Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 MLB Draft prospect profile: Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS (Calif.)

This is the first in a series in which I profile some potential Dodgers' draftees for the 2013 draft. Next up, Phil Bickford.

6'4, 185 pounds
17 years old (18 on July 10)
Bat: R
Throw: R

Westlake Village, Calif.
Oaks Christian High School

Baseball America: 20 26
MLB Draft Insider: 34
Minor League Ball: 46
Perfect Game: 44


Bickford is a projectable right-handed pitcher from Oaks Christian High School. There's a lot of tape on the kid and, despite a somewhat unorthodox delivery, has some of the best stuff of any prep pitcher in this draft.

Bickford has a low-90s fastball that's touched 95-96 MPH in some starts. Some have said it's a potential 70 pitch at it's pinnacle. It has the ability to be a plus-plus pitch.

His off-speed pitches leave a lot to be desired. His curveball isn't as tight as it needs to and is currently a below-average pitch. That, unfortunately, is his best breaking pitch. He also has a slider and changeup that aren't close to average.

His arm slot is a true 3/4 and he hides the ball well, which offers deception.


Bickford is committed to California State University, Fullerton, but he's signable.

Being a local guy could play into his favor with the Dodgers. He's an athletic, projectable prep pitcher, which is exaclty what the Dodgers like,

Bickford is No. 4 on my big board and would be a nice selection. He's definitely a higher ceiling guy than Hunter Harvey, and I like guy with boom potential.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My 2013 MLB Draft big board for the Los Angeles Dodgers, v 2.0

This is the second installment of my 2013 MLB Draft big board for the Dodgers. Normally, this list would be capped in the 5-8 range, but with a lack of clear-cut options and prospects in this draft, the pool is convoluted and a lot of players are generally in the same range, skill-wise.

There are some new additions, including a new No. 1. Now, some of these guys (particularly the top three) might not even make it to No. 18, but I've seen them reach 18 -- any beyond -- in recent mock drafts, so it's not completely out the realm of possibility.

High school players dominate my big board. More specifically, high school pitchers. I've always been partial to them.

My Big Board, v2.0
1. LHP Trey Ball, New Castle HS (IN, pictured)
2. SS J.P. Crawford, Lakewood HS (CA)
3. 1B/OF Dominic Smith, Serra HS (CA)
4. RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS (CA)
5. RHP Hunter Harvey, Bandys HS (NC)
6. LHP Ian Clarkin, Madison HS (CA)
7. C Nick Ciuffo, Lexington HS (SC)
8. LHP Matt Krook, St. Ignatius HS (CA)
9. C Jon Denney, Yukon HS (OK)
10. OF Phillip Ervin, Samford
11. OF Aaron Judge, Fresno State
12. RHP Devin Williams, Hazelwood West HS (MO)
13. LHP Hunter Green, Warren East HS (KY)
14. LHP Rob Kaminsky, St. Joseph Regional (NJ)
15. RHP Chris Anderson, Jacksonville


Ball is takes the top spot after Perfect Game mocked him to the Dodgers in their mock on Friday. If he were to fall, he'd be a steal. He's a two-way prospect (also an outfielder), but I think he has better potential as a pitcher. Wouldn't be the first time the Dodgers drafted a potential two-way player in the first round or two of the draft.

Crawford moves up to No. 2 based on talent and the dearth of impact middle infield prospects in this draft. Smith moves down due to Ball's addition and Crawford's ascension.

More likely, a guy like Bickford or Harvey will be there at No. 18. I'd be surprised if both aren't. Also, Clarkin was mocked to the Dodgers on Thursday by Keith Law and Jonathan Mayo. He was originally mocked to the Dodgers by Baseball America in its first mock.

Some prep arms populate the three of the newest spots (11-15). All three are expected to go between No. 18 and the Dodgers' second-round pick.

The Dodgers just need to select the best player available. If one of the top three on my board fall, I'd be stoked. Catching depth is a problem, and despite the struggles of prep catchers, I wouldn't be at all opposed to grabbing one of them with their first pick.

The draft is one week away. I'll probably do one more update before draft day.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 40 - Kemp, Greinke, Urias, Puig, MLB Draft

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk all about the struggles of Matt Kemp and Zack Greinke. Kemp's is ongoing, Greinke's is recent.

We also fawn over Adrian Gonzalez and his fantastic performance thus far.

Then we talk about the most significant news of the week in our eyes -- the Julio Urias debut. We spend far too much time gushing over a 16-year-old. Ahh, baseball.

Yasiel Puig seems to be "figuring it out," and probably should be called up soon.

We're just eight days away from the MLB Draft, and Jared and I are giddy for it (Jared, more than myself).

To close, well, we answer listener questions from our awesome listeners. Listeners!

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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

Dodgers ink former Astros' prospect J.R. Towles to minor-league contract

The Dodgers on Wednesday signed former Houston Astros top prospect J.R. Towels to a minor-league deal. Don't worry, A.J. Ellis' job is plenty safe.

Towles, a catcher, has played in parts of five seasons in the majors and has posted a horrific .187/.267/.315 triple slash.

Towles, 29, is nothing more than minor-league depth, if you consider a catcher who can't hit depth. He has a career .284/.381/.453 line in the minors and had a .942 OPS in 19 games with the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals Triple-A affiliate) this season. He played in the Twins' minor-league system in 2011.

