Monday, September 30, 2013

Matt Kemp out for playoffs, his 2013 season lost, but Dodgers will be OK

I’ve almost written this post a few times this season, but it seems apt now. Matt Kemp’s 2013 was a lost season for himself and the Dodgers.

Kemp is out for the postseason because of his left ankle, which he initially hurt on July 21 on an absolutely meaningless play at the plate.

Things were going to be questionable since the end of last season, as Kemp needed surgery on his shoulder. He played sparingly in spring training and began the season with the Dodgers. Unfortunately, Kemp got off to a bad start, as he hit just .251/.305/.335 with two home runs in his first 51 games (210 plate appearances). He went on the disabled list shortly after his 51st game because of his shoulder that was still not anywhere near 100 percent.

Kemp came back on June 25 and looked like he might be getting back on track, to a certain extent. He had matched his season home run total in 10 games. But then he hurt his shoulder, again in an at-bat against Matt Cain. Kemp took a swing and grabbed his shoulder. Cain proceeded to walk him (inexplicably) because Kemp wasn’t going to be able to swing.

After 16 days, he returned in Washington and was on cycle watch, hitting a home run, double and single in his first three at-bats. He ended the day 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk, only to injure his ankle, as mentioned above.

Again, Kemp returned from the disabled list and showed tons of promise. From Sept. 16 through Friday, Kemp hit .314/.385/.486 with a monster home run in ‘Frisco and three doubles.

Kemp was a late scratch on Saturday with “left ankle soreness.” Sunday, he was out of the lineup again because he wasn’t going to be able to play. Little did we know he’d be out for the rest of the season.

Kemp spoke to reporters about his ankle after Sunday’s game (quotes via Ken Gurnick at
“I don’t know what to say except the season is over for me. I’ll be a cheerleader on the bench.”
He’s had plenty of experience with this in 2013, unfortunately. Here’s hoping he can keep his spirits up.
“Pretty bad sign when they pull out the crutches. To sum it up, if I keep going out there … I could break it, and I don’t want to do that. It could turn out really bad for me.”
I’m sure some idiotic Dodger fans could say this is selfish. It’s anything but. Kemp isn’t going to do anyone any good by going out there on an ankle that’s significantly less than 100 percent and risk breaking it, putting his 2014 in jeopardy. Yes, the goal is to win now, but Kemp’s ankle has been an issue since July. There’s no reason for him to risk further injury.
“I worked really hard, I was doing well and thinking I’d be OK. I was excited two or three days ago, felt real good at the plate. I got my swing back, everything needed to perform. Then they tell me I can’t perform anymore. It’s tough.”
This makes me sad. Anyone who questions Kemp’s desire can look at this quote and stop. The guy is passionate. He wants to be out there and help his team win. But if he physically can’t do it, then he can’t do it.

I said last year the Dodgers should have shut him down in September so his shoulder can heal. I said earlier this season he needed to sit until his shoulder was 100 percent (or close to it). The Dodgers did neither, but they’re not entirely to blame. And this isn’t a question of who to blame, it’s just an unfortunate situation.

Every sane Dodger fan and I had the wind knocked out of them after hearing the news last night. Kemp, as he said, got his swing back and he looked really good in the last 11 days. He was the big bat the Dodgers could use, but now he’s gone. And with Andre Ethier’s ankle also hurting, it looks like Skip Schumaker will be the Dodgers’ starting center fielder on Thursday.

If Kris Medlen starts, then it's a no-brainer for Schumaker. However, Don Mattingly should consider sticking Puig in center field and starting Scott Van Slyke against left-handers. Mike Minor, a lefty, could get the ball for the Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS. If not, he'll definitely pitch in Game 2. Either that or the Dodgers should just promote Joc Pederson. I’m only half-kidding about that, but if Ethier is truly out for the NLDS (and maybe beyond), then why the hell not?

I keep trying to convince myself things are going to be OK. It isn’t going well at the moment, but I really think they will. This team is nothing if not resilient, and they still have that Hanley Ramirez guy. If Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig are hitting well, the Dodgers still have a solid three-hitter combination. Throw in Carl Crawford, who looks like he’s getting hot at the right time, and everyone’s favorite bear (Juan Uribe), and maybe it isn’t all doom-and-gloom for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers went 42-8 in a 50-game stretch. Exactly zero of those games were played by Kemp. The Dodgers don’t need to win 42 of 50, they just need to win 11 more games. That seems doable with elite pitching.

Eleven. More. Wins.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Seager, Urias on Baseball America's Top 20 Midwest League prospects list

While I thought this list was going to drop tomorrow, it dropped today, and the Dodgers landed two prospects on the Midwest League Top 20 prospects list from Baseball America.

Teenage phenoms Corey Seager checked in at No. 4 behind the likes of Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and Robert Stephenson (all justified), while Julio Urias was ranked at No. 7 in the league.

Seager had a fantastic showing at Great Lakes by hitting .309/.389/.529 with 12 home runs, 18 doubles and a 10.9 percent walk rate. That’s coming from a 19-year-old in a great pitcher’s league.

Seager played shortstop for the Loons. Despite Dodger folk thinking he can stick at shortstop long-term, a move to third base is all but inevitable.

