It was certainly an exciting sight to see the big-league Dodgers briefly retake first place in the NL West this past weekend; but now, it’s that time of the week to see how their minor-league affiliates fared as their respective seasons are quickly drawing to a close.
OKLAHOMA CITY DODGERS (Pacific Coast League-AAA): Manager Bill Haselman‘s OKC club struggled to stay in first place in their division with a 4-5 record last week, but a clutch double-header sweep of rival Colorado Springs (Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) and a victory in the season finale led them to yet another American Northern division title. Big-league roster expansion this month has somewhat thinned OKC’s roster, with 22-year old OF and top Dodger prospect Alex Verdugo (.329/.391/.472 in 91 games for OKC), 26-year old OF Andrew Toles (.306/.345/.461 in 71 OKC games), 26-year old utility man Tim Locastro (.279/.389/.409 in 83 OKC games), 28-year old C/3B Kyle Farmer (.288/.333/.451 in 79 games for OKC), and 30-year old C/2018 PCL Mid-Season All-Star Rocky Gale (.281/.305/.383 through 85 OKC games). However, 24-year old corner player Edwin Rios continued to wield a hot bat during this past week (.357 with a HR and 5 RBI) and is currently slashing .308/.359/.489 in 87 games for OKC this season.
Not many notable pitching performances during that stretch outside of 28-year old Dominican RHP Daniel Corcino (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 98 pitches-64 strikes in Thursday’s outing) and 27-year old RHP/2014 15th rounder Joe Broussard (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K in his last three appearances; currently 5-4 with a 3.12 ERA and solid 1.27 WHIP in 57 games for OKC this season). On a sidenote, 22-year old rehabbing southpaw Julio Urias was bumped up to OKC from High-A Rancho Cucamonga last Wednesday and made two appearances with mixed results (1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB 0 K). At this rate, it does not look like Urias will make the cut for the parent club as a potential bullpen option.
TULSA DRILLERS (Texas League-AA): Congrats to manager Scott Hennessey’s Drillers team for finally securing the second-half division title back on Saturday in addition to securing a playoff spot last Friday. As usual, 20-year old middle-infielder/6th-ranked system prospect Gavin Lux (.324/.408/.495 through 28 games for Tulsa) and 20-year old C/2nd-ranked system prospect Keibert Ruiz (.341/.376/.484 in the month of August; batting .268/.328/401 overall with 12 HR and 47 RBI) were the big guns. Honorable mention goes to 24-year old OF Jacob Scavuzzo for batting .250 with 2 HR and 8 RBI during last week’s stretch. He’s now set career highs in HR (26) and RBI (85) this season combined between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A OKC (111 games).
As for the pitching, kudos to 20-year old RHP/4th-ranked system prospect Dustin May for his second-half division title-clinching performance last Saturday (6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 94 pitches-60 strikes) along with enigmatic 22-year old Cuban RHP/10th ranked system prospect Yadier Alvarez (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 82 pitches-53 strikes in Tuesday’s game) and 26-year old LHP/former 2014 9th round pick of the Miami Marlins Ben Holmes (7.1 IP, 5 H 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 95 pitches-67 strikes in Friday’s outing; 2-2 with a nice 2.82 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in just over 38 IP/6 starts for Tulsa since being promoted from High-A Rancho Cucamonga early last month). Strong nod to 25-year old RHP/2015 23rd rounder Andrew Istler for his performance during that stretch (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB 7 K in his last two appearances; 4-4 with a 2.53 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 57 IP for Tulsa this season). Speaking of Istler, he was just recently dealt to the Washington Nationals for 38-year old veteran big-league reliever Ryan Madson, so best of luck to him.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA QUAKES (California League-High A Advanced): The Quakes pretty much spent all of last week tuning up for postseason play set for this week, going 5-2 and basically blowing their opposition out of the water with their high-powered offensive attack. Usual suspects have been 21-year old Dominican 3B/24th-ranked system prospect Cristian Santana (.273/.301/.448 with 24 HR and 108 RBI overall for Rancho), 20-year old Dominican OF Carlos Rincon (.327/.427/.818 with 15 HR and 35 RBI since being “liberated” from Low-A Great Lakes back in late July), 20-year old Cuban middle infielder Omar Estevez (.273/.330/.453 with 60 XBH and 83 RBI overall this season), 23-year old OF Cody Thomas (.285/.355/.497 with 19 HR and 87 RBI in total), and 22-year old OF/2017 20th round pick Donovan Casey (batting .311/.358/.486 in 17 games since coming off his rehab assignment with the AZL Dodgers last month). Honorable mentions to both 22-year old C/16th-ranked system prospect Connor Wong (.262/.345/.463 with a career-high 18 HR and 56 RBI this season) and 22-year old infielder Jared Walker (.260/.377/.603 with 17 HR and 45 RBI in 56 games since being promoted from Low-A Great Lakes back in late June). I wholeheartedly expect to see both Thomas and Walker crack the Dodgers’ Top 30 prospect list by the time next season starts because they’re truly taken a step forward this year.
