A visit to the IE
With the Dodgers in Phoenix for the weekend I figured I’d check out the Inland Empire 66’ers. Catch some Class A California League baseball. Why not?
Friday night I made the trip to Arrowhead Credit Union Park for the 66ers and the High Desert Mavericks. I’d never been to the ballpark and figured there were a couple of Dodger prospects that I was curious about.
The guys I was interested in didn’t disappoint. I’m no scout, but Trayvon Robinson looks like he’s got a chance to be pretty good. He hit a home run, his 15th of the year to straight-away center field. Very impressive. Robinson is still just 21 years old. He’s a switch-hitter who is also leading the Cal League in steals with 43. The batting average is a hard .306.
The 66ers went back-to-back with their homers in the fourth inning. Scott Van Slyke following Robinson with his 20th home run. Van Slyke certainly looks the part of a prospect. They list him at 6’5 220 lbs. To me, in his uniform he looks more like Dave Winfield than his dad, Andy. Van Slyke stole his 9th base during the ballgame as well.
A lot of times the numbers that players put up in the Cal League are a little screwy. Most people will tell you its a “hitter’s league” … and you don’t really know if you can trust the stats. (Koby Clemens, Roger’s son, is leading the Cal League in On Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage while playing for Astro-affiliate Lancaster.) But both Robinson and Slyke are having fantastic seasons. Dodger fans can always hope.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are Dodger Dogs at Arrowhead Credit Union Park. The hot dogs are just as long and just as good as at Dodger Stadium, but for some reason the buns aren’t quite the same. I had planned to eat a couple (don’t tell my cardiologist) but the bun just didn’t do it for me. It is a mystery.
I was excited to see that Charlie Hough is still kicking around in the Dodger organization. The old knuckleballer is the Inland Empire pitching coach. A quick check of Hough’s lifetime record shows that he was 216-216 in his big league career. He’s got the most wins of any MLB pitcher that was officially mediocre. If you ask me, despite a .500 lifetime winning percentage, Hough was anything but average. When you can pitch until you’re 46 by floating up that knuckler … you’re not allowed to be called average.
All in all I had a good time at the ballpark. The price was right and the 66ers even won the game in extra innings. Now, if we can just do something about that Dodger Dog bun …
— Eric Collins