2018 Rancho Cucamonga Season

By now everyone knows that the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes defeated the Visalia Rawhide 9-1 to claim the 2018 California League Advanced A League Championship.  This was Drew Saylor’s first in his third year.  RC last won a California League Championship in 2015 when Alex Verdugo and Cody Bellinger were on the roster.

The Quakes won the first half with a 35-35 record but turned it on the second half with a 52-18 record, to give them an overall record of 87-53.  The Quakes faced the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies) in the California League South Championship.  The beat the JetHawks 3 games to 1 and moved on to the California League Championship.  The opponent was the Visalia Rawhide who had a 6-5 record against the Quakes in their 11 games played in the regular season.  In this best 3 of 5 series, the games were not really close, and the Quakes swept the Rawhide for the Championship. 

What makes the second half so remarkable is that they did it with the promotion of such standout players like Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Logan Landon, Zach McKinstry, Zach Reks, Karch Kowalczyk, and Andre Scrubb.  In addition, they lost Rylan Bannon, Dean Kremer, and Zach Pop in the Manny Machado trade.  At the time of his promotion, Gavin Lux was leading the league in batting average, and at the time of the trade, Bannon was leading the league in HR’s.

As a team, the Quakes led the California League in runs, doubles, HR’s, total bases, OBP, slugging, and OPS.  They were #2 in hits, walks, and batting average.  But something that FAZ might want to see is that while the team led the league in HR’s by a wide margin (202 to 150), they also led the league in strikeouts (by 58).

Individually, several Quakes were top ten in multiple offensive categories.

Home Runs:

Cristian Santana – Tied for #1 (24)

Rylan Bannon – #3 (20)

Cody Thomas – Tied #5 (19)

Connor Wong – Tied #5 (19)

Jared Walker – Tied #9 (17)

Omar Estevez – Tied #13 (15)

Carlos Rincon – Tied #13 (15) in only 110 AB


Cristian Santana – #1 (109)

Cody Thomas – #2 (87)

Omar Estevez – #3 (84)


Cristian Santana – #2 (150)

Omar Estevez – Tied #6 (143)

Cody Thomas – #8 (142)


Omar Estevez – #1 (43)

Cody Thomas – Tied #4 (35)


Gavin Lux – Tied #7 (7)

Stolen Bases:

Jeren Kendall – #2 (37)

Logan Landon – #7 (22)

Batting Average:

Gavin Lux – #3 (.324)

Rylan Bannon – #7 (.296)

Cody Thomas – #12 (.285)


Rylan Bannon – #2 (.402)

Gavin Lux – #3 (.396)

Cody Thomas – #12 (.355)


Rylan Bannon – #1 (.559)

Gavin Lux – #3 (.396)

Cody Thomas – #13 (.355)


Rylan Bannon – #1 (.961)

Gavin Lux – #2 (.916)

Cody Thomas – #7 (.852)

Connor Wong – #10 (.831)


Cody Thomas – #3 (163)

Jeren Kendall – #4 (158)

Cristian Santana – #7 (143)

Omar Estevez – Tied #9 (138)

Connor Wong – Tied #9 (138)

It was great to see Isaac Anderson pitch the game of his career in the final. The 2015 40thround draft pick out of Wichita St. threw 6.0 scoreless innings allowing 1 hit and 1 walk, with 6 strikeouts.  Anderson tied for the league lead in wins with 10, #4 in ERA (3.67), and #4 in strikeouts (120).

There were a lot of impressive performances from several players at Advanced A Ball. But the next step to AA is a big one and may be the toughest step.  You need to show success in Advanced A Ball, but it’s the next step that drives many out of the game.  Top players like Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin made it look easy.  Next year Cristian Santana, Cody Thomas, Omar Estevez, Connor Wong, with recent promotions, Logan Landon, Andre Scrubb, and Marshall Kasowski will be highlighted to see how they play at the increased level of competition.  Isaac Anderson will get another opportunity to show that he belongs at AA after struggling in Tulsa early in the year.

One other player I will be watching next year will be Jordan Sheffield. He is now a power reliever who is being groomed to become late inning high leverage reliever.

One question that will need to be answered is what will happen to Jeren Kendall.  His defense and speed can play at the ML level, but his hitting is not very good at this point.  Do they keep him down at Rancho or promote him to AA.  I think the instructors will continue to work with Kendall to concentrate on making contact and using his speed to get on base rather than trying to hit the HR.  And I think he will be doing it at the AA level.



