Dodger Chatter: Relief is on the Way

What is the value of each  minor league player? That is, how important is each player? For me, the answer to the question is that none are more important than others. Sure, we like to see prospect lists with rankings but perhaps we should  look at team rosters and draft lists, players that are signed as non-drafted free agents and minor league players signed after being released by other teams. On any given day every minor league player is playing an important role in the development of the parent team and in supporting  minor league baseball as well as achieving personal goals.  It doesn’t mean they will all make it to MLB. It does mean they all deserve to be recognized and  deserve the same coverage regardless of how they profile as prospective MLB players.

If we stop to think about it – those young players often treated as no-name players – are the foundation of baseball, both minor league and major league baseball. If we remove all but those who are considered to be top prospects, all who will not make it to MLB, the whole structure collapses or we go to far fewer MLB teams and draft and play directly out of college or high school as they do in the NBA.

The Dodgers are not built on a top 30-player list, but on over 200 players in their minor league system. Those players keep the rosters filled out for the Dodgers eight minor league teams – OKC Dodgers, Tulsa Drillers, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Great Lakes Loons, Ogden Raptors, AZL Dodgers, DSL Dodgers 1 and DSL Dodgers 2.

Having said that, I have a thumbnail sketch of some relief pitchers in the Dodgers minor league system that I followed during the 2017 season.

DSL Dodgers 1 –  Adolfo Ramirez

He was born in Heroica Mulege, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The 18-year-old right-hander was signed by the Dodgers as a  free agent on July 2, 2016. During the 2017 season the 6’0”/165-pound Ramirez pitched 34 innings over 17 appearances posting a 0.79 ERA along with a 0.91 WHIP along with 33 strikeouts and eight walks.

DSL Dodgers 2 – Elio Serrano

Perhaps Serrano expected to start the 2017 season with the AZL Dodgers but having pitched most of the 2016 season  as a 17-year-old,  albeit very successfully, he perhaps was deemed too young to make the jump to the United States. Born in Los Guayos, Venezuela, the 5’11”/160-pound right-hander made 23 relief appearances during the 2017 season. Over 30.1 innings he posted a 2.67 ERA along with a 1.12 WHIP. He struck out 37 and issued eight walks.

Arizona League Dodgers – Zach Pop

Pop hails from Brampton, Ontario in Canada and was drafted by the Dodgers in the 7th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Kentucky. He previously had been selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 23rd round of the 2014 June Draft.

I certainly waited for him to get to work with the AZL Dodgers or Ogden Raptors and he eventually made an appearance with the Dodgers on August 16. During the balance of the season the 6’4”/225- pound right-hander made five appearances pitching five innings with five strikeouts. The then 20-year-old gave up but two hits.

In short stints, Pop works in the upper 90’s and can reach 99 mph with nice sink on his fastball.  He also can overpower hitters with a slider that reaches the high 80s, though it stands out more for its velocity than its sharpness. Pop most likely will begin the 2018 season with the Ogden Raptors or perhaps the Great Lakes Loons after an extended spring training. Having had some injury issues in the past he may be a candidate for the Driveline program. A scouting report suggests if his control can be polished, he has the pure stuff to become a MLB closer.

Ogden Raptors – Justin Hoyt

Hoyt was selected by the Dodgers in the 22nd round of the 2017 Amateur Draft out of Jacksonville State University.  The Birmingham, Alabama native was a walk-on at JSU and served as the closer for  his final two years with the Gamecocks recording 20 saves.

The now 22-year-old made his professional debut with the rookie level Ogden Raptors on June 20 against the Grand Junction Rockies pitching a scoreless inning while achieving the rare feat of four strikeouts in an inning. One batter reached base after striking out on what was ruled a wild pitch that eluded the catcher.