On the pitching front, Urias came up with his best outing last Monday for the Quakes when he went two scoreless no-hit innings with two walks and four strikeouts before being re-assigned to OKC. Other notable performances came from 21-year old Nicaraguan LHP Leo Crawford (6 IP, 5 H 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 92 pitches-58 strikes in Wednesday’s game; 8-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in just over 68 IP/11 starts for the Quakes since being promoted from Low-A Great Lakes back in early July), 23-year old LHP/2017 6th rounder Wills Montgomerie (4.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K in Friday’s outing), and 22-year old RHP/2017 18th round pick Max Gamboa (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 72 pitches-43 strikes in Sunday’s start). Once again, honorable nod to 23-year old southpaw Logan Salow for his performance during that span (4 IP, 1 H 0 ER, 1 BB, 3K in two appearances; currently 4-2 with a very good 2.82 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in just under 45 IP for Rancho this season).
GREAT LAKES LOONS (Midwest League-Low A): There probably isn’t a better feel-good story down in the Dodger farm system than the Loons, who appeared to be all the way out of it back in that dreadful first half they endured. Not only did they storm back in the month of August with an incredible 21-8 record, they also managed to clinch a playoff spot last Thursday without so much as having to decide it for themselves. Top performers during that pivotal week were 20-year old middle-infielder Jacob Amaya (.315 avg in 19 AB), 20-year old Venezuelan OF Romer Cuadrado (.294 with an RBI and 2 runs scored in 17 AB), 21-year old C Hunter Feduccia (.290/.381/.350 in 31 games for the Loons), 21-year old 3B/2018 8th round pick Luke Heyer (.466 avg with 2 runs scored in 15 AB), 22-year old middle-infielder Deacon Liput (.280/.332/.446 with 5 HR and 21 RBI in 42 games this season), and 21-year old OF Josh McClain (.303/.335/.385 in 52 games for Great Lakes).
Pitching has been the key to the Loons’ playoff-clinching success the entire way, with outstanding performances this past week from 19-year old “staff ace” Gerardo Carrillo (5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 78 pitches-42 strikes in Friday’s start) as well as recently promoted 21-year old Venezuelan RHP Jose Chacin (11 IP, 14 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 3.27 ERA in two outings) and 22-year old Dominican RHP Joel Inoa (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 94 pitches-56 strikes in Wednesday’s start). Other notables during that stretch were 19-year old Dominican RHP/2015 international free agent signing Melvin Jimenez (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K in 2 appearances) and 21-year old RHP Stephen Kolek (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K in Friday’s appearance; 2-0 with an eye-popping 0.66 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in just over 27 IP for the Loons this season).
