Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock began a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, getting closer to a potential return next weekend when the Dodgers begin a road trip in Atlanta.
Pollock grounded out to third in the first inning, walked in the second, and played five innings in left field, testing a left hamstring strain that has caused him to miss the last two weeks. The plan is for Pollock to play with the Quakes again on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Rancho Cucamonga is off on Mondays.
If all goes well, Pollock will be activated once the Dodgers start their road trip against the Braves on Friday. He last played in the majors on May 14, and through the end of the current homestand on Wednesday will have started just one of the Dodgers’ last 23 games.
Rancho Cucamonga is the closest Dodgers affiliate by far, just 46 miles from Dodger Stadium, with the other three domestic affiliates in Oklahoma and Michigan. But the Quakes are now in Low-A after years as a High-A team, and with the lower level comes younger, less-experienced arms. But when I asked earlier in May about having major league players rehabbing against potentially wild minor league pitchers, there was very little concern.
“The driver is not the level they’re playing at in rehab,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s just getting them the timing.”
That’s as good advice as any about paying much attention to stats from these rehab assignments. The most important things are getting reps, and making sure whatever injury is fully healed before the player is activated.
Player of the day
The goal with this section of the minor league report isn’t necessarily to pick the absolute best player from each day, but rather to find something and someone interesting to write about.
But forgive me for selecting 19-year-old catcher Diego Cartaya for the second time in his four games with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. That’s because on Saturday night, he hit an ultimate grand slam, turning a three-run deficit with one out into a walk-off win.
DIEGO CARTAYA DOES IT!!! AND HE DOES IT IN GRAND FASHION!!!— Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (@RCQuakes) May 30, 2021
DOWN 3, BOTTOM OF THE NINTH, WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM!!!
Quakes score FIVE in the ninth to win it, 10-9!!! pic.twitter.com/q7y5ImdmD1
On some level, this might have been Cartaya’s worst game so far with the Quakes. I’m being facetious here, but only because Cartaya was 0-for-4 before stepping to the plate in the ninth against right-hander Edward Baram, a pitcher five years his elder.
Cartaya reached base at least twice in each of his first three games, and this home run gave him four extra-base hits total and three games in a row with at least one extra-base hit.
So far, Cartaya is 7-for-17 with two home runs, two doubles, two walks, eight runs scored and seven RBI in four games, hitting a mere .412/.474/.882.
To top things off on Saturday, Cartaya threw out two runners trying to steal and picked another off first base. In four games, he’s thrown out three of six runners trying to steal. The Ports have stolen bases at a 75-percent rate in all other games they haven’t faced Cartaya.
Triple-A Oklahoma City
Rangel Ravelo continued to run roughshod through Triple-A in Oklahoma City’s win over the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres). Ravelo singled twice, doubled, and walked twice on Saturday, extending his hitting streak to six games, during which he has 14 hits in 21 at-bats, with three home runs and three doubles.
Ravelo leads Triple-A West in batting average (.418), on-base percentage (.518), and OPS (1.279) through 19 games. His slugging percentage (.761) ranks second to Mariners outfielder Taylor Trammell, who is slugging .810 for Tacoma.
The 29-year-old Ravelo — a right-handed hitter, for those needing more fuel to scream “call him up” — signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in January, and was a non-roster invitee during spring training. He played in parts of the last two seasons in the majors with the Cardinals, hitting .189/.250/.351 in 84 plate appearances.
The Drillers got home runs from shortstop Jacob Amaya and left fielder Carlos Rincon in a fourth straight win over the Arkansas Travelers (Mariners).
Michael Grove walked six in his 2⅓ innings, though only managed to allow a pair of runs. That was thanks in part to giving up only one hit, pointing to a rather stunning stat. Tulsa pitchers held Arkansas to just 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, and through the first five games of the series the Travelers are only 2-for-57 with RISP.
That’s a good recipe for allowing only 10 runs in five games, winning the last four.
High-A Great Lakes
Andy Pages homered in an otherwise quiet night for the Loons in a loss to the Lansing Lugnuts (A’s). Great Lakes also stole three bases, including the team-leading ninth of the year for James Outman, who has only been thrown out, man, twice in stolen base attempts this season.
Low-A Rancho Cucamonga
Down by four runs entering the ninth, six straight Quakes reached base in the ninth, culminating in Cartaya’s walk-off grand slam to stun the Stockton Ports (A’s). Right fielder Aldrich De Jongh singled in the ninth and doubled earlier, scoring two runs. Second baseman Sam McWilliams had two hits and drove in two, including an RBI single in the ninth-inning rally.
Third baseman Brandon Lewis also homered, one of two hits.
Jacob Cantleberry kept an otherwise lively Stockton offense at bay, pitching the final 2⅓ innings without allowing a run, and struck out six of his nine batters faced. The 13th-rounder from 2019 has a 1.98 ERA.
I have to catch myself, trying not to get too carried away with some of these minor league strikeout numbers. Low-A West, formerly the California League, had a league-wide 29.4-percent K rate entering Saturday. But even in that context, Cantleberry striking out 27 of his 53 batters faced (50.9 percent) stands out, as did Cameron Gibbens’ 56-percent K rate before his promotion to Great Lakes earlier in the week.
Triple-A: Sheldon Neuse and DJ Peters were optioned to Oklahoma City.
“With both guys, the message was basically they should be proud of what they did for us. I don’t really care about the stat line,” Roberts said Saturday. “They prepared each day, they practice the right way, they play good defense for us. Being younger players and not playing every day is very difficult. I just wanted them to enjoy this experience, and know they helped us through some tough times.”
- Oklahoma City 12, El Paso 5
- Tulsa 5, Arkansas 2
- Lansing 7, Great Lakes 3
- Rancho Cucamonga 10, Stockton 9
- 10:05 a.m. PT: Great Lakes (Bobby Miller) at Lansing (Stevie Emanuels)
- 12:10 p.m.: Tulsa (John Rooney) at Arkansas (Tyler Herb)
- 2 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Jimmy Lewis) vs. Stockton (Pedro Santos)
- 5:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Austin Bibens-Dirkx) at El Paso (MacKenzie Gore)