Ponce de Leon should have headed to Albuquerque and not wasted time in Florida. Many a retread has found themselves pitching and hitting for the Isotopes this year and the results have been more then what you'd expect from your normal NRI (Non Roster Invitee) performance.
Eric Milton dipped into the Isotope pool back in April and after seeing his arm rejuvenated beyond our wildest dreams finds himself part of the Dodger rotation. Shawn Estes tried to resurrect his career and while the results were encouraging he ultimately retired. Before surgeries Scott Strickland was one of the better setup men in baseball but hasn't been able to recapture his skills after the surgeries, after shaking off some rust in April he's now the Isotope closer and has only given up a run in three of his last twenty appearances. Old Man Choi is putting up some staggering numbers that has to have the front office taking notice.
Hector Luna, Dee Brown, and Mitch Jones are all among the Pacific Coast League League Leaders. As great as Mitch Jones was doing to earn his call-up, Hector Luna has been even better. I don't understand the comparisons of Luna to Maza but that is a story for another day.
It is not just the old and in-firmed who have found the Isotope pool to their liking. Top prospect James McDonald couldn't find the strike zone for the Dodgers but once back with the Isotopes he found his A game very very quickly. Scott Elbert has been striking out a bazillion AA hitters but his control has been a problem his whole career. In his first start with the Isotopes he not only pitched a brilliant one hitter, he also only walked one batter.
However all that pales compared to what happened on Friday night. Jason Schmidt was signed to the largest Dodger contract by average annual value in history back in 2007 and has yet to make a meaningful pitch since he signed that contract. His tale is well know to even the most ignorant Dodger fan. Arm surgery, and arm surgery again. Failed rehab time after time. Even this year start and stop has been the mantra. With all that history no one expects anything from Jason Schmidt before his contract ends this year.
It may be time to readjust those expectations. Sure it was just one start but it was the first start that lets the light shine in on an otherwise dreary Dodger career. For seven and two thirds innings last night, Schmidt pushed back time and pitched like it was 2006. Could this be the real start to his comeback? I don't know how hard he threw or any of the particulars, I just know the results, and that is what I'll hang my hopes on. Hopefully he'll be able to lift his arm tomorrow.