Urias’ debut was surprising, but he did nothing but impress the entire season. While on a strict innings limit, Urias was able to post a 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a ridiculous 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings rate.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the lefty was his command and control, which stems from his poise and maturity on the mound. Pitching the majority of his debut season as a 16-year-old, he posted a 2.7 walks per nine innings rate. For comparison’s sake, Urias’ teammates -- first-rounder Chris Anderson and second-rounder Tom Windle -- posted a 4.7 BB/9 and 3.4 BB/9, respectively. Anderson is 20 and Windle is 22.

What Urias did was downright amazing. It’s hard to project what a now-17-year-old will do going forward, but if his debut season is any indication, the Dodgers might have the next great left-handed pitching prospect.

Speaking of Anderson, he had a really good debut by posting a 1.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and a 9.8 K/9 in his first 46 innings. I thought he warranted consideration for the Top 20, and he probably got it (someone will probably ask it in the chat later today).  And while Windle put up some solid numbers, he probably pitched a little over his head.


The BA California League Top 20 will publish on Thursday. Unfortunately, Seager won’t qualify for that list because he didn’t average one plate appearance per team game in Rancho Cucamonga (114 plate appearances, 140 games). Ross Stripling is in the same boat as Seager because he didn’t appear often enough. The only Quake who I could conceivably see making the list is Scott Schebler. If he does, it’d likely be on the latter-third of the list.

Photo credits
Seager: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue
Urias: Nick Anderson, Courtesy of the Great Lakes Loons

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 57 - Dodgers clinch, pool, Ryu, Nolasco

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I chat about the Dodgers clinching the National League West title for the first time since 2009, and the resulting celebration in the sacred Diamondbacks' swimming pool.

Then we delve into a discussion about some Dodgers who may or may not have peed in said pool. It's not classy, but who among you can say you've never peed in a pool?

After far too much talk about urine, we actually get around to talking baseball.

We talk about the ideal opponenets for the Dodgers' on their path to the World Series. As of now, it looks like they're going to play the Braves or the Cardinals. I'll take Atlanta.

Hyun-Jin Ryu pretty much clinched the No. 3 spot in the Dodgers' postseason rotation, and not just because Ricky Nolasco has been bad in his last four starts.

Jared has a review of Rookie Ball, with guys like Victor Gonzalez and Jacob Scavuzzo getting ample mention.
Episode dedications
Jared: Stu Pederson
Dustin: Luke Prokopec
Then, we close with Q&A, which consisted of mostly urine and playoffs.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Three Dodgers' prospects make BA's Top 20 Pioneer League list

Baseball America is in full postseason Top 20 lists, with the publication releasing its Pioneer League Top 20 prospects on Wednesday. To my surprise, the Dodgers landed three players on the list, including two in the Top 10.

Zachary Bird, Jacob Scavuzzo and Scott Barlow all made the list. Bird checked in at No. 7, Scavuzzo at No. 9 and Barlow at No. 20.

I’m surprised Bird ranked so highly after he had a rough go at it in the Midwest League to begin the season. Bird didn’t fare much better with the demotion, but he did reduce his walk rate and increased his strikeout rate. It’ll be interesting to see if he can do it in full-season ball next year. Luckily, he’s only entering his age-19 season, so there’s still hope for the young hurler.

Scavuzzo might just be the Dodgers’ breakout prospect at the plate. The 19-year-old clubbed 14 home runs and 18 doubles in 266 plate appearances with the Ogden Raptors. Yes, it was in the friendly confines of the Pioneer League, but he showed marked improvement from his debut season in the Arizona League. In fact, his slugging percentage this season (.578) was nearly better than his OPS in the AZL last year (.598). Also, his walk rate improved this season. He didn’t walk in his first 80 plate appearances. He hit .325 and OPS’d 1.013 in that time. Over his final 43 games, he walked 17 times in 186 plate appearances. He stopped hitting as well (.299), but his on-base percentage was a respectable .360. He should be the Loons’ starting center fielder in 2014.

Barlow, who missed the entire 2012 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, surprisingly cracked the Top 20. I know it isn’t about results in rookie ball, but that 6.20 ERA is quite ugly. Still, the 20-year-old has a bright future. The scouting reports must be favorable for him to be on this list with those numbers. The true test will come next season when he, likely, will head the Loons’ rotation -- unless Julio Urias returns to Great Lakes to begin the season.


The Midwest League Top 20 list drops on Tuesday. The Dodgers have at least two shoo-ins, but could have as many as four prospects in the league’s top 20.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Most surprising and disappointing Dodgers' prospects for 2013

There are surprises and disappointments in every sport, every year. I'm focusing on the Dodger prospects who surprised and disappointed.

Believe it or not, the "surprise" list was tougher to compile than expected. It's always easy to find the prospects who underperformed or didn't meet expectations.

No one in their right mind expected Julio Urias to do what he did in the Midwest League in his age-16 season, so he’s in a class all by himself.

The age listed is the player's age for the 2013 season.

Most surprising players

Noel Cuevas, OF, 21 years old
.284/.341/.454, 12 HR, 66 RBI, 38 SB, 6.9% BB rate
2013 Top 50 ranking: Not ranked
2013 Top 25 midseason: 24
- Cuevas had a pedestrian 2012 season across three minor-league levels. He was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga for the 2013 season and had his best year to date. He led the Quakes in stolen bases while playing predominantly center field. He was also one of three Quakes to post at least 20 doubles, 10 triples and 10 home runs. He could be a product of his environment, as he posted an OPS 157 points better at home than he did on the road. The conditions at LoanMart Field (The Epicenter) are fairly neutral, so a better indicator of his true skill at the plate could come next season in Chattanooga in his age-22 season.