With Tim Federowicz ripping up Triple-A pitching, he shouldn't be long for the Pacific Coast League. Matt Wallach is the Isotopes' backup catcher after the club cut ties with Jesus Flores earlier this month.

The fact the Dodgers signed Towles to any kind of deal shows the complete lack of catching depth in the organization. Perhaps that's an area the Dodgers will address in next week's MLB Draft and the subsequent international signing period.

In theory, Towles is going to Triple-A Albuquerque to replace Federowicz, who should be displacing Ramon Hernandez in Los Angeles. In actuality, Towles is going to replace Matt Wallach, who will be demoted to Double-A and will likely replace Jan Vazquez.

The Dodgers really need Gorman Erickson to regain his flash of goodness from 2011 or for Pratt Maynard to take off behind the plate. Guys like Eric Smith and Tyle Ogle aren't good bets for long-term production behind the plate, even though I like Smith as a potential sleeper going forward.

Photo credit: SBoyd, Flickr

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 MLB Draft prospect profile: Hunter Harvey, Bandys HS (N.C.)

This is the first in a series in which I profile some potential Dodgers' draftees for the 2013 draft. First up, Hunter Harvey.

6'3, 175 pounds
18 years old
Bat: R
Throw: R

Catawba, N.C.
Bandys High School

Baseball America: 33 22
MLB Draft Insider: 23
Minor League Ball: 34
Perfect Game: 12


Harvey is the son of former Major League reliever Bryan Harvey, who was perhaps most famous for his mustache. His brother Kris Harvey was drafted first by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2002 MLB Draft as a catcher, then by the Florida Marlins in 2005 draft as an outfielder. Now, he's a relief pitcher in the Marlins' system.

Harvey boasts a low-90s fastball that has touched 94 MPH in his high school career. Some reports have his fastball touching 97 this season, which would be incredible. It could be a plus pitch for him if he can command it and potentially add velocity.

His curveball is his best secondary pitch. It sits in the mid-70s and is his out pitch.

From Keith Law's write-up of him:
"(H)e varied the shape of the breaking ball, although I'm not sure how deliberate that was, throwing some with real two-plane break and depth and others that were more vertical as he'd try to hit the inside corner to right-handers."
He also has a 79-82 MPH changeup that he admittedly doesn't throw as much as he should. He'll need a consistent third pitch if he's going to make it as a starting pitcher.


Perhaps one of the most attractive parts about Harvey's draftability is the fact he's not committed to a college, thus making him an "easy sign." Harvey could go to a junior college if he doesn't get what he wants, but with his father advising him, it'd be surprising if Harvey passes up anything more than $1.5 million in a bonus.

Harvey is an intriguing prospect because of his projectability. He's 175 pounds soaking wet and every bit of 6'3. That is something the Dodgers look for in their draftees. Harvey is the prototypical Logan White draftee.

I have Harvey No. 2 on my big board right now. It's conceivable he'll be there at No. 18 when the Dodgers pick. If he is, he'd be a good pick.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dodgers' prospect Julio Urias, 16, makes impressive pro debut at Low-A

In an extremely surprising and aggressive move, the Dodgers on Sunday added 16-year-old Julio Urias to the Great Lakes Loons' roster. He made his professional debut while skipping the three lowest levels of the minor leagues.

Not often do teenagers -- especially 16-year-olds -- pitch in the Midwest League. All signs had him pitching in the Dominican Summer League or, at best, the Arizona Rookie League. Alas, here he is pitching in full-season ball at the age of 16.

Well, perhaps the Dodgers know something we don't. Urias struck out the side in his first professional inning of work against the Dayton Dragons (Reds' affiliate).

Urias, my No. 26 prospect coming into the season, has a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and already touches 92 MPH. He has a changeup that has a chance to be a plus pitch. He also has a curveball that acts a lot like a slider. It's sharp and has good bite to it. It isn't as loopy as a curveball. He struck out Zach Vincej on the pitch to begin his career.

Clearly on a pitch count, Urias threw 52 pitches in his debut and posted the following line:
  • 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K
Keep in mind, the average age of a Midwest League player (in 2009, at least) is roughly 22 years old. Urias is facing players -- on average -- six years his senior. His debut was nothing short of amazing.

Urias was a high-profile signing for the Dodgers last summer. He was considered to be one of the top international arms available.

True Blue LA's Craig Minami caught up with Baseball Prospectus' prospect guru Jason Parks in spring training, and the two talked a bit about Urias.
"'There is some projection, it is more pitching ability thing. (Urias has a) 85-90 MPH fastball right now that a lot observers think it can fall into that more of that 89-90 maybe 92-93 plus, from the left side, (has good) movement, you know that's a plus pitch. (Urias) already has a feel for curve ball and change up.'"
Loons' play-by-play announcer Jared Sandler said Urias was working at 88-94 MPH with the fastball in his first start. A 16-year-old throwing 94 MPH is crazy.

A potential plus fastball, plus changeup and maybe a plus breaking pitch -- sign me up.

It's a bit early to call this kid the next Johan Santana or Tom Glavine, but with all the scouting reports and talk, it's hard not to get excited.

The Dodgers could use a top-flight pitching prospect -- a guy destined for the top of the rotation. I'm not saying Urias is an ace or No. 2, but he might have the best chance to be that guy of anyone in the farm system.

It's weird to be gushing about a teenager, but baseball leads us to do strange, if not creepy things sometimes.

