned run on 4 hits and 1 walk, with 6 K’s. In 37 AAA innings, Corcino now has a 1.95 ERA. Brian Schlitter and Pat Venditte pitched the final three innings with Schlitter getting the win and Venditte getting the save. Tim Locastro went 2-3 with a walk, including his 3rd HR. Edwin Rios went 2-4 with his 2nd double. Henry Ramos (9) and Kyle Farmer (4) also contributed doubles in the game. Rios continues to swing the bat well, but is not yet showing the power. He is hitting .333, and has only struck out 5 times in 31 PA.
Locastro now has a .899 OPS from the leadoff spot, and that is not good enough to have the best leadoff OPS in the organization. That honor goes to Gavin Lux with a .934.
Tulsa – 3-2 Loss to Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
Errol Robinson led off the 1st by getting on base after an error. Yusniel Diaz followed with his 4th triple scoring Robinson. Diaz was followed by a run scoring single by Connor Joe. With the first three batters, the Drillers had a 2-0 lead. But that was all they were going to get on this night. Mitchell White has struggled for most of his starts this year, but last night he pitched liked the highly thought of prospect hs is. He went 5.0 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits and 3 walks with 6 strike out. Corey Copping followed with 2 more scoreless innings for his 5th hold. After pitching a scoreless 8th inning Dylan Baker came out to try to nail down the save for Mitchell White. Unfortunately, Baker allowed a run with a sac fly but with two outs in the 9th, Baker surrendered a 2 run HR and the lead. The Drillers could not score in the home half of the 9th and lost 3-2.
Keibert Ruiz did not get a hit, but he did his part defensively by throwing out a would be base stealer and a picked off of a runner at 1st, both in the 2nd inning. Ruiz might be distancing himself over Will Smith while he is on the DL.
Rancho Cucamonga – 8-2 Win over Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies)
Gavin Lux led off the bottom of the 1st with his 7th HR. He has now hit a HR in 3 consecutive games, with 2 while leading off. Very Rickey Henderson. Gavin now has an OPS of .934. Rylan Bannon hit his league lead tieing 13th HR. The offensive star was catcher Steve Berman who went 2-3 with 4 RBI’s. He hit a 3 run HR (2) in the 4th. Logan Landon (2-4), Zach McKinstry (2-4), and Saige Jenco (2-4) all had multi-hit games. Jeren Kendall contributed his 13th double of the season. Berman also picked a runner of 1st.
Isaac Anderson started and pitched a quality 4 scoreless innings. Stetson Allie pitched a scoreless 5th, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced. Ryan Moseley, Marshall Kasowski, and Logan Salow finished up for the Quakes. The Quakes pitchers struck out 11 and only walked a single batter.
The 5th consecutive victory moved the Quakes into a 1st place tie with Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) and Lake Elsinor Storm (Padres). The JetHawks are now a game back in the tight 4 team California League Southern Division with 14 games to go in the 1st half.
Great Lakes – 5-3 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
Alfredo Tavarez started and pitched the first 4.0 innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and 5 K’s. Melvin Jimenez continued his 2018 struggles by allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 K’s in his 2 innings of work. Dan Jagiello and Connor Strain pitched the final 3 innings without allowing any additional runs.
Catcher Gersel Pitre and SS Moises Perez each went 2-4. Romer Cuadrado hit his 2nd HR, while Moises Perez (7) and Carlos Rincon (12) each had doubles.