Joey Curletta, OF, 19 years old
.326/.402/.461, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 41 R, 10.3% BB rate
2013 Top 50 ranking: NR
2013 Top 25 midseason: NR
- Despite playing in short-season ball, Curletta showed marked improvement from last season. The Dodgers’ sixth-round draft pick in 2012, Curletta established himself as one of the Ogden Raptors’ best hitters, posting an improved walk rate and a reduced strikeout rate. Curletta could be a big-time sleeper heading into 2014. He’ll need to prove himself in full-season ball. Here’s hoping he opens the season as the Loons’ right fielder. His massive power potential bodes well for his future, too.

Scott Schebler, OF, 22 years old
.296/.360/.581, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 95 R, 6.5% BB rate
2013 Top 50 ranking: 37
2013 Top 25 midseason: 18
- Schebler was my choice for first-team outfielder on my all-prospect team, and he was quite surprising in 2013. The talent was there, even if the results didn’t show it in 2012. He was the Quakes’ MVP in 2013, leading the team in virtually every major offensive category. And he posted good reverse platoon splits, which bodes well for him going forward. He’ll likely be one of the Lookouts’ best hitters next season, so he’ll need to prove 2013 wasn’t a fluke. He’s a corner outfielder long-term. He has enough arm for right to be at least average.

Most disappointing players

Garrett Gould, RHP, 21 years old
5-12, 6.64 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10.0 H/9, 7.9 K/9
2013 Top 50 ranking: 9
2013 Top 25 midseason: NR
- Gould has long since been a favorite of mine, but his prospect star has diminished significantly since the start of the 2012 season. He had a poor showing with the Quakes last year and was even worse in 2013. Despite that, he earned a promotion to Double-A, where he didn't fare much better. The thinking was along the lines of what the Dodgers did with Ethan Martin a couple years ago. He struck out more than a batter per inning in Double-A as a starter and reliever. But his overall numbers in 2013 were disappointing to me.

Andres Santiago, RHP, 23 years old
5-12, 4.97 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.0 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
2013 Top 50 ranking: 18
2013 Top 25 midseason: NR
- Santiago was a surprise prospect last season, posting some really good numbers at High-A and Double-A last year, prompting me to rank him in my presason top 20. His numbers went the wrong way in virtually every category. By all indications, the stuff is still there, but his command went to hell. His 5.0 BB/9 is the worst of his career (save his debut year at age 17). He'll enter his age-24 season with something to prove, but he could be a middle reliever if everything clicks.

Jesus Valdez, 1B/OF, 21 years old
.249/.309/.397, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 41 R, 6.7% BB rate
2013 Top 50 ranking: 24
2013 Top 25 midseason: NR
- Valdez had done all his damage in short-season ball before 2013. He made his full-season debut at Great Lakes, and it was a flop. He posted a .454 OPS in 28 games, prompting a demotion back to Ogden. Valdez will likely get another shot in Great Lakes in 2014, but the numbers are not in his favor. Joc Pederson struggled at Great Lakes in 2011, but he was also 19 years old and has since thrived in the Dodgers' system.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, September 20, 2013

Arizona writers upset over Dodgers' pool celebration need to get over it

I get it, Arizona. You’re upset because the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West title in your yard. But it’s time to stop the faux outrage over the Dodgers celebrating in your vaunted swimming pool.

I’m not generalizing all of Arizona or all Arizona Diamondbacks’ fans. I’m writing about the suddenly vocal newspaper reporters who are throwing around phrases like “bush league” and “idiots” in referring to the Dodgers’ celebration.

Columnists are supposed to elicit reaction from their readers, but it’s easy to tell when it’s forced and “just for show.”

Arizona Republic columnist Paola Boivin had this gem last night. 
“The Dodgers deserved to celebrate after their National League-clinching victory over the Diamondbacks. They have had a fine season, highlighted by big paychecks but also gritty pitching and clutch hitting.”
Never have I heard the term “gritty” used to describe pitching. It’s usually a code word used to describe players who are generally small and lacking talent. When I think Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the first word that comes to mind is ‘gritty.” (Not really) 
“But whatever happened to decorum? You high five, you hug, you run and dive on the star player. You don’t go to the area that is unique to the visitor’s ballpark and treat it like its your own private spa.”
Huh? The Diamondbacks have a swimming pool in a baseball stadium. Sure, it’s unique, but why does that make it “off-limits”? And yes, I left in the “its” instead of editing it to “it’s.”

It’s a short column designed to grab pageviews, as it did from myself (hat tip to Mark Kaminsky on Twitter).

If that wasn’t “gemmy” enough, here’s one from resident liar at the Arizona Republic Dan Bickley. 
“Not to paint with broad strikes, but the Dodgers are idiots.”
That’s his lede. Gripping, hard-hitting and totally contradictory. 
Yasiel Puig thought it OK to blow off a Diamondbacks legend in his own ballpark, and everyone in Dodger Blue covered for him.”
No. This is a flat-out lie. Bickley is referring to thealleged disrespect Puig showed to Luis Gonzalez earlier this season. Mike Petriello pointed out that Bickley was the one who originally perpetuated the lie, so it makes sense he’s sticking by it, even if it’s completely false. But don't let facts get in the way of a non-story.
“Said it before: I really wish Randy Johnson would un-retire and sign a one-game contract for 2014.”
Why’s that, Dan? To do something classy? 
“When the Diamondbacks clinched the division in 2011, their post-game pool party was an organic masterpiece. The moment became part of the mythology of Chase Field, where the pool became much more than a sponsorship gimmick and showcase for high-dollar fans.”
Huh? First, the “mythology of Chase Field…”? You mean a mythology that’s been built for many, many decades -- nearly two of them at Chase Field, or Bank One Ballpark. “Organic masterpiece” -- I’ll just leave that one where it lies. 
“Surely, the Dodgers were aware of the breach of etiquette. If they weren’t, it’s an even worse commentary on their lack of awareness, on their lack of respect for baseball history.”
This is where things are obviously forced. The Diamondbacks asked the Dodgers to not celebrate on the field. That has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with, well, I don’t exactly know what. Shame? Jealousy? Anger? Sadness? And don’t call me Surely.

