Inland Empire 66ers Season in Review


After writing about the exciting season that the Loons had in 2010, it was a little disappointing to summarize what Inland Empire did this year.  The 66ers were terrible for most of the season and played many games during the 2nd half of the season when you couldn’t even find a single legitimate Dodger prospect in the starting lineup.  However, there were a couple of positives that came out of this team.  First, the 66ers did have a few good high profile pitchers that threw every few days, so it was fun to follow those starts.  Also it was cool that at least a couple of players from this team emerged as potential prospects for the first time this year (i.e. Javier Solano and Matt Wallach).  In terms of this report, remember that these reports are very extensive, so just because I’m writing about a player doesn’t mean that he is a big time prospect.  While I’ll usually mention if a guy is worth keeping an eye on, you’ll have to wait for my upcoming prospect ranking to fully understand who I consider prospects and who are simply organizational players.  Also, how the poll question plays out will help when me when I run our overall TBLA top prospect poll in a couple of weeks.

Record:  50 – 90

Season Result:  Finished in 4th (out of 5 teams) in the 1st half of the season, and in last place in the 2nd half of the season.  Their overall record for the season was the worst in the California League by 4 games, which meant that the 66ers obviously didn’t make the playoffs. 

Season Recap:  The Inland Empire 66ers were one of the worst teams in minor league baseball in terms of winning games.  Their 90 losses and .357 winning percentage ranked as the 5th worst among full season minor league teams.  Their pitching is what really let them down, as their 5.03 team ERA and 1.56 team WHIP ranked 9th out of the 10 teams in the California League.  Their team batting wasn’t all that bad, as their .277 average was in the middle of the pack in the league, but their power was lacking as they managed just 95 homers as a club (2nd worst in the league). 

League Leaders: 

Category

Player

Rank

Amount

Walks

Chris Gutierrez

5th

74

OBP

Chris Gutierrez

2nd

0.416

Wins

Ethan Martin

9th

9

CG's

Nathan Eovaldi

2nd

2

CG's

Ethan Martin

5th

1

Shutouts

Nathan Eovaldi

1st

2

Shutouts

Ethan Martin

2nd

1

Saves

Matthew Sartor

10th

8

IP

Jon M. Redding

10th

144

Walks

Ethan Martin

1st

81

Walks

Josh Walter

2nd

64

GF

Matthew Sartor

8th

26

 

Offensive MVP:  Kyle Russell only played in 53 of the teams 140 games, but he made the most of them and really produced while he was playing in the California League.  He led the 66ers with 16 home runs, and managed to rank 3rd on the team in RBI’s despite getting promoted to AA in mid June.  His other outstanding stats in the California League were his .354 average, his .448 OBP, his .692 SLG, and his 1.140 OPS.  The other reason Russell won this award was because nobody else on the 66ers really had a good season at the plate, except for maybe Alfredo Silverio.  But Silverio was so bad during the 1st half of the season that I just couldn’t give him the award. 

Best Offensive Prospect:  Kyle Russell was not only the team MVP, but was also the 66ers best offensive prospect.  Sure Russell strikes out a lot and took a step back when he got promoted to AA, but his overall stats were still very good for the season.  In addition, his power is something you can’t teach, so I really think he has the most value out of all the offensive players that came through Inland Empire in 2010.

Pitching MVP:  Aaron Miller was the easy choice for the 66ers pitching MVP for 2010.  He was very consistent in his time with Inland Empire, posting ERA’s of 3.60 in April, 2.55 in May, 2.16 in June, and 2.05 in August.  He was promoted to AA in July which is why he has no stats during that month, but he struggled with the Lookouts and was sent back to Inland Empire after 6 starts.  Getting back to his time in the California League, Miller’s ERA for the full season was 2.92, and he almost struck out a batter per inning.  The lefty also won 6 games for the 66ers, which ranked as the 2nd most on the team.

Best Pitching Prospect:  There is no question that Ethan Martin had a horrendous season, but for me he still ranks as the top pitching prospect on this team.  His only real competition for this award were Aaron Miller and Nathan Eovaldi (although Javier Solano has also opened many eyes this season), but in my opinion Martin’s talent is still a tick above those other guys.  He consistently throws in the mid 90’s, can hit 98, and has the makings of a plus breaking ball.  In addition, despite his awful stats in 2010, I still think he has a pretty good chance of reaching his potential.  Both Charlie Hough and DeJon Watson agree with me, as they both say that his great stuff is still there, it’s just that he needs to get better at the mental aspect of the game.  Martin is still just 21 years old, so even with this "lost season", he still gained valuable experience.  In addition, even if he repeats the California League next season, which is what the Dodgers have hinted at, he could still be on track to make it to the big league by the time he was 23 or 24 years old.  Finally, please note that I didn’t consider Kenley Jansen for this award because he only threw 18 innings for the 66ers.

