With this post, we are not officially a quarter of the way through my countdown. Hopefully a few names will start to sound familiar. Also, given that we didn't offer any arbitration to our type A of B free agents, the guys we have in our system right now are even more important, since we aren't going to be receiving any extra draft picks. As a reminder, I rank players who (1) played in the Dodgers minor league system during 2009, or was injured during the entire 2009 season; (2) are still within the Dodgers organization as of season end; (3) are under 28 years old as of Opening Day 2010; and (4) are still considered a prospect by Baseball America Standards, which means that pitchers must have less than 50 innings pitched in the majors, and hitters must have less than 130 at bats in the majors. Like Baseball America, I do not take into account service time, and therefore it is possible that I have included prospects who will not technically be rookies in 2010 (i.e. Brent Leach).
160. Marlon Arias, LHP (18.6 innings in HiA, 6.3 innings in AAA, 1 inning in Arizona League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers 3/11/03
6’3”, 150 lbs, 25.5 years old
1-1, 6.23 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 9.35 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 171
Marlon Arias’ claim to fame will always be the no-hitter he threw in 2007 while with Inland Empire. Given the reputation of the California league, that is no small feat. Going back to the beginning of his career, Arias was signed at the beginning of 2003 out the Dominican Republic. He dominated the Dominican Summer League in 2003 and 2004 before coming to the U.S. in 2005. From 2005 through 2009, however, he has continually struggled, and has never posted an ERA below 5.00 during that time period. In addition, he regressed significant in 2009 as his ERA rose to an ugly 6.23. Nevertheless, there were two positives for Marlon in 2009. First, he made it all the way to AAA, and ended the season there. Second, he struck out more than one batter per inning. A current minor league free agent, it remains to be seen if the Dodgers will resign this tall lefty to another minor league contract, or if they’ll let him join another organization. While he has shown flashes of brilliance over his career, I don’t see any major league potential in him as a player, so unless the Dodgers need organizational depth at pitcher, I’d prefer that they left him walk.
159. Carlos Mercedes, 1B (42 games in Dominican Summer League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers in 2009
6’2”, 190 lbs, 18.75 years old, bats right handed
.133 average, 2 HR’s, 12 RBI’s, 0 SB’s
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
Carlos Mercedes is a young Dominican player who made his professional debut in 2009. He was only 17 when he played his first professional game, and his lack of experience showed. He hit just .133 for the season, and struck out in almost one-third of his plate appearances. However, he did hit 2 home runs, which is pretty good for the Dominican Summer League. In addition, Mercedes was extremely unlucky in 2009, as his batting average for balls in play was only .192, which is one of the lowest in the Dodgers minor league system. Primarily a 1st baseman in 2009, Mercedes also played in the outfield throughout the course of the season, which shows that he has some versatility. Overall, while his 2009 stats were awful, I believe that his youth and size give him the potential to turn things around next season.
158. Thomas Melgarejo, LHP (36.3 innings in HiA, 4.7 innings in Arizona League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers 12/1/05
6’1”, 216 lbs, 23 years old
2-3, 6.15 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 8.78 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 91
A native of Mexico who was signed by the Dodgers before the 2006 season, Melgarejo is another player who I ranked as a top 100 Dodger prospect last year, yet disappointed in 2009. After spending back to back seasons in Lo-A, Melgarejo was promoted to the hitters’ paradise known as the California League, and the results were not pretty. He posted a 5.70 ERA and allowed 7 HR’s in just over 36 innings. He also walked too many batters, and based on his results, didn’t appear to have overpowering stuff. However, when you combine his Hi-A stats with the stats he accumulated in the Arizona Rookie League while rehabbing an injury, he did end up striking out almost a batter per inning, and also had a respectable 5.00 FIP and a .272 batting average against. In 2010, I anticipate that the 23 year old Melgarejo will return to Hi-A, and hopefully he’ll have better results. Finally, it is worth noting that Thomas is currently playing in the Mexican Winter League, and is doing fairly well with 13 K’s and 4.82 ERA in just over 9 innings.
