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Lakewood alum makes splash in A+ baseball debut
It has been just two months since Lakewood alum Jake Rife was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, but everything since has been a blur of baseball.
Drafted in the 48th round, Rife may have slipped a little in the standings after his senior year with the Washington Huskies baseball team, but mainly because he didn't have the option of going back to college ball, surmised Jeff Levering, radio broadcaster for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the A+ team for which Rife now plays.
Shortly after signing with the Angels organization, Rife debuted in left field for the Orem Owlz on June 26, a rookie team in the Angels' farm system.
He had 15 hits through 13 rookie games, including three doubles, a triple and a home run. According to Levering, injuries at the AA level promoted players and opened the door for Rife to join the Quakes, a high-class A team based about 40 miles northeast of Anaheim, Calif. Rife made quite an impression with his first game with the Quakes.
The night before his first game with the Quakes against Inland Empire, he had been in Billings with his last team.
"He flew in, it was long day for him. He was driving from Helena to Idaho Falls, then got on a flight to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Ontario (Calif.), and caught a bus to play a game against Inland Empire," Levering said. "He went 3-for-3 in his debut."
Rife joined the team midway through a long stretch, where the team played 38 games in 39 days. A typical week involves a lot of time on the bus and a lot of time on the diamond. The last week of July saw the boys come back from an 11-inning game against nearby opponent Lake Elsinore at 11 p.m. only to return to the park at 6 a.m. for a six-hour ride to a series against San Jose. A lot of players' day-to-day development is in their own hands and they can come to the ballpark early to work on hitting.
"If we have roving coaches in town, they can work with them," Levering added.
As of Aug. 6, the Quakes were 51-60 overall, 21-20 in the South Division, vying for a playoff slot. The team's 140-game calendar ends Labor Day weekend, wrapping up Sept. 7. For more information about Rife's team, visit www.rcquakes.com.