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Nuts look ahead to second half with new look infield
Modesto Nuts Gabriel Gonzalez
Gabriel Gonzalez (21) of the Modesto Nuts bats against the Inland Empire 66ers at San Manuel Stadium on May 14 in San Bernardino. The 19-year-old Venezuelan prospect leads the entire California League with a .345 batting average (Larry Goren/Four Seam Images via AP).

The first half of the 2023 California League season is officially in the books for the Modesto Nuts, and although it’s barely the month of June, playoff scenarios are already on the mind of several within the club.

Through the first 66 of 132 games of the season, the Nuts achieved a 34-32 record for third place in the North division, trailing the San Jose Giants (40-26) and the Fresno Grizzlies (36-30). The Single-A playoffs consist of four teams, which will be the winners of each division from both halves based on the best winning percentage of each half. In the event the same club wins both halves, the club with the next best winning percentage in the second half will advance to postseason play.

Though it’s easy to get caught up into wins and losses, first-year manager Zach Vincej is focused on making sure the players on his roster continue to better themselves.

“I just try to stay with the process, stay with my messaging. I message what I truly believe in, [which is] just try to be a pro every day and get better 1% everyday, so I think I’ve done a pretty good job at staying with that message. When you stay with that, you don’t get mixed messages with the players. They know what is expected… Keep it simple and try to get them better every day,” Vincej said.


The Modesto Nuts will host the Stockton Ports at 7:05 p.m. July 4. This holiday matchup will feature fireworks show following the game. A special promotion ticket of $33 includes a seat with the best views of the fireworks and a 90-minutes barbecue on the Party Deck. For more information, visit:

Right-fielder Gabriel Gonzalez has by far had the strongest first half of anybody on the Nuts roster. The 19-year-old Venezuelan prospect leads the entire California League with a .345 batting average.

“It’s been awesome seeing him develop and mature as a player. That’s the biggest thing for him is to mature and understand the ups and downs of a season and dealing with those failures at times and be able to come back from them and play at a high level the next day,” Vincej said. “He’s done a great job with that and look at the results. He has put himself in a high mindset to compete at a high level every day. That’s what we’re trying to teach our guys. Do it day-after-day, every day is a new day. How do we respond to the not-so-good days and turn them into great days?”

The same development and maturement can be found within infielders Cole Young and Josh Hood. The two were both drafted as shortstops but have found themselves playing multiple positions on the infield. Young started the year as the primary shortstop, leading Hood to play mostly third and second base. When Hood landed on the injured list last week, the Mariners organization brought up their 2022 international signee out of Colombia, 18-year-old Michael Arroyo, leading pushing Young to second base.

“Arroyo got here, so I’m just getting used to second base. It’s not that big of a change. I’ve played it throughout high school a little bit during the travel circuit. I’m familiar with it and just getting more reps there,” Young said. “It’s cool to see how he (Arroyo) handles playing in Low-A. It’s cool to have him up here.”

Since being called up on June 13, he has 11 hits and four walks in 39 plate appearance and 33 at-bats.

Speaking of call-ups, the Nuts lost a major piece of their starting rotation as lefty Brandon Schaeffer was assigned to the Everett AquaSox. At the time of his promotion, he had a 3-4 record in 11 games started with a 3.62 ERA and 58 strikeouts. With Everett, Schaeffer has has gone 2-1 in three starts with a 1.47 ERA and 19 strikeouts.

“He’s been doing really well for them. He’s been competing at a very high level, and it’s been awesome. He deserved that promotion,” Vincej said. “It’s always good for us as a team to see our guys move up. We obviously miss him having him in the rotation, selfishly, but that’s out job – to get them better and get them promoted… It makes me happy, and it’s almost like reassurance that we’re helping them get better every day, so that’s good for us.”

The Nuts will finish off their current homestand with the Fresno Grizzlies, the Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, this weekend, with first pitch for Saturday and Sunday sated for 6:05 p.m.

“It’s been a hell of a ride so far,” said Hood. “We’re looking forward to the second half.”