Photo credit: screenshot

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dodgers move former pitching prospect Aaron Miller to the outfield

The Dodgers have a propensity for drafting players who are athletic and two-way guys. Darren Dreifort was one of the more notable ones, when the team made him the No. 2 draft pick in the 1993 MLB Draft. While most viewed him as a pitcher, the guy could hit.

James Loney was viewed by many as a pitching prospect in 2002. The Dodgers made him a first baseman. Ethan Martin was looked at as a third baseman, but the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher in 2008.

And now we come to Aaron Miller. The 2009 supplemental first-round draft pick was a standout two-way player at Baylor University. The Dodgers made him their first pitch that year and, to some surprise, made him a pitcher. In fact, the Dodgers' first two picks that year were good, two-way college players -- the other being Blake Smith.

Miller was moved to the outfield and will get his first shot at being a full-time outfielder with the Great Lakes Loons.

While the Dodgers need pretty much anything but another outfielder, the options are limited for the lefty.

Miller burst onto the scene in 2009 by posting a 2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 in his debut season. The following year, he pitched well with the Inland Empire 66ers before getting promoted to Chattanooga. To say he struggled on the hill with the Lookouts would be an understatement. He posted a 7.04 ERA in six starts.

Fighting through injury for much of the 2011 season, he threw just 36 innings that season. He was decent, but not great.

Last season, he made 25 starts for the Lookouts and was adequate at very best. His control just isn't there and hasn't developed the way the Dodgers had hoped.

However, Miller showed promise with the bat last season. He hit .297/.333/.541 with a home run, two doubles, two triples and struck out just a quarter of his plate appearances. For a pitcher, that's not half-bad.

The 25-year-old pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen this season (11 games, one start). The options are: make Miller a reliever who might be just a LOOGY or convert him to the outfield.

The Dodgers chose the latter.

Eric Stephen of True Blue LA has some quotes from Vice President, Player Development DeJon Watson.

"'This was something the organization has been talking about for close to a year. His velocity had dropped and he’s had some nagging injuries. He was a two-way player coming out of Baylor when we drafted him and we liked what we saw in his bat when he pitched.'"
"We felt this was the right time to make the switch given his age and his desire to continue pursuing his big league dream and help this organization."
Here's hoping the conversion is successful. The Dodgers had success with moving Kenley Jansen from the field to the mound and, as of now, are having limited success doing the same with Pedro Baez. If Miller makes the transition successfully, he'll be the first to make this conversion in quite some time.

The Loons are struggling offensively. Normally, a 25-year-old going to Low-A would help that, but it remains to be seen if Miller can make the transition.

We'll see what happens.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 39 - Don Mattingly saga, MLB Draft, Q&A

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk all about the Don Mattingly saga and whether he's as much to blame for the Dodgers' problems as the media is making it out to be.

We talk a little MLB Draft and reveal our preliminary big boards. Safe to say, its chock full of prep pitchers.

To close, well, we answer a myriad of listener questions, since we failed to do so last week (thanks, Jared).

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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, May 22, 2013

Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti's severe disconnect hurting Dodgers

Just two days ago, I wrote on Yahoo! Sports that Don Mattingly shouldn't yet be fired. Today, I may have changed my tune.

Just in front of Wednesday's matinee series finale with the Brewers, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register brought us these comments from the soon-to-be-former Dodger manager.
"Must-read strong comments from #Dodgers mgr Don Mattingly pregame seemed to point finger at not only lack of "mental toughness" from his players but also at poor construction of the team. We gotta find a team with talent that will fight and compete like a club that doesn't have that talent,' he said, pointing to last year's team which led the NL West by 5 1/2 games at the end of May despite a far less-talented lineup.
I felt we got more out of our ability (last year). I don't know about being tougher but I felt we got more out of our ability. 
There has to be a mixture of competitiveness. It's not 'Let's put an All-Star team together and the All-Star team wins.' It's finding that balance of a team that has a little bit of grit and will fight you. And also having talent to go with it.
All grit and no talent isn't going to make you successful. But all talent and not grit isn't going to get you there either.'"
Wow. Someone should check on Ned Colletti after that shot.

Those aren't the words of a manager who's in sync with his boss. There is an obvious disconnect between the two. The thing is, it didn't seem to be that way before this year. Could it be the pressure and under-performance of the team? Absolutely. But that doesn't excuse either from blame.

At this rate, both Mattingly and Colletti need to go. The Dodgers need a fresh start.

Here's my plan:

  • Fire Mattingly and Colletti
  • Promote Logan White to general manager
  • Hire Brad Ausmus away from the Padres to manage

Normally, firing ones GM two weeks before the draft isn't advisable, but White runs the Dodgers' draft anyway, He, DeJon Watson and Vance Lovelace will be able to handle things just fine. Unfortunately, the ownership group would never turn over control of its $250 million team to an unproven, first-year manager. Look for Tony LaRussa's phone to be ringing in the next few days.

Yes, this team has suffered a myriad of injuries, but that's no excuse for the severe disconnect between Mattingly and Colletti.

Case in point: Mattingly wanted to keep Tim Federowicz as the team's backup catcher. Colletti, for some reason, has opted to keep Ramon Hernandez. It simply doesn't make sense. And this is minor compared to other things.

The fact is, this team is 18-26, in last place in the National League West and isn't going anywhere while there's so much uncertainty and, seemingly, strife.

The Dodgers are a few comments and roster moves away from becoming a full-fledged circus. And not the good kind of circus (if there is such a thing).

