Tagged: Double-A Jacksonville

Dodgers heading back to Albuquerque for Triple-A ball

Isotopes Park.jpgAfter eight seasons in Las Vegas, the Dodgers announced on Sept. 18 they will move their Triple-A affiliate back to Albuquerque, where they will be called the Isotopes.

The Dodgers played Triple-A baseball in Albuquerque from 1972-2000 — with Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, Orel Hershiser, Davey Lopes, Mike Marshall, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, and Bill Russell all making stops — and the city hosted the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate from 1963-71.

“We’re very excited to be returning to Albuquerque,” player development director De Jon Watson said in a release. “Their top-notch facility will undoubtedly help us develop future Dodgers, and their fans have been following this franchise for many years.”

Albuquerque has built a new stadium, Isotopes Park, since the Dodgers were last affiliated with the city, and it is considered one of the finest facilities in Minor League Baseball. A franchise-record 593,606 fans visited the ballpark in 2008 to see the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate.

“It’s a lot more modern facility, clubhouses, weight room, amenities for us from a player-development standpoint,” Watson said in an interview with MLB.com. “It’s more of a unique ballpark that’s conducive to doing the things we need to do with our players from a development standpoint to get them ready to play up here.”

Albuquerque won eight Pacific Coast League championships as the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate and three Texas League titles while a Double-A affiliate of the Dodgers.

Watson added the Dodgers enjoyed their time in Las Vegas working with the 51s’ staff, but he looks forward to returning to the city Los Angeles Minor Leaguers called home for 38 years.

“It’s nice to be able to go back into the market,” Watson said. “I think we do have a strong fan base there. The fans in Albuquerque have some familiarity there and have had quite a few Major League players move on from that place. The fan base will be familiar with our brand of baseball and style of players.”

The Dodgers will also move their Double-A home to Chattanooga, Tenn., after an eight-year run with Jacksonville. The Lookouts, who play at AT&T Field, had previously been a part of the Reds’ organization.

“Our move to Chattanooga will continue to help bring all of our affiliates closer to home,” Watson said in a release. “We look forward to making an impact throughout the city as our Minor League players continue to hone their skills en route to the big leagues.”

The Dodgers signed two-year deals with both Albuquerque and Chattanooga.

The Dodgers’ final move also involves distance, switching their entry in the Gulf Coast League to the Arizona Rookie League. They will be called the “Arizona League Dodgers.”

Class A Advanced Inland Empire and Class A Great Lakes will remain Dodgers affiliates for a third straight season, and Rookie-level Class A Ogden will stay for a seventh consecutive year.

The Dodgers will also continue to field a Dominican Summer League team.

— Michael Schwartz

More Minors matters from around the Dodgers’ system

McDonald.jpgA 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:

Right-hander James McDonald (right) and shortstop Ivan De Jesus (below) were covered pretty thoroughly for being named the organization’s Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year, respectively.

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.

Ogden lost in three games to Orem Sept. 6-8, losing a 5-1 decision in Game 1 and taking Game 2 by the score of 8-6 in 10 innings before losing the deciding Game 3, 9-7.

— Michael Schwartz

Dodgers’ Minor League statistical year in review

Below is a snapshot of the top producers in the Dodgers’ Minor League system this season from a statistical point of view, taking a look at the players who led each of the Dodgers’ respective farm teams in major statistical categories.

The stats provide a solid baseline to see which players enjoyed the best seasons, but level-based stats do not take into account numbers put up by a promoted player after leaving the level he dominated most of the season.

Be sure to check out this Minor League feature on dodgers.com for a more complete wrap-up of the Dodgers’ Minor League system in 2008 with comment from player development director De Jon Watson and scouting director Logan White.

