Cal notes: Borenstein bashing for 66ers

Illinois native enjoying breakout campaign with Inland Empire

Zach Borenstein leads the 66ers with 16 homers and 50 RBIs. (Mike Andruski)

By George Alfano / Special to | June 26, 2013 6:00 AM ET

Inland Empire outfielder Zach Borenstein had already surpassed his career home run total when he was sidelined by a minor hip injury last week, and the third-year pro from Buffalo Grove, Ill., expects to pick up right where he left off when he returns.

"I've always had power, but this is the first season I'm playing for the full year," said Borenstein. "Last year, I was in extended spring training and didn't get started until June."

The Los Angeles Angels tapped Borenstein in the 23rd round of the 2011 Draft out of Eastern Illinois, where he hit 23 home runs in 144 total games. He went deep twice in 31 Arizona League contests following the Draft, and in 79 games last season at Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, Borenstein had 11 long balls.

"The biggest difference this year is I'm able to bounce back from a bad at-bat," said Borenstein. "I picked up a lot of advice from coaches and other people, but you have to figure out how to do it by yourself. In baseball, there's always a game the next day, and it's best to have a short memory."

Borenstein, who had a 14-game hitting streak in May, is second on the 66ers with a .315 average and leads his club with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. He's struck out 53 times with 16 walks in 65 games. 

Manager Bill Haselman has been impressed both by Borenstein's ability and work ethic.

"He's a patient hitter, has power and is able to hit the ball to the opposite field," said Haselman. "He puts together good at-bats and goes about preparing for games in a professional manner."

Although he doesn't pattern himself after any specific player, Borenstein said he rooted for Derek Jeter growing up. "Everybody loves Derek Jeter," he said.

Borenstein said the 66ers have good team chemistry, exemplified by the way they kept the pressure on the Lancaster JetHawks in the first-half division race, going 7-2 down the stretch. Lancaster completed a four-game sweep against Inland Empire on May 26, moving to the top of the standings, but Inland Empire kept the pressure on and weren't eliminated until the last weekend of the season.

"We were playing good ball toward the end of the first half," said Borenstein. "[Haselman] told us to take things day-by-day, because you never know what might happen. It would've been nice to win the first half, but we're good enough to keep winning and make the playoffs."

In brief

Winkler leads no-no: Daniel Winkler pitched seven innings and got some help Monday night from relievers Nelson Gonzalez and Scott Oberg to pitch the first no-hitter for Modesto since 1987. Winkler, who improved to 10-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99, threw 102 pitches against the San Jose Giants before being relieved. It was the second California League no-hitter in 2013. Kyle Hallock and Luis Cruz pitched a no-hitter for the Lancaster JetHawks against Stockton on May 12.

World Series MVP joins San Jose: The San Francisco Giants sent third baseman Pablo Sandoval and outfielder Angel Pagan to San Jose for rehabs last weekend. Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, hit a home run Friday for San Jose in a 3-2 victory over Stockton. The game was also noteworthy because Kyle Crick, rated the No. 1 Giants prospect by, struck out 10 batters in four innings. Crick, who was on the disabled list, was making his first start since April 18. 

First-half winners: San Jose led most of the way in the North Division and finished four games in front of Visalia with a league-best 43-27 record. Lancaster held off Inland Empire, taking the South by two games. San Jose and Lancaster will get first-round byes and automatically advance to the division championship when the postseason kicks off in September.

Movin' up roundup: Among the midseason promotions from the Cal League, the Seattle Mariners promoted shortstop Chris Taylor and third baseman Ramon Morla from High Desert to the Jackson Generals of the Southern League. ... The Arizona Diamondbacks promoted catcher Chris McMurray and first baseman Ryan Court from Visalia to the Mobile BayBears of the Southern League. ... The San Diego Padres promoted right-handed pitcher Matt Jackson from Lake Elsinore to the San Antonio Missions in the Texas League. ... The Cincinnati Reds promoted center fielder Yorman Rodriguez and first baseman Marquez Smith from Bakersfield to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Southern League. ... The Oakland A's promoted righty Drew Granier from Stockton to the Midland RockHounds.

George Alfano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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