The Los Angeles Dodgers announced their Minor League coaching staffs for the 2017 season, and High-A Rancho Cucamonga is among the affiliates to not see any changes. Drew Saylor returns as manager, and joining him are pitching coach Kip Wells, hitting coach Jay Gibbons and assistant coach Rafael Ozuna.
Saylor is the Quakes first returning manager since Juan Bustabad was at the helm for a second year in 2012. Saylor and Wells are entering their second season with the Dodgers organization, while it’s the third for Gibbons and sixth for Ozuna.
Prior to joining Saylor on the Quakes staff, Gibbons was the pitching coach for Low-A Great Lakes in 2015. The 2017 season will be Ozuna’s third as a Quakes coach.
As defending California League Champions, Rancho Cucamonga went 79-61 in their first season under Saylor. He guided the club to a franchise-best 42 wins during the first half of the season.
The Quakes reached the playoffs via a Wild Card berth, but were eliminated eliminated by the Lancaster JetHawks (Colorado Rockies affiliate), despite winning Game 1 of their best-of-three series.
Rancho Cucamonga finished third in the Cal League by averaging 5.44 runs per game, led the league with 54 triples and hit the second-most home runs.
Their crop of young talent featured by Mike Ahmed, Yusniel Diaz, Johan Mieses, Kyle Garlick, Edwin Rios and Josh Sborz, among others. Sborz, who converted from closer to starting pitcher, was named the Cal League Pitcher of the Year, and five Quakes were named post-season All-Stars.
In addition to housing promising prospects, Rancho Cucamonga was quite the rehab hub for the Dodgers. Brett Anderson, Andre Ethier, Casey Fien, Yimi Garcia, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Liberatore, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu were among those to make appearances with the affiliate.
The returning prospects coupled with the potential arrivals of Yadier Alvarez and Walker Buehler, should put the Quakes in position for another postseason run under Saylor in 2017.