Dodgers Prospect Watch: Verdugo, Rios, Ruiz, Fernandez & More

In this edition of our weekly minor league highlight feature, we take a look at the hot-hitting Edwin Rios and Alex Verdugo of Triple-A Oklahoma City, stop by Double-A Tulsa for a glance at Henry Ramos and Jose Miguel Fernandez, and check the progress of Keibert Ruiz who was just promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga not long ago.

Since his promotion to the Triple-A level on July 7, Rios, normally a corner infielder, is continuing to show his value to the Dodgers organization. The 23-year-old native of Puerto Rico was the hero in Friday night’s contest against Iowa, having hit a tie-breaking home run in the top of the ninth inning which proved to be the game-winner. So far in his short time at OKC, he’s hit three long balls and two doubles with five RBI, but perhaps most significantly, has appeared in five games in left field. Across two levels this season, Rios is slashing .307/.354/.529 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI through 89 games.

Verdugo continues to reach base at an absolutely insane rate of success. Against Iowa on Saturday evening, the 21-year-old outfield prospect drew a walk in the third inning, extending his consecutive streak of reaching base to 39 games, which is tied for first in all of Triple-A. For the year, he’s hitting .334/.406/.446 with three home runs, four triples, 20 doubles and 47 RBI, primarily batting out of the leadoff spot. Based on his recent production, many fans of the big league club are eager to see Verdugo appointed to the team’s 40-man roster, if only to watch him compete in the majors when rosters expand in early September.

Though he’s probably not considered a prospect by some standards, Wilmer Font is also making a case for a potential promotion to the bigs. Font was the starter in OKC’s victory on Friday, having thrown seven strong innings against the Cubs. He scattered seven hits, but struck out a whopping 11 batters, increasing his number of punchouts to 138 on the season. For the year, he’s posted a 7-5 record with a 3.38 ERA over 101-1/3 innings of work.

Fernandez is continuing to produce at the Double-A level, and outside of a strong couple of days at OKC during the All-Star break, is striving to show the organization that he belongs at the highest levels for good. Not normally known for his power, Fernandez smashed his 14th long ball of the season against NW Arkansas, and is now hitting .307/.365/.483 through 87 games this year. To further prove his versatility, the 29-year-old Cuban native has already appeared at third base, second base, first base and even left field for the Drillers during his inaugural campaign in the States.

After suffering a severe groin injury in spring training, Ramos has been scorching at the dish since being activated from the disabled list on June 20. In his first 19 games back, the 25-year-old outfielder is hitting .415/.481/.662 with four homers, two doubles, a triple and 12 RBI. Originally selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, the switch-hitting Ramos was signed by the Dodgers as a minor league free agent last November.

Through his first eight games at Rancho, Ruiz is slashing .375/.412/.719 with two home runs, three doubles, a triple and nine RBI. Across two levels of the farm in 2017, he’s hitting .324/.377/459 with four homers, 19 doubles and 33 RBI in 259 AB.

The Dodgers signed Ruiz as a free agent out of Venezuela for a mere $140,000 on his 16th birthday in July of 2014. According to FanGraphs, Ruiz’s catching mechanics are near perfect, and some scouts believe that he has the ability to competently handle duties behind the dish at the major league level right now. Dodgers’ management has been impressed with Ruiz to the point that they allowed him to dress for an official Cactus League contest against the Rangers last spring.

(Photo Credit: Jeremy Davis)

 

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Dodgers Trade Rumors: Catching Up on a Few of the Latest Rumblings

Though it’s been several days since we’ve discussed any rumors surrounding the Dodgers and the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline, there hasn’t been a shortage of hypothetical theories from pundits around the game, despite a handful believing Los Angeles is so deep that the club may decide to not upgrade at all.

Early last week, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Dodgers were open to dealing right-handed relief pitchers Sergio Romo and Brandon Morrow over the coming weeks. Of course, Romo was ultimately designated for assignment on Thursday to create roster space for lefty Grant Dayton. Two days after the move, Los Angeles struck a deal with the Rays, as they will send Romo and cash to Tampa for a player to be named later and/or cash back. There haven’t been many whispers about Morrow, although in her column yesterday, Andy highlighted a few reasons why it may be beneficial to retain the veteran’s services moving forward.

