Dodger Chatter: Sleeper Alert

The minor league rosters have pretty much taken shape and there  are some surprises with the assignments at the various levels. Some players unexpectedly were assigned to higher levels while others return to the same level although their 2017 performance might have suggested otherwise. Still others will participate in extended spring training and the Driveline program. Regrettably, a few have already been inexplicably released, such as right-handers Logan Crouse and Alex Hermeling.

A number of the 2017 draftees and acquisitions have yet to make their professional debuts while some have had only a very few innings pitched or a very few at bats.

For me, I have always loved the “sleeper alerts” with drafted players. That is, players with  top-10 round possibilities being available in the mid-teen rounds or later. Left-hander Caleb Ferguson, who was a 38th round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, would be a classic example of a sleeper in that he was drafted while recovering from TJ surgery. Other young players, especially pitchers, who have impressive fastballs and/or breaking pitchers but have mechanical difficulties or command issues are often passed over. But, not always, and hence become sleepers who have the potential for development and become bonus picks for teams.

One of the Dodgers sleeper picks was Andre Jackson who was selected in the 12th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Utah. He had previously been picked in the 32nd round in 2014  draft by the Texas Rangers but chose not to sign out of high school. Perhaps the Rangers later felt they dodged a bullet.

He was born in Tucson, Arizona and attended high school at Cinenega High School in Vail, located just a short distance southeast of Tucson. After his high school graduation the 6’3”/187-pound right-hander headed off to the University of Utah  but pitched only 20.2 innings over two years with the Utes. He did play 34 games as a clutch hitting outfielder and designated hitter.

In November of 2016 Jackson had the now almost commonplace TJ surgery and missed the entire 2017 season. Yet the Dodgers selected him as early as the 12th round.

The rehabbing Jackson served as a bit of an inspiration when addressing his Utes teammates and learned a valuable baseball lesson as a result of his injury.

“I told them we take the game for granted,” Jackson said. “Being able to throw a baseball at all, we take that for granted. That was something I couldn’t do a month ago. I told the team if there was something I could give you guys is don’t take anything for granted, because this game could be taken away from you just like that. I think that put things in perspective.”

Utah’s head coach, Bill Kinneberg, lamented the loss of Jackson while revealing how important he was to the team and had expressed optimism he would still be selected in the 2017 draft.

“Without him playing a single inning and getting drafted that tells you what we lost this year with his injury,” said Kinneberg, who noted that Jackson is a two-way guy that can pitch a lot of innings, be a force on offense and be a defensive factor in the outfield.

Kinneberg added that Jackson is “going to give an organization a really good arm to project and mold. His surgery and rehab have gone great.”

Prior to the June draft, Perfect Game released a scouting report on Andre Jackson: “Jackson red shirted in ’17 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, definitely giving him the profile of a significantly deep sleeper. When healthy, Jackson is a hyper-athletic right-handed pitcher with a good deal of the components that scouts look for in pitching prospects; even with the injury. He’s got plus arm speed with a fastball that has been into the mid-90’s; and his athleticism allow scouts to project a quality command profile long term. He’s a very deep sleeper at this point; but a team could most certainly take a chance on him on Day 3.”

Dodgers Director of Amateur Scouting , Billy Gasparino, took the chance.

“We think he switches over to being a full-time pitcher,” Gasparino said. “He’s almost through his Tommy John rehab. We really think he’s an exciting talent on the mound.”

Andre Jackson, now 21, should make his way to the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League during the 2018 season. Limiting his innings no doubt will preclude any further advancement during the season.


This article has 41 Comments

  1. Clayton seems to have been afflicted with the home run bug.
    Chris Vosters, Loons play-by-play announcer, tells me that J.D. Underwood is still on the Loons restricted list simply because MiLB, for whatever reason, has not removed him from the roster.

    1. Also, every source I have been able to tap says that Shawn Zarraga was released March 30, when the Dodgers signed catcher Cael Brockmeyer. Why they made that move, I have no idea, and I could not hazard a good guess. Zarraga is a far better hitter and has more knowledge of the Dodger pitchers. But he is still listed on the current roster which stands at 26, so there is obviously a move that needs to be made before tomorrow’s game, and I would assume that Zarraga is the move off the roster.
      There will also have to be another move when Zach Neal is optioned back to OKC when Fields returns from paternity leave. My guess it will come down to a choice between Neal, CC Lee, and Cesar Ramos. One of those three is going to Extended Spring Training.

