Dodger Chatter: 3M – Montgomery, McKinstry, Morales

On Saturday, AC had an amazing summary of the Dodgers minor league middle infielders. Two players that were mentioned that have not drawn a lot of attention are third baseman Brandon Montgomery and shortstop Zach McKinstry. Actually their listed position is in name only as they have played at a number of positions during their minor league careers. These guys are among the many foot soldiers in minor league baseball. They give all they have every time against incredible odds. In my opinion they are the foundation of all baseball, minor league and major league. Without the foot soldiers and  only with the high profile minor leaguers, there could be no minor league system.

Brandon Montgomery:

Montgomery was selected by the Dodgers in the 26th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of San Jacinto Community College North in the greater Houston area.

Born in Houston, the 6’0”/180-pound right-handed hitter attended Collerville High School in Collierville, Tennessee. Others names we might recognize as alumni of Collierville are Zack Cozart and  “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry. Only we older folks will remember Throneberry who played in the fifties and early sixties.

Way back in high school Brandon Montgomery was acknowledged for his defense scoring  a seven out of a possible eight in the area of arm strength, glove work, and footwork along with an eight on accuracy.

During the 2016 college season with San Jacinto Montgomery led the  Gators in batting average while posting a triple slash of .379/.405/.591. He drove in 40 runs along with 6 home runs and 19 doubles. He also stole 30 bases from the lead off spot in the lineup. Coincidentally he was a teammate, and fellow Dodger draftee, of right-hander Devin Smeltzer who was recently traded to the Minnesota Twins in the Brian Dozier trade.

Montgomery began his professional baseball career with the AZL Dodgers on June 20, 2016 where he posted a triple slash of .348/.398/.461 in 23 games before moving on to the Great Lakes Loons. With the Loons his slash line in 35 games was .329/.377/.636.

He returned to the Loons for 8 games during the 2017 season before being promoted to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League.  He finished the season with the Quakes hitting .252 along with 45 runs batted in.

The 22-year-old Montgomery again started the 2018 season back with the Loons where he played 92 games before moving up once again to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on August 1. His power numbers improved as he hit nine home runs but his OBP slipped to .285 with the Great Lakes squad.

Defensively during his professional career Montgomery has played 101 games at second base, 95 at third base, 27 at shortstop and 26 in the outfield. He is a utility player in a role that is becoming ever more important who now must improve his OBP by producing a better walk-to-strikeout ratio. He will do that.

Zach McKinstry:

I have followed McKinstry since he was selected by the Dodgers in the 33rd round of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. I especially took notice when he was advanced to the Loons in 2016 and became an important cog in their championship run by moving to  the third base position, a position he had not previously played. The 5’11”/165-pound McKinstry solidified the position and the infield helping out his teenage infield partners, shortstop Brendon Davis and second baseman Omar Estevez.

McKinstry grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and attended North Side High School in Fort Wayne. Following his graduation from high school he moved east to Central Michigan University to take up a regular spot as their shortstop.

As a sophomore, he led the Chippewas in several categories in 2016, including batting average (.325), on base percentage (.415), hits (79) and stolen bases (12), earning team Co-MVP honors. He started at shortstop in all 61 games during the 2016 season.

On July 21, 2016 he made his debut with the Loons and on the season he hit .261 in 41 games while playing shortstop, second base and third base.

During the 2017 season he played 17 games with the Loons, 82 with the Quakes and 15 with the Drillers, hitting a combined  uncharacteristically low .239 and as with Montgomery seeing his OBP slip below .300 with the Quakes.  In the field he split his time equally between second base and third base while also making starts at shortstop.

McKinstry’s problems in 2017 began during the off-season when he sprained his wrist while lifting weights. It wasn’t a serious injury, but it took time away from his off-season work and was reflected in his 2017 campaign.

In a somewhat disappointing fashion for McKinstry he started the 2018 season back with the Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League. However, amid his disappointment he took a positive out of the setback.