157. Ronny Lugo, RF (63 games in Dominican Summer League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers in 2009
6’2”, 170 lbs, 20 years old, bats right handed
.246 average, 0 HR’s, 24 RBI’s, 5 SB’s
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
Ronny Lugo was signed out of Venezuela prior to the 2009 season, and debuted with the Dominican Dodgers in May. While his offensive stats were just average, it should be noted that Lugo played all three outfield positions, and only made 3 errors in 63 games. He played the most games in right field, so one can only assume that he has an above average arm. Getting back to his offense, he really didn’t do too badly for a first year player. He had a very solid month of June by hitting .293, and his 24 RBI’s for the year ranked forth on the team. In addition, he showed some speed with 5 triples throughout the course of the season, which led the Dominican Dodgers by far. Nevertheless, at 20 years old, Lugo is going to have to show something special next year to get a chance at playing in a U.S. based league in 2011.
156. Eric Thompson, RHP (28 innings in Pioneer League in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2006, 23rd round
6’6”, 210 lbs, 22 years old
1-1, 5.79 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 4.82 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 121
Eric Thompson was drafted out of high school in 2006, and even though he was a 23rd round pick, the Dodgers had to pay him a fairly large signing bonus to convince him put his basketball career aside. The thought was that the 6’6” pitcher would have the ideal frame and size to be a power pitcher. However, more than three years have passed since he was drafted, and Thompson is still struggling in Rookie ball. While he did make it up to LoA in 2008, he found himself back at Ogden for the entire 2009 season. I don’t know anything about his pitches, command, or his velocity, but the fact that he struck out less than 5 batters per 9 innings in 2009 seems to suggest that his doesn’t have overpowering stuff. But on the plus side, he did have a respectable 4.34 FIP in 2009, and opposing batters only hit .241 against him. At 22 years old, Thompson is running out of time to prove himself to Dodger management. Nevertheless, I have a soft spot for pitchers who were drafted out of high school, so I hope that he puts together a solid campaign in 2010. He’ll probably start next season at Lo-A, and there is a chance that he’ll move up to Inland Empire by mid-season.
155. Bridger Hunt, OF (Did not play in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2006, 9th round
6’0”, 185 lbs, 24.5 years old, bats right handed
No stats in 2009
Prior Year Ranking: 97
After a mediocre 2008 season in Hi-A, Bridger Hunt was on track to make the jump to AA in 2009 as a part time player. The 9th round pick out of Central Missouri State had something to prove after being relegated to an organization player who was just there to fill out a roster. Unfortunately, Hunt never got that chance in 2009 as he was injured the entire season. I’m not sure what Bridger’s injury was, but I did see his name on the Inland Empire DL list for the entire season. My analysis of Hunt as a player is that he has the ability to hit for a decent batting average, but has no power. He is also a scrappy player who has the potential to be a solid leadoff hitter, but unfortunately he lacks the speed to ever be great. Overall, this injury has really put Hunt’s career on hold, and now I’m not sure if he’ll ever be able to get back on track. If healthy in 2010, he’ll probably stay in extended spring training for a while to get back into game action, and then depending on his results, will play in HiA or AA.
154. Chris Handke, RHP (1.3 innings in Arizona League in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 41st round
6’10”, 235 lbs, 22 years old
0-0, 13.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 0.00 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
Chris Handke is an interesting prospect with an even more interesting story. The 6’10” pitcher (or 6’11” pitcher, depending upon where you look) was actually a much better basketball player at Cornell College, averaging 9.8 points per game and setting the single season record for blocks with 45 during the 2008-2009 season. In addition, Handke had a 3.92 GPA while majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. And by the way, his career pitching stats at Cornell looked like this: 0-1, 10.12 ERA, 25 walks, and 11 strikeouts in 21 and one third innings. Based on the above information, who would have guessed that he’d be playing in the Dodgers minor league system? Well, Chris didn’t even believe it after he was drafted. He was quoted as saying “I told the Dodgers that I want to finish my degree at Cornell and complete my basketball career.” His dad Jim also told the local paper “Chris was up front with them. He told them academics are a big priority for him, and he wants to go back to play basketball this winter. They were fine with that." So what changed his mind? I’m not too sure, but I bet it had something to do with the Dodgers agreeing to pay for his education during the offseason, or when he is done playing baseball. I also know that the Dodgers drafted Chris after watching him hit 93 mph at the Perfect Game's National Pre-Draft Showcase. In regards to his professional debut, Chris only pitched in 2 games, and was hit very hard. Nevertheless, a 6’10” pitcher who can hit 93 mph is always intriguing, so I’m sure the Dodgers will continue to spend time on him to see if they can maximize his potential. He’ll probably start next season in the Pioneer League as a 22 year old.
