Plenty has been happening with the minor league affiliates of the Dodgers, and we’re here each week to bring you all the developments.
OKLAHOMA CITY DODGERS (Pacific Coast League-AAA): Manager Bill Haselman‘s team continues to steadily pick up steam down the stretch, going 4-2 last week and carrying a 61-49 record, still good enough for first place in their division as of Monday. While 26-year-old OF Andrew Toles has cooled off some (.277 avg during that span), he’s still batting a robust .330/.364/.473 for the season at OKC. Dodger top OF prospect Alex Verdugo has started the month of August cold (.188/.278/.188 through four games so far), but like Toles, he’s still holding it down with a killer .339/.389/.487 slash line overall. On a sidenote, 23-year old catcher and third-ranked system prospect Will Smith was promoted to Oklahoma City last Thursday after breaking out this year for Tulsa with the bat (.264/.358/..532 with a career-high 19 HR and 53 RBI in only 73 games at that level). Unfortunately, he has yet to register a hit for OKC through his first three games (11 ABs) so he’ll need to pick it up on that end a bit.
As for the pitching, the one standout has been the extreme fast-tracking of 27-year old converted 1B Stetson Allie. A former 2010 second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Allie signed with the Dodgers as a minor-league free agent back in the winter of 2016 when he was immediately placed on the mound as a reliever due to his blazing upper-90s/triple-digit heater. This year saw him beginning at High-A Rancho Cucamonga where he struggled with his WHIP (1.97 in only 19.1 IP), but continued to improve upon his promotion to Tulsa (1.11 WHIP in 12.2 IP, including a decent 2.84 ERA and a solid 8/18 BB/K ratio) before finally getting bumped up to OKC last Wednesday. So far, he’s thrown 2-2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in his first two appearances, but is still fine-tuning his command (1.88 WHIP). If he manages to get that worked out, Dodgers just might have another viable late-inning bullpen option to look forward to down the road.
TULSA DRILLERS (Texas League-AA): The Drillers remain on top of their division with a 26-17 second-half record, but the real news down there this past week has been the long-overdue promotions of 20-year old middle-infielder Gavin Lux (6th-ranked system prospect) and 20-year old RHP Dustin May (ranked 4th) from High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Lux, who was carving up the Cal League at a .324/.396/.520 clip in 88 games before being sent on his way to Tulsa, has started his Texas League stint on fire going .412/.444/.588 through his first four games (including his first HR at that level in his Drillers debut last Thursday). May’s debut wasn’t as memorable as he got knocked around for eight hits and five runs in just 3-2/3 innings of work last Friday, but overall has been largely on the money this year with a 7-4 record along with a 3.62 ERA and an outstanding 19/96 BB/K ratio in 102 IP (18 starts). All signs point to him bouncing back strong as he slowly begins to adjust to the league.
Other honorable nods go to 24-year old staff ace Tony Gonsolin who finally had his innings capped in Sunday’s outing when he went four innings (50 pitches-34 strikes) yet allowing only a single run and no walks, 22-year old OF/8th-ranked system prospect DJ Peters who had a breakout game offensively on Sunday with four hits (including his league-leading 22nd HR) and is batting .333/.364/.714 to begin the month of August, and 24-year old utility player Zach Reks who is currently batting .333 this month after enduring a horrid July stretch which saw his slash line plummet to .205/.284/.329 during that span but is still batting a decent .290/.363/.390 overall this season for Tulsa.
It’s also worth mentioning the OF Jacob Scavuzzo was named the Texas League Player of the Month for July after leading the entire league in extra-base hits, total bases, home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS. Subsequently, Lux was named July’s Cal League Player of the Month.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA QUAKES (California League-High-A Advanced): Drew Saylor’s Quakes were swept this last weekend at the hands of division rival Lancaster Jethawks (Colorado Rockies affiliate), but still carry a division-leading 32-12 record through the secnd half as of Monday. By far, the hottest player this past week has been 22-year old C/16th-ranked system prospect Connor Wong whose bat has really come alive during that stretch (.523 avg with three HR and five RBI, including a four-hit/two-HR performance in last Wednesday’s game). He’s now batting a more respectable .265/.346/.470 with career highs already been set in HR (16) and RBI (43) so far this season for Rancho. Not to be outdone is 22-year old infielder Jared Walker, who continues to drive the ball with more regularity since his promotion from Low-A Great Lakes (.409/.519/1.091 with four HR and seven RBI just this past week) and has already hit 11 HR with 27 RBI through 33 games so far this year. It won’t be long until he finally breaks into the Dodger Top 30 prospect list at this rate.
On the pitching front, the main highlight was rehabbing Dodger LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who had a successful tune-up performance last Thursday (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 47 pitches-34 strikes). Three more rehab starts for him and he should be good to go for the Dodgers later this month, barring any further setbacks, of course. 23-year old RHP Andre Scrubb continues his Cal League dominance out of the pen with two more scoreless appearances last week. He’s now 4-0 with a 0.40 ERA, a .090 avg against, and a ridiculous 0.79 WHIP in just under 23 IP since his promotion to Rancho from Great Lakes. Talk about stingy.