This article has 51 Comments

  1. I thought Gavin Lux was a bad pick after his first full season, but as he matured physically from a scrawny little kid into a man, he elevated his game and is now one of the Dodgers Top 2 Prospects (to me Verdugo is no longer a prospect). That said, Jeren Kendall is going to have to change his game if he’s going to be successful. He’s an “all-or-nothing” player who mostly delivers “NOTHING!” I’m pretty good at projecting what a player might be (like Santana , Thomas, Wong, Sheffield, et al), who may have warts, but you can see their upside. Right now, I don’t see an upside on Kendall and he has been unwilling to change his approach (“That’s how I play.”) Like AC says, his speed and arm are weapons, but his bat is a toy. Yes, I am down on him and hope to be proved wrong.

    I really like Sheffield as a reliever. I still think Wong should move to 2B or LF. Santana has a big swing and great power… I can see a potential All-Star here – his ceiling is Matt Chapman, but his bottom is Kyle Russell (maybe not that low).

    I also like Cody Thomas and Marshall Kasowski a lot . Estevez is an overachiever. He may surprise, with just “average ” tools. However, the guy I may like the most is Drew Saylor. I can see him as the Dodgers’ Manager… sooner than later… or in another capacity. Scott Hennessy won his League Championship in AA , but Bill Haselman could be on some teams managerial prospects list, so we will see. I do like Drew Saylor a lot.

    Great Write-Up, AC!

  2. Great stuff. Rincon is still only 20 (for another month). Let’s hope his massive breakout is for real. Takes the sting of heredia’s regression away.

  3. It seems to me that the Dodgers should have many more prospects in the MLB top 100 soon. Any MLB prospects ranked above Lux have to be special.
    I will eat some crow and say that Puig is a keeper. My main complaint about him was his need to make every play he could make regardless of whether the center fielder was clearly in the best position to make an easier play. I thought he was dangerous to other defensive players. He seems to have calmed down defensively and his bat is smooth and under control.
    Steve Sax jumped from AA to the Dodgers and Lux might make the same jump mid season next year. If the DH comes to the NL next year, Muncy will probably get most of those at bats and with Dozier gone it, only Hernandez’ or Taylor’s bats and Seager’s arm will block Lux next year. Machado is only needed if Seager has to play first base.

    1. Top 100 MLB Prospects that are Dodgers (my opinion)


      There are a bunch just out of the Top 100.

    1. WOW! Gene Autry and Champion, Roy Rogers and Trigger, the Lone Ranger and Silver. Brings back a lot great memories. Those were the days my friend. Oh, Mary Hopkin sang that one.

      By the way, great summary for the Quakes AC. It was indeed amazing that they turned over so many players during the season and just got better. Mark is right bout Drew Saylor.

  4. AC

    Thanks for your hard work, although I know this is a labor of love for you.

    I watched USC yesterday, and started out so well, but after they didn’t call that safety, everything went down hill, after that.

      1. Exceedingly! Hard to watch my beloved Trojans play as listless and with so little passion, as they have the past two weeks.

  5. Yesterday was great. Dodgers pounded StL, and then at night Fresno State pounded UCLA (although to be fair UCLA looks really horrible this year). But more importantly, let’s go sweep tonight!

    The last few weeks, some of you have discussed the minor leagues as a whole, and how guys aren’t paid well, etc. Here is a great article from today’s LA Times discussing just that. I hope you read it:

    1. I do not take pleasure in UCLA losing. I know UCLA and the Golden Domers hate USC, but most of us Trojans do not lose any sleep if UCLA wins or loses. We only care how USC does, and right now they look lost. I was at USC during the McKay years, and two comments always stood out to us students. 1. We do not play for the Rose Bowl, we play for a national championship; and 2. UCLA is a game, ND is our rival. That always peed off UCLA.

  6. I don’t expect Waino to be nothing but no bueno today, but you just never know, so hopefully, we will get this sweep today.

    To tell everyone the truth, I am more worried about what we will do against the bad teams coming up, because we have played so up, or down, to our competition, this year.

    I hope we can get a few games up, before that last series against the Giants.

    Look what they did to the Rockies, and they have more motivation to make us be their World Series this year, then the Rockies.

    And the young Padres’ players that were called this month, are going to want to make a good impression, so we can’t cake walk through the Padres, either.

    Like Mark has expressed, I love where we are, but we can’t get complacent, because we still have quite aways, to go.

    If everyone didn’t notice, Puig hit most of those HRs on the first pitch, or a pitch early in his count.

    And Turner and Manny, did that same thing, to get us on the board early in that game, yesterday.

    And Turner and Manny, are far more equipped to get in a deep count against a pitcher, then the rest of our hitters.

    Working the count, is not always the best thing, unless a pitcher is having command issues!

    Deep counts almost always, favor a pitcher, and other then Turner and Manny, most of our hitters are not as well equipped as Turner and Manny, so they shouldn’t be trying to work counts, like they often do.

    Remember when Puig at times, use to just let that first pitch go by this year, and not even have his bat ready to swing?

    Why give such a good pitch away to a pitcher?