To which “baseball history,” are you referring, Danny Boy? The 2-year history since the Diamondbacks jumped in the pool themselves? Your BASEBALL team has a SWIMMING POOL in its BASEBALL STADIUM. That’s where the real problem lies.

Emma Span of Sports on Earth wrote a great, unbiased piece on the pool party. 
“All year, Arizona has been leading the charge against the dangerous practice of baseball players visibly enjoying themselves at the Diamondbacks’ expense. It actually started even before the season, in the World Baseball Classic, when the Dominican Republic team cut loose to an extent never seen in MLB games, to the delight of some and the disapproval of others.”
This was probably my favorite graf from the story. But it’s well worth reading the entire piece.

So, Arizona sportswriters, just give it up. Quit mocking up over-the-top, angry responses to the Dodgers celebrating a division title in your sacred swimming pool. Next time, hope your team wins more games. Better yet, maybe the Dodgers can win more games and just clinch in the truly sacred grounds of Dodger Stadium.

Swimming pool in a baseball stadium. That’s almost as ridiculous as a hill in center field. Sorry, Houston. At least you have the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dodgers clinch NL West title with 7-6 victory, plus 'Zona reaction to 'Poolgate'

It wasn't pretty, but the Dodgers clinched their first National League West title for the first time since 2009 with a 7-6 win in Arizona on Thursday.

The Dodgers didn't start Adrian Gonzalez because of a lingering quad problem. No worries because Hanley Ramirez picked up the slack by going 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI. A.J. Ellis put the Dodgers ahead with a first-pitch home run in the top of the eighth. He finished with three hits.

Ricky Nolasco, coming off his worst start as a Dodger, was bad on Thursday, allowing six runs (all in the third inning) in five innings pitched.

The Dodgers were able to overcome a 6-3 deficit in the middle- and late-innings.

Now that the Dodgers have officially clinched a playoff berth, expect a lot of Jim Tracy Sunday Special lineups for the remainder of the season. Guys like Ramirez, Gonzalez and Carl Crawford should get ample rest in preparation for October.

The Dodgers will also be able to line up their rotation whatever way they see fit. It'll be Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 on Oct. 3 and Zack Greinke Oct. 4. Before Nolasco's last two starts, he looked to have the inside track on the No. 3 spot. Now, it looks like it could be Hyun-Jin Ryu's spot to lose.


Now onto the "fun" stuff.

The Diamondbacks had asked the Dodgers not to celebrate on the field until after the fans left the stadium. Well, the Dodgers adhered to that request. Instead, Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto led a group of Dodgers to the (ridiculous) swimming pool in right-center field.

This pissed off almost any and everyone associated with the Diamondbacks (fans, media, players, executives, etc.).
And this from the Arizona Republic.
"Congratulations are in order. Even to a bunch as classless as the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first players not wearing Diamondbacks uniforms to celebrate a championship by diving into the Chase Field pool."
A nice 5-graf editorial. Keep up the hard-hitting opinion and analysis.

And you want to talk about class? What about this classless act from earlier this year. Check and mate.

You know what prevents other teams from celebrating in your pool, Arizona?
  1. Don't let the other team clinch in your park
  2. Don't have a SWIMMING POOL at a baseball stadium
That's it.

But thank goodness for Brandon McCarthy. If the Dodgers need a No. 5 starter in 2015, I'd be more than happy if the Dodgers signed him (provided he were still effective).
I'm sure this will spill over into next season, even if guys like Schumaker and Punto aren't with the Dodgers anymore.

Enjoy, Dodger fans. In two weeks, the real fun begins. Eleven wins to go.

Graphic credit: Courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 56 - Kemp, Ramirez, injuries, Guerrero

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I chat about the Dodgers' recent struggles as Tuesday night's Dodger game is taking place. Spoiler alert: they won 9-3 and the Dodgers are one win (today or tomorrow) from clinching the National League West title.

Matt Kemp made his triumphant return. Well, it was supposed to be, as Don Mattingly sent him up in a crucial situation only for him to strikeout. Fortunately, he looked like the Matt Kemp of old last night, going 4-for-4 with two doubles (one that would have been a home run in most any other stadium in baseball) and three RBI. Welcome back, Matt.

The Dodgers also have a rash of injuries to deal with in the season's final two weeks. The aforementioned Kemp is coming back, Hanley Ramirez came back (and he looks good to go again), Carl Crawford has a bad back and Andre Ethier has a sparined ankle. Here's hoping everyone is good to go in a couple weeks.

Alexander Guerrero may or may not be a thing. The latest is he signed with Scott Boras, making his previous two agreements with the Dodgers null and void. At this rate, I'd rather the Dodgers go after someone else at second base come 2014.