GREAT LAKES LOONS (Midwest League-Low A): The Loons have progressively gotten better as a team this past week and are now within three games of a potential wild card spot in the second half, good for them considering what a nightmarish first half they endured this year. The big news down at this level has been the recent promotions of two young up-and-coming prospects from Rookie-level Ogden in 19-year old middle infielder Jacob Amaya and the much-lauded 18-year old Cuban sensation Miguel Vargas. Amaya quickly showed his bat can handle Low-A pitching just fine as he batted a sizzling .400/.538/.400 since the call-up. On the contrary, Vargas did not start out nearly as hot, as he went hitless his first two games for the Loons before finally busting out in his last two this past weekend (3-7 with a BB and two runs scored). He’s currently batting a solid .250/.357/.500 for the Loons as of Monday. Other position players of note lately are 22-year old OF Drew Avans (still red-hot with a .316/.378/.342 slash line for Great Lakes), 22-year old middle-infielder Deacon Liput (.288 with 4 2B, 4 HR, and 14 RBI through his first 19 games), and 21-year old C/2018 11th rounder Hunter Feduccia (.300/.364/.300 to start the month of August).
A pair of outstanding pitching performances from the Loons’ staff also highlighted that same stretch, beginning with 22-year old RHP/2017 12th round pick Andre Jackson (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 81 pitches-49 strikes). Jackson, who just recently came off a rehab stint with the AZL Dodgers, finally notched his first win as a Loon with his outing last Saturday. If Jackson’s noted mid-90s power sinker continues to find the strike zone with more consistency, he could find himself possibly ticketed for High-A Rancho before season’s end. 20-year old Dominican RHP Edwin Uceta (currently ranked 15th in the Dodger farm system) was responsible for the other, also going six shutout innings while allowing only two hits and striking out four (no walks) in last Thursday’s start. He’s now 5-6 with a nice 3.25 ERA and a very good 1.18 WHIP in just under 100 IP (20 starts). As of this report, Uceta has just been promoted to High-A Rancho so congrats to him for his hard-earned work this season.
OGDEN RAPTORS (Pioneer League-Rookie Level): Despite the recent promotions of Amaya and Vargas to Low-A Great Lakes, the Raptors still continue to pummel the opposition senseless with a power-loaded lineup that isn’t afraid to draw walks when the moment arises. The main culprits so far have been 21-year old 1B Dillon Paulson (.305/.426/.589 through 37 games), 21-year old OF Daniel Robinson (.331/.429/.508 through 37 games), 19-year old middle-infielder Ronny Brito (.331/.387/.571 through 33 games), and 21-year old OF Niko Hulsizer (.300/.449/.570 through 30 games). However, some new faces have emerged within the past week in 22-year old OF/2018 37th rounder Jon Littell (batting a white-hot .450/.522/.700 since his promotion from the AZL Dodgers) and 19-year old switch-hitting 2B/2017 27th rounder Jeremy Arocho (.317/.394/.398 with a very good 16/14 BB/K rate through 36 games). Keeping my fingers crossed that Paulson, Robinson, Hulsizer, and Littell (if he continues to rake at the level that former Raptor Drew Avans did prior) finally get promoted to one of the Class-A affiliates by the end of the season because they seem a bit too advanced offensively for this particular level, but we shall see soon enough.
AZL DODGERS (Arizona League-Instructional Level): Lot of rehab assignments going on down here last week, starting with 21-year Mexican southpaw Julio Urias. His first rehab start ended up getting rained out, but his next one did not and he went 1-2/3 innings of one-hit ball allowing no runs and striking out four (0 walks) this past Saturday. Next on that list is 23-year old RHP/2016 1st-rounder Jordan Sheffield who’s finally making the transition from starter to reliever after bombing in the former role earlier this season for High-A Rancho and eventually being shut down with a right forearm injury until just this past week. So far, he’s made two appearances pitching two innings and allowing no runs, one hit, two walks, and a couple strikeouts for good measure. Here’s hoping he excels in his current role because I feel his stuff plays up better in relief, anyway. 27-year old Dominican RHP Yimi Garcia‘s the last notable name on the rehab list, but his first outing was more of the same ineffectiveness he displayed on the parent club before finally going back on the DL about two months ago (1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K in last Sunday’s outing). I have a strong feeling he’ll be pitching in another uniform next season if he doesn’t get his pitching mechanics cleaned up once and for all.
Two more names have emerged from the pack during that span as well. 18-year old RHP/2018 4th round pick Braydon Fisher began pro-ball on a rather shaky note regarding his control, but appears to have settled down his last three outings (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and is now sporting a nifty 2.77 ERA and solid 1.38 WHIP in 13 IP so far. Not sure if he’ll get a promotion to Ogden by the end of the season, but it would be nice if he did at his current pace. Another one that started extremely slow before finally picking it up of late has been 18-year old Dominican 1B/2015 international free agent signing Sauryn Lao. After starting the 1st half rather flat offensively (.200/.342/.350 in 19 games), he’s now caught fire in the 2nd (.375/.423/.917 through seven games so far) and is now batting a solid .250/.364/.512 with six doubles, two triples, four HR, and 19 RBI in 26 games at that level. No need for Lao to be promoted just yet as he’s currently blocked at his position for the time being, but he could be another under-the-radar prospect in the making if his numbers continue to trend upwards.