While the big league Dodgers are busy trying to hammer out their latest bullpen issues, let’s take a look at what went down on the farm last week.
OKLAHOMA CITY DODGERS (Pacific Coast League-AAA): Last week wasn’t been all that kind to the Dodgers as they’ve struggled to hold onto their very slim division lead over rival Colorado Springs (Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) after going 1-5 during that span. There have been a few bright spots on this ballclub in spite of that, however. 22-year old OF/No. 1-ranked system prospect Alex Verdugo has been their best performer of late, going .428 at the plate in his last 21 ABs and hitting .324/.390/.459 in the month of August so far. Currently blocked OF Andrew Toles continues to remain steady as well, batting .312 over his last six appearances and posting a very good .328/.360/.461 slash line for the season. Other notables include unheralded 26-year-old utility player/former 2013 13th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays Tim Locastro (.375 avg over his last six games and currently batting .307/.406/.453 for the season with 15 SB/3 CS) and 24-year old corner player/13th-ranked system prospect Edwin Rios (.400 avg in his last five games and batting .301/.345/.480 overall).
As far as the pitching goes, the top performer for the week goes to 26-year old RHP Brock Stewart. The former 2014 sixth rounder and reigning PCL Pitcher Of The Week went 1-0 with a 1.92 ERA, eight hits allowed, four runs, three walks, and 13 strikeouts (including a magnificent 7-1/3 innings of 2-hit shutout ball in Sunday’s start) in 14 IP during that stretch. As of now, he sports a 3-2 record with an exceptional 2.63 ERA and a decent 1.13 WHIP in just over 75 IP (15 starts). Also of note is rehabbing Dodger SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is ready to rejoin the parent club this week after yet another successful tune-up outing (5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 71 pitches-51 strikes) last Tuesday. With Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling already shipped off to the bullpen, it should be no trouble for Ryu to slide back into a pretty stacked rotation. 27-year old LHP Manny Banuelos, who was struggling of late upon making the transition from starter to reliever, finally appears to be settling in after throwing two innings of scoreless relief, allowing only a hit and racking up a pair of Ks (0 BB) for good measure in Friday’s outing. A few more appearances like that one out of him and the Dodgers will soon have another “nice” problem on their hands when rosters fully expand next month.
TULSA DRILLERS (Texas League-AA): Scott Hennessey’s Tulsa ballclub only went 2-5 last week, but still holds a solid 3-1/2 game division lead over their closest rival in the 2nd half as of Monday. 20-year old middle-infielder and recently-named Cal League Player of the Month for July Gavin Lux continues to up his game offensively for the Drillers after being promoted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga. All he’s done so far is post a sizzling .359/.390/.538 slash line for the month of August, including a .333 avg against lefties which is quite encouraging to say the least. At the rate he’s going, I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up taking home Dodger Minor-League Player of the Year honors when all’s said and done. 20-year old C/2nd-ranked system prospect Keibert Ruiz has finally begun to come around with the bat after two dismal months in June and July (in which he batted a combined .201/.285/.315), hitting .400 during that span and batting a red-hot .371/.421/.371 for the month so far. Hopefully this is a sign of him trending in the right direction for once, but we’ll see.
Several notable pitching performances emerged during that stretch, beginning with 24-year old staff ace/14th-ranked system prospect Tony Gonsolin. Despite being placed on a strict innings limit just the other week, he continues to pitch very well as his most recent start would attest (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 68 pitches-42 strikes in Saturday’s outing). Right now, he stands a very good chance of becoming the Dodger Minor-League Pitcher tf the Year, as he’s already among the system leaders in wins (8), ERA among starters (2.65), innings pitched (115.2), strikeouts (144), and WHIP (1.14). Recently struggling 22-year old Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez (ranked 10th) ended up having his best outing of the season by far on Saturday when he “piggy-backed” Gonsolin out of the pen for four innings, allowing only two hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts, while 20-year old fourth-ranked system prospect Dustin May bounced back from his sub-par Tulsa debut with 7+ innings of three-hit/two-run ball last Wednesday. Not to be left out is 23-year old/7th-ranked system prospect Mitchell White who easily had his best start in nearly a month (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 88 pitches-63 strikes in Friday’s game). Still has a ways to go before he can even think of moving up to Triple-A OKC, but at least it’s a step in the right direction for him.
On a sidenote, congrats to 23-year old RHP Andre Scrubb who was finally promoted to AA Tulsa from High-A Rancho this past weekend. The burly reliever was simply dominant during his Cal League stint, going 4-0 with a sensational 0.38 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in just under 24 IP.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA QUAKES (California League-High A Advanced): A nice little milestone was set for Quakes manager Drew Saylor back on Friday when he notched his 224th career victory, smashing a 20-year record and making him the all-time winningest manager in the history of that franchise. That said, the one player down here who’s been making serious noise with the bat is none other than recently promoted 20-year-old Dominican OF Carlos Rincon, who merely batted .363 with six HR (including a pair of consecutive two-HR performances in Tuesday and Wednesday’s games) and eight RBI. He’s cooled off some this month with a .270/.341/.811 slash line, but after his performance this past week he might just end up taking Cal League Player of the Week honors pretty soon. Also of note is 21-year old Dominican corner infielder/24th-ranked system prospect Cristian Santana, who’s been batting .388 with two HR and four RBI during that same period and currently among the league leaders in HR (20) and RBI (89) in 112 games played.
