Another K

I was wrong. Imagine that. I predicted a 3-K series in which Kershaw, Kenley and Kemp would play significant roles in the Dodgers play-off push. Perhaps their roles were significant in the final outcome but not in the manner I had envisioned. Clayton demonstrated to us that he is not the Clayton of days gone by for whatever reason. One does question his health as at age-30 he should not be on a downhill spiral yet. At least one would think not. As suggested, perhaps he has to reinvent himself since his velocity has dropped. He does not seem to have that fire in his belly anymore. Kenley seems to suffer from the Tom Niedenfuer syndrome once again giving up the devastating home run on two occasions. Matt got only 10 plate appearances in the series and may have played his last games as a Dodger. My period of mourning is relatively brief stretching for a few hours, not for days. This one was easy. The Red Sox were definitely the better team and earned full marks for their efforts on a number of fronts. In the interim until spring training my options are limited. I follow hockey a bit but the Detroit Red Wings are on the bottom of the scrap heap right now and for the foreseeable future. Although I coached junior high basketball for 40 years I really do not watch the NBA. Giants slamming a ball down through a hoop twice as big as the ball is not very exciting for me. I do follow the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League which wraps up in a month or so. I watch the NFL only at play-off time and only if the Patriots are playing. What to do? I figured I would get back to looking at the real world of baseball where the game is still a game. That is, minor league baseball. During the 2018 season three Dodger minor league affiliates won championships – the Arizona League Dodgers, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Tulsa Drillers. As always there were players of interest within the minor league system and many that I followed from afar. Among others, Stephen Kolek of the the Great Lakes Loons really caught my attention. The 6’3”/220-pound right-hander was selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas A&M. He was born in Houston, Texas and raised on a 10,000 acre ranch in Shepherd, Texas . Shepherd is about 58 miles northeast of Houston. If the name Kolek sounds familiar, that is because Stephen’s older brother Tyler was selected by the Miami Marlins with the second overall pick in the 2014 June draft out of Shepherd High School. Tyler had Tommy John surgery in April 2016 and has yet to pitch above A-ball. Both boys, only one year apart in age, benefited from a family devoted to them. Their story was highlighted in the Houston Chronicle on June 16, 2017. The boys were kept busy and expected to do their part on the family ranch. Their parents, James and Brenda Kolek, also made sure they had ample time to throw a baseball even when daylight hours were short. “After we’d get done with working or whatever we needed to do, we’d go inside the barn, turn on the lights and just play catch,” said Stephen, a starting pitcher for Texas A&M in 2017. As the boys grew older and stronger their father grew the farm pitching facility with them. He constructed an outdoor mound in an alleyway near the horse barn where the brothers would spend hours pitching to each other. “There was a big rubber mat on it,” Tyler said of the large target behind home plate. “It didn’t really matter what we were doing, our dad always made time for us. It wasn’t a strict, written-down schedule, it was just something that we did so much, it helped us get to where we are.” The Dodgers selected Stephen Kolek following his junior year at Texas A&M. At that time Baseball America ranked him No. 372 and had him sliding down the charts a bit.  As a junior he posted a less than stellar ERA of 4.58 along with a WHIP of 1.40 due to issuing 38 free passes in 78 innings. He struck out 59. 

Baseball America scouting report:

 “The brother of Marlins 2015 first-round pick Tyler Kolek, Stephen’s fastball has never matched Tyler’s triple digit radar gun readings, but he’d shown the potential to have three average or better pitches and average control coming into the 2018 season. But his 91-94 mph fastball has backed up this season. There have been outings where he’s dipped to pitching in the high 80s. Kolek’s slider gives him a chance to survive even with less arm speed. The pitch has less bite at lower velocities and has been more fringe-average than above-average this year. His changeup also has taken a step back this year and he mixes in a get-me-over curveball early in counts. Kolek has shown the ability to be a No. 4 starter at his best, but scouts have only seen that in glimpses this year. His 5-6, 4.58 season isn’t making a strong draft case, but there’s still something there.” Stephen Kolek made his professional debut with the Ogden Raptors on the last day in June of 2018 pitching a scoreless inning against the Idaho Falls Chukars in the rookie level Pioneer League. On July 11 he debuted with the Great Lakes Loons of the Class-A Midwest League pitching two scoreless innings against the Clinton LumberKings.  Pitching strictly in relief with the Loons over 17 games and 31.2 innings, he allowed only 22 hits while striking out 30 and walking seven. He posted a 1.42 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. He was the backbone of the Loons relief corps as they made their stretch run to the play-offs. He pitched two or more innings on nine occasions, so it is quite conceivable that he will return to a starting role in 2019 most likely with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. 

