I had the opportunity to interview Rancho Cucamonga Quakes broadcaster Mike Lindskog. Mike has been with the Quakes for 10 seasons, with this being the ninth season the Dodgers have been their parent club.
This interview is slightly edited for clarity.
Q: What has it been like to broadcast this club?
“Being here specifically has been a lot of fun. There’s a lot of reasons that go into that. The first reason that even brought me to Rancho Cucamonga was the ownership group. the camaraderie within that group that was a deep history all the way back to 1993, when I was 19 years old in Spokane, Washington. Since then, a lot of changes have occurred with the Dodgers affiliation. It’s neat for our fans and that’s always the first and foremost thing I’m going to bring up when I’m speaking in the community, but it’s also a lot of fun for me personally.
I’ve seen Kershaw pitch on this stage, you know, I get all the relevant Dodger players because of that relationship with the Dodgers organization, the proximity to LA, the quality of our facility. Because of this, we get to see Justin Turner, Rich Hill and Walker Buehler come by on rehab assignments.
Then you move on from the rehabbers to just the quality and strength of the system. You know, today, the first thing we talked about when we walk in the door is Gavin Lux is going to the big leagues and he was just here last year. Dustin May was just here last year Will Smith was was here two years ago, and these are big-time contributors for the LA Dodgers.
There’s a feeling of being a little bit spoiled here and you have to appreciate that in the moment because times like this always aren’t going to be happening because you’re not always going to make the playoffs. That’s the reality. So you have to enjoy the good times and we’re very much enjoying the good times.”
Q: The Quakes had a new manager, Mark Kertenian, this season. What do you think of the job he and his staff have done with the 2019 Quakes team?
“I think his resume speaks for itself. I mean Mark’s a winner. He skippered a championship team in Ogden two years ago, the championship team in the Arizona League last year and now us to the best record in the South Division. So I think those paper credentials speak for themselves.
Mark is definitely a unique manager in what he brings to the table. It’s quite obvious that he cares about his players deeply. He definitely takes his care to a different level regarding his players and I think the guys play hard for him and that’s probably one of the reasons why I mean he’s a guy that they trust. He had a recent article in The Athletic that kind of opened some eyes as to why that relationship and bond is so strong.
He’s very protective of them and he’s trying to get the most out of them, both on the field and teaching them how to be a good human beings and good men because a lot of them are still growing up and trying to figure it out.”
Q: You knew right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray was coming in as part of the trade with the Reds. But he wasn’t someone you had knowledge of before this season, right?
“When the Dodgers draft a guy, you know, you get some insight through the Dodgers websites and the bloggers. So you can keep track of a guy like Jacob Amaya as he comes through the system. Whereas Josiah Gray, we had so little background on him until he got here, when the trade was made it was big news, but I think Jeter Downs was kind of a headline in them. Downs started the year here, so it wasn’t until Gray got here where we really started to pay attention and then he got here and man, he was quick to adjust.
At one point I said, ‘This guy is the second best pitcher in the California League currently behind only Mackenzie Gore of the Padres’.
Gray really opened eyes here and all he did was dominate. Doesn’t throw mid-90s but the guy just gets out and I’m really excited to see how far he can go because while Jeter Downs had a great year here as well, coming into the year, our perception was that Downs was the headline piece and Gray was a nice complementary piece. But now we think, ‘Wow, Josiah Gray is a real pitcher. This is exciting. How far can he go?’
Still, he’s going to have to continue to prove it and that’s a good thing for him. I don’t think it’s going to be handed to him. But again, he dominated here. I know he’s throwing the ball well at Double-A Tulsa and I think he will keep it up next year if he continues to move. He’s gonna have himself in the same boat as Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin next September.”
Q: Infielder Jeter Downs started most of the season with the Quakes until his promotion to Tulsa late last month. What your thoughts about Downs?
“Inconsistent at times, but certainly the potential is there and it’s just a matter of him continuing to grow and mature as well as getting reps again. You look at him, he was 20 years old and at times he dominated in this league. So that’s really exciting.
I think the the ceiling is pretty, pretty good for him and I’m excited to see if he can continue to make a name for himself as it goes up the line. He’s exciting, he was really fun to watch here.
Q: Infielder Miguel Vargas was promoted from Great Lakes after a great first half and he has done well since that time. what do you like about his game?
“The transition for him was not quick. He came up and while you could see the potential, the results weren’t there on paper. He hit a lot of balls hard early. They were dropping in the gap and the fielders were running them down. But at the same time, he was hitting some balls right at guys, so his batting average really didn’t tell the story early on.
The guy is a witch defensively at third base for being 19 years old. He has been for me and my money the most exciting Quakes player in the second half. Maybe Cal League Player of the Month for August. He’s been that kind of hot this month.
If Vargas spends between half and two-thirds of next year at Rancho, he’s easily one of the top three contenders for League MVP. MVP votes in this league are truly voted upon because a guy is having a good year offensively but guys that really get into it and see him every day will appreciate that defense and know that he is Gold Glove caliber “D” at third base right now.
In this moment, Jacob Amaya at short and Miguel Vargas at third, I have no problem saying that is easily the best defense that we’ve had in the Dodgers era. Left side not even close Gavin Lux and Darnell Sweeney back in the day, he made the major leagues.
Jeter Downs, with respect to his year, it’s just it’s not the same as Jacob Amaya’s defense and Miguel Vargas third base is tough to play because it’s called the hot corner for a reason.”
True Blue LA thanks Mike Lindskog for taking the time to do this interview.