153. Ivan Eugenia, RHP (14 innings in Dominican Summer League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers in 2009
6’1”, 185 lbs, 18.5 years old
1-1, 5.79 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 9.64 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
Ivan Eugenia is a young Dominican player who made his debut in 2009. In fact, not only is Eugenia young, but he is the fourth youngest player in the entire Dodgers minor league system. Because Ivan is so young, I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt despite his mediocre ERA and WHIP in 2009. His 5.79 ERA was supplemented by the fact that his FIP was a respectable 3.41. In addition, another positive feature about Eugenia is his ability to strike batters out. While he was limited to 14 innings in the DSL in 2009, his 9.64 K/9 ranked as one of the best for the Dominican Dodgers. If Ivan can learn to limit the amount of walks he allows, he will no doubt turn into a legitimate prospect. I’m sure he’ll return to the DSL in 2010, and hopefully he’ll get a chance to exhibit his potential by pitching more innings.
152. Jordan Roberts, LHP (26.7 innings in Pioneer Rookie League in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 28th round
6’1”, 180 lbs, 24.25 years old
1-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 4.05 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 150
While he only pitched 26 innings all year, the 2009 season was a tail of two halves for Jordan Roberts. After making 6 appearances in June and July and posting an ERA of 8.00, Jordan found his groove in August, and never looked back. From August 4th through the end of the season, Jordan made 7 appearances, pitched just under 18 innings, and did not allow an earned run. His WHIP during that streak was a ridiculous 0.68, and opposing players hit less than .150 against him. The strange thing was that he only struck out 12 batters the entire season, so you have to wonder if he was a little bit lucky. His 2009 FIP of 3.70 also seems to suggest that he was pretty fortunate throughout the season. Going back to his college career, Roberts was a first team All-American out of the NAIA college Embry-Riddle in Florida. Drafted in the 28th round of 2008, he finished his that season 12th in the NAIA in ERA a 1.94 and, and was 24th in strikeouts per game with 10.10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. So obviously Roberts does have some good stuff. Looking to the future, however, Roberts will be 24 years old when the 2010 season starts, so he’s getting too old for the rookie leagues. He’ll probably move up to Hi-A next year, and hopefully this lefty will continue his scoreless streak in the California League.
151. Jessie Mier, C (35 games in HiA, 1 games in AA in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2007, 12th round
6’1”, 215 lbs, 25 years old, bats right handed
.217 average, 3 HR, 7 RBI’s, 4 SB’s
Prior Year Ranking: 115
From now on, I’m guessing that Jessie Mier will simply be known as the older brother of Jiovanni Mier. For those of you who don’t know, Jessie’s brother Jiovanni was drafted by the Astros with the 21st overall pick in the 2009 draft. Jiovanni is a promising young shortstop, and I’m pretty sure we’ll see him in an Astro uniform sometime in the next five years. Jessie, on the other hand, is a struggling backup catcher. Drafted out of Lewis-Clark College in 2007 he played in 8 games with the Ogden Raptors in his debut season before breaking his hand. He made a full recovery, however, and split time between Ogden and Great Lakes in 2008, posting a respectable .270 average. In 2009, Mier’s season got off to a late start as he didn’t make his debut until May 30 with Inland Empire. With the 66ers, Mier served as the backup catcher for the remainder of the season and struggled in pretty much every offensive category. Despite his struggles, the Dodgers decided to send Mier to the Arizona Fall League for some additional work. Generally, I consider all players sent to the Arizona Fall League as at least a marginal prospect. In Mier’s case, however, I don’t consider that to be the case. In fact, I think the Dodgers wasted an AFL spot by sending Mier. He proved my point by hitting just .167 in the AFL in 36 at bats. Overall, while he is known as one of the better defensive catchers in the Dodgers system, Mier’s offensive skills have just not developed enough to compliment his abilities behind the plate. He will probably play in AA next season, but will definitely be the backup catcher as I don’t him ever being a starting catcher at any level.