October 31, 2014

Dodgers Switch Class-A Affiliation to the Quakes

For those of you that love minor league baseball, you will be interested to learn that the Dodgers have switched their Class-A affiliation in the California League from the Inland Empire 66ers to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

Personally, I love minor league baseball and think it’s a fantastic way for fans of the team to watch the future stars of Major League Baseball up close.  Plus, Rancho Cucamonga (which has one of the all-time great names for a city) is just 46 miles east of Dodger Stadium!

The deal is for two years and covers the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  One nugget that I did not previously know was that the Quakes are owned by Brett Sports, which is led by Hall of Famer George Brett and his brothers Bobby and John.  The franchise had previously been affiliated with the Angels from 2001-2010, and that club is now rumored to be heading to the Inland Empire to pick up the affiliation with the 66ers.

“We feel like the move to Rancho not only brings our High A partner closer to Dodger Stadium, but is a strong fit for our organizational goals,” said Dodger Assistant General Manager De Jon Watson. “We’re excited to partner with Brett Sports and look forward to a long-lasting relationship.”

“The Dodgers are one of the most prestigious teams in all of sports and we are excited to begin our partnership with them in Rancho Cucamonga,” said Quakes Managing Partner Bobby Brett.

And if you’re a local and want to celebrate the move, there will be a public celebration with Tommy Lasorda and other Dodger dignitaries on Tuesday, October 5th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Epicenter in Rancho Cucamonga.

In addition to Rancho Cucamonga, the Dodgers also have deals in place for 2011 with the following affiliates: Triple-A Albuquerque, Double-A Chattanooga, Single-A Great Lakes, Rookie-advanced Ogden and two Rookie-level clubs in Glendale, Arizona and Santo Domingo.

Will Ethan Martin Break Out in 2010?

San Bernadino is not exactly the epicenter of excitement in Southern California. Sure, they have the WBC Legends of Boxing museum there…and Cal State San Bernadino…and…umm…

…Ethan Martin.

The Inland Empire 66ers have been steadily tinkering with Martin since he made the move to single-A in California under the guidance of veteran pitching coach Charlie Hough. Martin’s outings this year have gone one of two ways…either spectacular or crap. Not a lot of “so-so” in Ethan Martin games this year.

This past Thursday was no exception, except that Martin was very, very spectacular – pitching a 3-hit shutout while walking only two and racking up 9 Ks in the process. This was on top of six shutout innings from his previous outing. If that’s not enough, Martin worked in a change-up into his repertoire on Thursday (he already has a solid fastball and curveball) after the 66ers took a 4-run lead that seemed to bolster his confidence more.

So Will Martin really get his shot to break out in 2010? My guess is no. Here’s why:

 
The Dodgers are not the Arizona Diamondbacks. They have lots of depth when it comes to pitching and they know it. Their winter development program shows that they are taking a measured approach to exposing their top prospects to the organization and have the patience to do the level of grooming they believe is necessary to get true long-term value out of many of these players.

    Depth

 

Logan White’s interview with Tony Jackson back in January shed some interesting light on how the Dodgers are looking at these guys.

“We actually have 15 guys who are 95-plus with good deliveries and mechanics,” White said. “Now, I know how attrition works, and all 15 of them aren’t going to pitch in the big leagues. But I guarantee you that five or six of them are all going to be ready in the next couple of years to push each other for jobs. When that happens, it’s going to be tough to figure out who makes the team and who doesn’t. I can honestly tell you we have guys who have better deliveries, better arm action and probably better stuff than [Chad] Billingsley and [Jonathan] Broxton had at the same age.

“That next wave is coming, and we have some strong position guys coming, too.”

    Ned Colletti

Ned can be very stubborn when it comes to managing his prospects. He is generally reluctant to trade them away for current major-league prospects. Ely is showing he can add to the pitching rotation in more than just as a stopgap for the team and the overall performance of the team in May has the Dodgers contending for first in the NL West on a continuous basis. Quite a stark change from a month ago. Colletti simply isn’t under any pressure to move guys up through the minors in a rapid fashion.

    Single-A Ball is Not AAA Ball.

Let’s face it – Ethan Martin might look good in San Bernadino, but Single-A ball (even advanced Class A) is far from the “almost ready for the majors” or “can’t quite fit on the 40-man roster” scenario that defines AAA ball. Martin’s performance thus far indicates his capabilities are developing but stability is an issue. I’d guess that we might see a move up a class to AA Chattanooga if the stars align and the Dodgers look to move up some folks to cover the hole left by Ely. Also, as Martin increases his pitch type he’s bound to have a few outings where he gets shelled in the name of development (I doubt that change up is ready for prime time after only one strong outing).

Martin’s interview with Chris of dodgerfan.net during the Winter Development Program was capped off by his own description of what success looks like for him this season:

“Just to go out and try to stay healthy and get my innings in and compete in every single outing I have. My main goal last year was to just compete and learn my mechanics. I think I’ve got a hold of my mechanics…they’re not perfected, but I just want to go out and put out a strong outing every single time I walk out on the mound.”

Martin’s not quite there yet, but his progress looks promising – Ned Colletti and Logan White can sleep well in the meantime with the knowledge that they don’t have to rush him towards what will hopefully be a strong career in the majors.