On the season  he made 19 appearances in relief over 29 innings recording 39 strikeouts and issuing 11 walks. He was not used in a closer’s role except on two occasions late in the season in which he closed out the game successfully giving up one hit in 4.2 innings. His 4.03 belies his season. It ballooned due to a six-run disaster in one inning on August 7. Hoyt allowed but seven runs in his other 28 innings pitched.

The 6’0”/210-pound left-hander was chosen as the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 14-20.

Great Lakes Loons – Andre Scrubb

Scrubb was born in Woodbridge, Virginia and attended C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, where he was a four-year letter winner.

He had a three-year college career with High Point University in which he recorded a 4.28 ERA with 16 wins over 187 innings pitched. He struck out 187 and struggled with control walking 114.

Scrubb was selected by the Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

The 6’4”/265-pound Scrubb is armed with a fastball at times touching up from 95 mph. Although his fastball has caught most of the attention, he considers his curveball to be his best pitch. His curveball thrown in the 78-83 mph range could be considered to be a power curveball.  As a result, his strikeout rate has always been high. However, so has his walk rate.

With the Loons in 2017 he posted a 1.74 ERA over 31 games and 51.2 innings pitched. He struck out 55 and walked 33 while giving up only 33 hits.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – Tony Gonsolin

Gonsolin was selected by the Dodgers in the ninth round of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Saint Mary’s College, a Division I School in Moraga, California.

The 6’2”/180-pound right-hander was promoted to the Quakes after a three-game stint with the Great Lakes Loons in 2017. With the Quakes he made 39 appearances over 62 innings in which he posted a 3.92 ERA along with 73 strikeouts and 18 walks.  His strikeout rate for nine innings increased from 7.8/9 in 2016 to 10.6/9 in 2017.

The native of  Vacaville, California was rather surprisingly  added to the latest Top 30 list by MLB Pipeline slotted in at No. 24 with the following explanation.

“Gonsolin opeed 2017 with an 89-92 mph fastball, boosted it to 90-94 in May, started working in the mid-90s in August and touched 100 mph by season’s end. His secondary pitches also gained power and can miss bats as well. He backs up his heater with an upper-80s splitter that bottoms out at the plate, a mid-80s slider and a low-80s curveball that can be a hammer at times.”

Tulsa Drillers – Corey Copping

Copping was selected by the Dodgers in the 31st round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Oklahoma.

He was born in Pasadena  California and will begin his fourth season in the Dodgers minor league system in 2018, no doubt with the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers. He debuted with the Ogden Raptors in 2015 but skipped the Great Lakes Loons and was assigned  to the Rancho Cucamonga the following season.

The 6’1”/175-pound right-hander is one of the Dodgers original participants in the Driveline program along with Andrew Istler. He said his fastball was clocked between 86 and 88 mph at the end of spring training in 2016. After 10 weeks of Driveline, he was regularly touching 92 to 94 mph.

Corey Copping was selected as the Pitcher of Week in the Texas League for the period of August 14 – August 20.

On the season he posted a 5-2 record along with a 3.57 ERA over 49 games along with 18 saves. In his 68 innings he allowed only 48 hits while striking out 60. He walked 34 and no doubt would like to decrease his walks per nine innings during the 2018 season with the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

Joe Broussard – Oklahoma City Dodgers

Broussard, a native of New Orleans,  was selected by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2014 June Draft out of Louisiana State University.

He missed the entire 2013 season recuperating from Tommy John surgery but rebounded in 2014 becoming the LSU closer. He went 3-2 and led the Tigers with 8 saves and recorded 37 strikeouts with a 1.05 ERA in 34.2 innings. Opponents batted only .164 against the hard-throwing right-hander.

Broussard began his professional career with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League in 2014 and pitched a surprising 45.2 innings in relief combined with an ERA of 3.35 and 56 strikeouts.

Along the way he was selected as an organizational all-star in 2016 following an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League where he posted a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 relief innings, including nine strikeouts, no walks and five saves.