Photo credit: BryanKemp, Flickr

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My 2013 MLB Draft big board for the Los Angeles Dodgers, v 1.0

We’re 16 days from the 2013 MLB Draft. The Dodgers hold the 18th selection in the first round. The draft is down in terms of top-level talent this year, but the Dodgers can still nab a quality prospect in the first round.

This is my big board for the first round. The best course of action -- especially in the MLB Draft -- is to take the best player available. Unlike years past, when the position players haven't been that strong in the system, I'd like to see the Dodgers go after a pitcher -- a Logan White special, if you will. An athletic prep pitcher with projectability and a good fastball.

Player who have fit this bill in the past include Chad Billingsley (yes, he was athletic at one time), Clayton Kershaw, Chris Withrow, Ethan Martin and Zach Lee.

My big board

1. 1B/OF Dominic Smith, Serra HS (CA)
2. RHP Hunter Harvey, Bandys HS (NC)
3. RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS (CA)
4. SS J.P. Crawford, Lakewood HS (CA)
5. LHP Matt Krook, St. Ignatius HS (CA, pictured)
6. OF Phillip Ervin, Samford
7. LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State
8. LHP Ian Clarkin, Madison HS (CA)
9. C Nick Ciuffo, Lexington HS (SC)
10. OF Aaron Judge, Fresno State

I'm not sure guys like Smith and Crawford will even be around at No. 18, but if they are, either would be solid selections.

As for the pitchers, any of the four high schoolers above would be just fine with me. Harvey has the bloodlines, Bickford has the stuff and Krook and Clarkin have the left-handedness.

I've cooled on Sean Manaea a bit. He just hasn't been that sharp this season. If the Dodgers went with him -- and were able to sign him -- I wouldn't be upset. But he's definitely a "Boom or Bust" draftee.

Keith Law of ESPN tweeted on Tuesday that Manaea was scratched from his start due to an undisclosed injury. So, there's that.

Ervin is the toolsiest guy on this list. He can play a legitimate center field, is nearly an 80 runner and his bat has really good potential. The Dodgers don't need an outfielder -- especially a college outfielder -- but I think I'm becoming more and more enamored with Ervin as a prospect.

There's one prep catcher there in Ciuffo, but the history of prep catchers has been anything but favorable.

Finally, there's the physically freakish Judge, who doesn't fit a Logan White-type draft pick. But the tools are enticing.


I'll update this list two times before the draft. I'll even throw in a second-round big board the week of the draft. It's getting closer and, despite the lack of talent, I'm stoked for it.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dodgers' Rob Rasmussen establishes himself as legitimate pitching prospect

John Ely burst onto the scene with the Dodgers in 2010. The team had acquired him and Jon Link from the White Sox for Juan Pierre. Elymania spawned and lasted for longer than anyone could have expected. But it ended seemingly as quickly as it began.

Fast forward nearly three years. Ely was coming off of a masterful performance in the Pacific Coast League in 2012. He was named the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, an honor I never would have thought would go to a guy pitching half his games in Albuquerque. His performance, while great, wasn’t enough to keep him around. The Dodgers traded him to the Houston Astros for left-handed pitcher and Southern California native and former Dodger draftee Rob Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, 24, is making a mark of his own, as he’s been the Chattanooga Lookouts’ second-best pitcher (behind Zach Lee) this season.

Not a physically imposing pitcher, Rasmussen has a 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.27 FIP, 7.1 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9 and an 8.7 K/9 in eight starts with the Lookouts this season. That’s actually a really good line for a guy who had just 11 appearances in Double-A before this season.

Rasmussen has never been a big strikeout pitcher, averaging 7.3 per nine innings coming into the season. But Rasmussen has raised his rate by nearly 1.5 K/9 pitching in one of the more advanced leagues in the minors. That’s impressive. He’s also reduced his walk rate while also reducing his hits per nine innings rate. That’s a recipe for success.

Rasmussen is listed at 5’9, and that might be generous. Short pitchers don’t usually last in the rotation, and they usually do if they have elite arms (see: Martinez, Pedro). But Rasmussen is proving he’s more than just a future reliever.

He’s averaged 145 innings pitched in his first two full seasons. He’s on pace to best that this season. However, he’s only throwing 5.4 innings per start. He’ll need to increase that number going forward.

Being left-handed is an advantage for Rasmussen, as his stuff isn’t elite. He throws in the 89-92 MPH range that plays up due to his being left-handed. His two breaking balls are similarly matched. His curveball has a chance to be solid-average while his slider flashes plus potential. He also has a fringy changeup. Obviously, it’s all working for him in the Southern League so far.

Here’s what I wrote about Rasmussen (No. 22) in my preseason Dodgers’ Top 50 prospects list.
Rasmussen was acquired in December for John Ely, a net gain for the Dodgers and their farm system. Rasmussen was drafted in the 27th round of the 2007 draft by the Dodgers. He didn't sign and ended up attending UCLA. The Astros popped him in the second round of the 2010 draft and was traded in July for Carlos Lee. Despite being a small pitcher, he's started 53 of 60 career games in the minors. He reached Double-A Corpus Christi, where he didn't fare particularly well (4.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 4.07 FIP). Rasmussen has a four-pitch arsenal, featuring an 89-92 MPH fastball that touches 94, a slider that flashes plus potential, and a potentially average changeup and curveball. Like many lefties, he throws from a three-quarters arm angle. He also has a compact delivery. While he's likely destined for bullpen duty, there's no reason to pull Rasmussen from the rotation until he proves he can't handle it. He's definitely the exception, not the rule, when it comes to being big-bodied starting pitchers.
If he keeps it up, Rasmussen could be a much more significant prospect than many thought he was before – and after – the Dodgers signed. He’s teaming with Lee to form a nice 1-2 punch for the Lookouts as Chris Reed and Andres Santiago are struggling and Onelki Garcia is on the disabled list (and he wasn’t pitching well anyway).