Triple-A Las Vegas
Batting Average: Terry Tiffee, .378 (First, Pacific Coast League)
Vegas Logo.gifOPS: Tiffee, .978 (Sixth)
Homers: John Lindsey, 26
RBIs: Lindsey, 100 (T Fifth)
SBs: Jason Repko, 20 (T Sixth)
Wins: Jason Johnson, 11 (T Third)
ERA: Eric Stults, 3.82 (Fourth)
WHIP: Stults, 1.30 (Fourth)
Strikeouts: Stults, 102
Saves: Brian Falkenborg, 13 (T Sixth)

Double-A Jacksonville
Batting Average: Ivan De Jesus, .324 (Fifth, Southern League)
Jacksonville Logo.gifOPS: De Jesus, .843
Homers: Russell Mitchell, 16 (T Eighth)
RBIs: Mitchell, 75
SBs: Adam Godwin, 31 (Fourth)
Wins: Jesus Castillo, 7
ERA: James McDonald, 3.19 (Second)
WHIP: McDonald, 1.21 (Third)
Strikeouts: McDonald, 113 (Ninth)
Saves: Brent Leach, 12 (Sixth)

Class A Advanced Inland Empire
Batting Average: Andrew Locke, .311 (Fifth, California League)
Inland Empire Logo.gifOPS: Thomas Giles, .862
Homers: Giles, 22 (T Third)
RBIs: Giles, 100 (Second)
SBs: Jaime Pedroza, 25
Wins: Josh Wall, 9
ERA: Alberto Bastardo, 5.19
WHIP: Bastardo, 1.54
Strikeouts: Bastardo, 109
Saves: Paul Koss, 14 (Sixth)

Class A Great Lakes
Batting Average: Andrew Lambo, .288
Great Lakes Logo.gifOPS: Lambo, .807 (T Fifth, Midwest League)
Homers: Lambo, 15
RBIs: Lambo, 79 (Sixth)
SBs: Jovanny Rosario, 39 (Fifth)
Wins: Steve Johnson, 9
ERA: Justin Miller, 3.99
WHIP: Given Kutz, 1.21
Strikeouts: Victor Garate, 103
Saves: Miguel Ramirez, 20 (Third)

Class A Short-Season Ogden
Batting Average: Devaris Gordon, .331 (T Third, Pioneer League)
Ogden Logo.gifOPS: Kyle Russell, .900 (Sixth)
Homers: Pedro Baez, 12 (T Sixth)
RBIs: Baez, 50 (Sixth)
SBs: Gordon, 18 (Sixth)
Wins: Michael Watt, Jonathan Dutton, 9 (T First)
ERA: Geison Aguasviva, 2.90 (Third)
WHIP: Aguasviva, 1.37
Strikeouts: Watt, 79 (Fifth)
Saves: Luis Garcia, 9 (Second)

Rookie Gulf Coast Dodgers
Batting Average: Rafael Ynoa, .306
Gulf Coast Logo.gifOPS: Jerry Sands, .784
Homers: Sands, 10 (T Second, Gulf Coast League)
RBIs: Sands, 33 (T Third)
SBs: Ramon Jean, 10
Wins: Edwin Contreras, 5 (T Third)
ERA: Contreras, 2.30 (Fourth)
WHIP: Elisaul Pimentel, 1.00 (Third)
Strikeouts: Eduardo Perez, 48
Saves: Beyker Fructuoso, Fredy Quintero, Luis Ferreras, 2

Rookie Santo Domingo Dodgers
Batting Average: Enlly Morales, .305
Santo Domingo Logo.gifOPS: Morales, .805
Homers: Bladimir Franco, 5
RBIs: Morales, 25
SBs: Yorniel Martinez, 11
Wins: Charlie Mirabal, 5
ERA: Antonio Castillo, 1.18 (Fourth, Dominican Summer League)
WHIP: Castillo, 0.80 (Fourth)
Strikeouts: Castillo, 74
Saves: Mirabal, Yennifree Hanson, 3

— Michael Schwartz

Totten, Chavez among Dodger Pride Award winners

The Dodgers have announced the winners of the Dodger Pride Awards for July. The awards were created by general manager Ned Colletti to honor a pitcher and position player from each Minor League team in the organization who plays “the game with a hustling, smart, aggressive style” by a vote of players and staff from each respective club.

