The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are the Dodgers Advanced Single-A minor league team that plays in the highly competitive California League. The Quakes bridge the gap between the Dodgers Low Single-A Great Lakes Loons in Midland, MI and their Double-A Lookouts in Chattanooga, TN.
The Quakes draw many of their players from the Loons but also from the Ogden Raptors and occasionally from undrafted free agent players. Due to its close proximity to Dodger Stadium (approximately 45 miles), it is not uncommon for rehabbing Dodger players to play with the Quakes. In fact, during the 2012 season, Dodgers Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Mark Ellis, Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa played rehab games with the Quakes. Although such rehab assignments do tend to interfere with the Quakes developing lineup, they offer fans a great opportunity to enjoy a close up connection with some of their favorite Dodger players. It also gives young Quakes players an opportunity to mingle with some real live Dodgers.
The Quakes became a Dodgers affiliate two years ago and the Dodgers recently renewed their contract for two additional years. Prior to that, the Rancho Cucamonga team had been aligned with the Angels. For some reason there was some mystery and drama when the Quakes forged a new deal with the Dodgers, at least as reported in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. The Quakes were successful in the past turning out players such as Jared Weaver and Mike Trout. It is interesting that the Quakes are owned by Hall of Famer George Brett and his brothers, Bobby and John.
The Quakes originally moved from San Bernardino to Rancho Cucamonga in 1993. Since then, the team has consistently led the league in attendance. The Quakes stadium, the Epicenter, was opened in 1992 at a cost of around $20 million, which was considered a significant investment for a minor league ballpark at the time. The stadium was renovated in 2008, after which Stadium Journey regional correspondent Drew Cieszynski wrote:”It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that when you lead the league in attendance for every year of existence in the California League, that the Epicenter provides a great experience. The venue is typically rockin’ for reasons other than earthquakes. Their mascots are named Tremor and Aftershock and wear jerseys 4.8 and 2.4 respectively. You’ll find beautiful scenery and an atmosphere that is leaps and bounds beyond Single-A atmosphere, all at an affordable price.” Drew especially praised the staff at the Epicenter.
In 2011, their first year as a Dodgers affiliated team, the Quakes won the Cal League’s South Division titles in both halves of the season. In doing so they set a franchise record with 80 wins under 2011 California League Manager of the Year Juan Bustabad. The team was not nearly as successful in 2012 when they tied for the first-half division title but lost a one-game playoff and then narrowly missed out on a Wild Card playoff berth in the second half with an overall record of 68-72. However, closer scrutiny of the roster reveals that during the 2012 season, the following players were promoted to AA or were traded: C.J. Retherford, Bobby Coyle, Leon Landry, Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Scott McGough, Eric Eadington, Andreas Santiago, Ryan O’Sullivan, and Logan Bawcom. In doing so, the team lost three strong offensive position players, three quality starters, and four very good relief pitchers. One black mark with the Quakes is that popular and successful manager Juan Bustabad was unceremoniously released by the Dodgers at the conclusion of the 2012 season for reason that were not made public. On a more positive note, 2012 saw the major league debut of reliever Shawn Tolleson, who became the first former Quake in the two-year Dodgers era to be called up to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Statistically, the Quakes were in the middle of the pack offensively and in the lower third with their pitching.
Players Of Note: (who were not promoted or traded)
Joc Pederson (OF)
Joc is a personal favorite who played as a twenty year old in the California League. His second half was exceptional: 328/.410/.595 with 16 homers and 18 steals in 65 games. As Joc’s rise up the Dodger prospect list continues, Jim Callis of Baseball America is also upgrading his projection for him. “In the past, I had viewed Pederson as a grinder with a chance for one plus tool in his bat, the type of guy who profiles as a fourth outfielder. He’s more than that, not necessarily a future all-star but a guy who could be a quality regular with a good bat, solid power and speed, and the chance to play center field.“ Joc has nothing more to prove at the advanced Single-A level. Next stop – Chattanooga.
Yasiel Puig (OF)
Yasiel was impressive in his debut with the Quakes, impressive but he did not destroy the league as we had hoped. That is, Yasiel did not display the power that was expected. We should keep in mind that he only played in 14 games with the Quakes, had been out of baseball for some time, was green to the level, and was nursing a minor hamstring injury. Jim Callis of Baseball America writes: “There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding Puig, and I don’t want to read too much into 92 pro PA, but yes, he’s one of the Dodgers’ best prospects. You could make a case that he’s their very best.” I expect Yasiel to start in AA in 2013.
Jonathan Garcia (OF)
Jonathan has slipped from the radar, having completed four seasons in the Dodgers minor league system. He was signed out of Luis Munoz Marin High School in Puerto Rico. Baseball America wrote: “The Dodgers may have gotten a steal when they selected Garcia out of Puerto Rico in the eighth round of the 2009 draft.” In 2009 Jonathan was ranked as the Arizona League’s #9 best prospect. His stock has fallen and he is somewhat of a strikeout machine as a very aggressive hitter. However, he still displays good power and played the entire year with Rancho Cucamonga as a twenty year old. I have not given up on him yet. He should return to the Quakes in 2013.
Garrett Gould (SP)
Garrett is a second round pick in 2009. He was ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 11 prospect by MLB.com entering the 2012 season and he led all full-season starting pitchers in the Dodgers minor league system in 2011 with a 2.40 ERA and tied for fourth in the chain with 11 wins. This year with the Quakes did not go exactly as planned. Garrett had a 5-10 record with an ERA of 5.75 and and a WHIP of 1.49 in 130 innings. He struck out 123 and walked 54. The good news is he turned 21 in July. Expect him to start with the Quakes in 2013.
Angel Sanchez (SP)
Angel signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent July 12, 2010 and was ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 6 prospect by MLB.com entering the 2012 season. Angel had an exceptional year with the Loons in 2011 but found the slugging with the Quakes in 2012 even more difficult than Garrett Gould. Angel played the entire season as a 22 year old, and with only two years of professional experience, it might be too soon to write him off. Expect him to start with the Quakes in 2013.