OGDEN RAPTORS (Pioneer League-Rookie Level): The Raptors, who’ve already clinched a playoff spot during their franchise record-setting 26-win first half, have been playing .500-ball for the past week (3-3) with three regular season games left to go on their schedule as of Monday. 19-year old 2B Jeremy Arocho (.318/.409/.389 through 57 games this season), 19-year old Dominican infielder Ronny Brito (.291/.349/.498 with 11 HR and 51 RBI in 51 games for Ogden), 21-year old OF Niko Hulsizer (.277/.415/.529 with 9 HR, 31 RBI, and 11 SB/2 CS in 46 games), 21-year old OF James Outman (.266/.355/.487 with 11 HR, 33 RBI, and 12 SB/2 CS in 53 games), 21-year old 1B Dillon Paulson (.279/.395/.540 with 10 HR and 59 RBI through 56 games this season), and 21-year old OF Daniel Robinson (.330/.422/.467 with 19 XBH, 35 RBI, and 10 SB/ 4 CS in 55 games) have all continued to put in good showings offensively. Currently rehabbing 21-year old utility man Marcus Chiu also appears to be regaining form, slashing a solid .273/.360/.477 line with a pair of home runs and 12 RBI in 12 games since being moved up to Ogden from his brief stint with the AZL Dodgers back in mid-August.
AZL DODGERS (Arizona League-Instructional Level): Nothing much to say about this club except congratulations to them for wrapping up the AZL Championship last Saturday against the AZL Cubs in three games. Maybe their title-clinching victory will end up being a good omen for the other remaining Dodger affiliates who still have yet to reach that goal this year.
3 thoughts on “Dodgers Weekly Minor League Report: Urías, Lux, Roster Expansion, Playoff Berths & More”
Haselman seems to be very highly thought of, both by front office types and his players and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an interview for an MLB manager’s spot this winter. Nice to read about the progress of some of our young guys. Have you changed your mind about Ruiz, Manuel? Or do you still think Smith has the better MLB future? I’m not overly concerned about Smith’s numbers at OKC. Really a pretty small sample size, but I’ve always favored Ruiz. I know you’re the head of the Smith fan club. One last take – Verdugo has me convinced. He’s definitely MLB ready and should be our lead off hitter next year. I’m also interested/disappointed to see that they’ve apparently only brought up Toles to keep the Gatorade cooler filled, because they sure aren’t using him. Joc is in a slump again, so this would be a good time to put Toles in for a game or two, but based on what I’m seeing, his star has dimmed a little in the eyes of management. Unless Verdugo goes in a huge trade this winter, I see him as a starter next year and at least one of Joc, Toles and/or Puig will be an ex-Dodger by opening day.
To answer your question Jeff, I haven’t budged on Smith. He’s the guy the Dodgers need to have behind homeplate long-term when the time finally comes (preferably right out of ST next year, but he might need to run through AAA again just as a refresher course before being called up to the parent club). It was good to see Ruiz finally break out of his offensive funk last month, but he just screams “AL C/DH” to me. Unlike Smith, he lacks speed on the bases and even though his defense has improved this year it’s still not on Smith’s level (and probably will never be). Don’t forget the Dodgers stress defensive versatility to no end these days and Smith clearly beats out Ruiz in that area alone. That’s why I still feel Ruiz is gonna wind up packaged in a trade at some point, much like former Top 5 prospect WIllie Calhoun before him.
And yeah, Puig won’t be retained beyond this year. Verdugo has shown more than enough in my eyes. Wish Toles would see more action, too. If I had to choose between him and Taylor right now, no doubt in my mind who I’d go with down the stretch…
Unless he has a perfect Spring Training, I don’t see any way Smith starts the 2019 season on the MLB roster. Not saying he wouldn’t make it here sometime during the season, but I think he definitely starts at OKC. I think we all agree that Yaz won’t be back so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us trade for a left handed hitting catcher this winter. I can’t think of anyone special out there so it may just be a place holder for a season, but I don’t see us basically relying solely on Barnes from day one. I suppose there could be a day in the future where Smith and Ruiz share the catching duties but I tend to agree with you that they will ultimately decide on one of the two and trade the other one. I continue to lean toward Ruiz but I’m the first to admit that time and future performance will be the ultimate decider. CT3 vs Toles – Taylor has been striking out at a record pace this year and that’s of major concern. I can’t understand why Toles isn’t getting into any games so they could at least determine his value for September and possibly for the playoffs. Based on what I’m seeing, Verdugo has now definitely cemented a spot on the 2019 roster and probably in the starting lineup while Toles is quite possibly going to be included in a trade somewhere, unless they trade Joc first.