Mike McCann / Minor Leagues
LANCASTER JET HAWKS
By Mike McCann
Earlier this season, I was able to spend some time in southern California on business. While I was there, I was able to see 9 baseball games in 8 different stadiums. I saw the 3 major league teams in that area (Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego), as well as 5 California League stadiums (Visalia, Lake Elsinore, High Desert, San Bernardino and Lancaster). Since I was staying in Lancaster during my trip, I saw two games at Lancaster Municipal Stadium, also known as The Hangar. Plus I saw the Jet Hawks on the road at High Desert. Since I saw 3 Jet Hawks games, I think they would be a good topic to write about.
The first game I saw was the April 30th game against Lake Elsinore. When you look at the Lake Elsinore roster, two names jump out at you. Taggert Bozied and Xavier Nady. Those two are among the Padres top prospects, and they didn't disappoint for this game Bozied went 3 for 4 with a walk, and Nady hit a grand slam. Lake Elsinore scored 6 runs in the 5th inning en route to an 11-4 victory. Although the highlight for me was when I got Bingo on the card that accompanies the program and won a game used autographed bat from Jet Hawks first baseman, Jesus Cota. The only problem I had was trying to figure out how to get it on the plane home.
The next game I saw was on May 14th against San Jose. Again, the 5th inning seemed to be the problem for the Jet Hawks as the Giants scored 5 runs in that inning. Lancaster scored 3 in the bottom of the 9th, but it wasn't enough as San Jose prevailed 10-7. This loss dropped the Jet Hawks to 11-29.
The conditions at The Hangar do seem to promote high scoring games. The stadium is located in the Antelope Valley where the winds seem to kick up pretty high. During the day, the temperature was around 90. But at night, the temperature dropped to about 50 and the winds were about 20-25 MPH. This definitely helps the ball to carry. The Jet Hawks pitchers ERA seems to support this theory as well. Following this game, their team ERA stood at 5.86. Just looking at their starting rotation, Francisco Trejo (1-5, 4.74 ERA in 7 starts), Casey Daigle (2-3, 5.32 ERA in 8 starts), Brandon Medders (2-4, 7.81 ERA in 8 starts), Doug Slaten (1-6, 9.00 ERA in 8 starts) and Cesar Gonzalez (1-4, 12.27 ERA in 5 starts). The team ranked second in the league with 42 home runs allowed in 40 games.
Two days later, I followed the Jet Hawks to High Desert. Prior to the game, Lancaster manager Steve Scarsone took a leave of absence to attend to non-baseball matters. He was replaced by Bill Plummer who was slated to manage Missoula of the Pioneer League this season Going into the game, the Mavericks had won 6 in a row, where Lancaster had lost their previous 6 games. Playing on the road definitely seemed to help the Jet Hawks as they defeated the Mavericks, 6-2. Francisco Trejo lowered his ERA to 4.36 and improved his record to 2-5. I also wonder if the 15 inning marathon the previous night had affected the Mavericks play, but a win is a win.
As I'm writing this, following the June 14th games, Lancaster stands at 23-46 with a team ERA of 5.32. They have a record of 11-15 since I last saw them, so they are improving. But their winning percentage is still only .333. Gonzalez and Slaten haven't pitched since May since both have been hurt. Trejo is now 2-8 with a 5.74 ERA, Medders is 2-7 with a 7.38 ERA, and Daigle is 2-7 with a 5.58 ERA meaning none of those three pitchers have won in the past month. They have added Sam Taulli who seems to be lucky with a 3-1 record despite a 6.64 ERA in 5 starts, and the unlucky Phil Stockman who is 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA in 6 starts. Their closer, Jesus Silva, was named to the California League all-star team with a 2.27 ERA and 8 saves, so their pitching does have its bright spots.
So if you like seeing a lot of offense, I'd recommend going to The Hanger in Lancaster, CA. Their pitching seems pretty poor and gives up many runs, especially at home. But I like seeing a game anytime I can. And the main reason that I'm typing this now instead of attending a baseball game is because of the rain. But next weekend, I'm seeing the inaugural Tri-City ValleyCats game of the NY-Penn League. So that should make up for it.
I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an email and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.