Dodger Chatter: The Other Side of the Coin

Most of the talk re: minor league players on Dodger blogs centers around  those players considered to be top prospects .That is about Walker Buehler, Keibert Ruiz, Connor Wong, Dennis Santana, DJ Peters, Alex Verdugo and other highly ranked prospects. They have, for the most part, earned their recognition by their ascension through the ranks and perhaps some by their draft selection placement or signing bonus.

I have no problem with their recognition especially as they approach MLB ready. However, it seems that for every top prospect playing well there is another side to the coin. That is, some young players playing unexpectedly well but not really gaining much recognition. The 2018 season thus far is not an exception. Here are but three offensive players doing just that.

Nick Yarnell:

Who at this point in the season would have guessed that Yarnell would be claiming Player of the Week honors in the Midwest League. There are a number of higher profile players on the Loons roster that we perhaps might have thought would  have gained this honor so early in the season.

During the week of April 16-22 Yarnall started in five of the Loons’ six games. He posted a triple slash of .500/.522/.708 along with two home runs and eight runs batted in. He did succeed in gaining some recognition be MiLB.

The 6’0”/200-pound first baseman was selected by the Dodgers in the 35th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh.

He hit a combined .252 in 41 games with the Arizona League Dodgers and Ogden Raptors in 2016. After a torrid start in 2017 with the Raptors in which he hit .368 in 25 games, he experienced some growing pains with the Loons hitting but .217 in 37 games.

The growing pains in the Midwest League are apparently over as he is currently hitting .360 during the current campaign along with 10 runs batted in and three home runs in 12 games.

The 23-year-old Yarnell may well soon trade in his Loons jersey for one in Rancho Cucamonga.

Ramon Rodriguez:

The Dodgers all of a sudden have some strength and real depth in the catching department. With Kyle Farmer, Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz and Connor Wong they have prospects who must be coveted by other MLB clubs. However, their is a fifth young catcher on the horizon.

Nineteen-year-old Ramon Rodriguez was selected by the Dodgers in the 30th round of the 2016 June Draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He had but one at bat during the 2016 season but followed that up with  a .383 batting average with the Arizona League Dodgers in 2017 and a .276 average in the Pioneer League as an 18-year-old. He had a combined .374 OBP in 2017.

During the current season he has played in eight games with the Loons splitting playing time with fellow catcher Garrett Hope. Rodriguez is currently hitting .345  and has eight runs batted in. In Wednesday’s  game against the Fort Wayne TinCaps he hit his first home run of the season. It was a three-run shot to right field for the right-handed hitter and came when he had two strikes against him.

Behind the plate the 5’11”/194-pound backstop has yet to commit an error, has two passed balls and has thrown out four of eight would-be base stealers.

Luke Raley:

Raley was picked by the Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2016 Amateur Draft out of Lake Eric College. During the 2016 season he hit a combined .288 over three levels with the Arizona League Dodgers, Odgen Raptors and Great Lakes Loons. He opened the season with 10 hits in four games with the AZL Dodgers.

Although it was expected the 6’3”/220-pound outfielder might start the 2017 season back with the Loons, he played the entire season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League. He hit .295 with the Quakes along with 14 home runs and 62 runs batted in. Raley, who throws right but bats left,was selected as a mid-season all-star in the California League.

During the current season with the AA Tulsa Drillers Raley has played in 16 games and although he does not seem to be the prototypical lead off hitter he has done so in all 16 games. He has had seven multi-hit games in his last ten games. The 23-year-old Raley has posted a slash line of .328/.389/.500 with two home runs and six runs batted in. His 21 hits, along with his two home runs, include three doubles and a triple.

Rants & Raves from Mark Timmons

  • I am excited to see if Ryu and build on his recent success.
  • Luke Raley had his first 2 HR night last night.
  • Chad Moriyama writes on THE ATHLETIC that Clayton Kershaw’s troubles are real and worrisome.  His velocity is off 3 MPH since 2011. Chad writes that hitters are hitting over 100 points higher against his fastball this year over previous years. I wrote a few days ago that Clayton was going to have to adjust. So far he hasn’t and if he doesn’t compensate somehow, this could be a difficult season.

 

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT by AlwaysCompete

The Dodgers’ affiliates went 3-1 on the day.

