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
Here’s a look at what’s shakin’ in the Marlins’ farm system. Look for an update from me on this subject at least once a week.
McPherson keeps lighting it up
Everyone knows the Marlins hit a lot of home runs, but that feeling seems to be rubbing off in their farm system, too.
On Wednesday night, Dallas McPherson blasted a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to erase a two-run deficit and give the Isotopes the victory. McPherson hit three home runs on Sunday, and he now has 39 dingers — which lead the Pacific Coast League — to go along with a .302 batting average and 86 RBIs in 101 games.
The 28-year-old slugger missed all of last season while recovering from back surgery, and he seems to be making out just fine this season. Now, his focus is on making it to the big club.
“I think everybody just wants to be in the big leagues,” McPherson told MLB.com recently. “I signed with the Marlins to be there with the Marlins, and that’s what I want and am trying to do.”
Tucker remains in bullpen
Looks like the Marlins are convinced in Ryan Tucker being a reliever.
The 21-year-old rookie made six starts before being moved to the bullpen with the Marlins, giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings as a reliever. And ever since being optioned back to the Mudcats on July 23 for Justin Miller, Tucker has stayed there. In two appearances since going back to the Minor Leagues, Tucker has pitched four innings of relief, giving up no runs and three hits while walking two.
Maybin is back
Center field prospect Cameron Maybin is playing again after straining his left hamstring. The 21-year-old right-handed hitter returned to the lineup on July 28, and in three games back, he is 1-for-6 with two runs scored and three walks. On the year, Maybin is batting .263 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 84 games.
Allison back pitching
Jeff Allison, the Marlins’ 2003 first-round pick who has battled drug addiction, is back pitching in the Marlins’ organization, going 6-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 20 games — 19 of them starts. Earlier this week, Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Jim Fleming said Allison is on track to be a big league pitcher.
That’s a big statement considering how tough of a road Allison has gone through.
Look for a story on Allison’s tough road back on MLB.com in the near future.
Dominguez struggling a bit
The Marlins’ third-base prospect, Matt Dominguez, has struggled a bit lately, going 3-for-23 in his last six games. On the year, Dominguez — drafted 12 overall in 2007 — is hitting .278 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 61 games.
Players creating buzz: While the Marlins were in pursuit of Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, several of their prospects were rumored to be involved in a package that would go to the Pirates, along with Jeremy Hermida, while Pittsburgh would send Jason Bay to Boston. They were: Tucker, Allison and Mike Stanton (.274, 27 home runs, 67 RBIs in 99 games).
– Alden Gonzalez