Having one of your minor league affiliates within an hour of your home stadium is a great luxury, the Dodgers have certainly taken advantage of that by having several pitchers and position players, including Thursday night's DH Juan Uribe, do some of their rehab work wearing a Rancho Cucamonga Quakes uniform.
But the Quakes are not just a place to send rehabilitating Dodgers. You will see top prospects Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Chris Anderson and Tom Windle wearing Quakes uniforms this season.
Managing a team while developing highly ranked talent isn't simple, especially pitching where often the Dodger player development office sets the usage for these players.
First-year Quakes manager P.J. Forbes understands both roles.
"You have to watch pitch counts, inning counts [for starters]," Forbes said. "What happens on the field dictates how you use your bullpen."
After an early adjustment to the league, Urias, Anderson and Windle have settled in, says Forbes.
"Getting more comfortable to pitch at this level has been an ongoing process," Forbes explained. "We aren't preparing them to be All-Stars at this league, we are preparing to be All-Stars at the big league level. So how do we approach that, that is our goal here."
Matt Herges, Quakes pitching coach isn't looking for domination in the Cal League, but how they respond to adversity.
"I see these kids, especially [Urias, Anderson, Windle] handle failure," Herges said. "Julio is Julio, with talent off the charts. He had a tough go early and he's bounced back, which is encouraging to me."
Reviewing the few times Urias has had to relieve rehab starters, Herges was mindful that entering mid-game was probably new to Urias, after being used to starting all the time. The 17-year-old left-hander has pitched in relief in three of his 13 games this season after starting all 18 games for Great Lakes in 2013.
"Being down the street from the big club, we are going to get all the rehab guys so you have to be flexible," Herges said. "I like them getting out of their comfort zone, it helps them learn."
Chris Anderson has had to adjust to not being able to simply throw the ball by batters like he did in college.
"What we have been stressing with him is that you can't throw the ball up [in the zone]," Herges said. "For him to move, he has to show the Dodgers he can throw the ball down."
Brandon Liebhaber is the new addition to the Quakes radio broadcast team. A recent Northwestern University graduate, this is his first job in the California League. Liebhaber has broadcast many of the games this season and has seen all of the prospects play.
"In the beginning [of the season] there was a lot of struggle with the offense, the team went 8-19 in April," Liebhaber said. "Inconsistent is a word I would use to describe this team.
"We have seen flashes with [the prospects]. Anderson has struck out seven and looked great but other times he can't keep the ball down and gets hit hard."
Liebhaber said the coaching staff is working with Anderson on his secondary stuff, and that Windle has a good slider but needs to improve his command.
Liebhaber said it is hard to evaluate Urias because he only pitches three to four innings per outing.
"As a fan you can appreciate his competitiveness," Liebhaber said. "Urias gets upset when he gives up a hit, but he will need to control his emotions as he climbs the system."
One of the pleasures of Liebhaber's early career has been watching Seager the last month or so. In the beginning of the season, Seager was not locked in, and missed nine games with hamstring tightness.
"He's been unbelievable to watch, Since he's been back from the DL, he hit .400 for the rest of May," Liebhaber recalled. "Comfortable is the word that I use with Corey Seager. Everything is so effortless. A lot of his doubles are going to other way."
"I would put Seager's numbers since May 3rd up against anyone in baseball," added Forbes, referring to Seager hitting .370/.417/.661 with 10 home runs, 18 doubles and 36 RBI in his last 40 games.
Liebhaber described the 6'4 Seager as "pretty solid" at shortstop, while Forbes has seen improvement.
"We're trying to help him get better everyday. There are some tweaks I'd like to see him make, we talk about it," Forbes said. "What I like about Seager is that he comes to me for advice which shows me he's comfortable in his own skin."