LANCASTER — The outfield flags whipped furiously from left to right as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes took batting practice Monday afternoon. The famous High Desert wind had already announced its presence, and gusts reached 63 mph by first pitch of the Quakes’ game against the Lancaster JetHawks later that evening.
A new teammate, Yadier Alvarez, had just blown in from the Dodgers’ extended spring training camp. The Cuban right-hander with a triple-digit fastball was about to begin his first full season in North America. For all the Dodgers have riding on his $16 million arm, Alvarez’s arrival was even more remarkable for the starting rotation he was about to join.
Walker Buehler was the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2015. Mitchell White was the Dodgers’ second-round pick last year. Dennis Santana was the youngest of the group, having turned 21 a few days earlier. To that point in the season, as the wind wreaked havoc on BP and “Come Together” blasted over The Hangar’s public address system, none of the pitchers had allowed an earned run.
If there was a coming-together moment for the Dodgers’ next wave of pitching prospects, this was it.
“It’s funny,” White said. “We were talking about the highs the other day. I think I hit 97 (mph). Santana, 98. Then Buehler hit 99. We were talking about ‘We’ve got to get to that next one. We’ve got to get to triple digits.’ It’s fun.”
Enter Alvarez, who started the Monday night game against Lancaster, a Colorado Rockies affiliate. His first start in the California League did not go as planned. That 100-mph fastball topped…