The Dodgers are sending Onelki Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Shawn Tolleson and Michael Thomas to the Arizona Fall League to go along with Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Pratt Maynard, Chris O'Brien and Corey Seager.
Episode dedications
Jared: Hong-Chih Kuo
Dustin: Pedro Astascio
Finally, we get to listener questions. There were a lot of really good ones. Please, keep them coming.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers all-prospect team

This is the second year I’ve done my All-Prospect team, and there are some familiar names on this team. There are also some surprises, some 2013 draftees and even a guy who isn’t a Dodger prospect anymore.

To be eligible for this list, a player must be prospect-eligible for the 2014 season. Otherwise, guys like Yasiel Puig, Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow would show up on this list.

Catcher: Kyle Farmer, 22, Rookie-Ogden
.347/.386/.533, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 19 2B, 3.8% BB rate
- Farmer was the Dodgers’ eighth-round draft pick in 2013 and played in the friendly confines of the Pioneer League. What lands Farmer on this team is the conversion he made. He was a shortstop at the University of Georgia and was converted to catcher by the Dodgers. By all accounts, he handled himself pretty well.
Second team: Tyler Ogle, 22, Low-A

First Base: Justin Chigbogu, 18, Rookie-Ogden/Arizona
.268/.335/.515, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 46 R, 9.5% BB rate
- Chigbogu got off to a fast start in the Arizona League by belting five home runs in his first 46 at-bats, earning a promotion to Ogden. His numbers were down a bit there, but he still showed the system’s best power potential. His first true test could come next season in Midland. Dickson was a close second in this race.
Second team: O’Koyea Dickson, 23, High-A

Second base: Darnell Sweeney, 22, High-A
.275/.329/.455, 11 HR, 77 RBI, 16 3B, 7.0% BB rate
- Sweeney started off the season well and as the Quakes’ shortstop and leadoff hitter. By season’s end, he was the team’s second baseman and No. 3 hitter. He hit for the cycle in May, but struggled more than I expected, especially playing in a favorable hitter’s league. Still, he finished with 34 doubles to go along with his homers and triples. He was also 48-for-68 (70.5 percent) in stolen bases. Sweeney’s future lies at second base, regardless of what my shortstop selection on this list does.
Second team: Jesmuel Valentin, 19, Rookie-Ogden/Arizona

Third base: Alex Santana, 19, Rookie-Ogden
.327/.391/.444, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 39 R, 8.7% BB rate
- My choice for breakout prospect, Santana fared quite well in his second go in Ogden. Perhaps most impressive in his short-season performance was the improved walk rate. He drew 20 walks in 230 plate appearances. He drew 15 in 210 PAs last season and 10 in 205 PAs in 2011. He should be assigned to Great Lakes next season. If he can continue to improve his plate discipline, the power will come.
Second team: Adam Law, 23, Rookie-Ogden/Arizona

Shortstop: Corey Seager, 19, High-A/Low-A
.269/.351/.473, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 20 2B, 10.8% BB rate
- Seager tore up the Midwest League after a slow start -- so much so that he earned a promotion to High-A and a trip to the Arizona Fall League. Seager showed his true potential and surprising power for such a young player in a pitcher’s league. He struggled in the California League, but that could be due to fatigue and acclimating himself to advanced competition.
Second team: Brandon Trinkwon, 21, Low-A/Rookie-Ogden

Left Field: Nick Buss, 26, Triple-A
.303/.363/.525/, 17 HR, 100 RBI, 21 SB, 7.9% BB rate
- Buss had a breakout season in the Pacific Coast League, so take that with a grain of salt. But he was the Isotopes’ most consistent and best hitter all season. He was a PCL All-Star (during the season and after the season) and earned a surprising September call-up. He’s an older prospect, so his ceiling is extremely limited (like, he might already be there), but he had a great 2013 season.
Second team: Jacob Scavuzzo, 19, Rookie-Ogden

Center Field: Joc Pederson, 21, Double-A
.278/.381/.497, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 31 SB, 13.5% BB rate
- The first and only Lookout to make the first team, Pederson had an excellent season in the Southern League. He started the season well, teaming with Yasiel Puig to form a nice 2-3 or 3-4 combination. But Pederson kept the production up even after Puig was recalled. He proved he could handle center field in more than a pinch and earned an invite to the Futures Game, where Ben Badler said he had the most impressive batting practice on the U.S. team. Pederson set a career-high in home runs, stolen bases and walks. That bodes well for him going forward. He tailed off a little toward the end of the season, but so did the entire Lookout offense.
Second team: Noel Cuevas, 21, High-A

Right field: Scott Schebler, 22, High-A
.296/.360/.581, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 29 2B, 6.5% BB rate
- My Dodgers’ Minor League Player of the Year, Schebler had a fantastic season for the Quakes. He led the Cal League in total bases, was second in home runs and was the only Dodger minor-leaguer to post 20-plus home runs, 20-plus doubles and 10-plus triples. He’ll face a good test in Double-A come next season. He’s a corner outfielder at this rate.
Second team: Joey Curletta, 19, Rookie-Ogden

Starting Pitcher 1: Zach Lee, 21, Double-A
10-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
- My top Dodger prospect for the last two years, Lee had a career-year in the Southern League. He established career-bests in innings pitched, strikeouts, strikeout rate, and career-lows in ERA, WHIP and walk rate. For some reason, he still doesn’t get the acclaim from some that he should. He was facing advanced competition in his age-21 season and had his best year. While he’s not going to be a No. 1 or even No. 2, he could easily be a good No. 3 starter in the majors.
SP 6: Chris Anderson, 21, Low-A