The Dodgers went from Pierre to Ely (who is out after having Tommy John surgery) to Rasmussen. I’d say that’s a win for the Dodgers and Ned Colletti. The latter part of that sentence is something that is the exception, not the rule.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, May 17, 2013

Looking at some potential Dodgers' draft picks in 2013 MLB mock drafts

The 2013 MLB Draft is three weeks from yesterday. Apparently, Thursday was a big mock draft day, as Keith Law (ESPN Insider), Jonathan Mayo ( and John Sickels (Minor League Ball) all released mocks.

I’m going to look at all the legitimate mock drafts out there to this point to take the temperature of the experts to see who the Dodgers might target in three weeks.

LHP Ian Clarkin, Madison HS (CA)

My take: I’d be OK with his selection. Clarkin is a lefty who has decent size (6’2, 190) with a fastball in the 89-91 MPH range. With his frame, he has some projectability, so adding velocity isn’t out of the question. He also has a curveball and changeup.

LHP Matt Krook, St. Ignatius Prep HS (CA)

My take: Krook has better size than Clarkin (6’4, 195) and has more helium. He’s shooting up the draft boards. He has a low-90s fastball and a curveball.

RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS (CA)

My take: Committed to CSU Fullerton, Bickford is a big righty (6’4, 200) with a heavy fastball that has touched 97 MPH. He has a slider that could be a plus pitch down the road. He also mixes in a changeup. His arm talent is unquestioned.

LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State

My take: Once thought of as a surefire Top-5 selection, Manaea has fallen down draft boards due to injury concerns and decreased velocity. McDaniel makes a good case for the Dodgers popping Manaea. He’s likely going to take a lot of money to sign, and the Dodgers have plenty of that (despite the limitations).

1B/OF Dominic Smith, Serra HS (CA)

My take: I’d be shocked if Smith fell this far, as he’s a likely Top 12-15 pick at worst. If he did, however, he’d be the best player available. In the MLB Draft, taking the BPA is usually the best strategy.

OF Phillip Ervin, Samford

My take: This pick makes the least sense of them all, but I might actually like it. While I say in the latest episode of "Dugout Blues" I wouldn't be opposed to the Dodgers taking a guy like Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge, the team really doesn't need another outfield prospect. But, the scouting reports are favorable (good hit tool, fast, athletic, strong arm), so his selection wouldn't be the worst thing. But as a college hitter, he'd be on a faster track to the majors than a high schooler. I may have talked myself into liking this potential pick.


I’m looking forward to the draft. I’ll have some posts in the coming weeks about potential draftees. Also, Jared Massey and I will podcast after the Dodgers’ selection in the first round and post it immediate for instant analysis.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Missouri Valley Conference

Thursday, May 16, 2013

'Dodger Talk' mentions my work, kind of, on Wednesday night's episode

It's always nice to get recognized for your work. That happened – in some way – on last night's episode of "Dodger Talk," with Kevin Kennedy and Jorge Jarrin.

I wrote an article for Yahoo! Sports about the Dodgers and them targeting starting pitching. Here's an excerpt:
"I never thought I'd be writing these words, but it appears the Dodgers might be in need of a starting pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline.
My target: Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox.
Peavy, 32 at the end of the month, signed a two-year, $29.5 million contract extension with the White Sox on Oct. 30. A former Cy Young award winner with the San Diego Padres, Peavy has pitched well this season. He's 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, a sparkling 1.6 walks per nine innings rate and a 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings. The only thing concerning about Peavy is he's giving up more home runs than is preferred, with a 13.7 percent HR/FB rate. He plays in a hitter's park, but has given up just two home runs at U.S. Celluar Field this season."
Mind you, I have zero inside information on this or any trade rumors (at least for now). I was merely speculating. I even made that clear in the headline: "If the Los Angeles Dodgers target a starter, it should be Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox."

Much to my surprise, the first caller on "Dodger Talk" referenced my piece. Big hat tip to George Cantu, via Twitter.

Link to the show (sorry, couldn't embed it). It's at the beginning of the show and done with in six minutes.

Unfortunately, the caller takes what I wrote as a true rumor, rather than fan speculation with no basis. Kennedy touches on the "rumor" toward the end of the call.

While they didn't mention my name or anything (and I promise I wasn't the one who called), it was kind of nice to hear the piece mentioned on such a big platform.

Maybe this writing for Yahoo! stuff isn't so bad, even if the comments are. Seriously, if you want to witness the lowest of the low – the true Internet basement nerds – just read the comments on any of my submissions so far.

Here's to more recognition and notoriety in the future.

Photo credit: Joe Biewala, Flickr

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 38 - Kiley McDaniel, MLB Draft, prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I record have Kiley McDaniel of Scouting Baseball on to talk about some Dodger prospects and the upcoming MLB Draft.

Jared and Kiley go back and forth while I chime in occasionally. We talk mainly about the big guys at Chattanooga -- Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and Chris Reed.

