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California League playoff schedule: Rancho Cucamonga opens at home vs. Lancaster

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Winner of best-of-3 mini-series will play High Desert

Johan Mieses
Johan Mieses led all Dodgers minor leaguers with 28 home runs in 2016.
Photo credit: Craig Minami | True Blue LA

The reigning California League champions are back in the playoffs, with Dodgers Class-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga winning the South Division wild card in 2016.

The Quakes just missed out winning the South Division in the first half, finishing one game behind High Desert (Rangers), who gets a bye into the division finals. Rancho Cucamonga finished five games behind second-half winner Lancaster (Astros), but with the best remaining overall record in the division (79-61), the Quakes earned the South Division wild card spot.

Rancho Cucamonga will battle Lancaster in a best-of-3 series beginning Wednesday at Rancho Cucamonga, with the final two games, if necessary, in Lancaster.

Andre Ethier, one of a whopping 16 major league Dodgers to rehab with the Quakes in 2016, is expected to continue his minor league rehab assignment at least through Game 1 on Wednesday. Ethier in nine games so far with Rancho Cucamonga is 9-for-31 (.290) with four doubles, and has played five games in the outfield, his first games all season after fracturing his right tibia in March.

Johan Mieses led the Dodgers minor leagues with 28 home runs in 2016, and the 20-year-old hit .247/.314/.510.

yusniel-diaz-2016-rancho-tomo-san
Yusniel Diaz, 19, reached base by hit or walk in his final 10 games of the regular season.
Photo credit: Tomo San | LA Dodgers

Yusniel Diaz, for whom the Dodgers spend a total of $31 million in 2015 out of Cuba (including a tax for exceeding the allotted international bonus limits), has had an up and down year, but has been generally impressive since returning from the disabled list in late July, hitting .295/.340/.466 in 35 games, especially at just 19 years old.

Dodgers 2016 first-round pick Will Smith (No. 32 overall) has hit .216/.330/.320 since his promotion to Rancho. He has seen some time at both second and third base in addition to his time behind the plate.

The top four Quakes in innings pitched in 2016 — Tommy Bergjans (130), Josh Sborz (108⅓), Grant Holmes (105⅓) and Andrew Sopko (99⅓) — are all gone, either traded or promoted to Double-A Tulsa. But the club still has a few solid arms who have performed well for Rancho Cucamonga.

26-year-old Tim Shubuya gets the call on the mound in Game 1 on Wednesday, after going 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his five games down the stretch with the Quakes. Michael Boyle, a 13th-round draftee in 2015, starts Game 2 after striking out 31 and walking seven in 35⅔ innings to go with his 5.55 ERA after his promotion from Great Lakes.

Rancho Cucamonga will start Adam Bray in Game 3. The 2015 33rd-round pick was in the bullpen most of the year but moved to the rotation down the stretch. He struck out 51 and walked seven in his 48⅔ innings.

Bryce Dykxhoorn will start for Lancaster in Game 1.

South Division mini-series schedule

Game 1: Wednesday, Sept. 7 - Lancaster at High Desert, 7:05 p.m. PT
Game 2: Thursday, Sept. 8 - Rancho Cucamonga at Lancaster, 6:30 p.m.
Game 3*: Friday, Sept. 9 - Rancho Cucamonga at Lancaster, 6:30 p.m.
*if necessary

The winner of this series will battle High Desert in a best-of-5 Divisional Final that will take place from Sept. 10-14. The California League Finals will feature the North and South Division champions in a best-of-5 series from Sept. 15-19.