Starting Pitcher 2: Julio Urias, 16, Low-A
2-0, 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 11.1 K/9
- What more can be said about this amazing teenager? His season was unprecedented and shockingly good. He has such an advanced feel for pitching that it’s hard to believe he’s just 17 years old. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him going forward, but Urias looks like the real deal.
SP 7: Matt Magill, 23, Majors/Triple-A

Starting Pitcher 3: Ross Stripling, 23, Double-A/High-A
8-4, 2.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
- Stripling is similar to Lee in a lot of respects. They have similar repertories, similar builds and similar ceilings. Stripling dominated early on in High-A, earning a promotion to Double-A. He began in the rotation in Chattanooga, and pitched well. After a stint in the bullpen to limit his innings (and that didn’t go well), he was back in the rotation and finished the season strong. Along with Lee, he’s the closest starting pitching prospect to the majors (Matt Magill made his debut this season).
SP 8: Tom Windle, 22, Low-A

Starting Pitcher 4: Miguel Sulbaran, 19, Low-A
6-4, 3.01 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 2.6 BB/8, 8.3 K/9
- This one is kind of weird, as Sulbaran was foolishly traded early in August for a 30-year-old catcher who can’t hit. But before he was dealt, he team with Urias and a couple of 2013 draft picks to form quite the rotation in Midland. But, Sulbaran is now a Minnesota Twin and should continue to do good things for that organization.
SP 9: Carlos Frias, 23, Double-A/High-A/Low-A

Starting Pitcher 5: Chris Reed, 23, Double-A
4-11, 3.86 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
- Reed, my boy, actually had a decent season. He tailed off toward the end, but that’s not uncommon. He established a career-high in innings pitched, which was one of the biggest question marks surrounding him. Something to note is his decreased strikeout rate. It seems he pitched more to contact this season, leading to the reduced K-rate and increased ground ball rate. That could be a good thing for him going forward, especially if his slider isn’t getting the expected results.
SP 10: Lindsey Caughel, 23, High-A/Low-A

Relief Pitcher 1: Yimi Garica, 22, Double-A
19 SV, 2.54 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 12.7 K/9
- Garcia doesn’t get the notoriety of some other arms in the Dodger system, but he’s been really good in his brief career. He was the Lookouts’ closer and the only area in which he didn’t do well is home runs allowed. He gave up nine in 60 1/3 innings. That will need to improve going forward, but he’s going to end up in a Major League bullpen someday soon.
RP 6: Kelvin De La Cruz, 24, Triple-A/Double-A

Relief Pitcher 2: Onelki Garcia, 23, Majors/Double-A
1 SV, 2.75 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.5 BB/9, 9.1 K/9
- Garcia began the season in the Lookouts’ rotation before an injury derailed that. The Dodgers put him in the bullpen when he came back and that’s where he thrived. Control is still the biggest issue surrounding him, but he has electric stuff. He’s struggled in the majors thus far, though.
RP 7: Michael Thomas, 24, Double-A/High-A

Relief Pitcher 3: Scott Griggs, 22, Low-A
4 SV, 2.56 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.5 BB/9, 14.6 K/9
- Griggs was dominant at times this season, even capturing a Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honor, but his control plagued him at times. Still, Griggs has a great fastball/slider combination that will serve him well in now and in the future. He has true strikeout stuff that is needed in most late-inning relievers.
RP 8: Pedro Baez, 25, Double-A/High-A

Relief Pitcher 4: Red Patterson, 26, Triple-A
7-4, 3.03 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 9.2 K/9
- Patterson was the Isotopes’ everything this season. When he was racking up innings out of the bullpen, he was making a dozen starts. Despite not having any plus pitches or a mid-90s fastball, he still averaged more than a strikeout per inning. He could see some time in a Major League bullpen, as he’s been underrated in the Dodger system seemingly his entire career.
RP 9: Craig Stem, 23, High-A/Low-A

Relief Pitcher 5: Jose Dominguez, 22, Majors/Triple-A/Low-A
5 SV, 1.78 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9, 14.2 K/9
- Dominguez began the season serving a 25-game suspension. When he came back, he was dominant in Chattanooga. He earned a promotion to Triple-A before the Dodgers recalled him. He injured his quad in July and hasn’t pitched in almost two months. Still, his 100 MPH fastball and knockout slider are a lethal combination for him.
RP 10: Owen Jones, 24, High-A/Low-A

Photo credits
Urias: Nick Anderson, Courtesy of Great Lakes Loons
All others: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dodgers add Nick Chili Buss and Alex Castellanos to active roster

With Andre Ethier nursing a sore ankle and Hanley Ramirez nursing a sore hamstring (caused by an irritated nerve in his back), the Dodgers added a couple bats to the active roster today in the form of Nick Buss (who goes by Chili, his middle name) and Alex Castellanos.

Castellanos was already on the 40-man roster and played in four games earlier this season. What's interesting is Buss was not on the 40-man roster. Since there's no disabled list in September and the Dodgers' 40-man roster is already full-up. So, there needs to be a corresponding roster move. Here's what I see as the possibilities:
Nothing else really makes sense. My prediction (on Twitter) was a Herrera DFA, but perhaps Dominguez could be the guy. He hasn't fully recovered from his quad injury and probably won't be called upon to do anything this month or next anyway. If not, I'd put my money on Herrera being outrighted.