After a brief stop in Tulsa to start the 2017 campaign, Broussard finished the season in Oklahoma posting a 3.57 ERA with the Dodgers along with 67 strikeouts over 58 innings. He walked 20.

Perhaps 2018 will be the season Joe Broussard gets to climb the hill at Dodger Stadium.

Photo credit: Kentucky Athletics

This article has 55 Comments

  1. LA Dodger Talk

    Home of AC/DC!

    DC had this saved up because he has not posted for a few months.

    This is the best Dodger Blog… Why?

    Because we have the best, most knowledgeable Dodger fans; and


    … not me.

  2. Melvin Jiminez is a guy I’m watching this year. He will be taking the mound as a starter, but many scouting reports have him as a future reliever too. He absolutely dominated the Dominican League as a 16-year-old in 2016. Last year, after 5 relief outing in AZ where he held hitting to a .083 batting average and throwing to a 0.64 WHIP, Jiminez got bumped to the Loons during his 17-year-old season.

    Jiminez doesn’t have the pitch repertoire of Urias which is why some project him as a reliever. He’s also not built as solidly as Urias. Jiminez needs a third pitch too. However, he did start 4 games with the Loons. He wasn’t allowed to throw a lot of innings, but he did hold hitters to a .194 batting average and threw to a 1.11 WHIP. I imagine he will start the year in Great Lakes at the age of 18. Will he be in Rancho by his 19th birthday in July?


    Pedro Moura of The Athletic reported on Ryu and Buehler yesterday. He said Buehler’s spin rate is one of the highest in all of baseball and that he is working to take a couple MPH off his slider “to make it bigger.” Doc said he could pitch 140-150 innings in 2018.

    Ryu is working on a new curve because he walked 80% more hitters than he had in the past, so he is putting more spin on his curveball (which didn’t spin anywhere near the top). He wants it to break later because it is breaking too soon and allowing hitters to adjust. So, probably don;t put too much stock in what he he does right now. Same with Buehler.

    It’s troubling to me that Font says he was “amped up” in his start yesterday. Does he have the mental makeup to handle it is my question. He really got his clock cleaned… like Darvish did in the WS.

    Alex Verdugo looks like a guy who can win multiple batting titles.

    Andrew Toles looks like a borderline star. It is highly unlikely the Dodgers can keep both players… both now and in the future.

    Matt Kemp is not getting traded, no matter how many stars we wish upon, but the good news is: He looks very good. I have heard that he is moving much better than last year. He’s blocking both Verdugo and Toles.

    Things seldom go according to plan. What if Turner goes down? Does Taylor go to 2B with Forsythe going to 3B and Toles to CF? What is Seager goes down? Taylor goes to SS, although Kike is fine there for a short time? What is Kemp goes down? The Dodgers depth will save them if there are injuries… and there will be.

    1. Interesting that Matt Beaty played second base yesterday when he entered the game. He does not seem to be your prototypical second base player but I wouldn’t bet against him or FAZ. Not big bucks anyway.

      1. He has been playing a lot of 2B this Spring. He does not look comfortable at all there. OKC will have a lot of 2B available (Donovan Solano, Jake Peter, Max Muncy, Tim Locastro, Angelo Mora…) so I would not project Matt to get much time at 2B at OKC, and his bat belongs at AAA. I see him getting more action in LF.

    2. Kemp’s gone, Timmons. For the very reasons you state.
      Not sure why this is a hard concept to grasp.

      1. I agree with almost all that… except two words:

        I would just substitute “gone” with “here” and “Timmons” with “Bluto.”

  4. Do not sell yourself short Mark. I enjoy all of your writings. Everybody brings so much knowledge to the table. Keep it up guys and gals. What I really enjoy the most is the civility of the posting. There is disagreement, but it done nicely. Now if the Democrats and Republicans would learn from this blog our country would be much better off.

