Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes the epicenter for young aces; 2012 roster announced

The Dodgers' High-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes announced their 25-man roster on Monday. Unlike the Loons' roster, there were little surprises here.

And also unlike the Loons' roster, the team is absolutely stacked with potential aces.

I took a look at the Quakes' potential roster back in January. I hit on a lot, but I also missed on a few.

It's a good thing the pitching is going to be strong because the California League is a notorious hitters' haven.

Top prospect Zach Lee (1, right) should head the rotation, followed by three other top pitching prospects: Garrett Gould (4), Angel Sanchez (5) and Chris Reed (19).

It's anyone's guess who the No. 5 starter is going to be, but I'm thinking it'll be Greg Wilborn.

The bullpen also looks solid. Scott McGough, 2011 5th-round pick, will join Logan Bawcom (26) and Juan Rodriguez (34) to form a nice 7-8-9 back end of the bullpen.

A lot of players from last year's Great Lakes team will make the trek to the Cal League. Since it's a great hitters' environment, a lot of guys should do quite well.

Leon Landry (18) will man center field and hit near the top of the order. He's the best position prospect the Quakes have. Jonathan Garcia (22, left) and Chris Jacobs will provide the thunder in the middle of the lineup. Tyler Henson, acquired in the Dana Eveland trade, will also (curiously) begin with the Quakes. I thought he'd be ticketed for Triple-A.

Two offensive players are returning to Rancho this season. One-time favorite Tony Delmonico and Austin Gallagher are back to presumably man the corners. Both are entering their third stints in the Cal League.

The biggest surprise is seeing Christopher O'Brien (41) make the squad. Son of former big leaguer Charlie, Christopher had 193 plate appearances between the Arizona League and the Pioneer League. He held his own, posting a .292/.358/.494 line with 18 walks in 168 at-bats.

Potential lineup
Landry CF
Gallagher 1B
Garcia RF
Jacobs DH
Delmonico 3B
Henson/Nick Akins LF
O'Brien C
Charlie Mirabal 2B
Pedro Guerrero SS

The top pitching prospects are the story to follow with this team. Allen Webster had great success in the California League before his promotion to Chattanooga. The team has a great 1-4 in the rotation. The bullpen looks solid. It's going to come down to whether the guys who struggled in Midland last season can muster enough offense to backup the great potential pitching.

The Quakes should make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year behind strong pitching and (hopefully) some timely offense.

(#) - denotes Top 50 prospect ranking

Photo credits: mwlguide on Flickr

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