1st Base:  What happened to the days when Austin Gallagher was 19 years old, was still playing 3rd base, and was looking like he was going to break out with a ton of power at any moment?  Well unfortunately Gallagher’s prospect shine has lost quite a bit of luster over the past 2 years, but he is still isn’t completely a lost cause.  He won’t be 22 until November, and is still a 6’5" giant who already has 4 years of professional experience.  The power still isn’t there, as demonstrated by his 6 homers and .755 OPS, but he did hit .291 and led the 66ers with 64 RBI’s.  Hopefully he can get a chance in AA next season and do something to prove he still should be considered a legitimate prospect.

Steven Caseres was the other Inland Empire 1st baseman, and he had a very disappointing season.  After posting a .828 OPS with the 66ers in 2009, Caseres was a candidate to move up to AA for 2010.  However, the Dodgers instead decided to keep Caseres in HiA for another season and it turned out to be the right decision.  If Caseres couldn’t perform in the hitter friendly California league, he would have been even worse with the Lookouts.  Steven ended the season with a .256 average and a .723 OPS while striking out in 25% of this plate appearances. 

 

2nd Base:  Travis Denker’s 2nd tour of duty with the Dodgers started in Inland Empire, where he was the 66ers second baseman for the most of the season.  Denker, who had last played for the 66ers in 2007, had a very good season in his return to the California League as he hit .332 with 7 homers in 74 games before getting promoted to AA (and eventually AAA).  I like that we re-signed Denker after he was released by Seattle because even though he isn’t the prospect he once was, he is still just 25 years old and provides the Dodgers with some middle infield depth.  I hope he returns to the organization next season.

 

3rd Base:  Pedro Baez was the main 3rd baseman for the 66ers, and he is another guy that underperformed.  In 309 at bats, Baez hit just 6 homers and had a dismal OPS of just .656.  I know he was injured a bit during the season, but that is no excuse for his below average stats.  Baez also made 21 errors in the field, which led to his .903 fielding percentage at 3rd base.  I’m not sure what the Dodgers will do with Baez in 2011, but the fact is that he is still just 22 years old.  In addition, he performed pretty well in the 7 games he played in AA at the end of the season, so that’s encouraging.

Johan Garcia, who also filled in at 2nd base after Denker left, spent a fair amount of time at 3rd base in 2010.  The 24 year old isn’t a prospect at all, however, as he hit just .256 and managed just 2 homers.

 

Shortstop:  If you take his age out of the equation, Chris Gutierrez seems like a good little player.  He hit .312 for the 66ers in 2010 as their everyday shortstop, had a .806 OPS, and stole 16 bases.  The fact is, however, that Gutierrez played the 2010 season as a 26 year old, so you can pretty much disregard anything he did in Inland Empire. 

Justin Sellers also played with the 66ers before getting promoted to AAA, but he didn’t perform nearly as well in Inland Empire as he did in Albuquerque.  In almost 100 at bats, Sellers did hit a homer, batted .260, and had an OPS of .657.  Considering what he did with the Isotopes (14 homers, .867 OPS), that is a drastic difference, with the only possible explanation being that the Albuquerque ballpark is actually easier to hit in.

 

Catcher:  Tony Delmonico was supposed to be the everyday catcher for the 66ers, but unfortunately injuries cost him about half of his season.  When he was playing for Inland Empire, Delmonico didn’t show much power, but he did demonstrate extreme patience at the plate.  He walked more than he struck out, and had an on base percentage of .418.  Still just 23 years old, and only 2 years into his catching career, I think that Delmonico remains the Dodgers top catching prospect heading into 2011, and will at least be a big league backup at some point down the road.

Matt Wallach probably didn’t expect to lead the 66ers in catching appearances in 2010, but that is what happened due to the injury to Delmonico.  Wallach made good use out of his additional playing time, having an all around solid season and even jumping onto the Dodger prospect radar.  Wallach has always been a very strong defensive catcher, and even won Baseball America’s best defensive catcher award for the California League.  In 2010, however, he also showed some offensive ability for the first time in a full season league.  Wallach hit 8 homers with the 66ers, and posted a.758 OPS, which is pretty good for a catcher.  That earned him a promotion to AA where he continued to hit pretty well. 

 

Outfield:  The Inland Empire outfield was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull season.  Kyle Russell, who I discussed above, had a great season at the plate for the 66ers and played right field almost every day for the first part of the season before his promotion to AA. 

After Russell left, the position was in flux until Scott Van Slyke got demoted back down to Inland Empire after his poor performance with the Lookouts.  Van Slyke, who had dominated the California League last season, picked up right where he had left off in 2009 and hit 9 homers in 189 at bats.  He also posted a .307 average and a .903 OPS.  When you looks at Van Slyke’s split stats for his minor league career, he has an OPS of .883 with Inland Empire, and an OPS of .722 with all other teams. 

Alfredo Silverio, who spent a significant amount of time at all 3 outfield positions in 2010, had an overall very good season, but you would have never guessed that if you looked at his stats in April, May, June, or even July.  Silverio was hitting just .245 with a .698 OPS through July, but ended the year on fire to finish with a .292 average and a .809 OPS.  Silverio also stole 17 bases and only struck out in only 15.1% of his plate appearances.  He got promoted to AA for the final week of the season, and that’s where he’ll probably play in 2011.

