Visalia Rawhide wrapping up historic season
Following a loss in last season’s league championship game, the Visalia Rawhide has bounced back with another strong year
By Jermaine Johnson II
VISALIA – After being swept in the 2018 California League Playoffs, the Visalia Rawhide is the first team in professional baseball to secure a playoff spot this season. They achieved that honor by being awarded the first-half division winner for the California League North division.
They are led by Shawn Roof, who’s had great success in his first season as the team’s manager.
“Coming into the season, we didn’t know what kind of players we would have,” Roof said. “But after the first 10 days of the season, we knew we had a chance to go after the championship.”
Success isn’t new to Roof, as he led the Hillsboro Hops to the playoffs during his first season as manager.
The Rawhide won a record 14 straight games in April. Roof credited the team’s success to excellent coaching and great chemistry within the locker room.
“It is a tremendous coaching staff that the players are working with,” he said. “When you mix that with guys that like to work hard, good things will happen.”
It’s hard for Roof to single out a player who has had the greatest impact, as the team has four players ranked in the top 10 of four statistical categories within the California League: Jancarlos Cintron for runs and hits, Camden Duzenack for home runs, and Anfernee Grier for stolen bases. Luis Alejandro Basabe is second in the league in on base percentage. As a team, the Rawhide has the second lowest runs allowed, earned runs allowed and hits allowed.
Just like every team, the Rawhide have overcome some major setbacks. Four of the team’s top pitchers were moved up to double A: Josh Green, Cole Stapler, Matt Brill and West Tunnell. They also lost Jose Caballero, who had 28 stolen bases before breaking his hand then being traded to the Mariners.
Despite those losses, the team is still boasting the best record in the league as the season is coming to a close. Roof’s goal for the team is to help the players continue to improve on their way to a potential fourth championship appearance in the last six seasons.
“We want to get these guys better. Not just for the California League, but for their role down the road in the big leagues. We’re hoping they get promoted to double and triple A,” Roof said.
The regular season ends on Sept. 2 and playoffs are set to begin on Sept. 4. The Rawhide will go on the road for the first two games, against the second half division champion. In a best of five series, the Rawhide will host the final three games.
The Rawhide currently have the best home record in the league, 17-8.