OKC – 4-2 Win over Iowa Cubs

 

The Dodgers scored 3 runs in the 8th to beat the Cubs.  Justin De Fratus started and pitched a yeoman 5.0 innings surrendering 2 runs on 7 hits, 1 BB, and 3K.  Edward Paredes, Joe Broussard, and Brian Schlitter followed with 4 solid 1 hit innings.  Broussard got the win, while Schlitter got his 4th save.  The Dodgers had 10 hits with Donovan Solano, Henry Ramos, and Rob Segedin each having 2 hit nights.  Breyvic Valera hit his 1st HR, and is now batting .400, good for #3 in the PCL.

In the 8th, Valera started it with a walk, and Solano followed with a single.  Alex Verdugo hit into a fielder’s choice with Valera moving to 3rd.  Ramos then singled scoring Valera for the tieing run and Verdugo taking 3rd for go-ahead run.  Segedin delivered the single plating Verdugo.  After Jake Peter struck out, Travis Taijeron singled to score Ramos for an insurance run.  Ramos’ RBI gives him 19 on the season and he is now 4th in the PCL in that category.

OKC is now 14-4 on the season and is in 1st place, 2.0 games up on the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers) in the PCL American North Division.

 

Tulsa – 3-2 Win over the Arkansas Travelers (Mariners)

 

Led by 2 solo HR’s by Luke Raley, the Drillers eked out the win.  Raley now has 4 HR’s on the season.  Frank Duncan started for the Drillers and went 4.1 innings.  He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 0 BB, and 3K.  The 2 runs were due to a 2 run HR Duncan gave up in the 3rd inning.  Corey Copping, Ariel Hernandez, and Dylan Baker pitched a solid 4.2 scoreless innings in relief.  They surrendered two hits and 2 walks in those 4.2 IP.  Hernandez was outstanding with 2 K’s and no baserunners in his 1.1 IP.

Will Smith had an RBI single and threw out 2 of 3 would be base-stealers.

Tulsa is now 10-8 and tied for 1st (3 way tie) in the 4 team Texas League North Division.

 

Rancho Cucamonga – 9-6 Win over the Stockton Ports (A’s)

 

The Quakes jumped out to a 6-1 lead after 3 innings, and saw that lead shrink to 7-6 after 6.  The Quakes scored two insurance runs in the 7th and 8th to secure the 9-6 win.

Cody Thomas broke out of his slump going 4-5 with 2 doubles and 1 triple.  DH Connor Wong and CF Donovan Casey each had 2 hit nights.  Rylan Bannon started at 2B and hit his 7th HR on the season, and is now 1 behind Wong for the League lead.  Cristian Santana was back at 3rd for last night’s game and went 1-4 with an RBI.  After playing LF, recently assigned Zach Reks moved over to 1B in his 2nd game for the Quakes.  Gavin Lux had a double and a walk in his 5 PA, and now has an OBP of .386, good for #10 in the California League.

Dean Kremer was the starter and in his 3.1 IP allowed 4 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits, 2 BB, and 2K.  Parker Curry was next in line and he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, 2 BB, and 5K, in his 2.2 IP, and got the win.  Then Stetson Allie, Sven Schuler, and Jason Richman pitched the final three hitless and scoreless innings to preserve the win.  In the 9th, Richman registered 3 K’s on 12 pitches to pick up the save.

The win moved the Quakes to a 10-11 record and is now 1 game behind the California League South Division leaders, Lancaster JetHawks (Colorado)

 

Great Lakes – 4-1 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)

 

After a brief two game win streak, the Loons lost for the 13th time this season.  They are now 5-13 and find themselves on the bottom of the Midwest League Eastern Division, 7.5 games behind the leader.

Wills Montgomery got the start over Riley Ottesen, and pitched extremely well.  This was Montgomery’s 1st start in his professional career, and in 5.0 IP, he allowed 0 runs on 2 hits, 1 walk, and 7 K’s.  For the season, in 18 IP, Montgomery has given up 4 runs (1 earned), on 8 hits, 10 walks, and 23 strikeouts.  He has a 0.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a .129 batting average against.

Ottesen followed Montgomery and went the final 4 innings.  He surrendered the 4 runs on 4 hits, 1 BB, and 3 K.

Jared Walker went 2-4 and hit his 2nd HR on the season in the 9th to account for the lone Loons run.  Starling Heredia and Carlos Rincon each had doubles, and Ramon Rodriguez went 1-4 to account for the Loons offense.

 

Starting Pitchers for Friday, April 27, 2018

OKC – Tyler Pill

Tulsa – Devin Smelzer

RC – Andrew Sopko

GL – TBD

Posted by DodgerChatter

I have been a Dodger fan longer than many of you have been alive. I picked the name Dodger Chatter so that you can call me DC. That way, LA Dodger Talk can be the home of AC/DC! I particularly enjoy following the minor leaguers.

This article has 41 Comments

  1. I recommend you add Rylan Bannon to your list. Watched this young man play on backfields in ST, he is a top notch fielder at 3b and 2b while hitting with legit power. Saw him hit a monster home run over LF into a stiff breeze. Already has 6 home runs in less than 50 plate appearances for Rancho Cucamonga. I also think Breyvic Valera was a terrific acquisition from the Cardinals.

    1. Bannon is definitely on the radar. This from Wednesday’s post.
      .
      He skipped the Great Lakes Loons this year so that is a good sign. With the Quakes he has played mostly third base with three games at second base. I would have thought that Christian Santana would be ahead of Bannon on the depth chart and I think he is certainly with his bat and he is one year younger than Bannon. However, Santana is playing mostly at first base. Santana is ranked 14th by MLBPipeline while Bannon is ranked 30th.
      .
      Bannon’s triple slash with the Raptors was .336/.425/.591 in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Any reports I have read are that he is a good glove man. “He has range to both sides and comes in on balls well, and he possesses soft hands as well as solid arm strength. He could be a plus defender with more consistency, and he’s quick enough that Los Angeles is giving him some time at second base this year”.
      .
      Oddly enough his glove has let him down so far in 2018 as he has nine errors at third base.
      .
      Some might say that he is more suited to second base as he will not be a typical power hitting third baseman and is not big at 5’10”/180-pounds. However those are almost identical dimensions to former Dodger great third baseman Ron Cey.
      .
      He is not taking anything for granted and the jump from rookie ball to High-A in one season is significant .I think he has a good perspective on what it takes to make it in the world of baseball.
      .
      “I think coming off a good year like that, some guys might let it get in their head like that it’s just going to happen automatically,” he said. “I definitely worked hard this off season. I put on some weight, I hit a lot and took a lot of ground balls. I just kind of stayed with my same approach as last year and taking it into this year.”
      .
      He is not yet high profile and on everyone’s radar but to this point has done what he can do to improve his stock. He is second in home runs in the California league and sixth in Slugging. Granted the league is reputed to be a hitter friendly league but you still have to hit the ball. I think we need some more time to see that his fielding tightens up and that he can hit right-handed pitching well enough as well as being the clutch hitter he was with the Raptors.
      .
      I have a feeling he may continue to surprise us and to this point has not done anything to suggest he is not a legit prospect, putting his fielding aside for the moment. He is still only 22 and in his second year of professional ball.
      .
      UPDATE: he now leads the league in runs batted in, is second in home runs and is in the top five in total bases, slugging and OPS.

      1. Rylan Bannon, Connor Wong, and Cristian Santana are carrying Rancho. Even Gavin Lux is now #10 in OBP, and is playing a very good defensive SS. It has been the starting pitching that has not been very good (and that is putting it nicely).
        .
        Andrew Sopko – 4.50 ERA
        Dean Kremer – 5.23 ERA
        Tony Gonsolin – 6.14 ERA
        Isaac Anderson – 6.46 ERA
        Jordan Sheffield – 7.71 ERA
        Imani Abdullah – 10.50 ERA

        1. I really like Lux, especially with his dual SS/2B potential. If we can get any offense from him at all he could be a real interesting piece going forward. It’s a testament to our depth that he’s not often mentioned. He’s one of the only true MIF prospects we have and I’d love us to address that soon whether by trade/signing/draft.

  2. also re: catcher position, there are rumors we are frontrunners for top july 2 international prospect who is too a backstop

    1. AC

      I just read an article in the LA Times this morning, and the writer, Houston Mitchell, touched on almost everything you said about the team, yesterday.

      But that is no surprise to me, and probably anyone here, that follows your thoughts, and your words here, from day to day.

  3. Houston Mitchell of the Times on Pedro Baez in high leverage situations:
    “Sixth inning
    Opponents have a .167 average, a .220 OB% and a .267 SLG% against Baez. The opponent OPS+ is 57, which means that opponents are 43% worse than average against Baez in the sixth inning.
    Seventh inning
    .241/.310/.389/114 OPS+
    Uh oh, opponents are better than average suddenly.
    Eighth inning
    .225/.295/.421/117 OPS+
    Opponents get even better against Baez here.
    Ninth inning
    .242/.307/.462/132
    Ouch. Look at that jump in slugging percentage from the sixth to the ninth inning. Opponents are much better than average in the ninth inning against Baez and are worse here than any of the other innings. Baez has a 4.18 ERA in the ninth inning, his worst overall inning. He has a 3.01 career ERA overall, so he is over a run worse in the ninth inning.”

    So if everyone else knows not to pitch Baez in high leverage situations, why doesn’t Roberts or the Braintrust?

    1. Because the know nothing about analytics and are really stupid!

      … or maybe there is a reason that they have not told us about.

      Nah, by all indications they are just really stupid.

      1. So what would you do? Would you keep running Baez out there to lose leads? Remember, he was left off of the World Series roster for a reason.

        And what was Roberts’ reason for putting him out there to pitch the 9th against the Fish on the 24th? ” But having three guys down, having a short guy in Lib and Alexander left, to use Petey who was hot prior and burn him essentially if we don’t use him right there, I felt good going to Petey.”

        In other words, because he had a short bullpen and Baez had already warmed up, he put him in even though Jansen was already hot.

        1. 1. Do we really know what is wrong with Kenley?
          2. Are they trying to save him so he’s not worn out at the end?
          3. Do they think they can “fix” Pedro?
          4. If so, what and why do they base that upon?
          5. Did Kenley ask not to come in?

          If I knew those answers, I might be able to answer.

          We are the ones watching the games and reading the stats. They (FAZ and Doc) are with them every day and have access to much more info than we do, so it can only be they have a reason we don’t understand or they are really stupid and try to lose games… and winning is how they willbe judged.

          Think about that for a minute if you think they are deliberately trying to lose!

  4. Corey doesn’t look right to me.
    He’s lost velocity on his throws to 1st.
    Hope I’m wrong.

  5. In a classic American folktale, a stubborn railroad worker decides to prove his skill by competing with a drilling machine. John Henry, enraged to hear that machines might take his job, claims that his digging abilities are superior. A contest is arranged. He goes head to head with the new drill. The result is impressive — the drill breaks after three meters, whereas John Henry makes it to four meters in the same amount of time. As the other workers begin to celebrate his victory, he collapses and dies of exhaustion.

    John Henry might have been victorious against the drill, but that small win was meaningless in the face of his subsequent death. In short, we can say that he won the battle but lost the war.

    Winning a battle but losing the war is a military mental model that refers to achieving a minor victory that ultimately results in a larger defeat, rendering the victory empty or hollow. It can also refer to gaining a small tactical advantage that corresponds to a wider disadvantage.

    One particular type of hollow victory is the Pyrrhic victory, which Wikipedia defines as a victory that “inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat.” That devastating toll can come in the form of an enormous number of casualties, the wasting of resources, high financial costs, damage to land, and other losses. Or, in that folktale, the death of the railroad worker.

    Another hollow victory occurs when you engage in a conventional war and prompt a response from an opponent who has significantly more firepower than you do. The attack on Pearl Harbor was considered a victory for the Japanese. However, by provoking an army with superior forces, they set something in motion they could not control.

    While the concept of a hollow victory arises in military contexts, understanding the broader principle allows you to apply it to other areas of life. It can often be helpful in the context of non-zero-sum situations, in which both parties suffer even if one has technically succeeded.

    We have won a battle but lost a war whenever we achieve some minor aim that leads to wider loss.

  6. I am familiar with the difference between strategy and tactic which is what you have described here. Notwithstanding the difference, Roberts had Jansen up and throwing in the 9th against the Fish and decided against using him and it cost a game. All of the games count the same – a loss in April and one in September have the same impact in the standings.

    As to strategy, if you know that Baez isn’t good in high leverage situations, then you try someone else if you don’t want to use Jansen for strategic reasons.

    The Dodgers have 2 relievers in whom I do not have confidence – Baez and Alexander. (I haven’t seen enough of Hudson to have an opinion yet.)

    1. So, here is what they have to find out:

      They have to see if Baez and Alexander can become trusted or they have to get others. Cingrani was horrid until Honey helped him. I imagine that Honeycutt has a hand in this.
      _
      The Dodgers have trade pieces and options in the minors…

      1. At some point Madea will go to the bullpen and fix it. Baez and Alexander will make a great bullpen one two punch for a team like the Marlins.

  7. I agree Baez should be used in low level situations. But, my word if Baez or any other reliever can’t get the marlins out we need new relievers. It was a bad move because it didn’t work. If you were ever going to risk it the marlins or reds would be the team. Obviously, Baez should only pitch in the 5,6,7 innings. Thanks to the greatest pitcher ever though we shouldn’t even been in that position.

  8. Lineup:
    1. Verdugo RF
    2. Seager SS
    3. Turner 3B
    4. Bellinger 1B
    5. Kemp LF
    6. Grandal C
    7. Taylor CF
    8. Hernandez 2B

    Bench: Barnes, Farmer, Toles, Utley, Locastro

    Starters: Kershaw, Ryu, Wood, Hill, Buehler

    Pen: Jansen, Maeda, Cingrani, Liberatore, Chargois, Fields, Stripling

    That means Baez, Alexander, Pederson and Puig are somewhere….

    1. Substitute Locastro for Keekay and move him to the lead off spot and put Verdugo lower in the lineup and you may be on to something.

  9. Just turned on the SF broadcast of the game, Long time MLB pitcher and famous Giants’ homer Mike Krukow made a comment about just how similar the Dodgers and Giants are. Dodgers and Giants 8th and 9th in team defense; Dodgers and Giants 5th and 8th in team pitching; Dodgers hitting .241 and Giants .233. Dodgers 11-12 and Giants 11-13.

    An interesting perspective. The records are the same and the numbers are too similar for my taste. Tells you just how bad the Dodgers have been.

  10. Cingrani wasn’t throwing on top of the ball all night. He looked uncharacteristically awkward. He couldn’t buy a strike. Baez – invented a new way to lose.
    Dodgers’ offense – if not for Ryu would only have scored 2 runs. Taylor swinging from the heels; Joc swinging with his arms and not engaging his lower body.
    This has been painful.

  11. The starters better have a good day tomorrow. Double header tomorrow and 4 relievers used tonight.

  12. Guys you need to relax….even though after the Rams 1 pick tonight I went out to the casino, choosing not to watch the game, sensing a negative outcome. Doc Roberts is getting frustrated with the lack of performance and I humbly guarantee some internal moves will be made and fairly soon. The team has too much talent to play like this. Having said that no one wins a pennant in April. There is plenty of time to right the ship and Kemp and Cingrani should both head to the DL if they are feeling strained quads and a dead arm. Plenty of reinforcements chomping at the bit to show what they can do. Only problem is Verdugo bats left like Joc so they may need a RH bat instead…Ramos anyone? This team always seems to go on a hot streak when the weather warms up and this year will probably be no exception. Before you all throw the baby out with the bath water have a little faith that the team will figure things out. I like the way Doc gets his players to buy in, we not me and all that, I’m not crazy about some of the lineups and bullpen usage, but fans of every team in the NL West would love to trade places with us. This team is stacked and deep from a 40 man standpoint and I am not worried. At the same time I am not betting them yet. The game Kershaw lost to the Marlins at -450 at home was the biggest baseball betting upset since 2007. When they are hot they are hot but for now they are not…good thing they play 162 and if anyone really thinks the Dodgers won’t win the West well I call BS!

  13. Pederson is not the problem or Taylor, or Forsythe, but together they bring up some why questions.
    Question, Why is Pederson getting so much playing time?
    Pederson has played in 20 games with 46 at-bats. Pederson has 10 hits, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 8 RBI’s, and is hitting .227. Kemp has played in 21 games with 64 at-bats. Kemp has 4 doubles, 4 HR, 11 RBI’s and is hitting.333. Roberts said yesterday “He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do. “The way that Matt has played early on, he’s earned those opportunities. I still want to be mindful of Joc, staying current and getting those at-bats, because we’re going to need him.” Really, for what? Are the Dodgers going to move Taylor back to second? I don’t think so. Are the Dodgers going to trade Puig and move Pederson or Kemp to right field? again, I don’t think so.Is Roberts trying to make Pederson a hitter like he tries to make Baez a high-pressure pitcher, I think so?
    When Forsythe first got injured why not bring up Locastro, play him at second and bat leadoff? When Turner got hurt why not move Barnes to third and leave Forsythe at second instead of all the moves that left third base so unproductive?
    Why not try?
    Locastro 2b
    Seager ss
    Kemp lf
    Bellinger 1b
    Grandal c
    Taylor cf
    Puig rf
    Barnes 3b
    I guess FAZ and Roberts see more or have other ideas.

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