Triple-A Las Vegas

Vegas Logo.gifPitcher — Right-hander Heath Totten recorded a 4-2 record and a 3.90 ERA over 32 1/3 innings of six starts.

Player — Third baseman Angel Chavez hit .359 with seven doubles, two homers, and 13 RBIs in 23 games. Chavez made the Dodgers out of Spring Training but was designated for assignment on April 3 without making an appearance and has not returned to the Majors.

Double-A Jacksonville

Jacksonville Logo.gifPitcher — Right-hander Danny Muegge went 0-1 but yielded just one run in 19 innings (0.47 ERA) of seven games (two starts). Muegge, acquired from Arizona in the Shawn Green trade, opened the month by pitching 12 consecutive scoreless innings.

Player — Outfielder James Tomlin batted .337 with five doubles, a homer, and 10 RBIs in 26 games to take the award. Tomlin, a Los Angeles native, has stayed hot in August, hitting .476 with five doubles and four RBIs in his first 11 games of the new month.

Class A Advanced Inland Empire

Inland Empire Logo.gifPitcher — Left-hander David Pfeiffer put up a 2.33 ERA in 19 1/3 innings over 11 games while striking out 19. He went 1-1 with a save in July after also winning the award in June.

Player — Outfielder Trayvon Robinson hit .278 with four doubles, three triples, 12 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 26 July games. The former 10th-round pick in 2005 has started off August strong as well, hitting .400 with 11 runs scored in his first 10 contests.

Class A Great Lakes

Great Lakes Logo.gifPitcher — Left-hander Miguel Sanfler compiled a 1-1 mark to go with a 1.96 ERA in 18 1/3 innings of eight appearances, starting the month by throwing 8 1/3 straight scoreless innings over five games.

Player — First baseman Eduardo Perez hit .328 with two homers, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored in 17 games after being sent down from Inland Empire on July 12.

Class A Short-Season Ogden

Ogden Logo.gifPitcher — Right-hander Luis Garcia went 2-0 with five saves and a 1.00 ERA in nine innings over eight games.

Player — Outfielder Travis Vetters hit .393 with four doubles, three homers, and nine RBIs in just seven July games after a strained left shoulder sidelined him for the month’s first 19 contests.

Rookie Gulf Coast Dodgers

Gulf Coast Logo.gifPitcher — Right-hander Eduardo Perez put up a 1-2 record with a 4.01 ERA in 24 2/3 innings over five games (four starts), striking out 25 hitters.

Player — Second baseman Rafael Ynoa hit .297 and recorded four doubles, nine RBIs, 10 walks, and 14 runs scored in 19 games.

Rookie Santo Domingo Dodgers

Santo Domingo Logo.gifPitcher — Left-hander Antonio Castillo compiled a 1-0 record with a 0.99 ERA in 27 1/3 innings over five starts to win his second straight award.

Player — Second baseman Enlly Morales hit .267 to go with seven doubles, 11 RBIs, and 17 runs scored in 27 games to take the honor for the second consecutive month.

— Michael Schwartz

Pitcher McDonald pushing for callup

McDonald.jpgRight-handed pitcher James McDonald entered the season as the Dodgers’ No. 7 prospect, according to Baseball America, and could be on the cusp of a September callup if he impresses at Triple-A.

He did that in his first start for the 51s on Aug. 6, yielding one run on two hits in six innings while striking out 10 to record the win.

McDonald made such performances a habit while compiling a 5-3 record and a 3.19 ERA in 22 starts earlier this season for Double-A Jacksonville, where he struck out 113 and walked 46 in 118 2/3 innings.

John Meloan, since traded to Cleveland in the Casey Blake deal, spent the end of last season in Triple-A after a successful run at Double-A to earn a September callup, a situation that could mirror McDonald’s 2008 season.