Arizona Fall League Update

 Catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Jordan Sheffield will represent the Dodgers in the Arizona Fall Stars Game Saturday at Surprise Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Rangers and Royals. MLB Network will broadcast the 13th annual Fall Stars Game live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. MST, and MLB.com will stream the contest live. Ruiz is hitting .316 with an OBP of .386. Sheffield has pitched five scoreless innings allowing only two hits along with five strikeouts and no walks. Ben Holmes has posted a 3.07 ERA over 14.2 innings. Andre Scrubb has lowered his ERA to 3.38 while allowing only one hit and no runs in his last two appearances. His strikeout pitch seems to be missing. The other Dodger players on the Glendale Desert Dogs have had a less than stellar fall season to date. 

Liga de Beisbol Dominicano

 Further south the Dodgers have seven players playing winter ball. Infielder Angelo Mora and outfielder Henry Ramos have yet to hit their stride. Catcher Hamlet Marte is hitting .333 after six games while infielder Christian Santana has four hits in six at bats. Marte is a person of interest. A bit more on him later. On the mound both right-hander Joe Broussard and left-hander Victor Gonzalez are off to a slow start. Personal favorite, 20-year-old right-hander Elio Serrano, has pitched 1.2 innings giving up two hits, no runs and no walks while striking out two. 

This article has 56 Comments

    1. That is correct – 35 years before I retired and actually six years after I retired. Both boys and girls. Junior high is where i wanted to be.

      1. i am impressed. i coached jr high baseball for three years and that was enough for me! you have heart.

  1. I think Stephen Kolek’s future is as a middle relief, and that is not a negative. I think he should concentrate on getting some separation on velocity between his fastball and offspeed pitches, whether that be his slider or change. He may start, but I think that would be out of necessity more than what his future may hold. The Dodgers are drafting more relievers than starters now, and might be looking more to their international guys for starters. It is hard to draft Aces from where they are drafting.
    .
    I agree with you on Hamlet Marte. He is just another in a long line of potential ML catchers under Dodgers control. And as good as Ruiz, Smith, Wong, Marte, Feduccia…are, Diego Cartaya may very well be the future. But at 16, the Dodgers are going to need to get years from the first couple on that list before Cartaya is ready. Some have labeled Cartaya with a Salvador Perez floor and Yadi Molina ceiling. I would be happy if he were a Salvador Perez ceiling.
    .
    I have been watching for Jordan Sheffield to make this transition to relief, and it sure appears that it agrees with him. I now look for him to move rapidly up the organizational ladder as a late inning high leverage reliever. I think he could move to AAA by the end of the year, and be in a position for a September callup if relief is needed for the stretch.
    .
    I know Joe Broussard is a fan favorite for many, but I have never been enamored with him. I think he is very much like Jacob Rhame, good for a couple of outings, and then disaster. Just too inconsistent for a position that relies on consistency.

      1. I am not sure I understand your comment. The report I read projects that Cartaya’s floor to be Salvador Perez, meaning that Cartaya is projected to be at least as good as Perez. Yadi Molina is a very high ceiling. In other words, Cartaya is being projected by some to be somewhere between a perennial All Star and a HOF catcher. They are only comparative projections.

        1. Sorry I wasn’t clear. English is my second language. I meant that there is no way Salvador Perez would be any catching prospect’s “floor”: he was a great player for a long time and floor represents a worst case scenario. I’d say Cartaya’s floor is likely low-A wash-out.

          1. First your English just fine, I would not have known that it was your second language. Every player’s floor is a wash out. What the talent evaluators were trying to get to was a ML comparison, and they projected Diego to be somewhere between Salvy Perez and Yadi Molina. Pretty good company if it works out. Let’s change that evaluation to the floor of his ceiling.

          2. Dionysis

            I would have never known that, because you write better then most that English is their first language, including me.

    1. AC -I totally agree that Kolek’s future at this point is not as a MLB starter or end of game reliever. I do believe he will start with the Quakes as the Dodgers will want to test him in a starting role as they do with others even though they probably have relief in mind. He is still 21 with time to gain that separation of velocity that you mention. His 4.29 strikeout to walk ratio as a professional was definitely a step up from his 1.55 ratio in his junior year at Texas A&M. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the hitter friendly California League. Unfortunately he can’t throw 100 mph as his brother can but he seems to have a mound presence and maturity and at this point is more successful than Tyler. Here’s hoping both brothers have a great 2019 season.

