RANCHO CUCAMONGA —- The Dodger minor league teams saw some good performances by Dustin May, Alex Verdugo and Walker Buehler and their teams, Great Lakes, Oklahoma City and Tulsa all won. Ogden lost a tough one while Rancho Cucamonga took it on the chin early. Both Dominican Summer League teams also lost.
Yusniel Diaz has a great June
One of the big stories for the Dodger minor league system was the play of Rancho Cucamonga Quakes outfielder Yusniel Diaz. Going into Friday night’s game, in June, Diaz was hitting .396/.438/.673 in 110 plate appearances.
Drew Saylor has been Diaz’s manager for the last two seasons and he said it was both a physical adjustment and then a mental one that has helped Diaz improve.
“Number one, he made a small little adjustment with his hand placement, where his hands were real high, he has them a little bit lower,” Saylor said, “he’s able to get on the plane of the pitch a little more consistently and stay in the zone longer. So I think from a hard hit contact perspective, it went through the roof.”
“In addition to that, he is recognizing that trying to swing out his butt,” Saylor said, “he doesn’t need to do that, he can go up and take a very aggressive swing, a controlled swing, and have more sustained consistent success.”
“That has allowed him to be able to really let his natural gifts, he has a really good eye at the plate,” Saylor said, “he’s starting to really learn to how to have a plan, have an approach at the plate, understanding how pitchers are trying to set him up and he’s able to lay off really tough marginal pitches and balls that are just in for strikes to get himself into a position to get a ball that may be a mistake or in a better leverage situation.
Player of the day
Dustin May retired 15 in a row before giving up two hits and a walk in the sixth inning. May would eventually pitch a season-high 7⅓ innings and leave with a no-decision. May gave up two runs (one earned), four hits, two walks and struck out four.
Triple-A Oklahoma City
The Dodgers doubled up on the Nashville Sounds (Athletics) 12-6 to take the first game of their series at Nashville. Ross Stripling relieved Justin Masterson and got the win after pitching two scoreless innings.
Josh Ravin followed with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts. Jacob Rhame gave up a run in his two innings of work to finish the game.
Alex Verdugo led off the game with a single, that extended his hitting streak to 20 games. Verdugo would have three singles, a walk and score three runs. Max Muncy had four hits, scored three runs and drove in three.
Willie Calhoun went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Kyle Farmer had two hits and three RBI.
The Drillers had both a well-pitched game and scored some runs as they shutout the Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers) 6-0 at Frisco on Friday. Walker Buehler pitched 5⅓ innings and he gave up two hits and a walk. Buehler also struck out seven.
Yaisel Sierra had six strikeouts in 2⅔ innings and Chris Cotton tossed a scoreless inning to finish off the game.
Erick Mejia and Matt Beaty each had three hits, Beaty hit his eighth home run of the season.
Class-A Rancho Cucamonga
The Quakes had a big crowd for a Kershaw bobble-head giveaway. And they had beaten the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies) five straight times going into tonight. But all of that was for naught as the JetHawks won 11-2 to take the first game of their four-game series.
Dennis Santana had pitched very well at home in 33 innings he had given up six runs (three earned) and 23 hits. Santana had also struck out 32 and walked eight. Santana had also pitched well in three prior starts against the hard hitting JetHawks, he had given up four runs in 17 innings.
So of course, Santana has a one of those games, couple scratch singles and then a home run for three runs in the first. That was followed by five hits and a sacrifice fly and when the dust settled, Santana gave up seven runs to match his worst game of the year.
To be sure, this was an outlier for Santana, who has been a 2016 and 2017 All-Star.
Prior to the game, I asked manager Drew Saylor about Santana and he had this to say about a “stalwart” of the Quakes rotation.
“The stuff jumps off the page, turbo-sinker, 95-96, real heavy action to it,” Saylor said, “the slider, there’s almost like there are two versions, he has one that is a really big sweeper that he will front hip right-handers, he has one that is a little bit shorter, a little bit late depth to it.”
“The thing that has been impressive to me is just the presence on the mound,” Saylor said, “he’s growing, he is still a young player but he really has a little bit more advanced maturity to him which is really impressive to be able to see it at his age especially a guy who’s a converted guy as well, those things alone along with him having conviction when he throws his pitches has been incredible to watch.”
Class-A Great Lakes
The Loons had a 2-0 lead in the 8th inning and Dustin May was entering new territory as he began to pitch. Eventually, May lost his shutout and his opportunity for a win when West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) tied the game 2-2.
Both teams scored in the 9th inning to make it 3-3 and off to extra-innings they went.
With no scoring in the 10th and the top of 11th, it was Carlos Rincon at the plate to lead off the bottom of the inning. Rincon delivered and the Loons won 4-3 in 11 innings.
The Raptors took a three-run lead to the eighth inning but then the Grand Junction Rockies scored four runs to win 4-3. The Raptors had chances in both the 8th and 9th to tie the game but eventually going 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position did them in.
Justin Hoyt, the 22nd round pick in this year’s draft, had a very interesting start to his pro career. He had four strikeouts against four batters faced in one-inning. The third batter he faced swung on a wild pitch and made it to first. Hoyt then struck out the fourth batter.
8th round pick Rylan Bannon hit his second home run for Ogden.
AZL Dodgers were off on Friday.
Double-A: Infielder Samuel Ortiz assigned to Tulsa from AZL Dodgers.
Class-A: Infielder Zach McKinstry assigned to Rancho Cucamonga from Tulsa. Infielder Cristian Santana assigned to Great Lakes from Ogden. Infielder Jared Walker assigned to Great Lakes from Rancho Cucamonga. Great Lakes placed outfielder Darien Tubbs on the 7-day disabled list.
Rookie: First baseman Erick Meza assigned to Ogden from Great Lakes. Four left-handed pitchers, Justin Hoyt (2017 22nd round), Devin Hemmerich (2017 26th round), Justin Lewis (2017 28th round) and Austin Hamilton (free agent) were assigned to Ogden Raptors.
4:05 p.m. PT: Great Lakes (Leo Crawford) vs. West Michigan (Spenser Watkins)
5:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Scott Barlow) at Nashville (Paul Blackburn)
5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Chris Rearick) at Frisco (Ariel Jurado)
6:00 p.m.: Ogden (Adalberto Pena) vs. Idaho Falls Chukars [Royals] (TBD)
7:00 p.m.: AZL Dodgers at AZL Mariners
7:05 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (TBD) vs. Lancaster (Peter Lambert)