According to Jon Morosi of the MLB Network, representatives from the Dodgers’ camp were in attendance at Tropicana Field on Friday night to see Texas righty Yu Darvish throw against the Rays. Darvish impressed all those on hand, pitching a full eight innings with 12 strikeouts while surrendering three earned runs on five hits. For the season, the 30-year-old Osaka native has posted a 6-8 record and a 3.44 ERA with 143 strikeouts over 133-1/3 innings of work. Even though Darvish is headed for free agency at the end of the 2017 campaign, many experts believe the Rangers will still attempt to get a hefty return in a prospective deal, if the right-handed is indeed moved.

Also on Thursday, we put together a story regarding the Dodgers’ interest in Baltimore relief pitcher Zach Britton, making note of several reasons why Los Angeles should aggressively pursue the southpaw before the July 31 deadline. Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles in a deal, though, could be the concern of Britton’s past forearm strain, which up until recently kept him on the disabled list for more than two months. Britton hasn’t pitched on consecutive days since being reinstated on July 2. In the same breath, we also mentioned the rumors about the Orioles presumably being interested in all three of Walker Buehler, Yadier Alvarez and Alex Verdugo in some type of return package.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports composed an article recently indicating the Dodgers’ interest in San Diego left-hander Brad Hand, however, the first name which the Padres countered with was Verdugo, which apparently have brought the discussion to an impasse. Hand has a 2.16 ERA with a 2.67 FIP and 65 strikeouts over an even 50 innings and 45 appearances this season.

On Saturday morning, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that Los Angeles is looking into a potential deal with the Mets to acquire righty reliever Addison Reed. The 28-year-old Montclair native has a career 3.38 ERA and 9.4 K/9 over seven big league seasons, and has tallied a 2.35 ERA and a 2.91 FIP with 47 strikeouts in an even 46 innings this season.

Scouts from the Dodgers have also been watching Oakland righty starter Sonny Gray recently, most specifically last Friday night against Cleveland at Oakland Alameda Coliseum. In the affair, Gray worked six innings and didn’t allow a runner past second base as the A’s cruised to a 5-0 win. Over the entirety of 2017, Gray has made 15 starts and has put up a 6-4 record with a 3.66 ERA and 85 punchouts over 91 innings pitched. After a 2016 campaign that was hampered by injuries, Gray opened 2017 on the DL with a strained lat.

Not long before the trade deadline last year, the Dodgers acquired veteran starter Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick from the Athletics in exchange for three pitching prospects — Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton and Grant Holmes.

Many who were familiar with the particulars of the deal believed it was GM Farhan Zaidi’s close relationship with Oakland boss Billy Beane that eventually facilitated the trade.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

Dodgers Roster: Applauding Several of the Year’s Most Surprising Contributors

Well, I suppose it had to happen at some point — the Los Angeles Dodgers actually lost a game. It seems like it has been forever since that has happened. In fact, it had been — 11 games, an All-Star break and one off-day ago. One would believe they’ll start on a new winning streak soon enough.

To anyone but die-hard Dodger fans this powerhouse team must be due to the contributions of the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and Justin Turner. And of course, those guys are awesome and carrying their fair share of the load. But the team wouldn’t be where it is if it wasn’t for the contributions of players that many of us didn’t think would have a huge impact on the season. First up in a little mini-series of posts by me are Chris Taylor, Brandon Morrow and Alex Wood.

Taylor, The Taylord, didn’t even make the squad out of spring training, despite hitting out of his mind, because he didn’t play the outfield. Flash forward to today, and Taylor mainly plays in the outfield. Last night, he recorded his fourth outfield assist of the season, which leads the team. On a team that has the rocket arm of Yasiel Puig, who could’ve foreseen the guy who primarily played infield having the team lead in outfield assists? CT3 has a slash line of .310/.383/.524/.907 with 21 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs. He has the ability to hit pretty much anywhere in the batting order, and has proven it. On a team that lost their primary left fielder at the beginning of the season to an ACL injury, Taylor has been an incredible asset to the team. (We still miss you very much, Andrew Toles).

Morrow has been rumored to be available in any upcoming trades the Dodgers front office may make.  At this point, though, that may not make much sense. Morrow has been a very solid edition to the bullpen. In 17-2/3 innings pitched so far this season, he has only allowed 12 hits, and two walks while giving up four earned runs. He touches 99 with his fastball, and when he is on, is unhittable. I’m not the deal maker, but I think they should keep him around if at all possible.