Dominguez went on the 15-day DL on July 22, so he'd be eligible to come off in the next week or so.

But back to Buss. We already know what Castellanos is (for the most part), but what's the deal with Buss? Well, he's not a top prospect, but he's been a solid minor-leaguer for the last three seasons.

As the Albuquerque Isotopes' best and most consistent player, he was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team and postseason All-Star team by hitting .303/.363/.525 with 17 home runs, 100 RBI, 29 doubles, 11 triples, 84 runs scored and 21 stolen bases (in 23 attempts).

His home/road splits have something to do with the overall good numbers Buss posted in 2013:


But he hits pretty well against lefties (probably aided by the home/road splits):

vs. RHP
vs. LHP

Buss, 26, has experience in all three outfield spots. He's played 449 games in center in his minor-league career, so he can obviously handle it. He has a little pop and has increased his walk rate four years in a row. He'll be a minor-league free agent after this year if the Dodgers don't to retain him.

Buss doesn't have any standout tools, but his baserunning and defense are probably the best. For this team, he could spell one of the regular outfielders (or even the backups) late in a game or be the second pinch-runner off the bench after Dee Gordon.

If nothing else, Buss will have a cool story to tell his children. It'd be a shock if he did anything of significance for the Dodgers this season.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 55 - Dodgers, Uribe, Guerrero, Garcia

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I talk about the humbling sweep at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds. And no, it's not the end of the world.

Juan Uribe had a hell of a game, belting three home runs on Monday night. This entire season has pretty much made up for the first two horrific seasons he spent in Dodger Blue.

We touch on Onelki Garcia's promotion to the majors and how the Dodgers plan to use him this season and in the future. Too bad he walked the only hitter he faced last night.

The Dodgers are closing in on signing their second baseman of the future in Alexander Guerrero. Jared and I both like the move, but I like it a bit more than he does.

We also talk about other Dodgerness and how the Dodgers are looking for October. Spoiler alert: they're looking pretty good.
Episode dedications
Jared: Orel Hershiser
Dustin: Russell Martin
Finally, we get to listener questions. There were a ton of them. Please, keep them coming.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Ricky Nolasco gives the Dodgers a bonafide No. 3 starter for the playoffs

When the Dodgers traded for Ricky Nolasco, I wasn't particularly a fan of the move. They didn't give up a lot of value and talent for him, but I just didn't see the fit.

I'm happy to say I was completely wrong (not the first time, certainly not the last).

Nolasco improved to 8-1 as a Dodger on Monday night by shutting down the soon-to-be-eliminated-from-division-title-contention Arizona Diamondbacks.

In 74 innings, Nolasco has a 2.07 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.1 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 7.5 K/9. Those are damn good numbers, and numbers that could catapult him ahead of Hyun-Jin Ryu in the Dodgers' postseason rotation. Ryu is having a good second half, but he just missed his last start with a stiff back and is having to adjust to a Major League workload. Nolasco has just been better.

It all depends on matchups, but in a right-handed heavy lineup, Nolasco would likely get the call over Ryu in a Game 3 of a playoff series.

Nolasco is also a free agent after the season. He's a local guy, so there's incentive for him to want to stay with the Dodgers. If the Dodgers can get him back on a 2- or 3-year deal at $10-12 million annually, they'll probably jump all over that.

Nolasco's return depends on if the Dodgers pursue Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka, 24 (25 in November), is the best Japanese pitcher since Yu Darvish (though, he isn't Darvish-good) and will be a large investment, money-wise.

I'll look at that possibility once the offseason begins. But with the way Nolasco has pitched, the Dodgers might not need a guy like Tanaka.

I'm glad Nolasco is thriving with the Dodgers. Let's just hope he's closer to this version than the version he was from 2009-12.

Photo credit: Not that Bob James, Flickr

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dodgers recall Onelki Garcia to be third left-hander out of the bullpen

In a move I thought would happen, the Dodgers recalled Onelki Garcia to add to the bullpen. The Cuban left-hander will be the Dodgers' third lefty out of the bullpen.

This is what I wrote about Garcia in August when the Dodgers promoted him to Triple-A.
"The Dodgers could view Garcia as a possible September call-up, hence the move. But if they want him to be playoff-eligible (which may or may not be the case), he'll need to be on the 25-man roster (or major league disabled list) by 6 p.m. on Aug. 31. The same goes for every player on the 40-man roster -- which Garcia isn't even on at the moment.
Garcia's low-to-mid-90s fastball plays up out of the bullpen. He can sink it, hence a 2.27 ground out-to-fly out ratio in his last 18 appearances. He also has a power curveball that acts like a slider at times. His changeup is fringy at best, hence a probable future as a late-inning reliever. He can get righties out, so he's definitely not a LOOGY. I'd be surprised if the Dodgers added him to the active roster before Aug. 31. Then again, I didn't see a promotion to Triple-A coming, so a call-up wouldn't be out of the question. "
Disregard the text that's struckthrough -- it was inaccurate. Garcia is playoff-eligible. If the Dodgers want him on the roster, he'll be there.

Eric Stephen of True Blue LA asked Don Mattingly about potentially recalling Garcia on Sept. 1. This is what the manager said:
"Just listening to some of our guys who have seen him this year, they're really happy with the way he's going," Mattingly said. "As the season went on, he got better and better. He's kinda getting on the radar."
I'm just not sure what took the Dodgers so long to bring him up. He has the ability to be more than "just another lefty."