  2. my kershaw prediction (though it is admittedly wishy-washy): he wants to stay. he may even want to opt-in. but the pressure from the player’s association is too high. we might be ok with his leaving, but right now we can’t afford a massive PR hit.
    *
    so . . . each side bends a little and we announce a new 4 year deal with a slightly higher AAV (like 4y/135m) to keep him a dodger a little longer.
    *
    i have no conviction on this prediction

    1. btw, what i think i want is for him to opt-in. failing that, i think it would be prudent to walk away and thank him for his service. it’s just hard for me to imagine the fan base having to process that today [as the red sox celebrate]. i think the backlash would be brutal and gruden-esque.
      *
      on the bright side, if we let him walk, we are definitely adding a big contract on offense.

    2. Dionysis

      I just saw Price is not opting out.

      When is the dateline for them to make their decision today?

      I didn’t know Kimbrel was a free agent this year.

      Thank you DC for your contribution to this site too!

      1. haha price is 33 and due to make 31m next year, the 32m the next THREE years after that
        *
        yeah, i wouldn’t opt out either!

        1. Dionysis

          I thought Price’s velocity was going down every year, but it looked like his velocity was pretty good, with the way our hitters struggled against him, at times.

          Because some of our hitters couldn’t hit him when he threw it right down the middle of the plate, and I am not talking about his high fastballs.

          I didn’t even look at what his top velocity was, but he must have been throwing harder then Kershaw.

          1. That is why I am not as high on Joe Kelly or as high on Nathan Eovaldi. I like both, but they are going to get overpaid because of what they did in the WS. Those guys owned the Dodgers because they kept throwing high fastballs which every scout knows the Dodgers swing at and generally miss. They throw hard enough to get by with it. Even Smoltz kept saying that as long as the Dodger hitters are going to expand the strike zone by swinging at the high fastball, keep throwing it out of the zone until they lay off of it. I may not like Smoltz as an announcer, but he was a great HOF pitcher who knew how to exploit batters’ weaknesses.

    1. AC

      Manny was getting me really frustrated with all of his swings against high fastballs, that were also outside.

      But it was almost the entire line up, like you said.

      I wish our guys could learn to discipline themselves enough, not to swing at those high fastballs just out of the strike zone, like JD Martinez has.

      I like Joe Kelly because he went to my high school.

      The Nats seem like the only team, that can really deal with Scott Boras.

  3. Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    My grandaugheters and wife are getting ready to go Trick or Treating, but they are worried they won’t get enough candy, so they asked me to go along.
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    I guaranteed that I would get them plenty of candy!

  4. I don’t understand the desire to sign Harper. In 550 ABs he hit .249 with 34HR and 1.3 WAR. Muncy in 395 ABs hit .263 with 35HR and 4.2 WAR. Just compare what each will be paid next year! Harper is 26 and Muncy is 28. The Red Sox had two South Carolin a Gamecocks that really played a big part in their success. Maybe the Dodgers need Whitt Merrifield (another Gamecock) !

    1. Re Harper – I think most remember his 2015 season when he hit .330/.460/.649/1.109 with 42 HRs…NL MVP. He had 124 BB and 131 K. He also had a good 2nd half 2018 as he hit .300/.434/.538/.972 with 11 HRs, 52 BB, and 67 K. He is also comfortable on the big stage. Just looking at his OBP of .434 in the second half, the Dodgers had JT at .406 and Muncy at .391 as the only batters to get above .350 OBP. Harper’s career OBP is .388. That all being said, I cannot see FAZ signing Bryce for what he will obviously be asking.
      .
      Re Merrifield – I think Whitt will be on everyone’s shopping list, but I cannot see Dayton Moore moving him anytime in the near future. That will not stop FAZ from checking in on Merrifield. He is happy as a Royal and the fans love him. The cost will START at Gavin Lux who is 8 years younger than Whitt, and go from there. FAZ will also check in again with the Reds about Scooter Gennett.

        1. He looks like a good little player but we’d probably have to give up Verdugo to get him. Would you be willing to do that?

          1. Yeah… if that’s what it came down to, then that would be a tough decision.
            Alex should have been given more time with the club this year… it’s a shame that he spent most of his time at AAA… especially with Joc and CT both struggling the way they did during long stretches of the season.

    2. Harper is a bonafide superstar and whatever team signs him would be betting that his best years are ahead of him. I personally would be in favor of adding him because I think he is that kind of talent that can rise to the occasion and do things few players on the planet are capable of. There is probably a small issue with his temper that would have to be address by any team doing its due diligence, but if we signed him I’d be looking optimistically at a guy capable of winning the MVP, hitting 50 HR, and/or OBPing .450. That’s an upside I’d be willing to gamble highly on. Some red flags are his declining speed and limited defensive range. I’d be signing him for the position of batter. I like him and would rather have one Bryce Harper than three average players.

