2010 Arizona Dodgers Season in Review

Next up in my minor league season in review series is the Arizona Dodgers.  This short season team only played 55 games, but they were a fun team to follow as they featured many young prospects getting their first taste of professional baseball.  Remember, 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:  30 – 25

Season Result:  3rd place in their division, 3.5 games out of first place

Season Recap:  Despite missing the playoffs, the Arizona Dodgers had a relatively successful season.  They finished 5 games above .500, and were fighting for the league’s wildcard playoff spot up until the final game of the year.  A six game winning streak in mid-August is what put the team in position for the playoffs, but a loss on the final day of the season ended their postseason aspirations.  62 different players put on the Arizona Dodger uniform during the 2010 season, ranging from 2010 draftees to veteran players on rehab assignments.  In terms of team stats, the Dodgers finished in the middle of the pack (6 out of 12) in team hitting with a .255 average, and their 24 homers ranked 4th most in the league.  The Dodgers were 5th of out the 12 teams with a 4.01 ERA, however their 452 strikeouts ranked 2nd to last in the league.

League Leaders:

Category

Player

Rank

Amount

Triples

Chance Gilmore

8th

5

HR's

Nick Akins

6th

6

Walks

Tae-Hyeok Nam

8th

21

SB's

James Baldwin

5th

17

Wins

Arismendy Ozoria

10th

4

Games

Gari Tavarez

6th

18

Holds

Beyker Fructuoso

6th

3

Holds

Chris Handke

6th

3

GF

Joel Lima

5th

12

GF

Gari Tavarez

6th

11

Offensive MVP:  Some could argue that Nick Akins was the MVP of this team because he put up some ridiculous numbers even though he played in only 20 games and accumulated just 75 at bats.  He was only with the team early in the season, however, so his play didn’t have an impact on the team’s late season success.  Therefore I’m giving this award to James Baldwin, who started off the year extremely slow, but then really turned it on later in the season during the "stretch run".  Baldwin hit .357 in the month of August to go along with 15 RBI’s, 9 SB’s, and an .890 OPS.  In addition, he played in a team high 46 games, led the team with 17 SB’s, and was among the top 3 on the club in runs, RBI, and doubles.  Finally, his .274 average was 2nd on the team among players with at least 80 AB’s.

Best Offensive Prospect:  Taking into account that I’m not considering players who appeared in less than 10 games, I’m actually giving this award to the Offensive MVP of this team James Baldwin.  I already wrote about some of his accolades of the season above, so here I’ll talk about his prospect status.  Baldwin is very athletic and is also extremely raw as a position player (stop me if you’ve heard this before), so that’s what makes his success this year even more exciting.  Ranked as the 10th best player in the Arizona League by Baseball America, he has great speed, has the frame to develop plenty of power, and played the entire season in center field.  Also, even though is arm is just average at this point, the Dodgers believe it will get stronger as he matures.  To me, he has the potential to be a 5-tool player if he can continue to progress as a hitter and fielder.  In addition, DeJon Watson mentioned him as a breakout candidate for next year, so he is definitely someone to keep your eye on.  The two things he needs to work on, however, are his strikeout rate and his patience at the plate.

Pitching MVP:  Arismendy Ozoria was only with the Arizona Dodgers through July, but he still ended up with the 2nd most innings pitched on the team and had a very solid season in Arizona.  His 2.78 ERA was the best among Dodgers with at least 22 IP, and he also led the team with 4 wins.  In addition, his FIP was very strong at 2.86, and he struck out an impressive 9.46 batters per 9 innings.  Finally, he walked just 9 batters in his 35.2 innings pitched. 

Best Pitching Prospect:  By my judgment, the best pitching prospect on this team was 2010 2nd round pick Ralston Cash.  Brandon Martinez may have more upside, but I think Cash is the better prospect.  Cash played almost the entire season as an 18 year old and put up some very solid numbers.  He recorded a 3.60 ERA, a 2.83 FIP, and did not allow a homer in his 30 innings pitched.  He was rated as the 20th best prospect in the Arizona League by Baseball America, and he earned a promotion to the Pioneer League at the end of the Arizona season.  In terms of potential, I can see Cash as a solid middle of the rotation starter.  I don’t think he’ll ever be the ace of a staff as his fastball only sat between 88 and 92 this season (although previous scouting reports say that his fastball has some movement), but with 2 other potentially above average pitches (curveball and changeup), he seems to have what it takes to one day make it to the majors. 

 

1st Base:  Tae-Hyeok Nam got the majority of starts at 1st base, and despite ending the season in a slump he is one of the better offensive prospects on the team.  He is an international signee from Korea and has pretty good power.  The only question is if he’ll be able to hit enough in the higher levels to succeed at a position that require a lot of offense.

Beau Brett, the nephew of George Brett who surprised a lot of people by signing as a 35th round pick, was the only other player to get significant playing time at 1st base.  He didn’t do much at the plate this season and isn’t really much of a prospect.

 

2nd Base:  Enlly Morales was the primary 2nd baseman for the Dodgers, and unfortunately he had an overall disappointing season.  The only good news for him is that he finished the year with a .371 average over his last 10 games to boost his season average to a respectable .273.  He only had 6 extra base hits all season (all doubles), and the result was an ugly .623 OPS for the 21 year old.  I’ll admit that I may have overrated him a bit in my mid-season rankings. 

David Iden was the team’s other 2nd baseman, but he is a 5’9" 23 year old in a rookie league so he’s not worth writing about.

 

3rd Base:  Third base was shared by 3 players who are all very close in age, are all close to the same size, and all had pretty similar stats in 2010.  Bladimir Franco, who had a solid season in the DSL in 2009, started the most games at the hot corner for the Dodgers but the results were not pretty.  In 125 at bats, Franco had a .272 OBP, a .224 average, and a .600 OPS.  He also struck out in 35.8% of his plate appearances and made 11 errors.  He is another guy I probably overrated, and I can say that I think I’ve learned my lesson about getting excited about hitters who perform well in the Dominican Summer League.

Jeff Hunt must have had some sort of injury to start the season because he didn’t get into a game until late July, and he never really got it going in the 18 games he played.  He did have a couple of good games and ended up with 2 homers in just 50 at bats, but overall it was mostly a lost season for Hunt.  I still haven’t lost faith in him, however, and look forward to his 2011 season.

Finally, 3rd base was the primary position for 2010 12th round pick Matt Kirkland, but he only played in 16 total games for the season.  He showed good patience at the plate and recorded a .373 OBP, but he only managed 2 extra base hits (both doubles) in 46 at bats.  He is another guy I am not going to judge until 2011 because of his limited playing time. 

 

Shortstop:  Shortstop for the Dodgers was split between Charlie Mirabal and Alexis Aguilar.  Mirabal actually had a pretty good season, leading players with at least 80 at bats with a .295 average, but he is already 23 years old and isn’t much of a prospect.  Aguilar is an interesting case because he one of the only players I’ve ever seen promoted up from the Dominican League during the season.  The 19 year old joined the Arizona Dodgers in July and wasn’t very impressive, recording a .253 average and a .610 OPS. 

 

Catcher:  Several guys played catcher for the Dodgers, but the primary receiver was 19 year old Jan Vazquez.  The 2009 6th round pick is a switch hitter from Puerto Rico, and he didn’t have a very good 2010 as he only hit .226 with a .648 OPS in 93 at bats.  It was an improvement over last season, however, when he hit just .216 with a .558 OPS in the same league.

A duo of 22 year old 2010 draft picks also spent time behind the plate for the Dodgers.  BJ Larosa was selected in the 23rd round and only got into 10 games, but he showed extreme patience during that time as he walked in more that 25% of his plate appearances.  Andrew Edge, who was selected exactly one round later, got into 21 games and actually smacked 4 homers in just 81 at bats.  He did struck out quite a bit, though.

 

Outfield:  The outfield was anchored by center fielder James Baldwin, who I already wrote about above. 

Left field was patrolled by two absolutely dismal players.  Non-drafted free agent signee Tony Moses played 31 games in which he hit a paltry .145 with a ridiculous .455 OPS.  After the season he retired.  Moses’ counter-part was the equally horrible Preston Mattingly, who somehow struggled against the much less experienced competition.  Mattingly hit .237 and had a .580 OPS in 93 at bats.  I’m not even sure why he was playing in the Arizona League for so long because 25 games are much too long to simply be a rehab assignment.  Maybe the Dodgers were trying to build up his confidence against younger players, but that obviously didn’t work.  After the season, he was shipped to Cleveland for another worthless prospect.

In right field, Chance Gilmore got most of the starts after getting demoted from the Pioneer League, and he did OK.  Nick Akins also spent his time in the Arizona League in right field, and as mentioned above he put up amazing numbers in his 75 at bats.  Akins smacked 6 homers, collected 24 RBI’s, hit .400, and had an OPS of 1.277 before moving up to the Ogden Raptors.

Finally, the four outfielders from the 2010 draft who signed close to the deadline (Joc Pederson, Scott Schebler, Noel Cuevas, and Devon Ethier) all played in the Arizona League.  However, all of them played in 5 games or less so there isn’t really anything to analyze.  You can read more about them here.

 

Starting Pitchers:  15 different pitchers started games for the Arizona Dodgers, but several of those starts were from rehabbing players.  The main starters for the Dodgers were Gustavo Gomez, Brandon Martinez, Bolivar Medina, Arismendy Ozoria, and Ralston Cash.  I already wrote about Ozoria and Cash above, so let’s look at the other guys here.  Brandon Martinez is one of my favorite sleeper Dodger prospects, but he had an up and down season.  When he started games (5 starts and 24.1 innings), he had a 2.22 ERA with a .266 batting average against.  When he pitched in relief (7 games and 11.2 innings), he had an 11.57 ERA and a .383 batting average against.  So obviously the Dodgers should strictly use him as a starter.  In addition, while his overall season ERA was 5.25, his FIP was a much more impressive 2.89.

Gustavo Gomez had a tail of two seasons while with the Dodgers, recording a 6.14 ERA through his first 22 innings, and then a 1.23 ERA through his next 22 innings.  Overall, Gomez had a 2.50 FIP and then was even more impressive after getting promoted to the Pioneer League.

Bolivar Medina is another guy who struggled at the start of the season, but then finished strong.  He had a 2.57 ERA in August through 21 innings, but that only lowered his overall ERA to 5.88 for the season.

 

Relief Pitchers:  There were obviously quite a few guys who threw in relief for the Dodgers, so I’ll only mention the significant players.  The team didn’t have a consistent closer as 6 different players picked up saves in 2010.  Joel Lima co-lead the team with 3 saves, and had a 2.04 ERA to boot.  Overall, the half brother of Jose Lima put together a pretty good season in his first year in a US based league.  The downside is that Lima is already 21 years old, which is a little old for the Arizona League.

Beyker Fructuoso struggled badly when he started the season in the Pioneer League, but after returning to the Arizona League for the 2nd straight season he thrived with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.  The 6’3" rightly also struck out 31 batters in just 26.2 innings, good for a 10.45 K/9, and recorded a 2.82 FIP.

Yimi Garcia had a remarkable season in the DSL in 2009, but his transition to the US based Arizona League did not go as planned.  Garcia threw 30.2 innings and had a 7.04 ERA to go along with a WHIP of 1.79.  The only upside to his season is that he showed very good control, which caused his FIP to be a much more respectable 3.17 for the season. 

The 6’11" Chris Handke is trying to get going in his professional career, but didn’t quite have the kind of season that he would have liked.  Tall pitchers are historically late bloomers, but even still I hoped for more out of the 22 year old.  The 2009 41st round pick had a 4.03 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP.

Andres Santiago’s season didn’t start until August 1st, but he made the most of his 6 appearances by allowing just 5 earned runs in 20.2 innings, good for a 2.18 ERA.  The 6’2" 20 year old was a 16th round pick back in 2007, so he has progressed slowly.

Finally, 6’6" Jimmy Marshall only allowed 3 earned runs in 14 innings, which resulted in a 1.93 ERA.  However, Marshall is already 23 years old and is in his 2nd professional season, so I’m not sure why he was playing in the Arizona Rookie League.

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