2018 Texas League Champions – Tulsa Drillers

The top prospects on the Tulsa roster at the beginning of the season were Mitchell White, Yadier Alvarez, DJ Peters, Yusniel Diaz, Will Smith, and Keibert Ruiz.  Mitchell White was injured in the beginning and did not seem to get back on track until the end of the season.  Yusniel Diaz was traded to Baltimore in the Manny Machado trade.  Will Smith was promoted to AAA on August 1.  Yadier Alvarez seemingly went backwards this year.  DJ Peters did lead the Texas League in Home Runs…and strikeouts.  He has significant swing and miss concerns.  Keibert Ruiz suffered a mid season slump, but once Smith was promoted and Ruiz was the primary catcher, his offense kicked in.  He still needs to develop a stronger arm and better ball transfer/footwork, but that will come with more game experience.

So how did the Tulsa Drillers get to the playoffs much less win the Texas League Championship?  You can look at the pipeline from Rancho as the roadmap.  RHSP Tony Gonsolin started the promotion on 7/14.  RHRP Marshall Kasowski followed on 7/23.  But then the real additions occurred when RHSP Dustin May (7/31) and SS Gavin Lux (8/1) were promoted.  Finally, RHRP Andre Scrubb was promoted on 8/11.

In addition to the promotions, LHSP Ben Holmes was signed to a minor league contract and assigned to Tulsa (8/4) after he was released by Miami.  He proceeded to prove to be a valuable member of the rotation down the stretch.  There were also a couple of holdover middle infielders from 2017 that had solid years; Drew Jackson and Errol Robinson. Neither are considered top prospects, but both have tools that can translate into a ML utility player.  Finally, another holdover, OF Jacob Scavuzzo had a very solid season after a couple of down years.  I believe that Scavuzzo has reached Minor League FA status, so it is conceivable that he will be looking for another team next year, although I hope he re-signs with the Dodgers.

Gonsolin and May immediately became entrenched at the top of the rotation with White.  The acquisition of the 2014 9thround draft pick out of Oregon State University, Ben Holmes, solidified the rotation.  Andrew Sopko was the 5thmember of the rotation down the stretch. 

Kasowski and Scrubb proved to be very effective and valuable members of the bullpen, many appearances in high leverage situations.  Michael Boyle, Nolan Long, Shea Spitzbarth, and journeyman veteran reliever Layne Somsen were the other primary relievers.  Somsen especially became a big stopper in the playoffs.

But the one player to have the biggest impact on the success of the Drillers was 20 year old SS Gavin Lux.  He was penciled into the lineup on August 2, and proceeded to go 3-5 with a HR and 2 runs scored in his AA debut.  He had 10 multi hit games, and reached 1stbase on a walk or base hit in 26 of the 28 games he played.  He never went more than 1 game without a hit, and finished the season batting .324/.408/.495/.904.

At 20, Corey Seager also got a mid-year promotion to AA (Chattanooga), and batted .345/.381/.534/.915.  Seager started the next season back in AA for 20 games before he got the promotion to OKC, and was later brought up by LAD in September as a 21 year old.  Is the same fortune awaiting Gavin Lux?  I guess we will need to see what happens in the off-season.

There were no superstars at AA, just several very good prospects, and some who may very well become superstars (Lux, May, White, and Kasowski).

A quick glance at the roster and you will note 7 prospects eligible for Rule 5 draft for the 1sttime:

  • Michael Boyle (LHRP)
  • Nolan Long (RHRP)
  • Jason Richman (LHRP)
  • Andrew Sopko (RHP)
  • Shea Spitzbarth (RHRP)
  • Drew Jackson (2B, SS)
  • Logan Landon (OF)

I believe since each of these players did not reach AAA, they are eligible for the AAA Rule 55 draft.  I believe each of these players can sign minor league contracts to maintain player control.  However, if a team picks them up in the ML Rule 5 draft, the minor league contract does not supersede the Rule 5 draft.

Other Dodger prospects that are believed to be 1sttime Rule 5 draft eligible are Matt Beaty (3B/1B – OKC), Josh Sborz (RHRP – OKC), Edwin Rios (3B/1B/LF – OKC), Connor Joe (1B/3B – OKC) and Isaac Anderson (RHSP – RC).