  5. Spot on Hawk. I don’t consider him for relief yet. I watch Loons games on MiLB with Chris Vosters and Brad Tunney as announcers. Jimenez was exciting. He is six feet tall and 170 pounds. At age 18 he will surely fill out some more and certainly has time to work on expanding his repertoire. I think the Dodgers are doing a very good job of helping the youngsters from Latin America to acclimate to a new culture and baseball environment. Can you imagine being in Midland and being a host family for this young man.

    Remember the 5’11″/170-pound guy who was considered to be too small to start. That was Pedro. That is not to suggest Melvin is a Pedro but to suggest that with the new six-inning norm for starters that he could perhaps be another very good ST in the Dodger pipeline. His 3/1 – K/BB ratio with the Loons was pretty good.

    Because he has been so dominate in the DSL and AZL he had some difficulty when he got into some trouble in two of his games with the Loons. He didn’t walk hitters but uncharacteristically gave up hits. Perhaps he had trouble pitching from the stretch. In any event I have every confidence the coaching staff will iron that out and look forward to watching him begin his first full season with the Loons.

    1. Unfortunately, the Loons only come to my area every other year since Cedar Rapids is in the opposite division. I have been able to take my son to see some future big leaguers over the years though. I actually became friends with Lindsay Caughel a few years ago too. We saw a great game a few years ago where Seager hit two HR’s and Buxton was equally impressive for the Kernels. Seager booted a routine DP ball in the 9th and then the Kernels hit a 3 run bomb to tie the game. Loons lost it in the 10th. Lindsay took a ball in the dugout for my son and one of his teammates. Seager still signed it for the kids. Caughel told me a story of how the Seager was pressing when he first got to Great Lakes and was in a big slump. They took him out and got Corey drunk as a slump buster and he took off from there.

  6. I do enjoy following the Dodgers minor league players and try to keep up with most of the players as often as I can.Knowing the odds of making the majors for most of these kids is extremely low it makes me so proud to be a Dodger fan when I see management trying to do everything possible for these kids to succeed. They are putting time and money on every kid giving them every chance to be successful.
    I am so happy to see this approach as opposed to spending millions on free agents who for the most part never give the team value in return for the millions spent on them.
    I would love to see Chase Utley become director of player personnel, what a role model.

    1. I think the Director of Player personnel does a little more than be “a role model.”
      What makes you think Utley has the real skills for that position, and what makes you think he’d want that kind of position?

  7. Joe Broussard is the pitcher I believe could be with LA THIS year. He is not a high-leverage guy, but he could be a solid piece, although I don’t expect to see him break with the team.

    1. Broussard was Rule 5 draft eligible last December but teams passed on him. Depending on how his season goes he might be a target this December. Hopefully he gets in a few more good ST innings and does well during the 2018 season. There must be a team out there that can use what he has to offer.

      1. I’m a bit down on him too. I’m no scout, but something last preseason made me think he wasn’t a real prospect. His fastball seemed very flat to me.

  8. DC thanks for your analysis… I’m getting pumped to check out my Rancho team this year and see who shines…
    “and AC/DC
    … Not Me” ???
    Au contraire mon frere…
    You’re like the creature in The Shape of Water… We root for you!!!

    1. I guess I will have to change my profile picture:
      Image and video hosting by TinyPic
      Whenever I go to Rancho, I have to eat at El Torito – they closed the ones here.

        1. Of course. 70% of the earth is covered with water. The rest is covered by US Water. 😉

          I’m thinking about bringing back the video blog. Of course, the only problem is that I have a face for radio:

  9. You are going to start seeing some cuts shortly…

    I think we will see Walker Buehler in the rotation by May. Someone will drop or faulter.

    I heard that Urias has picked up his pace in throwing.

    1. we could see buehler in the rotation even without a problem. with our constant shuffling and 10-day DLing, we could basically go with a 6-man crew.

      and at a certain point we need to ease maeda back into the bullpen where he was a major force last postseason.

  10. Sure looks like Forsythe wants 2nd base all to himself and a big paycheck next year. On the other hand Utley looks like he can’t see the ball.

