A Dodgers’ Minor League year in review feature went live on dodgers.com on Sept. 11, but I wasn’t able to get everything I wanted into that story. Here’s some more tidbits from around the Minors:
But it’s important to also note McDonald was voted as possessing the best changeup in the Southern League in Baseball America’s annual “Best Tools” survey of league managers and coaches, and De Jesus hit .438 (46-for-105) with five homers, 16 RBIs and 31 runs scored in 27 August games for Double-A Jacksonville, raising his batting average to .324, fourth best in the system.
Both players will be honored in a pregame ceremony Sept. 20 at Dodger Stadium.
Right-hander Chris Withrow, the Dodgers’ 2007 first-round Draft pick, threw four innings in four August games for Class A Advanced Inland Empire, compiling a 4.50 ERA with six walks to one strikeout after being shelved all season with arm and control problems. He will pitch in instructional league.
“We were progressing him slowly, a little tender in the elbow early in the year, and we didn’t want to rush him,” said Dodgers player development director De Jon Watson. “He was a young high school senior when we took him last year, and there was no reason to really rush him. He made progress, the velocity was there, he was 92-94 (mph) flashing a lights-out breaking ball at times.”
Added scouting director Logan White, “His arm’s feeling really good and just trying to get the command and the feel back. The main thing is getting back feeling good on the mound and commanding the fastball. Health-wise we feel we kind of got him over the hump. It’s kind of like what we did with James McDonald when he was young, err on the side of caution.”
Both officials commended 2008 sixth-round pick Anthony Delmonico, a second baseman who hit .340 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs for Class A Short-Season Ogden, and White praised the “electric arm” of 11th-round pick Nathan Eovaldi, who compiled a 1.13 ERA and nine strikeouts in eight innings for Ogden.
Outfielder Kyle Russell, the 2008 third-round pick, also was lauded for hitting .279 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs with Ogden.
Speaking about the draft class as a whole, Watson said, “That group of kids, it’s a grinding group of kids. They’re hard-nosed, they play hard. I hate to get overly excited, but I like the group of kids we have. I like their makeup and their character. The scouts did a tremendous job of trying to figure out who these young men are before they turned them over to us and brought them into our system.”
Watson and White also were impressed with Triple-A Las Vegas outfielder Xavier Paul; Double-A third baseman Russell Mitchell, outfielder Jamie Hoffmann, left-hander Brent Leach and right-hander Jesus Castillo; and Class A Advanced outfielder Thomas Giles, first baseman Austin Gallagher, shortstop Jaime Pedroza and left-hander Victor Garate.
“From a player-development standpoint, you see incremental growth in these kids, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Watson said. “We’re trying to get those steps because that’s what player development is about. It’s trying to get them so they continue to progress to get better to increase their value to the organization and to the industry.”
Dodgers farm clubs bow out of playoffs
Only two of the Dodgers’ seven farm teams reached postseason play, which will happen when an organization brings up as much young talent as Los Angeles has the last three seasons, and both Inland Empire and Ogden fizzled out in the first round.
Inland Empire dropped a pair to Lake Elsinore, 10-7 in Game 1 and 8-2 in Game 2. Game 1 was suspended by rain, leading Lake Elsinore to finish off Game 1 and take Game 2 on Aug. 4.
— Michael Schwartz