“The good part is that I know my way around here, and I’m familiar with everything,” McKinstry said.

“And I have a lot of friends from around here and in Mount Pleasant. It’s not hard for them to come see me play.”

The better part for McKinstry is that after 18 games in 2018 with the Loons in which he hit .377 he was promoted to the Quakes. The best part is that after 33 games with the Quakes in which he hit .308 with an OBP of .447 he advanced once again to the Drillers. He did miss a full month on the DL in May and June.

To date with the Drillers he is still trying to get his feet under him with seven hits in 34 at bats. He will. During the 2018 season he has played more shortstop and second base with some time at third base and in the outfield. He too is increasing his value by his versatility and one day may well be a MLB team jack-of-all-trades.

Brayan Morales:

Morales is the third”M”, another foot soldier. He is an outfielder and not a utility infielder as are Montgomery and McKinstry. He is also a member of the same drafting class as the two infielders.

A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, he was selected by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Florida. Although he was born in Puerto Rico, Morales played high school baseball at Haines City High School in central Florida having moved there as a youngster. Haines City is about a half-hour south of Orlando.

Morales who throws left-handed, but hits from the right side of the plate, had hoped to be drafted following his graduation from high school. He described himself as “athletic” and ran the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds. He played high school basketball but gave it up to devote his time specifically to baseball and baseball training.

Following his high school graduation, Morales registered at Hillsborough Community College. The 6’1”/170-pound center fielder had a banner year as a sophomore in 2016. He posted a triple slash of .354/.425/.566 with 19 doubles, six triples and three home runs in 47 games along with 24 steals in 32 attempts. That earned him first team All-Conference honors.

He  had a pair of 16-game hitting streaks during the 2016 season. His second streak included 11 multi-hit games. During those 16 games, he hit a Ted Williams like .406, along with 14 extra-base hits and 21 runs scored.

At the time of his signing by the Dodgers, Jonathan Mayo indicated the Dodgers signed Morales for $122,500.

He had but eight at bats in the Arizona League in 2016  all coming at the tail end of the schedule in August after Morales came off the 60-day DL.

During the 22017 season he had unsuccessful stints with the Tulsa Drillers and Great Lakes Loons before settling in with the Ogden Raptors where he posted a triple slash of .297/.377/.352 along with 29 stolen bases in 36 attempts.

The 22-year-old outfielder was assigned to the Loons to start the 2018 season. In 86 games he has recorded a slash line of .273/.338/.383 while stealing a league leading 46 bases in 61 attempts. He has primarily played center field and has hit in the lead off spot in 57 of his games played.

On the season Brayan Morales has hit .241 against left-handers and .285 against right-handers while hitting .246 with RISP. In the field, with excellent range, he has made but eight errors in his minor league career in 285 chances.

Morales was most likely due for a promotion to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, especially with a number of prospects  with the Ogden Raptors ready to move up to the Loons. However, an advancement was not  to be.

On July 21 he went on the DL with a hamate bone injury. An injury to the hamate bone usually takes 4-6  weeks to completely heal. The following link gives a more complete picture of the hamate bone injury.

Dodger News byMark Timmons

  • Dylan Floro is becoming a critical part of the Dodgers’ pen.The Athletichas a nice piece on him where in part, it says: “Floro posted a 2.72 ERA in 25 appearances for the Reds before the Dodgers acquired him again along with Zach Neal in exchange for international bonus money and a pair of minor-leaguers. In the 10 appearances since, he’s allowed just three runs while striking out 13 and walking just two in 12 1/3 innings (2.18 ERA).”
  • By the way, if you don’t have a subscription to The Athletic, you are missing some of the best journalism outside of LA DODGER TALK (when AC and DC are writing… not me).
  • Zach Greinke has re-invented himself… maybe Clayton can do the same.  Evolve and adapt!
  • If Clayton Kershaw opts out of his contract,Striker Buehler may be their ace.  If Clayton doesn’t opt out, Striker may still be the ace.
  • It looks like Manny is just going with the pitch and not swinging for the fences.  The HR will come.  That’s the right move.
  • Kyle Farmer is catching more at OKC – he caught the whole game yesterday.
  • Toles – .330; Verdugo -.339…. I’m just sayin’…
  • Lux – .412 BA/1.032 OPS after 3 games for Tulsa.
  • D.J. Peters went 4-5 with his 22nd HR for Tulsa.  He has been playing CF almost exclusively.
  • Yadier Alvarez continues to look like a batting practice pitcher.














