Since all of the full-season Dodger affiliates had Monday off, here is interview with Andrew Chapman who is a broadcaster intern working with Mike Lindskog for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. To get information to how you can listen to their broadcasts go here.
Chapman is a recent graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. During his time there, he covered various teams including the baseball team.
“I had a vision of doing play-by-play going into school,” Chapman said, “but while I was there, I experimented with a wide variety of media opportunities and by the end of it, I knew that I wanted to pursue play-by-play through minor league baseball.”
Chapman called Arizona State baseball and softball games as well as their football games on ASU radio.
Chapman played baseball growing up, his family worked in baseball and so he has always been interested in working in the game.
“I am glad I got to play up until high school because it gave me kind of a unique aspect and vision towards the game on the broadcast side of things” Chapman said, “it’s a day out, day in, day out grind, these guys are playing 140 games, they are traveling a lot of the time on buses and they are staying in hotels. It is a lot different from the college game, in that respect, the long season but they commit their lives to it.”
Coaching staff is open-minded
The Quakes have a young coaching staff, manager Drew Saylor, who turned 34 earlier this year is the elder statesman on the staff. Chapman thinks that all fits in their usage of analytics and trying new things.
“It is very easy for guys to get stuck in their ways and just say guys have been doing a hundred years this way so we are going to make it work,” Chapman said, “but with the technology that is available with the TrackMan system the Dodgers are using now, there is no reason why we can’t at least be compiling this data and try to think what kind of story do these numbers tell.”
And while you will see players shoot a ball against the shift or something else happen that appears to go against the numbers, Chapman thinks that in the end, the stories the numbers tell will set the path forward for baseball.
“We are in an analytical age,” Chapman said, “I think baseball more than any other sport, is on the cutting edge of reinventing the sport around numbers, around data compiled.”
“This is a young coaching staff that’s all about that, Drew Saylor is a very openminded guy that let’s his staff kind of work to their strengths and come together to create the game plan.”
“These guys, Justin Viele, Connor McGuiness, Pedro Montero, aren’t too far removed from pro ball or college ball, whatever it might be,” Chapman said, “and I think a younger demographic to the staff not only works well with Drew Saylor, who’s a young manager, but it’s guys who are still hungry to learn more about the game at this stage in their careers.”
Impressions of some of the Quakes
Gavin Lux is playing his first season at Rancho Cucamonga, he’s had a successful first two months, Chapman thinks Lux has been impressive so far.
“Sometimes you never know how those guys coming right out of high school are going to perform in their first couple of years at the pro level,” said Chapman, “just looking at Gavin’s numbers last year at Great Lakes, he had to work on things at the plate. He is a very fluid fielder, he has a plus arm at shortstop but he needed to put it together at the plate and this year he absolutely has.
“[Lux has] credited Justin Viele, the hitting coach, with a lot of his progression this, he studies very hard to scout pitchers and know what’s coming at him each game.”
Regarding the starting staff, outside of Dustin May who did not pitch until May 3rd, this staff may have been unknown from those who don’t follow the Dodgers minor league system that closely.
“They are all hungry to show that they can compete at higher levels in minor league baseball,” Chapman said, “luckily it is a good problem to have for the Dodgers, there is a lot of good pitching prospects, you are going to see guys every few months coming up from the system.”
Tony Gonsolin is an example of one of those hungry competitive pitchers. Gonsolin was drafted in 9th round in 2016. In the two seasons prior to 2018, he pitched in 61 games, all in relief. This yeqr, he was assigned for a second season at Rancho Cucamonga as a starter. Gonsolin has started 11 games and in 52⅔ innings, he has struck out 57 with a .211 batting average against.
“I don’t know if [Gonsolin] feels comfortable as a starter,” Chapman said, “he’s told me he’s just trying to keep an open mind to whatever the Dodgers see working towards his strengths. He was a closer in college and a two-way player offensively, transitioning into pitching exclusively was his best opportunity to go to pro ball, so he’s keeping an open mind.”
Dean Kremer is another starting pitcher who mostly had relieved with some spot starts prior to this season.
“The Dodgers came to him at the start of the season and said lets try you out as a starter, we think you can be effective there,” Chapman said, “Kremer had to work into it for the first couple of months, his ERA was way up there, he was struggling with runs and getting through innings.”
In three of his last four starts, Kremer has pitched six innings twice and had one five inning start. In those 17 innings, Kremer has struck out 26 and walked 5.
Jeren Kendall, like Lux was a first round pick, the 22-year old centerfielder is in his first full-season of professional baseball and Chapman says he is coming along.
“He’s a guy that was deemed one of the best athletes in the system and it is not hard to see why,” Chapman said, “this is a guy who is already playing top caliber in the outfield, he’s a threat to steal a base every time he gets on and the only thing that needs to come along to see Kendall quickly push up the ranks of the Dodger system is getting it together at the plate.”
Connor Wong has mostly caught though he has started four games at second, has hit for power with 11 home runs but he has also struck out 73 times in 175 at-bats.
“A guy who needs to get the strikeout rate down,” Chapman said, “pitchers kind of keyed on Connor when you have the hot start, who is this guy, how do we pitch against him, we see a lot of inside, outside breaking balls against him, he’s still working to make contact on. But fastball, anything in his zone, he understands it and he gets gap to gap power.”
“Connor has time to learn due to the catchers ahead of him in the system.”
Dustin May came into the season has the top ranked pitching prospect that eventually joined the Quakes.
“When you first get a look at Dustin May, you see the crazy hair, you see the six foot six body, you might think he is kind of quirky on the mound,” Chapman said, “he does have a unique windup but it is a fluid windup and he has mechanics are very consistent which is pretty impressive for a guy I believe is just 20 years old.”
Thoughts on the remainder of the seson
Chapman said his goal as he heads towards the second half, is improving as a broadcaster and getting to know the players on the Quakes better. He is having a good time working with Lindskog and Brian Brown, who is also an intern on the Quakes broadcasts. Chapman added Mike Lindskog has helped him with his writing this year.
“I am really looking forward to seeing what guys in the second half of the season might get the call up to the next level and what talent we might have coming in from the lower levels, at Great Lakes, Rookie ball and seeing how those guys develop.”
Triple-A Oklahoma City
The Dodgers were off on Monday, they travel west to take on the Sacramento River Cats (Giants).
The Drillers had Monday off, today they are on the road taking on the Arkansas Travelers (Mariners).
Class-A Rancho Cucamonga
The Quakes were not scheduled on Monday, on Tuesday they go on the road to Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies).
Class-A Great Lakes
The Loons were another team that did not play on Monday, today it is off to play at West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers).
There were no transactions on Monday.
8:00 a.m. PT: Great Lakes (TBD) at West Michigan [Tigers] (Elvin Rodriguez)
5:10 p.m.: Tulsa (TBD) at Arkansas [Mariners] (TBD
6:35 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Andrew Sopko) at Lancaster [Rockies] (Matt Dennis)
7:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Guillermo Moscoso) at Sacramento [Giants] (Daniel Camarena)
DSL Dodgers Robinson vs. DSL Marlins
DSL Dodgers Guerrero at DSL RangersOne