      1. According to BA Ramos has been released also. I expect we will have to wait until tomorrow for minor league rosters to firm up.
        Jesus Liranzo designated for assignment hoping he will clear waivers.
        Baseball America:
        Signed: RHP Logan Ondrusek (did not play in 2017)
        Released: RHP Jordan Jankowski | RHP Osiris Ramirez | LHP Cesar Ramos | LHP Christian Stolo | LHP Francis Cespedes | C Shawn Zarraga | 3B Jose Brizuela | SS Kevin Lachance
        Traded: RHP Adam Bray to Twins and C Garrett Kennedy and OF Ariel Sandoval to Mariners for cash
        Loaned to Mexican League: RHP Saul Castellanos (to Laguna)

        1. Liranzo figures to be the 26th man on Tulsa, and will have to clear waivers before he can officially be added. If he is added, then there will need to be an additional move at that time.
          Releasing Jankowski opens a spot for another player as well. Will that be a position player like Matt Beaty, or one of the relievers who have not yet been assigned?

  2. Justin Verlander also gave up two HR last night. I think that with good pitchers hitters are guessing and going for all or nothing.

    In Kershaw’s case, both HR were on the second pitch of the at-bat. With Descalso, the first pitch was a fastball and so was the second one, which he hit out. With Peralta, tghe first pitch was a slider and so was the second pitch.

    In each case, both pitches were within 1 MPH of each other. Clayton’s slider was not sharp last night, but I think that he needs to develop a great changeup. He’s still an elite pitcher, but a changeup would be killer.

    What bothers me the most is that the entire team is cold at times. Last night, Mike Stanton struck out 5 times and stranded 8 runners, but DiDi Gregorius drove all 8 in. That’s what the Dodgers are poor at: Picking each other up.

    1. They weren’t last year. Other than Turner being gone and Kemp being there, what’s different?

      Is it Roberts’ spring strategy? Is it simply a reflection of how hard it is to recapture the magic of a great season, especially when the team stands pat?

      1. How can you say that they stood pat?

        They have 6 players on the Opening Day roster who were not there last year. They didn’t make wholesale changes because they didn’t need to. The Astros have 5 or 6 new players on their roster too. I don’t see making changes just for the sake of change.

        This team is too deep and talented – they will get it together!

        1. they definitely stood pat. Koehler and Utley were their only real new money handed out. Kemp was a salary dump. Avilan was “upgraded” to Alexander and a few more 1% moves on the margins. it’s not a put-down.

          1. They pretty much stood pat and by the end of the season that might be just fine. The Dodgers counted on the development of their young core to be enough. The priority was getting under the luxury tax and creating long-term stability not improving the ball club for this season.

  3. First and foremost, thanks DC & AC for the Dodger minor lg. updates and rookie previews…
    I’m gone a week and staring at a, what is it, a 2-4 record!?!? As Mick Jagger would say, “I’m shattered, I’m in tatters”…
    Early indictments on Kersh, a mistake we must live with in Kenley Jansen and a team that is poor at picking each other up!!!
    6 @#$%^ games in and besides Yamani’s MVP I don’t get it… I think I’ll go and light some candles…
    Good luck Trayce…

    1. it’s too soon to call KJ a mistake

      I agree that this team’s malaise can’t be excused away

      we might have some real issues that will keep us from being a superteam just yet

      losing JT was bigger than we may have realized

      kemp in LF . . . I don’t know how long we’ll give him a shot

      we have young hungry left-fielders just waiting to get in there and turn heads

      ohtani would’ve been a real nice fit here, even better than stanton

      1. Counterpoint: We currently have no shut-down relievers.
        We are 5 games into the season.
        We ARE a superteam because of our depth and our farm system (which play bigger over the course of a season than in a weekly span).
        Turner’s spot is being aptly held by Keekay.
        Matt Kemp has proven himself and just needs time to get going.
        Neither Toles nor Verdugo impressed enough during spring training to force our hand.
        We have prospects and money to make an impact move at the deadline.

    2. Hawkeye

      I agree with you about having days off, at the beginning of the season.

      They need consistent at bats right now, to get in the groove.

      I felt the same about our starters getting days off, at the beginning of the season too.

      I also thought the Dodgers had a lot of days off, early in the season.

  4. Wonderful article.

    More like this.

    If I could, I’d love to get a little glimpse into his stuff and mechanics, but beggars cannot be choosers.