After that, we talk a lot of MLB Draft. The draft is three weeks from tomorrow. The Dodgers hold the No. 18 pick (just like last year) and could go in any number of directions.

McDaniel has the Dodgers selecting Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea in his first mock draft. Manaea was originally thought of as a potential Top 10 pick, but decreased velocity and potential injury concerns have caused him to drop.

After McDaniel takes off (to record his own podcast, "Marginal Prospects"), Jared and I talk about some intriguing draft prospects such as prep right-hander Hunter Harvey (son of Bryan Harvey), prep catchers Jon Denney and Nick Ciuffo and, a potential wild card, Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge.

To close, well, we actually don't answer listener questions this week (blame Jared). Our sincerest apologies. We'll get to all the questions on the next episode.

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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, May 14, 2013

Scouting report: RHP Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers' prospect

After the first couple rounds of the MLB Draft, it’s pretty much a crapshoot. Sometimes there are gems found later in the draft: Matt Kemp (sixth round), Joc Pederson (11th round) and Matt Magill (31st round).

So, when the Dodgers drafted Ross Stripling in the fifth round, not much was made of the selection.

In his brief career, he’s proving to the team and all those who passed on him that he was worthy of a better draft position.

I saw Stripling on April 30 against the Stockton Ports. He wasn’t overly impressive – stats-wise – but he showed a lot of good things in his outing. That’s saying something, seeing as it was hit worst start of the season.

Luckily, he followed it up with a great start in San Jose before being promoted to Double-A.

Editor's note: I am not a scout (#notascout). This is an amateur scouting report based on what I know about baseball and from following the sport all my life. I don't claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. Enjoy.

How he got here

Stripling, 23, was a fifth-round pick by the Dodgers in the 2012 MLB Draft. Stripling pitched collegiately at Texas A&M University and was a senior when he was popped by the Dodgers. He was drafted in the ninth round of the draft by the Colorado Rockies in 2011.

He signed for less than the $228,900 recommended slot amount. The Dodgers inked him for $130,000. As a college senior, Stripling didn’t have much leverage.

Stripling debuted with the Ogden Raptors last year and was impressive. His innings were limited due to a large workload in college. Stripling threw just 36 1/3 innings. He allowed just 26 hits, six walks and no home runs. He also struck out 37 in those 36 1/3 innings.

He opened 2013 with the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League. He was promoted to Double-A on May 7 after impressing in the hitter’s league.


Stripling is a big, athletic guy. He checks in at 6’3, 190 pounds, though, he’s probably a little bigger than that.


Stripling boasts a nice four-pitch mix:

  • Fastball (can sink and cut it)
  • Curveball
  • Changeup
  • Slider
Stripling was an 88-91 MPH pitcher in college. Since being draft, he’s consistently been in the low-90s. I saw him in person earlier this month and he touched 94 MPH on a few occasions.

There were questions about his velocity and whether he could sustain it. So far, he’s done just that. When he sinks and cuts his fastball, it tops out in the high-80s. The two-seamer features just a little arm-side run. His four-seamer sits at 90-93 and tops out at 94.

Stripling’s curveball is probably his best secondary offering. It features a classic 12-6 break, but he can also throw it with a little more tilt at 11-5. It’s a pitch that is in the 76-78 MPH range. It has a chance to be a plus pitch.

His changeup might be his most improved pitch. Once thought of as an average-at-best offering, his changeup now has a change to be plus. He throws it in the 80-83 MPH range and features late diving action away from left-handed hitters. He throws it more against lefties than righties.

Stripling’s slider is a work in progress. He threw just when I saw him in person. It was an 87 MPH pitch that got him a strikeout. It’s a pitch he’s said he wants to improve and have it become a weapon. It’s hard to make a judgment off one pitch, but he only threw it once, leading me to believe he’s not yet confident enough in it to throw it more often. He’ll need another pitch to throw against right-handers if he doesn’t have his curveball working on a particular day. This is a fringe-average pitch at the moment.

On the night I saw him, Stripling wasn’t particularly sharp in this outing. He didn’t have great command of his curveball, leading to a 6:10 strike-to-ball ratio with the pitch. This showed with a season-high-tying three walks. His changeup was much more efficient (nine strikes, three balls).


Like many Dodger draftees, Stripling’s delivery is clean and polished. There’s no funk or any herky-jerky motion. It’s smooth and picturesque. He’s able to repeat it relatively easily. However, when he doesn’t, his mechanics get out of sorts and he has trouble commanding his pitches.

From the stretch, his delivery is much like it is from the windup. He didn’t feature much of a slide step. He was about 1.4 seconds from the beginning of his delivery to pop/contact.

Stripling throws from a true over-the-top arm angle, allowing him to get nice downward plane on his pitches.

Also like many Dodger pitching prospects, Stripling is athletic and should be a plus fielder as a pitcher. He falls off just a bit toward the first-base side – not uncommon. His athleticism should allow him to make up for that.


Here’s how I would grade Stripling.



Stripling is much better than his fifth-round draft slot. If the 2012 draft were held again, I could see Stripling easily being a third-rounder with what’s known now. His ceiling is as a middle-of-the-rotation starter who will post solid numbers. He isn’t going to be a strikeout-per-inning pitcher, but he’ll be able to get a strikeout when he needs it.

His makeup is great. He keeps his composure on the mound and has a good amount of pitchability, not unlike now-teammate Zach Lee.

