Dodger Chatter: The Third Connor

Dodger minor league enthusiasts are very familiar with Connor Wong who was selected by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2017 First-Year player Draft out of the University of Houston. The 22-year-old catcher is now plying his trade with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the  High-A California League.

During the current season he has posted a .272/.337/543 triple slash along with 11 home runs and 28 runs batted in. He has played primarily behind the plate with a three game trial at second base.

Connor Joe burst upon the scene with the Tulsa Drillers of the AA Texas League after being acquired by the Dodgers from the Atlanta Braves for International Bonus Pool Money last September. He is a former 39th overall selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the University of San Diego in 2014. Playing primarily as a third baseman the 25-year-old Joe has posted a slash line of .328/.458/.604 during the 2018 season along with eight home runs and 20 runs batted in.

Meanwhile with the Great Lakes Loons of the Class-A Midwest League Connor Strain has launched his professional career after  an injury related delay. The 6’1”/181-pound right-hander was selected by the Dodgers in the ninth round of the 2017 June draft out of the University of Evansville.

The fifth-year senior having red-shirted the 2016 season with a forearm injury recorded a 2-5 record in 2017, but put up other impressive numbers posting a 2.62 ERA in 14 starts while striking out 68 batters in just over 68 innings of work.

His 2.62 ERA in 2017 was the second-best in the Missouri Valley Conference and tops among all full-time starting pitchers in the league. He was recognized for his efforts with a berth on the All-Conference First Team.

Evansville head baseball coach, Wes Carroll, describes Strain as a competitor who has overcome adversity through injury. In an  interview with the Courier Press Carroll spoke of his main pitching weapons.

“Connor throws a heavy sinker, 91 to 93 (mph). It feels like a bowling ball when you try to hit it,” Carroll said. “The key for him is he was able to get his off speed over for a strike to feed off it. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is off the charts and being a ground-ball pitcher, you’re going to have a lot of success.”

As with all youngsters Strain no doubt expected to be drafted but yet was pleasantly surprised when he found out he had been drafted by the Dodgers.

“It is pretty cool.  “I didn’t know until a scout from the Dodgers called me.  I kind of blacked out and said, ‘I’m really excited,’ over and over.”

“Getting drafted is like a dream come true. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. I know I will have to continue to work hard every day to make the most of it. I hope one day that I could be wearing Dodger Blue in the major leagues.”

Strain , now 23,  did not make another appearance following the completion of his college year in 2017. He finally was able to make his 2018 professional debut with the Loons on May 17 pitching two scoreless innings against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

In five appearances with the Loons over 8.1 innings he has posted a 2.16 ERA and a WHIP of 0.96.  He has walked two and struck out four. His ground out/fly out ratio is 2.8.

A quick one Mark.  If you have trouble with Walker, not sure how you can handle Strain.

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT – 06-02-18 by AlwaysCompete


OKC – 4-2 Win over Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals)

Daniel Corcino started and went 6.0 strong innings allowing 1 unearned run on 4 hits and 1 walk, with 6 K’s.  In 37 AAA innings, Corcino now has a 1.95 ERA.  Brian Schlitter and Pat Venditte pitched the final three innings with Schlitter getting the win and Venditte getting the save.  Tim Locastro went 2-3 with a walk, including his 3rdHR.  Edwin Rios went 2-4 with his 2nddouble.  Henry Ramos (9) and Kyle Farmer (4) also contributed doubles in the game.  Rios continues to swing the bat well, but is not yet showing the power.  He is hitting .333, and has only struck out 5 times in 31 PA.

Locastro now has a .899 OPS from the leadoff spot, and that is not good enough to have the best leadoff OPS in the organization.  That honor goes to Gavin Lux with a .934.


Tulsa – 3-2 Loss to Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)

Errol Robinson led off the 1stby getting on base after an error.  Yusniel Diaz followed with his 4thtriple scoring Robinson.  Diaz was followed by a run scoring single by Connor Joe.  With the first three batters, the Drillers had a 2-0 lead.  But that was all they were going to get on this night.  Mitchell White has struggled for most of his starts this year, but last night he pitched liked the highly thought of prospect hs is.  He went 5.0 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits and 3 walks with 6 strike out.  Corey Copping followed with 2 more scoreless innings for his 5thhold.  After pitching a scoreless 8thinning Dylan Baker came out to try to nail down the save for Mitchell White.  Unfortunately, Baker allowed a run with a sac fly but with two outs in the 9th, Baker surrendered a 2 run HR and the lead.  The Drillers could not score in the home half of the 9thand lost 3-2.

