Saturday, April 28, 2012

My trip to see Dodgers' prospects at the Epicenter was a blast

Eight days ago, I was in Southern California for a journalism conference. While the conference fell flat on its face, my trip to Rancho Cucamonga to see the Quakes did not.

Despite the team not playing well, it was a great experience. It was the first time I'd ever received a media credential to cover anything but a college sporting event.

I arrived with Jared Massey of LA Dugout at a little after 4 p.m. after we met up for about an hour before at a brewery right down the street from the stadium. It was a hot day in Ranch, so we wanted to take advantage of the air conditioning (and beer) as long as we could.

We caught the last little bit of batting practice. Guys like Austin Gallagher (45), Tyler Henson (29), Carlos Mirabal and Tony Delmonico were finishing up their set.

Afternoon batting practice

Scott McGough
Scott McGough, all 170 pounds of him (soaking wet) was hanging around, too.

The 2011 fifth-round pick out of Oregon was in shorts and watching batting practice. By the look of him, I never would have guessed it was him. I know he's listed at 6-feet tall, 170 pounds, but I'd be shocked if he was either. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be needed on this night.

While we were on the field, Takashi Saito, who was with the Visalia Rawhide on a rehab assignment, walked by. After I had informed Jared that Saito had thrown the night before, I missed Saito the first time he walked by, as you can tell by this photo.

Takashi Saito walks by

However, I caught him on the second time back. He recognized someone affiliated with the Dodgers. He was wearing jeans and a blue shirt and was obviously not a player. Jared's best guess is it was Bill Mueller. He is serving in the Dodgers' front office as a special assistant to General Manager Ned Colletti.

After batting practice was over, we retreated to a WiFi-less press box. I didn't really care there was no WiFi access as I was just there to enjoy the experience.

Angel Sanchez, who struggled
Once the game started, we went down to the stands to get a first-hand look at the Quakes' starter, Angel Sanchez. I have some video of Sanchez's appearance, which I'll publish in another post. I want to have a chance to edit it first.

Sanchez hit 98 MPH at one time and 96 a couple other times (readings I think were not accurate), but he worked consistently in the 89-93 MPH range. He threw his slider a bit, but didn't throw his changeup much. That, coupled with leaving his fastball over the plate, led to a short, rocky outing for the 22-year-old.

Scott Wingo
Scott Wingo looked good on offense, tripling twice. And they were legitimate triples, especially the one to lead off the game for the Quakes. He drove the ball to the left-center field gap and it kept tailing away from the Rawhide defender. He flew around the bases and made it to third base with ease. He ended up 3-for-5 on the evening and played a solid second base.

There wasn't much in the way of offense, as the Quakes ended up with just four runs. Christopher O'Brien had a double and Austin Gallagher went 1-for-2 with two walks. Nick Akins chipped in two hits, but that was about it.

Jonathan Garcia
Jonathan Garcia hit well in his first two at-bats. Despite having good, raw power, he's struggled mightily in the California League. He had two solid singles in his first two at-bats before striking out in ugly fashion in his last two. He was retired on fastballs at eye-level -- pitches that only Mike Piazza could hit.

Even though the Quakes lost 8-4, I was happy to have the opportunity to attend the game with media access and I hope to get back down there sometime this summer to see another game at the Epicenter.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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