    Puig didn’t wait and work the count, in these last couple games, and look how well he has done!

  7. Thanks for the in depth information AC! Lots of success in the minors this year and plenty of prospects to keep our eyes on.
    Some players that aren’t as high ranked prospects, that I hope find major league success succeed are: Nathan Witt (for no other reason than we share the same birth day), Dillon Paulson (always root for USC guys), James Outman, Niko Hulsizer, Aldrich De Jongh, Austin Drury, Stephen Kolek, John Rooney, Bryan Warzek, Hunter Feduccia, Deacon Liput, Josh McClain, Luke Heyer, Donovan Casey, Jared Walker, Marshall Kasowski, Jacob Scavuzzo, and Kyle Garlick. Many have very interesting “back” stories and I find it easy to root for them.
    Be nice to sweep the Cardinals today!

    1. I do not want to ignore the question, because I do have players at Great Lakes that I like. But DC is EXTREMELY knowledgeable when it comes to Great Lakes, and I am sure he will be writing a synopsis on their season. I will contact him to see if he is putting something together.
      My next one will be on Tulsa.

  8. I was having coffee this AM with a Dodger fan who was admiring the competitiveness and grit of Rich Hill, but unsympathetic to the plight of Alex Wood. I have been reading a lot of similar comments about Hill on this site and others. I do not want this to come out wrong, because I do like Rich Hill. I have defended the FAZ acquisition when all of the “Blister Boy” comments came out. How most said the FAZ blew it in 2016 with Hill, when he didn’t get the chance to win it in Game 7 against the Cubs because Kershaw couldn’t get it done in Game 6. I was upset when Hill was not allowed to continue in Game 2 of the WS because “the numbers say he cannot pitch the third time around the lineup”. But this forgiveness for Hill’s pitching lately and the berating of Alex Wood is very perplexing. Yes, Alex had a horrendous start his last time out. He did not make excuses. Are we now judging the pitchers because of 1 bad game? If that were true, Kershaw would not be pitching again after WS Game 4. S*&% happens. You move on. But not with Wood, he is the one to go to the pen. And without any explanation.
    In the last 6 games Hill has started, he has pitched 33 innings with a 5.18 ERA and has allowed 6 HR’s. In 4 of those 6 games he has allowed 4 runs, 1 game of 3 runs, and 1 with 0. But the offense has scored 53 runs in those Hill starts. You can hide a lot of bad pitching or just pound the strike zone when your offense scores that many runs.
    On the other hand, in Wood’s last 6 starts, he has pitched 30.2 innings with a 3.52 ERA and allowed only 2 HR’s. In his 6 starts, he has given up 1 run twice, 2 runs (1 earned) once, zero runs once, three runs once, and 7 runs (6 earned) once. So, it is that last game that Wood is being judged by the decision makers and many fans. But the real story is that in those 6 games, the offense has scored 16 runs. They score 53 for Hill and 16 for Wood. Wood could have made a lot of mistakes with 53 runs scored, but he needed to be perfect because the team only scored 16. To put it in a little more perspective, the offense scored more runs yesterday in Hill’s start, than they have in Wood’s last six starts combined. Wood gives up more than 3 runs once, and Hill does 4 times. Other starting pitchers with runs scored in their last 6 starts…Hyun-jin Ryu (20), Walker Buehler (28), and Clayton Kershaw (35).
    Many of you do not like WAR, but as a comparison, last year Hill’s was 2.2 and is 0.9 in 2018. Compared to Wood who had a 3.4 WAR in 2017 and has a 1.5 WAR so far in 2018. Hill earned his salary last year (barely), but so far not this year. Wood has.
    Maybe it is best that Wood goes to the pen, but there was no respect given to him by management or the fans. There was no…”Alex has pitched tremendous for the Dodgers in 2018. He leads the team in innings pitched and took the ball every time when every other starting pitcher went on the DL. He has had great success in the bullpen before, and we need a tough lefty down there, and neither Ryu or Hill are options. We understand and respect that this is not what Alex wants to do, but the Dodgers, as a team, are best served with Wood in the pen, and he understands that (even if he does not agree with the decision). ”
    Alex Wood is 27 and a full year younger than Ross Stripling. He is the second youngest pitcher in the rotation, and instead of hoping that the Dodgers recognize his value as a starting pitcher, I am hoping that he gets traded in the winter to a team that will treat him with respect and confidence and buy him out of his last arbitration year and 3 FA years with a 4 year extension. He deserves that respect, and he deserves at least the forgiveness and respect Rich Hill gets from the Dodgers and their fans.

    1. Isn’t the question if Wood’s stuff translates better to the ‘pen?
      From everything I’ve read, the team has always believed that it did.

      1. He has been a good starting pitcher for two years with the Dodgers and one with Atlanta. He arguably has better results as a SP than Hill. But I am just a fan with no information as to why.

