As the 2017 regular season progresses, a few of the Dodgers‘ top-tier prospects are beginning to emerge on center stage, with infielder Willie Calhoun possibly the hottest of the group, especially over the past four weeks.
Over his last 10 games, the 22-year-old Calhoun is hitting .333, going 13-for-39 with six home runs, including a walk-off blast against Sacramento last Wednesday which propelled Triple-A Oklahoma City to a 3-2 victory. He cranked another long ball to begin the subsequent game against PCL rival El Paso, giving him three total homers on the week. For the season, the Vallejo native is now slashing .308/.361/.562 with eight doubles and nine home runs in 39 games. All of his long balls have come over his past 25 games played.
In the shadows of Calhoun at the keystone has been 26-year-old Max Muncy, who now quietly leads OKC in batting average after going 13-for-32 over his last 10 games. The Dodgers signed the versatile infielder as a minor league free agent in late April, and the returns so far have been very positive. Muncy, who had a brief layoff after being released from Oakland at the end of spring training, was originally selected by the Athletics in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. On the year, Muncy is hitting .348/.397/.576 in 66 ABs over 21 games. Last Monday, Muncy’s three-run bomb proved to be the game-winner against El Paso. The home run was Muncy’s third in the month of May.
Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to mention the early-season success of veteran Justin Masterson at OKC, despite the righty not fitting the typical mold of a prospect, most specifically because of his age. In this week’s edition, we take a look at 10-year minor league veteran Wilmer Font, who earned PCL Pitcher of the Week honors for May 15-21.
In his start against Sacramento last Monday, Font threw seven brilliant innings, and in the process struck out 15 River Cat batters, setting an Oklahoma City record for most strikeouts in a single game. He retired the first 18 hitters he faced, striking out the side twice. During his start against El Paso on Sunday, Font proceeded to strike out 10 batters, but did not factor into the decision. For the season, Font, still only 26 years of age, has posted a 3-3 record with a 4.40 ERA in nine starts over 47 innings of work.
Now hitting .344/.363/.563 for Double-A Tulsa, corner infielder Edwin Rios has climbed to the third spot in the Texas League batting rankings. He’s been sizzling all year, and has eight long balls and 11 doubles to his credit so far during the young season.
Beginning last year with Low-A Great Lakes, Rios slashed .252/.305/.487 with six home runs in 33 games, and quickly earned a promotion to High-A Rancho Cucamonga where he batted a monstrous .367/.394/.712 with 16 homers over 42 games in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League. He earned yet another promotion to Tulsa to close out the year, hitting .254/.304/.434 with five home runs in his final 33 games. Overall in 2016, Rios slashed .303/.344/.576 with 25 doubles and 27 home runs in 104 games across three levels of the farm. He tied Calhoun with 27 long balls and finished the year one behind former Rancho teammate Johan Mieses for the organizational lead.
As far as other developmental news goes, versatile outfielder Brett Eibner has captured a bit of attention, this time for his pitching abilities instead of his skills with the lumber.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recently reported that the Dodgers are experimenting with Eibner as a possible relief pitcher, as the righty has been throwing numerous bullpen sessions as of late, with the primary focus being on his secondary offerings. Shaikin pointed out that Eibner both pitched and played in the outfield at Arkansas from 2008-2010, and had his fastball clocked as high as 95 MPH.
“He’s got a great arm,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told Shaikin. “We’ll start fine-tuning a little bit and see if there’s something there.”
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