  11. I had the game on in my office today and while I had to step out a few times, I did see most of it. I have a few observations:

    Chase Utley looks totally over-matched at the plate.

    Andrew Toles deserves a spot on this team, but so did Chris Taylor last year.

    Don’t forget about Henry Ramos – he could be VERY good.

    Ruiz continues to look like pro.

    I still say Logan Forsythe will have a career year.

    Broussard has looked serviceable.

    Joc got a hit…

    1. i’m willing to give kemp a shot. there’s little upside in letting him go for nothing in return. i say give toles the starting LF job, put joc and kemp on the bench, make kiké more of a back-up infielder, and go down to 12 pitchers.

      1. Barnes, Peter/Utley, Kike. Only room for one more OF.

        The upside in letting Kemp go for nothing, is that in his best recent season he has contributed basically nothing.

        I’d love to see him do well, but he hasn’t.

      2. Toles is my guy in LF if it is truly a competition. Joc had better AB’s today. He got robbed of what looked like his second hit. It’s unfortunate that Toles has gotten pigeon-holed as a platoon player. In limited opportunities against lefties in the big leagues, he’s produced.

    2. I’ve said before that Utley looks like a guess hitter the last few years. He started something like 5 for 50 last season before he found his stroke for a while. I think he gets a long rope from FAZ for better or worse.

    1. I was going to post that. They’ve lost Honeywell too. Their manager was talking about a 4 man rotation with a lot of pen work. Tough to get Archer out of them with so few options available to pitch. The Dodgers should be after Colome.

    2. i must admit i was in favor of the forsythe trade when it occurred. he filled an immediate need and for a nice two-year span, i never felt deleon was the guy for us. pretty girlfriend though.

  12. Let me put this into perspective:

    If the Dodgers traded Verdugo and Buehler along with Kemp, they might find a taker, but I don’t think so. Therefore, since FAZ owes Kemp $43 Million they HAVE to give him a chance to earn it. He will start the season in LF, but he can’t just play “OK,” he can’t just play “Good,” because they have Verdugo, Toles and maybe JOC who can be OK or Good.

    Matt Kemp is held to a different standard and if he is just “good” he will not be there. This is the way it is going to start. You don’t have to embrace it, you don’t have to like it, but you need to accept it because it is reality! Matt Kemp will be in LF unless he is injured or doesn’t produce. There are no other options.

    Will he be there in May, June, July, September? I have no clue or prediction, but he is going to start the season as the Dodgers LF’er!

    BTW, a scout friend told me when De Leon was traded that he needed TJ. He told me that right after the trade. He’s pretty smart!

    1. watch us spin kemp for an even worse player due 43 mil over 3 years. i bet our front office is checking as we speak.

      1. If Kemp does well, they will keep him.

        If he doesn’t, they will release him… and someone might sign him for the minimum.

        There will be no trade. Not now. Not ever.

  13. No other options? Sure there is. Toles is better. Kike had a .slug pct over .500 against lefties last year. The Dodgers may prefer versatility. They don’t have to put him on the roster because of salary. I think they might, but like someone else mentioned, he was traded for with no intention to have him on the roster. Verdugo will be knocking on the door. Make that beating on the door by June 1st. Toles, Joc, Kike, and Verdugo can all play more positions at an acceptable defensive level than Kemp. Doc was pretty non-committal in an interview I listened to recently. Primarily because Kemp hasn’t been tested and hasn’t had to do anything athletically defensively. Let us not forget that Doc was in the dugout with him in SD for a season so he’s seen Kemp’s act up close. He was saying all the right things when he was traded to SD. Let us not forget that his home was in SD and they made a ton of moves, Kemp was saying all the right things initially. I trust Doc to know whether he can count on Kemp or not.