Keibert Ruiz did not get a hit, but he did his part defensively by throwing out a would be base stealer and a picked off of a runner at 1st, both in the 2ndinning.  Ruiz might be distancing himself over Will Smith while he is on the DL.


Rancho Cucamonga – 8-2 Win over Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies)

Gavin Lux led off the bottom of the 1stwith his 7thHR.  He has now hit a HR in 3 consecutive games, with 2 while leading off.  Very Rickey Henderson.  Gavin now has an OPS of .934.  Rylan Bannon hit his league lead tieing 13thHR.  The offensive star was catcher Steve Berman who went 2-3 with 4 RBI’s.  He hit a 3 run HR (2) in the 4th.  Logan Landon (2-4), Zach McKinstry (2-4), and Saige Jenco (2-4) all had multi-hit games.  Jeren Kendall contributed his 13thdouble of the season.  Berman also picked a runner of 1st.

Isaac Anderson started and pitched a quality 4 scoreless innings.  Stetson Allie pitched a scoreless 5th, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced.  Ryan Moseley, Marshall Kasowski, and Logan Salow finished up for the Quakes.  The Quakes pitchers struck out 11 and only walked a single batter.

The 5thconsecutive victory moved the Quakes into a 1stplace tie with Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) and Lake Elsinor Storm (Padres).  The JetHawks are now a game back in the tight 4 team California League Southern Division with 14 games to go in the 1sthalf.


Great Lakes – 5-3 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)

Alfredo Tavarez started and pitched the first 4.0 innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and 5 K’s.  Melvin Jimenez continued his 2018 struggles by allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 K’s in his 2 innings of work.  Dan Jagiello and Connor Strain pitched the final 3 innings without allowing any additional runs.

Catcher Gersel Pitre and SS Moises Perez each went 2-4.  Romer Cuadrado hit his 2ndHR, while Moises Perez (7) and Carlos Rincon (12) each had doubles.






This article has 33 Comments

  1. Strain pitched two innings for the Loons last night striking out three, walking two and giving up no hits lowering his ERA to 1.74. His GO/AO ratio improved to 3.20.
    With Marshall Kasowski promoted to RC, Strain will see more late inning work with the Loons before a promotion to RC. Because of his late start through injury he has to get on the fast track which he just might have started.

  2. A very nice win last night, hoping for the sweep today.
    Hope Roberts leaves Valera at second and lets him play, see what he can do.
    Gavin Lux is 15 for 42 in his last 10 games,( 5 of which are multi-hit games )with 6 homers and 13 RBI’s, batting .357. He is playing well, hope to see him with Tulsa at some point this season.

    1. Lux certainly deserves to get the promotion. He has been outstanding all season since his 1-20 start. Bannon is another who should get the call for Tulsa.

    2. Lux going from disappointment to Lux-ury. He could be a second baseman deLux.
      Hope everybody had their coffee and breakfast before reading the above

      1. coffee yes, so I approve of your punny comments.

        But I agree. He was 1st round pick, and he’s hot now. Send him to Tulsa and see what he’s got!

        1. And the kid stays hot. He led off the bottom of the 1st with his 7th HR of the season; 3rd consecutive day with a HR; 2nd in 3 days leading off in the 1st. Not to be outdone, Rylan Bannon hit his league lead tieing 13th HR of the season. As well as his league lead tieing RBI lead with 36. As I said above (and last week, and the week before), these two need to get moved up to see what they can do at AA. That is the biggest jump, so they might as well get that shot while they are hot.

  3. Connor Strain is the perfect Billy Gasparino 9th /10th round selection. He was a college player with skills but with zero financial leverage, saving unspent bonus dollars for that HS player who can be bought out with the right offer in the 11th round. Connor signed for $1,500, as did 10th round selection Zach Reks. This allowed the Dodgers to save bonus dollars for their 11th round selection, HS SS Jacob Amaya, who was bought out of his Cal St. Fullerton commitment for $247,500. There actually is strategy in the draft.
    Investment wise, they are in a no better situation than my son was when he signed for $1,000 as a 26th round selection, but just as my son was, they are just happy for the CHANCE. I do think Connor’s ceiling is that of a middle reliever. Nothing wrong with that. Every team needs one, so it might as well be Connor Strain. Just like Reks, Connor Strain is the type of kid you have to root…For Love of the Game.

    1. I’ve always believed that American draftees have resented the money the Cuban players received while competing with them in the lower minor leagues. I also believe that going from poverty to wealth does not make for motivation especially in a new country and surrounded by a language they don’t speak.
      It isn’t easy for a player like Stewart to bounce back and forth from earning $100 per game to $3148 per game. Maybe a player should get a minimum of 10 games of MLB pay each time they are called up when they are on the shuttle.