Offensively, Tulsa had the following placements team wise:

  • Runs – #1 (687)
  • HR – #1 (184)
  • RBI – #1 (641)
  • Strikeouts – #1 (1,268)
  • SLG – #1 (.434)
  • OPS – #1 (.768)
  • Walks – #3 (460)
  • OBP – #3 (.768)

Individual League Leaders:

Home Runs:

  • DJ Peters – #1 (29)
  • Jacob Scavuzzo – #2 (24)
  • Will Smith – #7 (19)
  • Luke Raley – T #10 (17)
  • Drew Jackson – T #13 (15)

Doubles:

  • Jacob Scavuzzo – T #9 (25)
  • DJ Peters – T #15 (23)

Triples:

  • Luke Raley – T #6 (5)
  • Yusniel Diaz – T #9 (4)

RBI:

  • Jacob Scavuzzo – T #3 (79)
  • DJ Peters – T #12 (60)

Walks:

  • Drew Jackson – T #11 (45)
  • DJ Peters – T #11 (45)

SB:

  • Drew Jackson – #10 (22)
  • Errol Robinson – T #11 (18)

OBP:

  • Drew Jackson – #11 (.356)

SLG:

  • Jacob Scavuzzo – #1 (.550)
  • Luke Raley – #7 (.477)
  • DJ Peters – #8 (.473)
  • Drew Jackson – #13 (.447)

OPS:

  • Luke Raley – #7 (.822)
  • Drew Jackson – #9 (.804)
  • DJ Peters – #15 (.793)

Pitching:

Tony Gonsolin was 6-0 with a 2.44 ERA but was not eligible for League Leaders as he did not have enough innings pitched.

Individual League Leaders:

Saves:

  • Dylan Baker #8 (8) – 6.08 ERA; 1.62 WHIP
  • Josh Sborz – T #12 (6) – 2.76 ERA; 0.98 WHIP

HR Allowed:

  • Mitchell White – T #11 (12)

Walks Allowed

  • Yadier Alvarez – #7 (43)

Next year will be a pivotal year with pitching (May, Gonsolin, White, Alvarez, Kasowski, Scrubb), and key offensive players, principally Gavin Lux who should  be at AAA even if he opens up in AA to start the year.  I will also be watching DJ Peters to see if he makes any adjustment to try and cut back on his strikeouts.  Jacob Scavuzzo will also be worth watching (if still a Dodger), as he arguably had a better year than Peters, even if 3 years older.  I would also not expect to see both Drew Jackson and Errol Robinson both with the organization, who are both best suited for utility.  Finally, I think Ruiz starts the year at AA as Smith figures to start at AAA.  If Smith continues to play multiple infield positions, it is entirely conceivable that both will be at OKC.

 

This article has 24 Comments

  1. Kike’ (CF)
    Turner (3B)
    Manny (SS)
    Freese (1B)
    Kemp (LF)
    Puig (RF)
    Grandal (C)
    Dozier (2B)
    Stripling (P)
    .
    Maybe it works out, but there are some curious and questionable lineup choices. Kike’ is 0-7 against Lauer and he is leading off? Bellinger is 3-6 and sitting while Freese is 0-4 and starting against Lauer. Grandal is 0-1 while Barnes is 2-6 against Lauer. Puig, Machado, and Dozier have never faced Lauer, and while JT is 0-3 against Lauer, he should be in the lineup regardless.
    .
    I hope it works out, but I cannot understand Kike’ leading off or Bellinger sitting.

    1. Normally I”d agree, but the last week Doc has been pushing the right buttons more than the wrong ones. So my money says Kike and Freese surprise us.
      Oh, and if Puig can continue his nice compact but powerful-as-hell swing vs a leftie, it’ll do wonders for his confidence and our October chances!

    2. AC, I don’t get it either. There were a lot of bad numbers vs Lauer with the exception of Bellinger who hit two missles for outs vs a lefty on Wednesday night. I’m not sure what Kike has done to get penciled in over Bellinger and Taylor. I think Hernandez is hitting .230 vs lefties and might have a sub .300 OBP.

