(Photo Credit: 27outsbaseball.com)
Just days after Trevor Oaks was removed in the first inning of a scheduled start on Saturday against Colorado Springs with an apparent groin strain, the Los Angeles Dodgers determined the injury severe enough to shut down the righty pitching prospect for the remainder of the season.
Oaks confirmed the news with TBPC on Tuesday morning.
Saturday’s outing was his first since being named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week on August 22, as well as his first appearance since throwing a three-hit complete game against El Paso on August 15. After 106 pitches in the contest, the 23-year-old California native was afforded a full two weeks of rest from his normal turn in the Oklahoma City rotation.
In the effort against the Chihuahuas, he set career highs in both innings pitched and strikeouts in a single game. His 11 strikeouts also marked a season high by a Oklahoma City pitcher. Oaks also became the eighth PCL pitcher this season to complete a three-hitter and became just the third pitcher in all of MiLB with 14 total wins on the year.
Oaks racked up a franchise-leading 14 wins to go along with a 2.73 ERA across three levels of the farm this year. For Triple-A OKC, he was 5-1 with a 2.99 ERA over 10 starts in 63 innings of work. He started the year in High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts. With Double-A Tulsa, he went 8-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 10 starts.
In addition to his PCL POTW honors, Oaks was named to the Texas League All-Star squad at the mid-season break, just after earning the Texas League Pitcher of the Week Award for the period of June 6-12. Along with a handful of candidates which can conceivably include Chase De Jong, Jose De Leon, Brock Stewart and Andrew Sopko, Oaks will probably be the heavy favorite for the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
As far as his pitching repertoire, Oaks, who was selected by the Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Cal Baptist, heavily relies on his sinker, while also featuring an occasional four-seamer, a cutter, a slider, a changeup and periodically a curve ball.
Oaks was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule and sit down for two interviews with us this year — once in April, then another just two weeks ago. In the latest conversation, Oaks explained how well his cutter and changeup were developing as effective complimentary offerings to his sinker.
“Last night [against El Paso], my cutter was working really well. Anytime I got behind in the count, or when I thought they were gonna lean over the plate to get my sinker, I threw the cutter. That’s what I’ve been trying to do my last two outings. I located well with my sinker, and then used my cutter to keep them honest and from leaning over the plate,” he said.
“Moving forward, I’m really just focusing on staying down in the zone and getting my changeup down. I think having that slower pitch will be a huge help, and I’m hoping to figure it out soon so I can be ready if the Dodgers need me this season.”
While he won’t have the chance to be called up in 2016, there’s no reason not to think that Oaks will be among a handful of non-roster invitees to the Dodgers’ spring training camp in 2017, as well as headlining a star-studded starting rotation at Oklahoma City before a possible big league debut at some point next year.
In the meantime, Oaks will be headed back home to California to take classes, earn his degree, and complete the prescribed rehab program for his injured groin.
OKC finishes its regular season schedule on the road at Nashville on September 11.