    2. AC

      I know it has only been a month, but I would love to hear your thoughts on Cody, right now?

  4. Cody not in the line-up against a RHP. Doc says it gives him two days off (Monday is an off day) to assist him in his protracted slump. He better make an adjustment soon or else………? If Joc continues to hit, he’ll lay claim to CF, Toles will be activated Tuesday for OKC and with Muncy providing some competitive AB’s, Cody just might find himself in OKC.

    Don’t get me wrong I love Cody but his struggles are well chronicled and as of right now there is little evidence to think he’ll snap out of it anytime soon. I love his long HR’s but his maximum “home run” or bust swing is not playing so well in the big leagues right now. I think if he would make better use of using the entire field and go the other way once in awhile he would see perhaps some different pitching. His swing and misses on FB’s right down the middle is a problem and I can see the FO tiring of his inability to come through in clutch situations. Yesterday I think he had a couple of RBI opportunities including a runner on 3B with less than two outs and he K’d.

  5. Like the lineup today, the hottest hitters Kemp, CT3, Puig and Joc stay in and JT (along with Puig) have hit Bettis in the past. Another high scoring game is likely, need 6 innings out of Wood. Cody needed a day off and Muncy steps in. The NL West has really tightened up in the last week.

  6. What’s the over/under of the total number of times Forsythe swings at a first pitch today? Let’s set the base at one.
    My bet is under.

    1. He’ll work many 3-2 counts and then swing and miss multiple times today. Wash, rinse, repeat.

      1. Should have played Valera to begin with. Forsyth can’t hit period but some chance against a lefty. I’m glad Wood had plenty of rest.

  7. Wood doesn’t have it. Spasms must have meant something. Get him out of there.

  8. Max freaking Muncy I understand the fascination!! Start him over Forsyth or somebody he has earned it!!

  9. What is it with dodger pitchers losing velocity? Kershaw he is hurt, Wood? Stewart? Jansen? May have his back. Maybe they are all hurt or have been.

  10. Watford my Man – Coors is an amusement park, not to confused with a ballpark…
    But, how bout those Dodgers???

  11. Tieing run scores on a bad pick-off and an error? And Forsythe is in there for his glove?

  12. This team has shown nothing but a great spirit, throughout this series, with the Rockies!

    1. Look at the Rockies, they really look beaten down, because our players never stopped coming back, in this entire series.

      As fans, we can’t ask for more, from our players, because they took this to the Rockies, all weekend long!

      What a series!

  13. The error was brutal, but Logan got a couple of key hits today and Muncy has some raw power. Tough to make sense of Coors Field numbers but 33 runs in 3 games is crazy. The Dodgers bullpen was the difference in this series.

  14. Great series sweep against the former 1st place Rockies including come-from-behind wins. Offense wakes up – 2 hr games from Joc and Muncy. Pitching not good but was the offense overcame that. On to Pittsburgh! i wonder who will start? They used Stewart as a reliever today. The past 3 games were Alexander (really Santana), Buehler and Wood. Stripling goes Tuesday – who goes Wednesday?

      1. They have already said that they are not going to take a chance on Hill without a rehab game. Banuelos more likely than Ferguson. They would have to drop someone from the 40 man to get either one up onto the 25 man. PJ Conlin, Rob Segedin, and Daniel Hudson would all be considered.
        I do think Wood is hurt. I hope he is honest with the trainers as he does not need to take a chance on the arm hiding a leg injury.

        1. Buehler is also supposed to get an extra day’s rest. I have no idea where they are going to come up with the pitching.

  15. Probably a bullpen game on Wed with Stewart able to go 3 or so after throwing 1.2 innings today. Maeda is eligible to come off the DL on the 9th I believe (he is already throwing and they say he will not need a rehab start) There are off days the 11th and 14th during upcoming home stand so the team is potentially out of the woods soon. If there was ever a team that would benefit from a 6 man rotation (when they have 6 guys healthy) this is the team. It seems like they want to give everyone an extra day anyway.

  16. A great article by Buster Olney at about the changing nature of baseball;

    An excerpt” “There’s almost nothing for me to do [during a game],” another longtime manager said recently. “You change the pitchers, and you wait for somebody to hit a home run. You’re not doing nearly as much stuff as you used to. You don’t even think about doing some of that stuff.””

    “The game’s three true outcomes — the strikeout, the walk, the home run — have increased exponentially, and like invasive species, they are swallowing other parts of the game.”

    “The change is mostly about the game’s growing aversion to risk”

    Don’t you hate it?

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