On the pitching side, there was a welcome appearance from rehabbing 22-yea- old Dodger LHP Julio Urias (1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2K in Friday’s game) in addition to two stellar pitching performances from 22-year old RHP/2017 18th rounder Max Gamboa and 21-year-old Nicaraguan southpaw Leo Crawford. Gamboa, who was also recently promoted from Low-A Great Lakes late last month, came up with his best pitching performance of the season in Saturday’s game (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K, 90 pitches-63 strikes). The 11 strikeouts also set a new career high for the Greenbrae, CA native, who was literally force-fed innings after his call-up to Rancho in order to get him thoroughly stretched out at that level. So far, the results have looked rather promising if his most recent outing is anything to go by. Crawford continues to blossom in the Cal League after his latest outing (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 93 pitches-61 strikes in Sunday’s game) and still remains undefeated at 5-0 with a decent 3.04 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in just over 50 IP (eight starts) since his promotion from Great Lakes early last month. Another recently promoted Loon finally made his debut for the Quakes last Tuesday in 20-year-old Dominican RHP Edwin Uceta, but it turned out to be a mixed bag when he allowed a game-tying three-run HR to the opposition in the sixth inning with two outs. He still managed to strike out eight batters (1 BB) for his hard-luck effort, though.
GREAT LAKES LOONS (Midwest League-Low A): The Loons have finally caught fire this past week, going 6-1 during that stretch and pushing their way towards a potential wild card spot in the second half. Recently promoted Raptors Jacob Amaya and Miguel Vargas both continue to hold their own offensively at the Low-A level, with Amaya posting a steady .276 avg with an outstanding .500 OBP through his first 10 games for the Loons and Vargas batting .375 his last 4 games while hitting .321/.387/.429 overall. Honorable nods go to 22-year old middle-infielder Deacon Liput, who’s currently batting .290/.346/.559 and already has five HR and 19 RBI through his first 24 games, and 21-year old C Hunter Feduccia who’s hitting .333 his last three games and currently batting .277 with a very good .390 OBP in 20 games for the Loons so far.
Pitching has been the primary focal point for this ballclub last week despite the recent promotion of Uceta to High-A Rancho, however. Leading the pack is 19-year old Mexican RHP Gerardo Carrillo, who went 0-1 but posted an excellent 1.64 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP in 11 IP (two starts). The 27th-ranked system prospect now carries a sparkling 2.03 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP in 31 IP (six starts) since his promotion from the AZL Dodgers last month. Next on the list is 21-year old LHP/18th-ranked system prospect John Rooney, who’s on a strict innings limit but still came out with his best showing as a Loon to date back on Saturday (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 44 pitches-30 strikes) and currently sports a nice 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 9 IP (three starts). He’s also picked off two baserunners since the promotion as well. Other notables include 21-year old RHP/2018 11th rounder Stephen Kolek, who might soon be on the move to High-A Rancho after posting a super-stingy 0.92 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in just under 20 IP for Great Lakes so far, 21-year old Dominican RHP/2015 international free agent signing Jasiel Alvino (2-0, 1.72 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 5/5 in save chances in 15-2/3 IP since his promotion from Rookie-level Ogden), and 21-year old LHP/2018 6th round pick Bryan Warzek (1-1, 3.55 ERA, 26 K in only 12.2 IP since being promoted from AZL Dodgers).
OGDEN RAPTORS (Pioneer League-Rookie Level): Not many games scheduled last week due to the Pioneer-Northwest League All-Star Game festivities which took place on Tuesday. Speaking of which, the players who represented Ogden in that game were 19-year old 2B/2017 27th round pick Jeremy Arocho (1-2, RBI), 21-year old OF/2018 29th rounder Daniel Robinson (2-2, RBI), 19-year old Dominican middle-infielder Ronny Brito (1-3, K), and 21-year old Venezuelan RHP/2015 international free agent signing Jose Chacin (1 IP, 3 H, 1 R). With that out of the way, the four games the Raptors were able to get in resulted in a less-than-pleasant 1-3 record, yet the Raptors still remain only a game back of division rival Grand Junction (Colorado Rockies affiliate) in the secnd half standings. The top player during that brief stretch was Arocho, who batted a blistering .461 (6-13) and is currently hitting a white-hot .424/.447/.455 for the month. On a rare sidenote, Chacin had his longest outing of the season last Saturday going seven innings and allowing nine hits yet only three earned runs and no walks while striking out five in the process. Since his mid-season demotion from Low-A Great Lakes, he’s turned it around by posting a 6-1 record with a very good 2.39 ERA and solid 1.34 WHIP in just over 60 IP (11 starts). Looks like he might get another crack at the Midwest League fairly soon at this rate.
AZL DODGERS (Arizona League-Instructional Level): Nothing much to report down here this past week aside from a couple rehab outings led by a pair of Dodger relievers in Josh Fields and Yimi Garcia. Fields is still working his way back to form after battling shoulder issues over the past month (2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), while Garcia did a little better in his most recent outing (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K in Sunday’s game). 23-year old RHP/2016 1st rounder Jordan Sheffield looked particularly sharp in his third rehab appearance on Sunday as well and might already be on his way to rejoining High-A Rancho as soon as early this week, albeit as a reliever this time around.