Dodgers Prospects: Reviewing the 2019 Quakes

Although the Rancho Cugamonga Quakes did not repeat as California League champions it was still a very successful season. As usual there were many standout players for the Quakes and easily the best bargain for a fan of baseball in Southern California. During the season I was able to attend quite a few games and interact with various personnel.

Here we take a quick look back at the team and what they accomplished during the 2019 season in their first season under new manager, Mark Kertenian

Top Prospects At The Beginning Of The Season

According to MLB Pipeline at the beginning of the season the Quakes had six top 30 prospects on the team.

  • Jeter Downs (8)
  • Connor Wong (14)
  • Michael Grove (15)
  • Jeren Kendall (16)
  • Gerardo Carrillo (19)
  • Edwin Uceta (21)

Biggest Surprise

Devin Mann came into the 2019 season and wasn’t on the radar of many. However, he developed a lot of power and learned to play third base. I wrote an article in June about his growth and how he has improved.

Biggest Improvements

Jeren Kendall
Jeren Kendall, September 7, 2019 (Photo Credit: Tim Rogers/Dodgers Nation)

Both of the players that I identified as having the biggest improvement actually happened in the last few weeks of the season. Both Gerardo Carrillo and Jeren Kendall had some very tough stretches during the season. I covered Carrillo in an article last month. On July 25th Kendall was slashing .171/.280/.393 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and was at a season low. He made a definite change in his setup as he had held his hands much higher than before. He ended up with 7 home runs in August and ended the season slashing .219/.319/.469.

Short Timers / Big Impact

Josiah Gray was promoted to the Quakes on May 11 and dazzled everybody in his 12 starts. For the Quakes he threw 67.1 innings and only gave up 52 hits with 13 walks. He also struck out 80 batters and had an ERA of 2.14. It is difficult to dominate in the California League but Gray did and earned a promotion to AA on July 17th. I wrote about Gray and Niko Hulsizer after witnessing a dominant performance by both. Hulsizer was traded to the Rays at the Trade Deadline and will be missed.

Drew Avans, an outfielder, seemed to come up from the Loons and seemed to be gone to Tulsa in the wink of an eye. In reality he slashed .293/.353/.488 in just 123 at bats. Avans is unheralded at the moment but it should be interesting to see where he stands with all the major prospect publications this winter.

Big Seasons

We already spoke of Josiah Gray but two other starting pitchers were so dominant for the Quakes that they earned a promotion to AA. In 10 starts for the Quakes Edwin Uceta had an ERA of just 2.15 with 65 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. After battling blisters at the beginning of the season, lefty Leo Crawford ended up with an ERA of 2.96 with 106 strikeouts in 91.1 innings before earning his promotion. Crawford is an under-the-radar prospect because he doesn’t light up the radar gun but his change up and deception will get him to the Major Leagues. Logan Salow, a left handed reliever, and Jordan Sheffield and Ryan Moseley, both righties, were dominant out of the bullpen and were promoted to AA pretty quickly.

From a position player perspective Jeter Downs and Connor Wong got off to slow starts and ended up getting hot. This led them to getting their promotion to AA. Donovan Casey started off hot to earn an All-Star appearance, had a bit of a swoon, then got hot again to get an early August promotion.

The Great Lakes Brigade

José Martinez
José Martinez, September 7, 2019 (Photo Credit: Tim Rogers/Dodgers Nation)

During the season the Quakes were re-enforced more than a few times from some members of the Great Lakes Loons. Other than Gray and Hulsizer, some of the main promotions included:

  • John Rooney – LHP
  • Austin Drury – LHP
  • Andre Jackson – RHP
  • Jose Martinez – RHP
  • Brett de Gues – RHP
  • Guillermo Zuniga – RHP
  • Hunter Feduccia – C
  • Jacob Amaya – SS
  • Dillon Paulson – 1B
  • Miguel Vargas – 3B

They all played a big role in winning the second half division title. They replaced all the players mentioned above who where promoted. It was amazing to see them come up and produce without much of an adjustment period.

Lots of Winning

The Quakes won both the first and second half Southern Division titles. They also had a significant presence at the California League All-Star Game. However, they ran out of gas in the playoffs and lost to the Lake Elsinore Storm in the semi-finals.

Some Extra Help

There were quite a few rehabilitation assignments for members of the Major League roster. The players who had rehabilitation assignments with the Quakes:

  • Austin Barnes
  • Matt Beaty
  • Corey Seager
  • Chris Taylor
  • A.J. Pollock
  • Tony Cingrani
  • Caleb Ferguson
  • Dylan Floro
  • Rich Hill
  • Julio Urías

Significant Contributors

Brandon Montgomery, an infielder, is learning how to pitch and topped the radar gun at 94 MPH. Marcus Chiu displayed a lot of versatility with some power. Brayan Morales is the fastest player in the organization and was fun to watch. Starling Heredia started to show some glimpses of both his power and speed. Deacon Liput started the season on the Injured List but came off to play excellent second base and shortstop.

From the pitching side, Wills Montgomeries lead the team in innings pitched and was a strikeout machine. Austin Hamilton was a starter and reliever while spending quite a bit of time on the IL. While healthy he was an important member of the pitching staff. Max Gamboa converted to the bullpen and struck out 97 batters in only 60.2 innings. Sven Schuller provided a lot of important innings in the bullpen. Some pitchers like Bryan Warzek and Michael Grove seemed to have pitch count limits but both showed they have strikeout material. Darian Nunez came up from Ogden and had a 1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings. Nunez is someone that really caught my eye at the end of the season.

Top Prospects At The End

  • Jake Amaya (13)
  • Michael Grove (14)
  • Miguel Vargas (16)
  • Devin Mann (17)
  • Gerardo Carrillo (22)
  • Andre Jackson (29)
  • John Rooney (30)

With the season ending, the above players were on the Quakes and in the top 30 prospects for MLB Pipeline. Four of them came up from Great Lakes during the season. Other top prospects who played for the Quakes included Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray, Connor Wong and Jordan Sheffield. It was a privilege for the Quakes fans to see so many excellent players and possible future stars.

In-Season Articles

Below are all the Quakes related articles I wrote during the season:

Final Thoughts

It was a blast covering the Quakes in 2019. I specifically want to thank Mike Lindskog who handles all media affairs and is the primary announcer. He gave me the media pass and helped facilitate interviews with some the rehabilitation assignments I was able to cover. The organization from the top on down is fantastic. It was a pleasure to be able to chat with the manger, Mark Kertentian and his coaches Elian Herrera, Dustin Kelly and Connor McGuinness along with many players. Everyone was friendly and cooperative.

As I’ve stated many times before, the Quakes are an amazing bargain. The atmosphere at the park is excellent and great seats can be had for an excellent price. Most importantly, the product on the field is well worth watching.

Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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