I like the move. Garcia is an older prospect (24 years old, 2012 third-round draftee) with plus-stuff. He could be a wild card for the Dodgers while giving guys like J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez some much-needed rest.

Photo creditYouTube screen cap, Chris Blessing

Monday, September 9, 2013

Report: Dodgers close to signing Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero

After weeks of speculation, it looks like the Alexander Guerrero sweepstakes is nearing an end.

Word broke this morning of the Office of Foreign Assets Control clearing the 26-year-old Cuban infielder, making him a free agent. Shortly after, the Dodgers -- who have been the favorites all along -- are close to signing him to a 5- or 7-year deal in the neighborhood of $32 million, Jesse Sanchez of reported. That's the amount that was reported in mid-July.

The Dodgers' main competition for Guerrero have been the Minnesota Twins. It looks like the Dodgers are going to win out, though.

Guerrero profiles as a second baseman in the majors, even though he played shortstop while in Cuba. There's an outside shot could play third base, but an offensive-minded second baseman appears to be his calling.

This is from my first post about the Dodgers agreeing to terms with the middle infielder:
"Guerrero has posted some impressive numbers in Cuba the last few years:

  • 2009: .338/.408/.641
  • 2010: .343/.414/.583
  • 2011: .310/.400/.599
He also averaged 20 home runs per season in those seasons (886 at-bats). Hat tip to Chad Moriyama on the statistics.
Despite the big power numbers, he stands about 5’10, 190 to 200 pounds. He didn’t play at all in 2012 before defecting.
We all know what happened last time the Dodgers signed a Cuban who hadn’t played in roughly 18 months -- Yasiel Puig. I’m not saying Guerrero is the next Puig (because that would be extremely foolish), but the Dodgers obviously saw enough out of Guerrero to give him a Puig-esque deal. This is Vice President of International Scouting Bob Engle’s first big-money Latin American signing."
This is my own speculation, but I don't think he'll play in the majors in 2013. He's not eligible for the postseason because he wasn't in the organization before Aug. 31, so there's no added playoff benefit. What's more likely is he'll play winter ball and be penciled in as the Dodgers' starting second baseman come 2014. There's no way they're going to give him $30-plus million to have him be a utility infielder.

Here are a couple videos of Guerrero:

Seeing as the Dodgers have a severe lack of middle infielders in the upper levels of the minors, this is a fantastic signing. If he's a .270/.340/.420 guy in the majors, he'll be well worth the money. I'm expecting better numbers than that, though. I'm a big believer in his bat.

Graphic credit: CIA World Factbook

My 2013 Dodgers' Minor League Players of the Year: Schebler and Lee

The Dodgers had a few standout performers int he minor leagues this season. While the Loons and Quakes were ousted from the playoffs, it didn't take away from some great individual performances.

Here are my choices for Dodgers' Minor League Players of the Year.

Hitter of the Year
OF Scott Schebler, Rancho Cucamonga
.296/.360/.581, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 13 3B, 95 R

- Schebler had himself a breakout campaign in 2013, leading the California League in total bases (277) -- the first Quake to do so since Angelo Songco in 2011 (310). Schebler was a 26th-round draft pick in 2010 by the Dodgers and was a late signee.

He started the season somewhat slowly, posting a .267/.335/.527 triple slash through the season's first two months. The slugging percentage was impressive, but a rough May helped to normalize his numbers. From June 1 through the rest of the season, Schebler was the Quakes best and most consistent hitter. He slugged .609 in his final 80 games. Even in the Cal League, that's an impressive mark.

Schebler was the only Dodger minor-leaguer to post 20 or more doubles, 10 or more triples and 20 or more home runs in 2013. That's an impressive extra-base hitting display put on by the 22-year-old.

And the topping on Schebler's season is the fact he hit lefties just as well as he hit righties this season. While he hit against righties more, he posted similar triple slash marks:

vs. LHP
.301/.368/.569 (137 PAs)
vs. RHP
.294/.358/.585 (397 PAs)

Schebler has established himself as a legitimate prospect, but it remains to be seen how he'll handle Double-A pitching come 2014.

Runners up: Joc Pederson, Corey Seager

Pitcher of the Year
RHP Zach Lee, Chattanooga Lookouts
10-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.37 FIP, 8.3 K/9

- Lee began the season as the system's best pitching prospect (my No. 1 prospect), and ended the season as such. He acclimated himself well as a 21-year-old in the Southern League. He pitched the second half of the 2012 season in Chattanooga and made marked improvements on those numbers.

While Lee may not be the ace some expected him to be when the Dodgers selected him in the 2010 draft and gave him a $5.25 million bonus, he still has a No. 3 starter's upside.

Lee's main criticism is the lack of a strikeout pitch. He might not have a legitimate knockout pitch, but he did average 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings this season, a career-best for Lee. He also threw more strikes, establishing a career-best in strikeouts-to-walks (3.74) and walks per nine innings (2.2). His K/BB was third best among Southern League starters with at least 120 innings pitched.

With a strong spring, Lee could, ,conceivably, contend for a rotation spot in Los Angeles in 2014. More likely, he remains in the minors (if he isn't traded). He could return to Chattanooga or the organization could get ballsy and send him to Albuquerque.

Runners up: Ross Stripling, Red Patterson

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue