Cal League First Half Performers

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes' Edwin Uceta - Photo credit Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick on Twitter

The toughest thing about following the California League is when the good players get called up. Just when you’re starting to get attached and love going to the ballpark to see them play, they’re gone. The first half of the 2019 season is no different. The top guys are performing and most of them will probably be gone at the All-Star break. Here are the top five guys in the California League that are having a great first half and will probably be called up in the near future.

MacKenzie Gore, 20

Padres #2 (Prospects1500 & MLB Pipeline)
5-1, 1.17 ERA, 53.2 IP, 7 R, 7 ER, 10 BB, 73 SO

This one is a no doubter. Gore is dominating and ploughing through the Cal League hitters. While I’ve been on the edge of my seat just waiting for the call up, those close to the club think he’ll make it to the All-Star break before getting the call. He’s currently on the Paddack track…all aboard!

Edwin Uceta, 21

Dodgers #16 Prospects1500, #20 MLB Pipeline
4-0, 2.15 ERA, 50.1 IP, 19 R, 12 ER, 16 BB, 65 SO

Uceta is quietly putting up great numbers. He’s had a few rocky outings but his numbers are good, his walks are low and his strike outs are high. I feel he could be a streaky pitcher and while he’s on roll right now, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. If he does continue his consistency for a few more weeks, he could be in Tulsa after the break.

Luis Castro, 23

Rockies not ranked
.307 AVE, 43 R, 11 HR, 41 RBIs, 34 BB, 58 SO*

This guy rakes. Say what you will about the Cal League and their hitting friendly ballparks, this guy can hit and hit them out. He’s leading the Cal League in three major categories: runs, home runs, and RBIs*. He’s put the JetHawks on his back and has kept them in the first half race as well. It looks like Castro is finally putting it together at the plate. It’s possible his defense could hold him back though as it still needs some work. He makes a lot of errors when he’s in the field. Currently, he looks like a great candidate to be a DH, but here’s hoping he can clean it up to contribute on defense as well.

*As of 5/31/19

Ryan Rolison, 21

Rockies #7 Prospects1500, #3 MLB Pipeline
2-1, 1.99 ERA, 40.2 IP, 10 R, 9 ER, 10 BB, 41 SO (Cal League stats only)

Rolison has already been promoted this year and he made his Cal League debut on 4/23/19. He has been very consistent and all but one start has been a quality start. He’s a very thoughtful, focused pitcher who is intriguing to watch. If he remains consistent, he’ll be promoted in the second half.

Ljay Newsome, 22

Seattle #30 MLB Pipeline, not ranked on Prospects1500 Mariners list
5-3, 2.95 ERA, 61.0 IP, 22 R, 20 ER, 7 BB, 85 SO

Newsome has had a few really rough outings, but his numbers are pretty solid overall. Given his smaller size and average stuff, he’s able to mix it up and locate it well enough to keep hitters off balance. He’s a leader in the Cal League and it will be interesting to see if he can be consistent enough to be successful.

Honorable Mention to Luis Liberato (Seattle) who would’ve made this list, but he already got called up to AAA Tacoma. He’s still leading the Modesto Nuts in HR and RBIs even though he’s not even there.


Note: All stats as 5/31/19. All photos by Gail Verderico (@1baseballchick on Twitter)

Gail is Bay Area born and raised. She was conflicted on which side of the Bay to root for early on, but eventually sided with the A’s. Gail now lives in Southern California, loves all Southern California baseball, and enjoys travelling around the country watching as many baseball games as she can. Follow her on Twitter @1baseball_gail.


  1. His teammate and fellow 2017 draft pick Luis Campusano should have gotten a mention. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them take it slow with Gore as there’s no need to rush him. He’s clearly ready to face better competition, but that doesn’t mean he has to. He had a shortened season last year. Not sure what size workload they will give him this year.

    • Campusano has been great and absolutely deserving. I also could have written about Matt Hearn and probably some others. While Gore could be limited this year, I still think he’ll get moved up. He needs to be challenged.

      • Hearn is deserving! And yes, I agree, Gore should be facing better batters. But I think there are more things at work than just that. I can go into detail if you want. But I’ll leave it there for now.

        Ryan Rolison has been very very good. He’s making his start tonight. I tuned in to some Asheville Tourist games to catch up on Riley Pint and check out Rolison. And I have listened in on a few Jethawks games too. He’s tough between the ears. I like the way he thinks on the mound. He tries to be unpredictable. When you look at his numbers thus far in High A, and look at Mize’s numbers in High A or Singer, he’s right there with those 2 pitchers in their respective leagues. Rolison doesn’t have the pure stuff, the late movement, funk whatever. But he’s got it upstairs. He’s becoming a pitcher, not just a thrower. He’ll be fun to follow as he makes his way towards the big leagues.

    • From what I understand, this was a scheduled 2 inning start. Yesterday, the Padres sent outfielder Alex Dickerson to the Giants in exchange for RHP Franklin Van Gurp. Van Gurp was placed on the Storm roster and took the roster spot of Gore, who was placed on the temporary inactive list. This probably means that Gore will be moved up to Amarillo after the all-star break.

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