This article has 31 Comments

  1. I liked Peters in ST last Spring. However, where are all these outfielders going to play. Toles and Verdugo should be up with the Dodgers. They have nothing left to prove at OKC. In the off season FAZ has to break this log jam. I just hope Verdugo and Toles are not part of any trade package. Although those two may have the most value in any trade deal. I can see Peters, Toles and Verdugo being the starters in 2020.

    1. I’ve seen Peters make a couple of plays that made me think he is a smooth, graceful, fielder that takes direct routes but throws with a big tail. I would think he needs to straighten out his throws. Extremely small sample size that I base this on. Are his K’s an asset or a problem? It’s like coffee and butter, one year its healthy and another year it isn’t.

  2. So true Al… Letting Verdugo slip thru the crack in a trade just sucks… He and Toles are what this lineup needs on a a daily basis, a lil speed and getting on base so the big boys can bring them in…
    17 games in a row… Fist 10 on the road… Tough teams minus the ATL… 9-8, not too sexy, but I’ll take it and a day off…
    84 deg. @ game time tonite…

  3. We have had a very difficult schedule but it isn’t going to get any easier. A hot Oakland team for two then a tough rocks team there for 4. We also have 7 games with the cards who are making a move. The cards new manager is playing the game old style hit and run, stolen base, being aggressive while putting the pressure on. We better be ready or we will see another ugly series like the Astros. We have got to play better at home where we have been mediocre. Our schedule is tougher than Arizona and Colorado and we definitely can’t let the giants back in.

  4. Great stuff. DC. I was aware of Morales but now he’s on my watch list. Love the game speed. I couldn’t believe when I saw Puig led the team in stolen bases with 7. I think bellinger just caught him. We really need a center field prospect. Toles and verdugo are iffy there and kendall is kendall. Peter’s likely moves to a corner if he makes it. The other two M’s sounx like utility men but hey it takes 25 to win. Just ask Charlie culbertson.

  5. Turner is back.
    Machado and Dozier added.
    Forsythe gone.
    Muncy and Kemp slumping but probably getting much less at bats for awhile.
    Puig probably out along with his productive bat.
    Verdugo probably replaces Puig.
    Bellinger and Pederson contributing somewhere between barely enough to strong, depending on the game.
    Taylor is hit or miss, literally.
    Stripling rested.
    Kershaw getting back more and more effectiveness.
    Hill doing fine.
    Maeda, as in made(a) for the bullpen, probably moving there.
    Buehler looking great.
    Whats to worry about.

    1. Winning the division. So much different from last year when we had it in the bag. We came out smoking in the playoffs though. Hopefully we do the same this time around.

  6. The Dodger win last night was the biggest win of the year so far.
    If the Dodgers bring up Verdugo, play him every day.
    Machado and Dozier should be playing every day.
    If Roberts continues with these lineups that don’t put the best Dodger team on the field and it cost the Dodgers the division then he should be fired.
    Kemp and Muncy at this time are subs and should see very few starts.

        1. Well, he’s been successful in his two years as manager ( NLCS & WS) and appears to be wildly popular with his players. Every indication is that he’s the front office’s guy through and through. Maybe his agent is playing hardball [scioscia’s finishing a 5y/$50m deal btw] or maybe both sides just feel after the season is better. Lame duck to me implies he’s already set to leave. I dont think we know that. Besides, the players are more interesting to me.

          1. For the record. I hated Mattingly. The last straw for me was in the playoffs when he pinch-ran our speediest guy but didnt have him steal. Burnt.

  7. I think it’s time to move bellinger back to 1b and let muncy ride the bench a bit or find his groove in AAA. We have the outfielders to cover it (Taylor, keekay, toles. Verdugo). He’s done so much for us let’s repay it by letting him take a mental breather. He’s never really done any of this before.

  8. I know there is a lot to like about DJ Peters, but he is not the only quality OF on the Tulsa Drillers roster. 24 year old Jacob Scavuzzo was named Texas Player for the month of July. Here is an article on his award.
    Scavuzzo, 2012 21st round draft pick, is having an outstanding season. Compare his numbers with the much more heralded Peters:
    DJ – 407 AB, 19 doubles, 3 triples, 22 HRs, 50 RBI, 37 BB, 154 K,1 SB – .241/.323/.464/.788
    Scavuzzo – 258 AB, 20 doubles, triples, 18 HRs, 62 RBI’s, 13 BB, 65 K, 9 SB – .298/.339/.585/.925
    In 150 less AB, Scavuzzo has more doubles and RBIs than DJ, and only 4 less HRs. If Scavuzzo had 407 AB, based on his rate of HR/AB, he would have 28 HRs, and be leading the league. This also does not take into account the vast difference in strikeouts. Comparing him to DJ in the same number of PA, Scavuzzo would be at 97 K, still considerably less than DJ.
    I am not trying to negate the accolades that DJ deservedly receives, but to bring attention to a player who deserves attention as well. With the way he is playing in 2018, he very well could be picked up in the Rule 5 draft if left unprotected.

    1. I like Scavuzzo been following him for awhile. What’s not to like? He doesn’t walk much but his overall game seems good. A bit older than peters I believe. Cory Seager my gosh hurt and not even playing. Why did they wait so long to have the surgery? I just think he is shaky we need to sign machado if possible. Seager brother has had a down year and really not met expectations. I guarantee next spring Roberts will drag his injury out until at least June. He may not even come back until after the break. I know Roberts will not make the decision but he will be mouthing about it. The Dodgers need to designate somebody who knows on the medical staff to give updates. Roberts has been a good manager so far but I would love to see a lasorda in his prime have this team. Roberts was outmanaged by hinch who used his bullpen much more effectively. Then again I really can’t blame him for not using McCarthy. Totally useless when he did use him.

  9. Thanks AC… I mentioned a week ago or so that I hoped Jacob would be able to go somewhere and get a clean start… He’s a grinder and a helluva kid to boot…

  10. M.T – Maybe Dave goes down as a one-year-a-guy mgr. like Walter Alston. 20 + years as I recall and no, I’m comparing managers…

    1. It’s certainly possible. I was a big Dave Roberts proponent and I do not like second guessing, but some of his moves (or lack thereof) have been mystifying!

  11. Roberts reminds me a lot of Tommy. Both ra ra guys. Both really popular with their players. Both very successful (granted it’s been 2 years of success for Doc). Both make lot of questionable game day decisions. But overall, both are a lot better than most.

    Keep Doc, and pay him what he deserves.

  12. Not to be forgotten, in addition to the Dodgers having the Texas League player of the month of July (Jacob Scavuzzo), but they a!so had the California League player of the month…Gavin Lux.

  13. I hope this Seager hip surgery isn’t a harbinger of bad things to come.

    Seager’s surgery reminds me that Kemp has an arthritic hip condition. I am assuming that if it had anything to do with his recent slump, it’s not something that could be easily hidden. But when it comes to hips, I know absolutely nothing. But I believe Mark has some insight into that subject.

    1. 1. I don’t have any insight on Kemp, except that he is dinged up.
      2. Seager is another story. TJ and now the hip and he has had back issues before this. My guess is that he will never play SS again.

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