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Route 66ers: 2019 Inland Empire 66ers (A+) Preview

2018 in Review

The 66ers finished in last place in the South Division of the California League with a record of 67-73. The were a feeder team for talent that has since moved up to AA or AAA ball. They were 2nd to last in batting average and home runs, so offense was not much of a strong suit. Much of the coaching staff will remain the same in 2019 except for new hitting coach Derek Florko who came over from the AXE bat company and defensive coach Todd Cunningham who you may remember for a short stint with the Angels in 2016.

Notable Departures

Many Angels top prospects worked their way through the 66ers last season, including Jack Kruger (C), Jo Adell (OF), Brandon Marsh (OF), Jahmai Jones (2B), Luis Rengifo (IF), Jared Wash (1B/OF/LHP), and Jeremey Beasley (RHP). Most of them were moved up during the season last year with the except of Brandon Marsh who completed the 2018 season playing for the 66ers.

Notable Arrivals

There will be quite a few new faces at San Manuel Stadium this season, including top prospects Chris Rodriguez (RHP), Luis Madero (RHP), and Leonardo Rivas (SS/2B) who will all be getting their first taste of high A ball after playing last year in Burlington. Kyle Bradish (RHP), Oliver Ortega (RHP) , and Keinner Pina (C) will also all be making their high A debut.

Projected Lineup & Names to Watch

Keinner Pina looks to be the primary catcher for the 66ers now that Kruger has moved up. This dude has a minor league career 43% caught stealing rate and has a decent bat as well. Around the infield it looks like David Mackinnon (1B), Rivas (SS), Franklin Torres (2B), and Jordan Zimmerman and Alvaro Rubalcaba (former free agent) handling the hot corner.

The outfield is full of juniors with Torii Hunter Jr., Kyle Suvance Jr., and Kevin Williams Jr.. Orlando Martinez rounds out that bunch.

Projected Pitchers & Names to Watch

Pitcher to watch include #11 prospect Chris Rodriguez, #20 prospect Aaron Hernandez, and #22 prospect Luis Madero. Keep an eye on Brett Hanewich (who pitched in the AFL), Kyle Bradish (4th round pick in 2018) making his pro debut, and Jorge Tavarez who is smaller in stature but put up huge numbers in IE last year.