Stripling’s athleticism, clean and repeatable mechanics, intelligence and poise should allow him to have a long and prosperous Major League career.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's time: the Dodgers need to replace Brandon League with Kenley Jansen

OK, it might be time for the Dodgers to make a change. I'm not talking about firing Don Mattingly (yet), I'm talking about switching closers.

I wasn't against the Brandon League signing, even when everyone else seemingly was. I've stated that on multiple occurrences. I've never said he's better than Kenley Jansen, just that I was for his signing. Now, I'm not so sure.

League came into a 5-1 game on Sunday. All he had to do is get three outs in a non-save situation, yet he proceeded to allow two runs, making the game much closer than it should have been. Side note: Chris Capuano was fantastic in this game. That's encouraging to see.

But back to League. I noted his ineffectiveness just a little more than a couple weeks ago. His velocity was down from 2012 (still is) and he's just not getting the job done.

League finished play Sunday with a 6.28 ERA. I know ERA isn't the best determiner of value -- especially for a reliever -- but the number and just watching League doesn't inspire confidence. He's allowed three home runs and 16 hits in 14 1/3 innings. His home run-to-fly-ball ratio is 21.4 percent, meaning for every five fly balls he allows, one is a homer. The league-average is 10.6 percent. Oy. And he isn't striking guys out. He has just seven on the season (4.4 K/9). That's no good.

League has only had three 1-2-3 innings in his 14 appearances. For comparisons sake, Orioles' closer Jim Johnson has 10 1-2-3 innings in his 19 appearances. Jansen has just three 1-2-3 innings, but he also has three additional outings in which he faced the minimum number of batters.

It isn't all about 1-2-3 innings, but League's propensity to allow baserunners, coupled with subpar stuff in 2013, should worry the Dodgers.

Jansen is having a great season so far. He's decreased his walk rate to a career-low 2.3 per nine innings. In the process, he's allowing a few more hits -- 5.9 H/9, a career-high -- but that's still a fantastic rate.

And the most important thing: Jansen is a better pitcher. There's no denying that fact. This will limit his availability to the ninth inning (and sometimes the eighth), but there aren't six more Kenley Jansen's in the Dodger bullpen. But keep an eye on Paco Rodriguez. He's pitching well and it seems Mattingly is trusting him a bit more these days.

This will be the second year in a row Jansen will have supplanted the team's opening day closer. It's kinda his thing.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 37 - Dodgers' injuries, Ellis, prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I record discuss the myriad of injury issues with the Dodgers and how the club is handling them.

It took the team 10 days to place Mark Ellis on the disabled list, which makes no sense. Jerry Hairston was swapped out for Elian Herrera and Chris Capuano was mishandled, as was Josh Wall.

I recap my trip to see the Quakes play in Stockton. Some good things from the three-game series, and a few not-so-good things. Such is baseball, though.

Ross Stripling was promoted to Double-A, which I wrote about last night. Jarret Martin impressed me and there's more talent offensively than first suspected.

To close, we answer listener questions. A lot of good ones again this week. Please, please, please keep them coming. It's my favorite part of the show.

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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

Dodgers' SS prospect Darnell Sweeney hits for the cycle at High-A Rancho

Los Angeles Dodgers' shortstop prospect Darnell Sweeney hit for the cycle on Tuesday night against the Inland Empire 66ers.

Sweeney, 21, hit a home run in his first at-bat, a triple in his second, a single in his third and a double in his fourth. He's done this all in just six innings of work.

Quakes' play-by-play man Mike Lindskog said Sweeney could have easily had a triple, but manager Carlos Subero held Sweeney up at second base.

Sweeney was the leadoff hitter for Rancho Cucamonga for the first month-plus of the season. He was moved to the No. 3 spot on Friday night and has taken off a bit:
  • 8-for-20 (.400) with a double, two triples, a home run, three walks and two stolen bases.
I was surprised to see him hitting third on Friday night, but so far, so good.

Sweeney naturally draws comparisons to Dee Gordon, and not because they're both black. They have similar statures and skill sets.

Sweeney doesn't have the ceiling Gordon had, but he could be a Major League regular, if he can stick at shortstop. I have some concerns about that, but for now, that's where he'll play.

I'll have a scouting report on Sweeney in the coming weeks.

Angelo Songco, still with the Quakes, was the last Dodger prospect to play for the Quakes to hit for the cycle. He did so in May 2011 in a 25-9 victory.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dodgers promote RHP Ross Stripling to Double-A, plus other MiLB news

The Dodgers on Tuesday promoted right-handed pitcher Ross Stripling to Double-A Chattanooga from High-A Rancho Cucamonga. The 2012 fifth-round draft pick has been on a nearly meteoric rise since the Dodgers popped him last season.

Stripling, 23, posted some impressive numbers in the California League early this season. He struck out 34 batters in 33 2/3 innings, walked 11 batters and allowed just one home run. Those are numbers for anyone to hang his hat on, let alone a guy in his first full season in a hitter's haven.

I saw him in person on Tuesday against the Stockton Ports and, while he wasn't his sharpest (4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB), he showed me some good things.

Stripling's velocity sat in the low-90s and he touched 94 a few times. He used his curveball and changeup pretty liberally. Both flashed good potential at times.