    1. Agreed… they have looked mostly lifeless at the plate tonight… especially Machado.

      But you cannot bring in Axford in that situation. You need to bring in Kenley to hopefully hold it to only 1 run.

      1. I agree about Axford but he did allow two infield hits and then the error. I feel the same way about Madson.

  2. Horrible move to bring in Axford there, second outing off the disable list, come on Robert’s.

    This team has been playing down to its competition all year so no surprise here. Lined up for Kersh and WB to go in both Az and SF. And we are likely going. To need it.

  3. Wake up blue, pitching lines up terrible for us in terms of Colorado, they miss Nola of Philly and Sherzer and the Nats.
    If they beat Corbin tomorrow night then their road home is easy, against two teams who seem to be phoning it in. Must win for us!! I said it

  4. Robert’s manages with urgency until the ninth when inexplicably goes to Axford. Maeda or Jansen should have been in there, I know he will be back but I don’t feel he is the one to lead us to the promised land. Bus him out of here on October 1, not happening but one can dream

  5. Confidence is one thing, arrogance is another, and to me, this team shows it’s arrogance every time they play a team under 500 and play so uninspired baseball, and this starts with the smartest guy on the field, Roberts.

  6. AC – nice work with the Tulsa wrap-up. The infusion from Rancho Cucamonga certainly was a deal breaker for the Drillers and opened up avenues for the Quakes as well. The Drillers with Lux et al were definitely fun and encouraging to watch. Although we were unsure of Lux as a first rounder he is a gamer. He comes to play and has some tools. He and Keibert were the play-off MVP’s although none are awarded.
    .
    Not to be forgotten is the coaching staff led by manager Scott Hennessey who took over for Ryan Garko in mid-July 2017 when Ryan moved on to college ball and most likely better pay.
    .
    Tulsa Drillers manager Scott Hennessey always says after his team wins, “All credit goes to them,” referring to his players, and he also gives kudos to his coaches.
    .
    “All the stuff that happened was a good thing for the Dodgers, but a lot happened,” Hennessey said Saturday in his office at ONEOK Field. “Sometimes guys in that situation will panic, but nobody panicked in here, and for everyone (the mindset) was, ‘We’ll get it done; next man up.’ That’s what makes this so meaningful.”
    .
    The Dodgers are rewarding Hennessey — he will join them in the majors on Sept. 24 as a coach for a series in Arizona. At 48, it will be his first time in a big-league uniform for a major league game.
    .
    AC – if I understand it correctly about 25 players can be protected on the AAA, AA and A teams but still can be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. If taken they must be placed on the drafting team’s AAA roster during the off-season and may be placed at lower levels when the next season begins.

    1. DC, the Rule 55 draft protection rules keep changing on me. Now there is a 38 man AAA reserve list that protects players from the AAA draft. I need to do some more research on this one. But from a straight Rule 5, who gets protected? With Grandal, Ryu, Dozier, Machado, Madson, Axford, Hudson, Koehler, and Utley all due to come off the 40 man with FA or retired (Utley) status, there should be sufficient room to protect those deemed vulnerable.

      1. If all those players listed leave the organization there will be room on the 40 but only if a bunch of prospects become part of the 25, no?.

  7. Yesterday’s game had an important psychological burden, now the Rockies are motivated again and Arizona and SF want to leave Dodgers out. I hope that in these two days Dodgers recover the 2.5 advantage, but it will be interesting. I do not understand why DODGERS did not give the game last night the psychological importance that it had

  8. It doesn’t matter how much of a lead if the lackadaisical play like last night revisits at just about any point forward. Maybe they’re getting all the glory they need. Well a lead is still a lead. Hope there’s enough heart to at the very least win the division. I’ve got to say it’s a good thing San Diego won’t be in the playoffs. Geez! Folding against the team with the worse record while the race is still on.

    1. I watched most of the game. The offense struggled. Turner had a tough night defensively. I 100% agreed with pulling stripling. He could be a key to the postseason. Win tonight and all is ok. Last night was not a must win. Relievers are losing their chances fast round here.

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