  5. JohnShade… I agree JS, I was being facetious and besides that I was bullS’ing…
    I believe in this team and once again I see no reason we can’t repeat a WS visit with different results… (Gm. 5 still haunts me)… My mantra ” You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil has to be lead”… That should get MT going…

  6. Hi Pete, I’m with you, long way to go.

    Watching the Dodgers on ESPN with my son – he fancies another US road trip.

    Could do with a win today.

  7. This is just like last year. Either everybody hits or nobody hits. And last year turned out pretty good.

    1. As was Seager swinging at a borderline 3-1 pitch with the tying run on deck. I disagree with Mark’s take on Kenley yesterday. I don’t have a problem paying him the money, but I do have a problem not getting him ready to start the season. He was out there the other night working on pitches, mainly his slider, like it was spring training. Instead of finishing the game off, he wound up walking two hitters and blowing the game. Losses count in the standings the same in April as they do in September. I’m tired in general off all the babying of players. The babied Urias to death and where is he right now.

      They have tomorrow off and I believe Fields returning. Yet, they let Woods hit in the 6th. Bellinger sitting on the bench with a day off tomorrow and plenty of off days coming up. A 22-year-old kid should be out there playing.

      1. These so-called ‘scheduled days off’ are crazy. Maybe Doc needs to take one. Or two.

  8. Well, the $#%&@*)% is getting serious, so I am going to fly to San Francisco and get these guys straightened out.

    My wife and I will be there Sunday to see Clayton pitch. Section CL225, Row I, Seats 9 &10.

    I have a party to go to Friday night and it’s all day Saturday in Napa – my wife is “forcing” me to do some wine tasting. We fly out Sunday Night at 9 PM, so we should be able to see the whole game.

    I’ll get this straightened out!

    1. Give ’em hell (and grab a Western Bacon Blue Ring burger at Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena).

        1. Rutherford Grill used to have some great homemade potato chips smothered in blue cheese for an appetizer.
          Mustard’s Grill is also a good spot for lunch.

    2. Maybe you should get there sooner and not wait until Sunday to straighten them out.

  9. April showers bring May flowers and potentially lots of rain outs. Holes in schedules early in the season allows a series to be completed on schedule.
    Kemp is a fan favorite but he isn’t what Mark says he is, not any more. He could be gone as soon as the end of April.

    1. I have never said he was anything… just that he could be. You also happen to be talking about the ONLY Dodger who had a hit today.

      Kemp has not been great, but I think it’s premature to think he could be gone by the end of April, Mr. Bums Trade Yasiel So Joc Can Play Rap! 😉

      Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .059, Evan Longoria is at .053 and the list of stars hitting below .150 is huge. It’s obviously early and is silly to judge Kemp on a few AB’s.

      The guy who needs to worry about his job is Joc.

      1. Give ’em hell (and grab a Western Bacon Blue Ring burger at Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena). :0)

    1. I am far from upset and my BP is 110/79. I’m just having fun giving it back to Bum. He can take it!

  10. What do you think Mark, if we keep taking on water hitting wise, do we see Toles in about a week? Sometimes all it takes is a new face with a hot bat.

    1. It’s really too soon to do that… maybe by the end of April.

      Barnes and Grandal and Kershaw are the only ones on the team hitting over .250.

      Taylor, Bellinger, Kemp, Seager, Hernandez, Puig, Pederson, Forsythe and Farmer simply are not hitting, but we are only 7 games in.

      The Dodgers are up to 25th in hitting at .202. By the way, the Cubs are hitting .204 and the Giants are hitting .209. This too shall pass. The key word is DON’T PANIC!

    2. It’s early so I’m not going to jump to any conclusions about this offense, but if it doesn’t get going and if Kemp doesn’t find a swing I would rather see two of Toles, Joc, or Verdugo in the lineup with Taylor in the infield. I don’t think it ever happens, but a jump start may be needed by a young player at some point. Kemp has been a streaky hitter so hopefully, he finds something. There are a lot of bad batting averages right now that can only go up and the law of averages say they will, but Kemp hasn’t hit a ball hard yet. Puig’s average stinks and he’s chasing a little but he’s hit at least 4 balls on the screws for outs so far.

      Kemp’s play in LF in game 1 of the AZ series was a nice play. Got to tip my cap on that one. The play he made in the corner in LA was a routine ball though that every LF in baseball makes. Kemp’s route to the ball definitely made me hold my breath on that one though. He made a diving catch on a routine ball last night. It takes a little longer to get the big body moving these days even with less weight.

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