After spending over a month with the Dodgers, left-hander Eric Stults has thrown well in his last two outings following a rough first game back. He yielded five runs in six innings in that first contest but has given up just four runs in 11 1/3 innings of his last two starts (3.18 ERA).

Former Giants pitcher Jerome Williams has allowed two runs in seven innings (2.57 ERA) coming out of Vegas’ bullpen as he attempts to work his way back to the Majors

Down in Jacksonville, 2004 first-round pick Scott Elbert has not allowed a run in eight of his last nine appearances, compiling a 1.39 ERA in those 13 innings.

Meanwhile, 2007 first-round pick Chris Withrow made his debut with Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Aug. 10, giving up a run on one hit in one inning after being shelved all year with arm and control problems. He threw only nine innings in six professional games for the Rookie Gulf Coast Dodgers last season due to concerns about his elbow.

Pitcher Greg Miller has not thrown well of late, getting shelled to the tune of a 16.20 ERA in his last 10 outings. Such struggles have become a trend for Miller, as he has compiled 7.58 ERA in 48 2/3 innings this season after recording a 7.85 ERA in 28 2/3 innings last year.

Miller, a 2002 first-round supplemental pick who missed 2004 with shoulder surgery, was rated as the Dodgers’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America entering 2004 after being named the organization’s Pitcher of the Year in 2003.

Demoted Dodgers’ bats cooling off

Third baseman Blake DeWitt has shown the same lack of power in the Minors lately that he did in the Majors, along with a couple of other former Dodgers in Vegas.

DeWitt is hitting .279 in his last 10 games at Triple-A, but he has no extra-base hits and only two RBIs in those 43 at-bats. He went 16 straight games without an extra-base hit late in his previous stint with the Dodgers.

Shortstop Chin-lung Hu is hitting .194 in his last 10, with a double as his only extra-base hit. He has not driven in a run in those 36 at-bats and has not scored a run since tallying two in the first day of this stretch.

Infielder Luis Maza has cooled off as well in that time, hitting .211 with a double as his only extra-bagger, although he has driven in and scored five runs.

— Michael Schwartz

LaRoche saw a deal brewing days before Manny trade

LaRoche.jpgWhen the Dodgers acquired Casey Blake from the Indians on July 26, third baseman Andy LaRoche’s first thought was that he needed to book a flight to Cleveland.

He breathed a sigh of relief when he found out he had not been included in that deal being fearful of the city’s cold weather.

Rumors have swirled all season about LaRoche — a prospect Baseball America ranked second in the Dodgers’ system and No. 31 overall at the start of the season — particularly the week before the Blake trade when he got four straight starts at third, with the Dodgers possibly showcasing him for a trade.

LaRoche ended up being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas the very next day so the Dodgers could activate pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney, but he did not stay there long, being traded to the Pirates on July 31 in the three-team Manny Ramirez swap.

He ended up playing just one game for the 51s this time around, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

The day of the Blake trade, LaRoche said he would rather be in Los Angeles than anywhere else, but he would understand why if the Dodgers dealt him.

“This is my home now, my friends are on this team, everybody I came up with, a great group of guys,” LaRoche said at the time. “If there’s a better fit for me somewhere else, that obviously would be best for me, that would be probably a better situation, but as for right now the Dodgers are my team.

“If [general manager Ned] Colletti or anyone else thinks I’d be a better fit somewhere then I guess they’ll make that decision, or if it’s better if they need a closer or somebody or whatever to come over here and put me in there, that’s there decision, I just have to accept that and move on, but as for right now I’d like to stay here, and this is where I’d like to play.”

So LaRoche clearly understood he was a piece the Dodgers were willing to move, but he never could have guessed five days before it went down that he would be the key cog in a Manny Ramirez deal.

And if he was going to be dealt by the organization that drafted him, he was pleased to be traded to the Pirates for a family reunion with his older brother Adam LaRoche, a Pittsburgh first baseman.