        1. AC

          Do you think it is because Hill, is making a lot more money?

          There are certainly double standards, on this team, when it comes to certain players.

  9. I also like Alex Wood.

    Until the first half of last season, I thought he was best in the pen.

    His stuff was “otherworldly” the first half of last season… but then came the drop in velocity. A huge drop.

    He had a 1.67 ERA the first half least season, verses 3.89 the second half.

    He has been solid ever since the first half of 2017, but not “deGrom-like” like he was in early 2017.

    I may be way off base here, but I think he has an injury… maybe to the AC Joint or something unusual. I think it has taken he velocity down and he has been able to pitch through it. I think part of the reason nothing is said about his move to the pen is that FAZ and Alex and the Coaching staff all know. That’s my belief… and I could be way off.

  10. How The Mets Discovered Jacob deGrom
    By Mark Polishuk | September 15, 2018 at 10:01am CDT
    Long before Jacob deGrom became a Cy Young contender, he was an unheralded ninth-round draft choice for the Mets in 2010 who wasn’t even used as a starting pitcher until near the end of his final year at Stetson University. The Athletic’s Tim Britton (subscription required) has the story about how Mets scout Les Parker initially discovered deGrom, almost by accident as Parker happened to attend a scout day game at Stetson long enough to see deGrom enter as a reliever in the ninth inning. Other Mets evaluators agreed with deGrom’s potential, and while his profile rose after becoming a starter later in Stetson’s season, the Giants were the only other team known to have significant interest in drafting deGrom. The story is well worth a full read for a look at the scouting process and how you never know which prospect could emerge as a future star.

      1. Before last season, I would’ve traded Buehler or Urias for Sale or Jose Fernandez (the Marlin stud who died in that boat accident).

  11. Mark

    That is true, but it still not an easy thing to take, at times.

    But sometimes that will change from year to year, but still you would hope, it was based more on talent, and getting the job done, then anything, else.

    1. MJ, your complaint is based on an assumption you are making. You may be right but you could also be wrong.
      As I remember you wanted to play Alex Guerrero ahead of Turner a few years back.
      I know it is easy for me to relax and just let things play out because I get to watch the player I want to do well, play. AC clearly would prefer to watch Wood over Hill and many would prefer to have Verdugo play over Joc.
      Bottom line is the Dodgers are the ones with the most knowledge and are the ones with the resume that got them their positions. You are hinting that there is a subplot that keeps the better players off the 25 or on the bench.

      1. Bum

        I am only feeling for AC, it is not about watching, a certain player.

        This is nothing about a certain player, it is about being fair, to all players.

        And I was only agreeing with Mark, that these things always happen in life, because that is the truth!

        And Turner was not on this team then.

        I was not hinting anything.

        And you don’t know anymore, then I do!

        Save that last paragraph, for the masses.

  12. Asleep at the wheel, with an Eric Cooper special behind the plate, probably saw the Fox game yesterday declaring Wainwright the greatest human being every r to live, and then came up with this imaginary strike zone idea.
    Suck it Cooper, retire already!!

  13. I know it would never happen but how about a little payback for all the inside/shit pitching by Redbirds in recent years. Joe Kelly swears he was not trying to drill Hanley, just got away from him into the hottest hitter in baeball’s ribs. Bull shit, just like the one that got away from Gant yesterday into the wrist of Turner.

  14. Kenta Maeda gets yanked, but it was a DP ball to JT that he butchered! Simple as that.

    Oh well, 3 out of 4 is great!

    1st place was great while it lasted!

  15. Too early to surrender Mark. I’m in favor of drilling some balls down the lines. Hit after hit, after hit….

  16. As hard as Hicks throws, his 67 K’s in 71 innings, tells me that he lacks movement. It may take getting used to, but I don’t think the guy is unhittable.

  17. Yep, 17 runs yesterday, get shut out tonight. Sounds about right with us this year, feast or famine. Here we go again….

  18. Wainwright pitched like an Ace but several called strikes were clearly not in the strike zone. That put hitters behind in the count when they should have been ahead in the count and made them defend against a wider strike zone with two strikes. Wainwright’s pitch count should have been higher and that might have reduced his outing to 5 innings.
    Electronic strike zone please.

  19. Good pitching stops good hitting.

    Clayton should take notes from Waino. Waino is not predictable. Clayton is. Kershaw is every bit as good as Adam – just more predictable and easier to figure out.

  20. 12 games left and a series for all in the division. But the series starting tonight is the most important. If all turns out well it’ll be sweeter than if Dodgers had a 10 game lead at this point. But at this point I sure wish we had a 10 game lead. Dodgers really should be the ones standing at division’s end. But they also should have won more series against the weaker teams too. So guess I’ll just sweat till I won’t.

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