Ramon Jean, who has been a middle infielder since signing with the Dodgers in 2007, was the surprise center fielder for the 66ers in 2010.  I’m not sure what the reasoning was for the position switch, as Jean has no power to speak of and has never stolen more than 14 bases in a season.  Jean’s season started a little late, but he got out of the gate quickly hitting .333 in May and .324 in June.  Ramon slowed down significantly after the All Star break, however, and finished the year with a .272 average and a .646 OPS.  He just turned 23 years old, so is still relatively young, but I’m not sure what the future holds for Jean.

The only other guy to play more than 26 games in the outfield for Inland Empire was Nick Buss.  Chili’s season was so disappointing, however, that the Dodgers sent that 23 year old back to Great Lakes in June where he stayed for the rest of the season.  I’ve always thought that Buss had some potential, but with a .612 OPS in the California League through 65 games, I’ve lost a lot of faith in him.

 

Starting Pitchers:  The 66ers had a pretty consistent rotation all year of Ethan Martin, Aaron Miller, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Michael Redding, and Josh Walter.  I’ve already discussed Martin and Miller, so here I’ll analyze the other three guys on the pitching staff.

Nathan Eovaldi’s season with the 66ers ended early, as a strained oblique put him on the DL in late July.  After about a month of recovery, Eovaldi did end up pitching again, but it wasn’t for Inland Empire.  In Nathan’s 14 starts with the 66ers, he showed flashes of brilliance, including 2 complete game shutouts, but didn’t really have the dominant season that I was hoping for.  His ERA was 4.45 and his WHIP was 1.55, but he did have a solid FIP of 3.60.  His biggest inconsistency was his strikeout rate, as he only struck out 6.14 batters per 9 innings despite a very strong fastball.

Jon Michael Redding’s luck ran out in the California League as he only picked up 4 wins against 10 losses.  Last year with the Loons, Redding was one of the luckiest pitchers alive as he 16 and 3 despite a 4.60 ERA.  Redding’s stats in 2010 were pretty bad as he recorded a 5.56 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP while averaging only 5.38 strikeouts per 9 innings.  He’ll turn 23 this offseason and in my opinion his prospect status is fading.  The one good thing about him is that he is a workhorse as he has thrown 277 innings over the past two seasons, which is a lot for a minor league pitcher.

After a good season in 2009, there was some buzz about Josh Walter as a potential prospect.  I didn’t buy into the hype, however, and now I think you can forget about him forever.  The 25 year old posted a win - loss record of 1 and 10 for the season and had an ERA of 6.59.  He also allowed 13 homers in 95.2 innings, and this might just be the last season as a Dodger for the big guy.

Cody White, Bobby Blevins, and Will Savage also all made at least 5 starts with the 66ers, but all of them were either terrible or too old to have any impact as a prospect.

 

Relief Pitchers:  Javier Solano was the 66ers best relief pitcher by far, and was the only other player I considered giving the pitching MVP award to.  While his stats weren’t eye popping, he was very consistent and had great peripherals.  He finished his Inland Empire season with a 3.22 ERA, but his FIP was even better at 2.39.  He also struck out almost 10 batters per 9 innings.  In addition, he did all this as the youngest player on the team as he only turned 20 right before the season started.  Solano was promoted to AA in August, and believe it or not he did even better with the Lookouts.

Geison Aguasviva was another reliever that had a successful with the 66ers.  He was actually used as a starter to begin the season, but a 6.30 ERA through 5 starts promoted the Dodgers to move him back to relief.  In the bullpen, Aguasviva found his groove and posted a 2.77 ERA for the remainder of the season.  The southpaw is especially effective against left handed batters as he held them to a .157 average for the season.

Matt Sartor, who spent the entire 2009 season in AA, started the 2010 season in Chattanooga.  After 18 ineffective innings for the Lookouts, however, Sartor was sent back down to Inland Empire.  While I’m sure it was disappointing for the 26 year old to get demoted, the move provided a lift to the 66ers bullpen as Sartor stepped into the closers role and posted a 2.88 in 40.2 innings.  He also struck out over 11 batters per 9 innings.

Robert Boothe and Miguel Sanfler were two other main relievers for the 66ers, but both are older players and had disappointing seasons.  Boothe, who throws hard and speaks little English, had a terrible ERA of 6.89 and a WHIP of 1.89 in 48.1 innings.  Sanfler wasn’t quite as bad with his 5.40 ERA.

Brandon Mann and Paul Koss also pitched in a quite a few games for Inland Empire this season, but both were released during the season.

Finally, Kenley Jansen started the year in Inland Empire and pitched 18 amazing innings before getting promoted to AA.  We all know where his season went from there.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join True Blue LA

You must be a member of True Blue LA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at True Blue LA. You should read them.

Join True Blue LA

You must be a member of True Blue LA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at True Blue LA. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker