Next up in my minor league season in review series is the Ogden Raptors. This powerful team played in a very hitter friendly park and made it all the way to the league championship. I always enjoyed following the Raptors box scores because you never knew what would happen in any given game. There were constantly big comebacks, and it was actually unusual if there weren’t at least a couple homers hit in a game. As always, remember that these reports are very extensive, so just because I’m writing about a player doesn’t mean that he is a big time prospect. While I’ll usually mention if a guy is worth keeping an eye on, you’ll have to wait for my upcoming prospect ranking to fully understand who I consider prospects and who are simply organizational players.
Record: 44 - 31
Season Result: Finished in first place in both the 1st and 2nd half. Beat the Orem Owls in playoff semi-finals, but lost in the finals to the Helena Brewers.
Season Recap: The Raptors had a very strong season, winning their division in both halves of the season and finishing with the 2nd best record in the league. Even though they got swept in the finals, Ogden can still feel confident in the fact that they lead the league in almost every offensive category. I know that the Raptors play in very hitter friendly park, but even still hitting .298 as a team with a .832 OPS is very impressive. The team’s pitching wasn’t quite as good as they finish 6th (out of 8 teams) with a 4.67 ERA, but the Raptors still managed to rack up the 2nd most strikeouts in the Pioneer League.
League Leaders: Category Player Rank Amount Runs 1st 69 Hits 4th 94 2B 1st 24 2B 3rd 20 HR 1st 15 RBI's 4th 52 TB 2nd 158 SB 3rd 22 OBP 3rd 0.434 OBP 4th 0.429 SLG 1st 0.650 SLG 3rd 0.610 Ave. 2nd 0.363 Ave. 5th 0.349 OPS 2nd 1.060 OPS 4th 1.044 Wins 4th 6 ERA 2nd 3.33 Games 1st 26 Saves 1st 17 Holds 3rd 5 Holds 4th 4 GF 1st 25
Offensive MVP: I contemplated giving this award to Nick Akins, but since Jake Lemmerman was named the MVP for the entire league, I’m pretty much obligated to give this award to him. And Lemmerman definitely deserves it with the offensive stats he put up as a shortstop. The dude his .363 over 259 at bats and finished the season with 12 homers. He also ranked 1st in the league in runs (69), 1st in doubles (24), 7th in RBI’s (47), 2nd in total bases (158), 3rd in OBP (.434), 3rd in SLG (.610), and 4th in OPS (1.044). His season reminds me a lot of what Brian Cavazos-Galvez did in the Pioneer League in 2009, but I’m much more impressed with Lemmerman because he is a full year younger than BCG was at this stage, and also because he plays the premium position of shortstop. Baseball America ended up ranking "Late Night" as the 6th best prospect in the league, and drew comparisons to Mark Grudzielanek and Mark Loretta.
Best Offensive Prospect: Even though he didn’t have the best stats on the team, Jonathan Garcia was the Raptors best prospect in my opinion. The 18 year old has a ton of potential, and it’s no secret that he is one of my favorite players in the Dodgers system. Garcia hit .305 over 239 at bats, smacked 10 homers, and finished with a very strong .892 OPS. While some might compare his stats as an 18 year old to other players at the same stage in their career in the Pioneer League, or point to his home vs road splits, the fact is that Garcia did exactly what he had to do to prove that he is a legitimate prospect. I mean can you honestly expect any more out of an 18 year old? The only thing I wish is that he was a little taller, but if he can continue to perform then I won’t complain.
Pitching MVP: There were a couple of players I considered for this award, but at the end of the day I had to give it to Shawn Tolleson. The 2010 30th round pick had absolutely ridiculous stats, as he had a 0.63 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 28.2 innings. Tolleson also struck out 12.24 batters per 9 innings, recorded a FIP of 1.46, had a .175 batting average against, and only walked 5 batters all season. Finally, his 17 saves lead the league by a significant margin and were a big reason why the Raptors finished as a first place team.
Best Pitching Prospect: Despite a pretty mediocre season, Garrett Gould was still the best Dodger pitching prospect on this team. His 4.06 ERA wasn’t overly impressive, but he did post a 3.39 FIP to go along with 8.1 strikeouts per 9 innings. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball as he generally sits in the low 90’s, but his value is in his youth (he turned 19 this past July), his size (he’s 6’4") and his very strong curveball. He has also made good progress in the development of his changeup since getting drafted, and it could turn into another plus secondary pitch. Baseball America ranked him as the 13th best prospect in the Pioneer League, and said that "Even at reduced velocity, his fastball worked well because he commands it to both sides of the plate and it features plus sink and armside life." He should be ready for full season ball in 2011, and I see him as a #2 or #3 starter in the future.
1st Base: Blake Dean was the regular 1st baseman for the Raptors, and he put together a pretty good season at the plate by most standards. However, as a 22 year old at a power position in the hitter friendly Pioneer League, U would actually argue that he under-performed. He had a .302 average with a .819 OPS, but his 5 homers were Loney-esque. The only area that he really excelled was his walk to strikeout ratio, as Dean walked almost twice as much as he struck out. In fact, his 1.87 BB/K ratio is one of the highest I’ve seen. Overall, despite a fine season, Dean doesn’t seem like much of a prospect to me.
2nd Base: Casio Grider got the majority of starts and 2nd base for Ogden, and held his own in the powerful Raptor lineup. While his name was rarely mentioned in the 2010 minor league reports, Grider hit a respectable .281 and managed to slug 4 homers. He also led the team with 22 stolen bases. Not everything was positive for Grider in 2010, however, as he committed a team high 23 errors, and had a terrible walk to strikeout ratio.
Pedro Guerrero was the other 2nd baseman for the Raptors, although he also spent time in LoA and even AAA in 2010. Even though Guerrero had an overall terrible season at the plate, he remains on the Dodgers’ radar as he was invited to participate in the instructional league.
3rd Base: Jessie Bosnik, who primarily played shortstop in college, was the main 3rd baseman for the Raptors. In looking at his stats, he still needs some work at his new position as he posted a .887 fielding percentage. He also needs some work at the plate as the 2010 13th round pick hit just .253 for the season. If he’s going to continue playing 3rd base, he’s going to have to hit a little bit more in the future.
Chris Henderson was the other guy who spent some time at 3rd base, although he also frequented 1st base and started some games at DH. The former catcher from George Mason didn’t show much power in 2010, but he posted a remarkable OBP of .429 for the season. He also hit .341 and walked almost as much as he struck out.
Shortstop: Jake Lemmerman started almost every game at shortstop, and as I discussed above he had a great season. Nobody else really spent a significant amount of time at this position.
Catcher: Michael Pericht started off the season on fire and he hit all 9 of his homers before the end of July. He came back down to earth as the season progressed, however, and ended the year with a .278 average. Despite his 2nd half struggles, the 6’5" Pericht was able to establish himself as a power hitting catcher who has at least some potential. It will be interesting to see what the 22 year old does in a full season in 2011.
Steve Domecus also played quite a bit of catcher, but he was just OK as a hitter. The 2010 9th round pick is already 23 years old, and hit just .252 in 131 at bats. With the prospect depth at the catcher position being pretty weak, however, Domecus is still a relatively important player in the Dodgers system.
Joseph Lincoln and Pedro Tavarez also spent a few games behind the plate, but neither guy did anything of significance.
Outfield: The Raptors outfield was probably one of the best in short-season baseball in terms of offensive performance. 2010 3rd round pick Leon Landry was the sparkplug in centerfield, as he also served as the team’s leadoff hitter. Landry posted strong stats in almost every offensive category, hitting .349 with a .909 OPS, while stealing 13 bases and hitting 4 homers. During the season, he was compared to Andres Torres by the Raptors Radio broadcaster, and after the year he was ranked as the 4th best prospect in the league by Baseball America.
Jonathan Garcia was the team’s right fielder, and as mentioned above he had a strong season while doubling as the team’s best offensive prospect.
Left fiend was manned by Nick Akins, who put up outstanding offensive numbers. Akins led the league with 15 homers in just 177 at bats, and ranked 2nd with his 1.060 OPS. His Isolated Power (ISOP) of .334 was also extremely impressive. The 22 year old, who has been compared to Manny Ramirez in terms of defense and attitude, won’t be able to play anywhere but left field because he doesn’t have the arm or speed to play any other outfield position. It will be interesting to see what he does in a full season league in 2011.
Southern California native Robert Coyle played all three outfield positions, and ended up leading the team with 52 RBI’s. The 21 year old lefty, who was drafted in the 10 round of the 2010 draft, also finished the season with .316 average in 237 at bats. He is a wild card for next year as he can burst on to the prospect radar with another strong season.
Starting Pitchers: The 2010 Raptors rotation was pretty strong. Red Patterson was the one pitcher who was in the rotation from start to finish, making a team high 14 starts and accumulating a 3.33 ERA in 67.2 innings. The 23 year old Patterson struck out almost a batter per inning, and recorded a 3.42 FIP. Unfortunately he might be a little bit too old to ever make an impact with the Dodgers.
Garrett Gould made the 2nd most starts on the team, and I talked about him above.
Greg Wilborn was a mainstay in the Raptors rotation until his promotion to Lo-A. Wilborn posted a 2.06 ERA during his time with Ogden, and stuck out over 12 batters per inning. He also was undefeated in 4 decisions, and had a phenomenal FIP of 1.81. The lefty features a slider, curveball, and changeup, and can get his fastball up to 94 mph.
Carlos Frias and Antonio Castillo both started the season in the Raptors rotation, but both struggled and were moved to the bullpen before the year was up. Arismendy Ozoria took over for one of these spots in the rotation late in the season, but he struggled in 31.2 innings after dominating the Arizona League.
Relief Pitchers: The closer for the Raptors, Shawn Tolleson, was discussed above. Besides Tolleson, there were several other players who made significant contributions to the Raptors bullpen. Andrew Pevsner and Logan Bawcom, who were born less than a month apart, were drafted in back to back rounds in 2010, and threw almost the same number of innings in 2010, both had pretty good seasons. Both players also struck out more than a batter per inning, and even though Pevsner had a much better ERA than Bawcom (1.91 vs 4.28), Pevsner’s FIP was actually 4.27 compared to Bawcom’s FIP of 3.86.
Jake McCarter was another guy who had a solid season for the Raptors out of the pen, as he posted a 3.38 ERA and stuck out more than 11 batters per inning. The big negative for McCarter, however, is that he is already 26 years old.
Pete Budkevics, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent this past June, surprised a lot of people by recording strong stats in 40 innings. The soon to be 23 year old had a 3.38 ERA and was yet another guy who struck out more than a batter per inning. He also proved to be very versatile as he made 5 starts during the season.
J.J. Whetsel and Ricardo Rivas were also non-drafted player in the Raptors bullpen, but neither were able to find the same success that Budkevics did. Whetsel had a 7.75 ERA in 33.2 innings, while Rivas’ ERA was even worst at 10.29. Both also had a WHIP of around 2.
Bret Montgomery is a local boy who was the Dodgers 46th round pick in 2010. He’s a big guy at 6’6" and 250 lbs, but he is already 25 years old. He was both a starter and reliever for the Raptors, and there was quite a difference between his ERA (4.99) and FIP (2.51) for the season.
Raul Burgos, who was another member of the Raptors bullpen, was acquired by the Dodgers in the minor league version of the 2009 Rule 5 draft. While his ERA was 4.74, his FIP was 2.91 and he only allowed 1 homer all season.
I had pretty high hopes for Luis Ferreras heading into the season since he posted a 2.50 ERA in the Pioneer League in 2009. Ferreras saw his ERA more than double in 2010, however, and only struck out 6.7 batters per 9 innings. He also is now listed at just 5’9", which is significantly different from the 6’0" he boasted last season.
Nick Gaudi posted pretty good stats in 18 innings out of the Raptors bullpen. His ERA was 3.00, his FIP was 2.87, and he struck out 11.5 batters per 9 innings. Gaudi also spent some time in the Midwest League, but the real question is why the 24 year old was playing in a rookie league?
Finally, Ji-Mo Lee only threw 13.1 innings for the Raptors, but he is worth mentioning because his ERA was 1.35 and his WHIP was 0.90. The bad news for Lee is that he had an extremely low strikeout rate, and that in he missed a lot of the season due to injury.