  5. M.T. Considering the last couple weeks around our troubled country, that costume took some cojones IMO…
    Just completed my back surgery the 12th. and home the 17th. I’ve come to believe that re-hab’g watching the WS was a severe mistake… pain is goona be with me for a while longer…
    DC thanks for starting today with good MILB info and AC, you chiming in always works…
    A few of my thoughts: Hope Kersh will be a Dodger for life along with a good insurance policy.. Keep Freeze… Our BP set up woes are IMO in our a system.. Peter J wants a starter and a chance given to Verdugo…
    Everyone out there, have a good and safe winter… Camelback is calling…

      1. Mark

        I actually think that is funny, especially with all the clown phobias people have.

        But I have been watching advertisements for Knotts Scary Farm here.

  6. David Vasseigh on 570 yesterday with Roggin and Rodney said he heard the Dodgers and Kersh were discussing a 2 year extension near 70mil. So that would be 4/135 that AC mentioned.

    Personally feel that is toooo much for a guy who is more of a #2 starter going forward and completely unreliable in October. If he wants that, let him walk. He isn’t Kobe who got us 5 rings. Instead, he’s singlehandedly prevented us from having at least 2 rings the last 6 years.

    1. The more time passes today, the more inclined I am to think they are working on something and it is simply a matter of hammering out the details.

  7. I don’t know how well those things can be coordinated, but if the Dodgers were to sign Harper, it would preclude the need for Verdugo, which would free the Dodgers to trade him. If that was part of the cost to acquire a player like JT Realmuto, it might make sense. As poor an overall season that Harper had, he’s a player that has always scared the heck out me when he stepped up to the plate against the Dodgers. Also, the Las Vegas native might thrive in LA where it would be very difficult to pitch around him.

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Whit Merrifield, so he too might be a good player to pursue. Without having seen much of him I can’t absolutely endorse his acquisition, but nor can I find anything to sway me the other way.

    Mark, you can tell us the truth. That’s really a picture of you after just arriving home from a walk outside. or .

  8. Bobby: ” he’s singlehandedly prevented us from having at least 2 rings the last 6 years. ”
    Sometimes one must be patient to find nuggets of gold!!!

  9. Guess the emoji’s from my phone don’t appear in the posts. I included a smiley face with a halo and another one with a smiling purple devil at the end of my last post.

    Have’t had time to check on the details, but I briefly saw a notification on my phone that a Red Sox fan was allegedly attacked by Dodger fans after the last game. Very regrettable if true.

    1. Brooklyn

      I often wondered why my emojis didn’t work, but you cleared that up right now.

      I saw a headline about that attack too.

    1. As much as I have hated the Giants over the years, it was very sad to read about his death. McCovey and Mays were worthy adversaries and whenever the Dodgers played them it always seemed like they were due up in the following inning!

  10. Tomorrow’s end-of-year FO press conference predictions:

    1. Kershaw has opted out but he knows we want him and the negotiations will continue.
    2. There might be some changes to the coaching staff but nothing final yet.
    3. Doc will be extended.
    4. If it’s the right thing to do free agents will be explored but much can be accomplished via the graduation of minor league players and trade acquisitions.
    5. Team has too many of the same type of player (although they won’t be named CT3, Keekay, Joc come to mind) and they will need to get better OBP and better contact rate next year.
    6. Expect to see more out of Stripling, Ferguson, Santana next year
    7. Miss anything else??????????

    1. Yea we need a new catcher – Realmuto is preferred
      We need another starter – DeGrom would work well
      No more dumpster diving for a BP
      Hope the Giants sign Zadi and he is replaced with a baseball guy – we need balance

  11. Didn’t Mark list a bunch of baseball type guys in one of his previous posts?

    Also, I wonder how important the distinction is between baseball and non-baseball types. Most of the so-called non-baseball guys are intelligent, and have had years of exposure to the game. I would think in a large portion of the cases that they could develop the experience and feel for the game required for success.

    And finally, I’m sure that just being a baseball guy may in itself not be enough.

    And MJ, if you didn’t catch in one of my earlier posts, there is a simple method for creating a smiley face. Just type a colon followed by a closing parenthesis, and make sure to provide an empty space o the right and left. So type 🙂 and make sure to provide empty space on the right and left.

  12. Sorry MJ, type “:)” without the quotation marks. The above doesn’t becom a smiley face because the quotation marks eliminate the empty spaces on both sides.

    I never tried using the opening parenthesis (“:(“). Not sure what that produces. Maybe a sad face. Let’s see.

    🙁

  13. Yes it does, a sad face.

    Looks to me as if the Dodgers and Kershaw are at least talking. I don’t expect it to take very long, so my best guess is that we should expect to hear something by the end of the week. If memory serves (and mine doesn’t always) I believe it was mentioned that they agreed to extend the deadline to the end of the week.

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