Demoted Dodgers heating up in Vegas

Hu.jpgShortstop Chin-lung Hu has remained hot in Vegas, hitting in five straight games through July 31. He exploded for a 4-for-5 day with a double, two triples, four RBIs and four runs on July 26 before going 3-for-3 with three runs and a walk the next night.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Hu has been “doing pretty well” in Triple-A and would have been the probable move had Nomar Garciaparra needed to go on the disabled list with his sprained left knee before the Ramirez deal, after which Garciaparra went on the DL to make room for Ramirez.

Meanwhile, third baseman Blake DeWitt is hitting 8-for-16 with two homers, a triple, eight RBIs and three runs scored in his first four games since his demotion, flashing the power he was not showing in the Majors when he went 16 straight games without an extra-base hit late in his recent stint with the Dodgers.

Infielder Luis Maza is 8-for-19 (.421) with eight runs scored in five games since being designated for assignment on July 20. His biggest day came July 26 in his first game with the 51s when he went 4-for-4 with four runs scored and three RBIs.

Double-A Notes

Outfielder James Tomlin is hitting .526 (20-for-38) with six RBIs in his last 14 games entering Aug. 1 for Double-A Jacksonville.

Pitcher Scott Elbert, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2004, is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 games (one start) since joining the Suns in June. He missed nearly all of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 recovering from shoulder surgery.

Pitcher Danny Muegge tossed 20 consecutive innings without yielding an earned run before giving one up in the third inning of his July 28 start. Still, he’s posted a 0.41 ERA over 22 innings of his last eight appearances.

— Michael Schwartz

Hus hot in return from eye injury

The Dodgers gave Chin-lung Hu what ended up amounting to a one-month trial to beHuLV.jpg their starting shortstop after Rafael Furcal went down on May 5 with a back injury that ended up requiring surgery.

Hu played Major League defense but was a liability at the plate, hitting 10-for-76 (.132) with one double, two triples, four RBIs and eight runs scored as Los Angeles’ starting shortstop, at one point going 22 straight at-bats without a hit.

The Dodgers optioned Hu to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 9 to call up third baseman Andy LaRoche. After playing in three games, Hu missed over a month with an eye ailment.

Now Hu is back with the 51s, and he’s hit .389 (7-for-18) with four runs scored and a RBI in five games since his return entering July 25.

Before Hu left, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the organization still thinks highly of him, but it’s doubtful Los Angeles would be comfortable handing Hu the starting shortstop job next season if the free agent Furcal does not re-sign based on his lack of offensive production in the Majors this season.

Hu earned MVP honors of the Futures Game last year and hit .325 with 14 homers, 40 doubles, six triples, 62 RBIs, 89 runs scored and 15 steals to earn the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year honors last season while splitting time between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A.

Before the season, Baseball America ranked Hu as the Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect behind lefty Clayton Kershaw and LaRoche and the No. 55 prospect overall.

In other Minors news around the Dodgers organization, Triple-A infielder Ramon Martinez and Double-A infielder Mark Bellhorn, both former big leaguers, have been released.

Martinez, 35, played parts of 10 seasons in the Majors, including the past two with the Dodgers, and owned a .265 career batting average to go with 29 homers and 235 RBIs. He hit .287 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 28 games for the 51s.

Bellhorn, 33, also played parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues, compiling a .230 career batting average to go with 69 homers and 246 RBIs. He hit just .190 in 2006 for the Padres and .071 in 13 games for the Reds last year but is best known for his 17-homer, 82-RBI season for the Red Sox during their 2004 championship season.

The infielder batted just .242 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 59 games at Double-A this year.

Vegas has been busy, activating pitcher Eric Stults and infielder Luis Maza, both of whom were sent down by the Dodgers in the last week. The 51s also activated infielder Rex Rundgren from the disabled list and placed pitcher Greg Miller (lower back tightness) and outfielder John-Ford Griffin (groin strain) on the DL.

Before the injury, Griffin had batted .457 (21-for-46) with five homers and 18 RBIs during a 14-game hitting streak that raised his batting average to .310 from .286.

— Michael Schwartz