This move was presumably made for a couple reasons:
  1. He's 23 and the most advanced starting pitcher the Dodgers have in the low minors
  2. Onelki Garcia was placed on the disabled list
Dodgers' assistant general manager, player development, DeJon Watson was in attendance for Stripling's start. Despite not pitching that well, Watson was apparently impressed enough to recommend the promotion. Stripling bounced back on Sunday against the San Jose Giants by throwing eight innings of one-run ball -- that probably factored into the decision as well.

It'll be interesting to see how he handles Double-A pitching. As of now, he should be skyrocketing up Dodger prospect lists. He was No. 11 for me when the season started. He's easily in the top eight now, and probably even higher than that.

Thomas also promoted to Double-A

Quakes' closer and left-hander Michael Thomas was promoted along with Stripling on Tuesday to Double-A. The 24-year-old, a 35th-round pick in 2011, had a 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 5.8 H/9, 2.2 BB/9, 12.4 K/9 and a 2.23 FIP in 12 1/3 innings.

He won't close for the Lookouts, but he should get a lot of work against some advanced hitting.

Pedro Baez will take over as the Quakes' closer.

Left-handed pitcher Eric Eadington (11.42 ERA, 9.3 BB/9) and right-handed pitcher Ryan Acosta (13.11 ERA, 16.2 H/9) both struggled mightily in Double-A and were demoted to Rancho Cucamonga to make room for Stripling and Thomas.

Outfielder Bobby Coyle was also demoted to Rancho Cucamonga.

Herrera back in the bigs

Elian Herrera was recalled to the Dodgers to replace Jerry Hairston, who hit the disabled list Tuesday with a strained groin.

Don Mattingly had said he wanted someone who could play both corner outfield spots, so naturally, the Yasiel Puig speculation began. Alas, it was Herrera who got the call.

Herrera wasn't doing much with the bat at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting just .250. His versatility is nice, but I wouldn't expect much out of Herrera this time around.

Lee good, again

Zach Lee posted another "ho-hum" performance on Tuesday night in Chattanooga:

6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 91 pitches, 59 strikes

Like I said, ho-hum for Lee these days. The kid is having a fantastic season thus far (2.15 ERA) and is proving his worth with every passing start.

Puig is exciting

This is not breaking news, but Puig is an exciting player. In fact, he's the most exciting prospect the Dodgers have ever had.

From my most recent article on Yahoo! Sports:
"Much is made about prospects. As Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus says, they'll break your heart. But they'll also - one day - be the cornerstone of a franchise.
Enter Los Angeles Dodgers' uber outfield prospect Yasiel Puig. Puig, 22, is the most exciting prospect the Dodgers have ever had. But he could still break the collective heart of Dodger fans.
 With his immense power potential and great, but not quite Bo Jackson-like athleticism (because there's only one "Bo"), he has scouts and fans alike drooling just thinking about the potential."
His time is coming, folks. It probably won't be until 2014, but we can wait 11 months. It'll be worth it.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dodgers hurting and their reluctance to recall Scott Van Slyke is curious

The Dodgers are hurting -- big time. Adrian Gonzalez has been scratched the last couple games, Jerry Hairston needed stitches after tripping over a bag in his hotel room and subsequently hitting his head on a desk. He also came out in the fifth inning of Saturday's game after he felt a "tweak" in his groin.

That, combined with Mark Ellis still having not been placed on the disabled list (hasn't played since April 26) and Hanley Ramirez injuring his hamstring on Friday night -- landing him on the DL -- and the Dodgers are quite the mess.

And that isn't even considering the pitching, which hasn't been that good of late. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen were nails on Friday night, while Ronald Belisario wasn't. Matt Magill was roughed up to the tune of five runs in 1 1/3 innings -- a bit disappointing after his MLB debut April 27. The bullpen has a couple of guys who probably won't be available (J.P. Howell and Javy Guerra), so Hyun-jin Ryu needs to throw a hell of a game on Sunday.

So, my question is: Why won't the Dodgers recall Scott Van Slyke?

(Photo: Van Slyke is the batter on-deck)

Van Slyke is starting to make a believer out of me (again), as he's posted a .408/.488/.767 triple slash through his first 29 games of the Triple-A season. He's doing nothing but hitting, yet he can't get the call. Instead, the Dodgers need five utility infielders, only one of whom has any pop (Juan Uribe). This team doesn't need guys like Luis Cruz or Justin Sellers, especially after recalling Dee Gordon to take over for the injured Ramirez. And Gordon did as much offensively in one game than Cruz and Sellers have done the entire season -- combined (not exaggerating as much as one might think).

Sellers has options, and no team in its right mind would place a waiver claim on a guy hitting .095. Cruz could opt for free agency and, for whatever reason, the Dodgers appear afraid of losing him to that. I mean, in what world does a guy with a .095 batting average in 67 plate appearances get to remain on a Major League baseball team?

This team needs pop off the bench. While Van Slyke is strictly a first baseman these days, a spot start every once in a while in a corner outfield spot probably isn't out of the question.

I'd be calling out for Alex Castellanos to be added to the 25-man roster, but he's on the 7-day DL in Triple-A. Both he and Van Slyke deserve to be on the team. It isn't like their development would be stunted if they were members of a Major League bench -- both are in their age-26 seasons and likely aren't going to get any better at this point, though, Van Slyke is trying to prove otherwise.

Van Slyke's improved physique should also be taken into account. He's not the same player he was last year or in previous years. He's trimmed down and it appears to be helping him.

He isn't going to save the team, but there isn't much harm in having a guy like that available off the bench.

Either that or recall Yasiel Puig (I'm only half-kidding).

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue