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.
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.
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.
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