And then we come to Wood, who is having a season for the ages. The guy has yet to lose a game, and has better numbers than Kershaw, despite many fewer innings. He also takes issue with the talk that the Dodgers need No. 2 pitcher, saying that he has shown all the season that he is a true No. 2, and wants to prove that in the playoffs. That’s exactly what I want to see from a pitcher in the postseason, the will to show everyone who doubted him that he can and will do it. Being left out of the starting rotation at the beginning of the year has left a huge chip on his shoulder, and quite possibly, it is the best thing that could’ve happened to him and the team.

One of the best things about baseball is that you don’t really know where the season is going to take you, and who is going to step up to the plate, pun intended. We knew this was a really good team, with a really good chance to go all the way. To see it progressing in this manner, being helped along by players we could not have foreseen doing this well. just makes it all the more sweeter.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)

 

Dodgers Activate Grant Dayton, Say Goodbye to Sergio Romo

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(Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday afternoon reinstated left-handed pitcher Grant Dayton from the 10-day disabled list and designated right-handed pitcher Sergio Romo for assignment.

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5 Reasons Why Dodgers Should Pursue Zach Britton Before 2017 Trade Deadline

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(Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott/USA TODAY Sports)

While the Dodgers have been extremely quiet so far during the weeks leading up to the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline, the silence doesn’t necessarily mean the front office isn’t working hard to negotiate a trade or two in order to upgrade an already stacked 25-man roster. If there is one departmental weakness on the club, it could be the vulnerability of the bullpen, despite the NL-leading 2.90 ERA. Furthermore, it’s apparent that the team could benefit from the acquisition of an elite lefty specialist, and nobody fits the bill better than Zach Britton of the Orioles. And we’re here to tell you five reasons why.

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A Preliminary Glance at the 2017 NL Cy Young Race

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(Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports)

Looking deep into the history books of the Los Angeles Dodgers, we tried to find out if Clayton Kershaw was the fastest pitcher to notch 15 wins in a season, only to discover that the great Sandy Koufax accomplished the feat in his final season back in 1966. Of course, Koufax would go on to capture his third NL Cy Young Award after posting a 27-9 record with a 1.73 ERA, along with five shutouts, 27 complete games and 317 strikeouts over an even 323 innings pitched.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Ryu, González, Dayton, Kazmir & More

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(Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports)

As it’s been nearly 10 days since we’ve put together our last injury report, there hasn’t been any changes to the disabled list of the Dodgers, outside of several cases of improvement to a few players who could contribute to the club down the stretch run of the season.

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Let’s Take a Moment to Praise Cody Bellinger

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Admittedly, being that we generally stay away from posts involving game recaps, I was still a bit torn as to whether to write a story regarding Cody Bellinger‘s monumental evening on Saturday against the Marlins. Furthermore, I thought there would be a small chance that Bellinger would capture his third NL Player of the Week award on Monday, so I figured I’d put something together then, oblivious to the series that Washington’s Anthony Rendon had against the Reds over the weekend. Regardless, I figured it’s about time to give the latest rookie sensation of the Dodgers some well-deserved ink. And considering it’s been awhile since we’ve cited some witty song lyrics, I was even gonna drop a few lines from the 1999 Fatboy Slim hit song, but I decided to save those for a point later in the year when the more prestigious awards began to roll in.

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Dodgers Appear Content in Waiting Out Trade Deadline

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The Dodgers are heading into Chicago to face the White Sox for a two game set while riding a nine game winning streak, and Clayton Kershaw will make his first start of the second half. Will the Dodgers ever lose again? It’s quite the popular rhetorical question on social media these days. The answer, of course, is yes. Teams do not win every game that they play. But the way this team is clicking, all things just seem to keep falling into place.

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Digging Deeper into the Dodgers’ Need for Bullpen Help

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(Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

In Saturday’s column, we took a look around the farm system of the Dodgers and outlined a handful of potential pitchers the club could conceivably utilize for the stretch run of the regular season. But while there’s a good chance the Dodgers do indeed call on one of the youngsters we mentioned, it still doesn’t solve the team’s problem of not having a reliable lefty relief specialist.

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