The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes franchise-record winning streak came to an end last night in a defeat to the Lancaster Jethawks. When you dissect the 15 game winning streak for the Los Angeles Dodgers Advanced-A affiliate, you find fantastic team chemistry and atmosphere, fostered by the dedicated coaching staff. An abundance of home runs and professional, patient at-bats are a main cog in this Quakes machine.
The Quakes won the first half championship of the Cal League and, because of that, the team has a certain amount of mental relaxation. Therefore, these guys just go out and play good baseball every night. The Dodgers farm club in Rancho have already earned an invite to the playoffs in September. They will await the second half winner, or whoever has the second most overall wins if the Quakes win the second half also.
Winning Streak – Headline Grabbers
The Rancho squad has had timely hitting and quality at-bats from many of the players, not just the middle of the line-up. The headlines that fans read regarding the streak will undoubtedly mention the long balls, but this offense has done the little things that doesn’t always show up in a box score.
Quakes bats = 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/3BuyV6fTiA
— Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (@RCQuakes) July 10, 2018
Gavin Lux has been a phenomenal hitter at the top of the order. Not a prototypical lead-off hitter, Lux will take walks and run some counts deep. Most of the time, he puts an emphasis on going gap to gap on any fastball he see’s, no matter if it is the first pitch of the AB. He has hit at the top of the order in 67 of the 72 games he has played. Lux is batting .319 which is third in Cal League, along with 92 hits which is sixth in the league. He has also scored 47 runs, placing him seventh in the league. The Dodgers Number 12 ranked prospect was named a mid-season Cal league All-Star and has been an exciting player to watch for fans in Rancho. In addition, “Luxxy” has been dynamic on the base paths.
Rylan Bannon is truly having an MVP type campaign thus far for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Cal League Home Run Derby Runner-Up is among the league leaders in many of the most thrilling statistical categories. In home runs, Bannon leads the league with 19. The Quakes third baseman also leads the league in total bases with 183. He is not only smashing the baseball with power numbers, Rylan is also hitting for average at .300. His 97 hits ranks him at fourth in the league. A fantastic combination for Dodger fans awaiting his arrival in the near-future. His contributions to this recent winning streak have not stopped at the plate. He has played a remarkable defense at the hot corner and has played second base as well for the Quakes in the quest to get everyone adequate amounts of playing time.
Connor Wong started off the season on fire at the plate and in the power department. The Quakes backstop had a phenomenal April hitting .319 with eight home runs. In May and June Wong went from cooling off to a slump. He hit a meager .223 and .157 in those months and his power number fell off as well. July has Connor heating up again along with the weather, and he is hitting .355 in his last 10 games and .364 in July. The Cal League All-Star catcher has played 49 games behind the dish. As is customary in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization of all of their top prospect catchers, Wong has played nine games at second base. He has fared well, zero errors in 38 total chances with a hand in turning three double plays. Wong has certainly been a huge part of the winning streak for the Quakes with his handling of the pitching staff.
Hot During the Winning Streak
Omar Estevez has been hot at the right time for the Quakes. He won Player of the Week honors on July 8th and during his trip to San Jose, he peppered the Giants staff with four dingers in the five-game set. Omar can be a streaky hitter, he picked a great time to come alive with the bat to ensure the Quakes winning ways. Estevez has had a solid season in Rancho and was named a mid-season All-Star in the Cal League.
Estevez and Logan Landon have been solid all year for Manager Drew Saylor, no matter where they play on the field or hit in the line-up. Landon was named to the All-Star team as well, and he provided the South with their lone run on an opposite-field homer.
4 out of 6 runs scored via long ball tonight pic.twitter.com/0rjybUhSX7
— Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (@RCQuakes) July 6, 2018
Staff of Aces
Pitching staff from top to bottom has been extremely effective this season, particularly of late during the winning streak. Tony Gonsolin has been a pitcher that hitters have been having nightmares about. He throws hard and can hit triple digits with his fastball. Last season, the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher was in the role of reliever. This season, his transition to top-line starting pitcher could not be going better.
Dustin May is another one of the Dodgers top prospects and he is in top form at this time. May began the season on the disabled list, but he was able to shake off the rust and regain mid-season form in no time. The tall righty with the big hair and leg kick to match is one of the fiercest competitors.
Rancho’s Secret Weapon
The bullpen is ever changing and evolving with players moving in from Great Lakes and up to Tulsa. One common thread with the entire relief core, absolute filth coming from their hands. Perhaps most importantly, the entire staff has a closer’s mentality and they go right after opposing hitter’s.
Ryan Moseley struck out 7 out of 14 batters he faced tonight pic.twitter.com/eDqbk48cGP
— Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (@RCQuakes) July 6, 2018
Ryan Moseley and his nasty sinker ball has come from out of the pen primarily but has made two starts for the Quakes. The right-handed pitcher from Lubbock Texas has been impressive in whatever role he has been asked to fill.
Zach Pop has an earned run average once only thought achievable in video games or daydreams. His reality is a lot more dominant than most. His stuff is filthy enough to close out games, at any level. Pop has seven saves and an era of 0.33.
Marshall Kasowski has made a smooth transition from the Midwest League and has only surrendered two earned runs in his 17.2 innings of work. His mechanics will remind you of a pitching machine, but that machine is set for strike-out, as he already has 31 punch outs since his promotion. Nearly averaging two K’s per inning pitched, and an ERA of 1.02
The Winning Streak – Foundations
Winning streaks are wonderful, at any level of baseball. Development is the name of the game at this point in these players careers. Winning and development, quite the combination. Kudos to the amazing coaching staff in Rancho led by Manager Drew Saylor. Coach Saylor is a master of communication and has earned the respect of his players, and it shows in their play.
Bench Coach Petie Montero is in charge of pre-game handshakes, coaching first base and defensive positioning for the Quakes. If you follow the games closely, you’ll realize how skilled Montero is at placing defenders in the right spot at crucial moments. Example, Saige Jenco‘s play to beat San Jose on Sunday, July 8th. Anticipation, careful scouting and the ability to utilize the reports correctly is the only way that play is made. (and a stud outfielder willing to put it all on the line, as Jenco did.)
Bread and Butter
Connor McGuiness has done as much as can be asked of a pitching coach in the hitter-friendly Cal League. His staff boasts the most strikeouts in the league with 933 and is second overall in ERA with a respectable 3.56. He has had a lot of personnel to deal with over the course of the season, as the Quakes (Dodgers) make lots of roster moves.
Justin Viele is the hitting coach that is orchestrating the “behind the scenes” of this offensive display. The Quakes lead the Cal League in home runs with 115, they are tied for second in team batting at .264. Viele is the best at getting his hitters mentally prepared for each at-bat. The Rancho hitters rave about “JV” and the information he gives on every pitcher, before and during the game.
The Quakes have so much talent on the roster, and the Dodgers have so much talent in the system. The trade deadline looms, and deals will be made. It will be interesting to see which prospects will be moved to new organizations.
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