    1. I agree with that.

      Friedman, Zaidi and Alex Anthopoulos are friends. The trade was make to help both teams, but I think Anthopoulos tried to trade Kemp and FAZ knew what they were up against with Kemp. Yeah, I know what they told him (allegedly), but I think they knew they might get a new Matt Kemp. It’s a risk, but FAZ has shown they are not averse to that. I do not predict it, but at 40 pounds lighter, Matt Kemp will move better, play defense better and have a better game. He wants to be a Dodger and that can even add to that. Matt Kemp could have an MVP-TYPE Season. Do I believe he will? NO! But he could… and FAZ would be really dumb not to find out!

      1. I was listening to the Podcast on Dodgers Digest. They said they would start believing it could happen when they see the opposite field HR with the high bat finish. I agree they could give him a shot because they won’t be afraid to pull the plug at the first sign of being a bad teammate.

        1. I have never been a Matt Kemp fan, but now that they have to pay him, they HAVE to see if he can deliver.

          I would be fine with Verdugo or Toles in LF, but Kemp is only 33 and could have a good or great year left.

          I can relate to Matt Kemp is certain ways. We are about the same size and I started losing my flexibility and speed in my early 30’s. I lost my power in my late 30’s. The similarity ends there. I was never that good, but I know what arthritic hips do to you. I also know what happens when you go from 250 to 210. It’s amazing. Sadly, I am still at 240. I don’t think Matt Kemp has two years left… but he might have one.

    2. Hawkeye

      If my choices or Joc or Kemp, I rather have Kemp.

      There is no way Joc can hit better then Kemp, and Kemp has plenty of power.

      I know you brought up Kemp’s OBP, but in his last year with the Dodgers, he had a pretty good OBP.

      If Kemp can hit like he can, I think his bat would make much more of a profound difference, in our line up, then anyone else, especially for Cody.

      And I trust that Roberts would not tolerate any BS from Kemp, just like you do.

      And you know I like Toles a lot, and I think your right about Toles hitting against lefties, because he hit against lefties last year, in clutch situations.

      I hate a young player to be pegged as a platoon hitter, without really getting a good chance, to excell.

      And Kemp has never been my favorite player, I just think Kemp will make the team better.

      Because we haven’t got much out of leftfield in the last few years, and the trade deadline trades for outfielders, has never worked out.

      I would have rather saw Ethier get a chance last year, or Verdugo, because you were right about Granderson, from day one!

      1. our outfield situation is really amazing. I have about 10 [really, 12] legitimate players on my radar even though half are prospects:

        mlb: puig, taylor, joc, kemp, toles [trayce is in limbo]
        minors: Verdugo, diaz, peters, kendall, Heredia [beaty is fringe for me]

        while that group doesn’t have quite the lock-down [with the exception of 2b] potential of our infield, it is still plenty deep and more than enough to get us to where we want to go.

        more and more it’s the long-term status of the rotation that concerns me. we may be forced to package some prospect depth to get a young, cost-controlled SP.

  14. The Rays are probably going to go with a 4 man rotation and in the absence of a day off, use a bullpen game for the fifth starter. They will start the season that way and for now, probably continue with it all season.
    Considering their Division includes the Red Sox and Yankees, they aren’t going to get to the playoffs anyway, might they be better off trading Archer and try to be a more entertaining team?
    Puig, Maeda, and Stewart would give them 2 pitchers for one and fill out their 5 man rotation and Puig would give fans something to get excited about. Verdugo and Toles fans here would get to see more of them in LA.

    1. The Rays would not want Puig or Maeda as they would cost too much. They probably don’t want Stewart either, unless it’s as a 3rd prospect. They would take Joc and would want Buehler and Verdugo as well. The fact is, they haven’t had good luck with pitchers gotten from LA.

      1. I don’t see an archer deal happening but if it did, I think it would be something like buehler/Verdugo/smith for archer/reliever. or if white or alvarez instead of buehler, add stewart or ferguson and a lottery ticket (Heredia or jimenez). it’s all speculation.

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