Next up in my minor league season in review series is the Ogden Raptors. I almost took a trip to see the Raptors play in person this season at the beautiful Lindquist Field, but it just didn't work out in my schedule so I'm planning the trip for 2012. The Raptors tend to field exciting teams because the Pioneer League is a hitter friendly league that features several college batters facing less experienced pitchers. This was true in 2011 as Ogden rode their offense all the way to the championship series. Even though Ogden lost in the finals for the second year in a row, it was another exciting year for the Raptors.
Record: 41 - 35 (22 - 16 First Half, 19 - 19 Second Half)
Season Result: The Raptors lost in the Pioneer League finals for the second year in a row; this time to the Great Falls Voyagers.
Season Recap: The Raptors were hot for the first month of the 2011 season, then hit a mid season slump as the 1st half came to a close. They were able to back into the 1st half division crown with some sort of a tie breaker, however, which secured them a playoff spot. In the second half Ogden played .500 ball, then in the post-season the Raptors beat the Orem Owlz in the first round of the Pioneer League playoffs to reach the finals for the second year in a row. Unfortunately the good guys lost in the championship series again, but still had a season had an overall solid season.
In terms of team stats, the Raptors led the league in several offensive categories including runs, doubles, and stolen bases. Ogden also ranked 2nd in homers, slugging %, and OPS. A team ERA of 5.13 ranked in the middle of the pack, as did the team's strikeout numbers.
Offensive MVP: Even though O'Koyea Dickson led the team in a couple of offensive categories, I'm giving this award to Joc Pederson. Pederson showed an outstanding combination of speed and power while demonstrating amazing patience at the plate for a 19 year old. Joc led the league with 64 RBI's, while his .997 OPS and 24 SB's ranked 3rd in the circuit. He also crushed 11 HR's and posted a great walk to strikeout ratio while playing almost every day. He impressed me quite a bit, and he is definitely someone who has moved up the prospect rankings.
Best Offensive Prospect: I know that offensive MVP Joc Pederson had a better season, but I believe the best prospect on this team is James Baldwin (by a slim margin). There have a been a few articles recently about Joc being the better overall player and prospect, with the main reasoning being his success at such a young age and the fact that he posted strong walk and strikeout rates, but in my opinion Baldwin simply has more upside than Pederson and will one day be the better big league player. I see Baldwin as an athletic specimen that reminds me a lot of Matt Kemp, with the one difference being that Baldwin has more strikeouts than Kemp at this stage in his career, but that something that can be fixed as the youngster gains experience. Baldwin ranked 2nd on the team with 10 HR's and 22 SB's despite missing 20 games of the season due to personal reasons, and played a solid center field. He is an exciting player that could have a breakout season in 2012 with the Great Lakes Loons.
Pitching MVP: Even though he only started 1 game for the Raptors, I'm giving this award to Yimi Garcia because he was the workhorse and best overall pitcher for the Raptors. Yimi was used in various roles throughout the year, starting the season as a long reliever and then moving more into the late inning/closer role. He ate up 52.1 innings while posting a 3.10 ERA , but his most impressive stat was his 12.2 K/9. He also won 4 games for his club and picked up team high 4 saves while playing most of the season as a 20 year old.
Best Pitching Prospect: The Raptors weren't known for their strong pitching, and since I have limited options I'm going to give this award to Brandon Martinez. B Mart, who is admittedly one of my favorite prospects, collected a team high 6 wins, and even though his strikeout numbers were somewhat low he still had a solid ERA as he continues to grow into his frame. He already throws in the low 90's with developing secondary stuff, and I still expect him to add a few more mph as he matures. The 2009 7th round pick won't turn 21 until November, and should get the chance to play in a full season league in 2012 which will give hit the change to really put his name on Dodgers' radar.
Follow the jump for more...
Other Notable Players and Prospects: Before I get into the position by position breakdown, I wanted to highlight a few more players on the team who either had a great season and/or have the potential to turn into a legitimate Dodger prospect. This way, the more notable players don't get lost in all the detail below.
Gustavo Gomez - RHP - The 20 year old struggled during his stint with the Loons, then he was sent down to the Pioneer League to be the Raptors opening day starter. Gomez was on fire in June as he allowed just 1 earned run in 17 innings, but then stumbled down the stretch and had an ERA over 6 for the rest of the season. Overall Gustavo ended with a 4.87 ERA, and his outstanding K/9 rate of 11.9 was balanced out by the fact that he gave up 9 homers in just 61 innings.
Derek Cone - RHP - Cone played at 3 different levels in 2011, but the majority of his season was spent with the Raptors where he was a mediocre starter. The 21 year old struck out about 10.6 batters per inning his his 10 starts, but ended with a 5.03 ERA and a 4.34 FIP. The lanky righty should still be considered a decent prospect, however, and is someone who has the chance to take a big step forward in 2012 now that he has a year of experience under his belt.
Raydel Sanchez - RHP - The Dodgers signed Sanchez, who defected from Cuba, for $125K before the season, and he was the workhorse for the Raptors as he led the club with 75.1 IP. He had a couple of outstanding outings, including a 11 K performance in just his 2nd start as a professional, but his overall season stats weren't all that impressive. One area in which he did stand out, however, was his strikeout to walk ratio which was better than 4.5 to 1. The 6'0" right hander doesn't have a big frame, and it will be interesting to see how the 21 year old performs in a full season league next season.
Matt Shelton - RHP - The 2011 24th round pick put together a solid campaign and was one of the Raptors best relief pitcher. The 6'4" 22 year old finished with a 2.05 ERA and struck out more than a batter per inning in his 26.1 frames. He also won 4 games allowed just 1 HR all season.
O'Koyea Dickson - 1B - Every year it seems that the Raptors have a college draftee dominate the Pioneer League in his professional debut (Kyle Russell/Tony Delmonico in 2008, BCG in 2009, Jake Lemmerman in 2010), and in 2011 that player was O'Koyea Dickson. From an offensive standpoint Dickson was outstanding in every way, from his 13 HR's in just 189 at bats to his 1.005 OPS. Some may write off his great season due to his age (21) and the fact that he doesn't have much defensive value as a 1st baseman, but I'm waiting to see what he does next year before forming an opinion on the slugger.
Scott Schebler - OF - Schebler quietly had a very good season for Ogden, tying for the team lead with 13 homers while posting a .853 OPS. He was outstanding with runners on base, and ended the season on a hot streak. The one surprise about his season was the fact that he only stole one base, especially because Baseball America described him as having plus speed in their pre-draft report.
Noel Cuevas - OF - Even though Cuevas only had 3 professional games under his belt, the Dodgers sent Noel to the California League in May where he was completely over-matched. After a month long experiment Cuevas was sent back down to the Pioneer League where he fared much better. He played the year as a 19 year old and hit .285 with 8 homers and 13 SB's. He didn't walk a whole lot, but that is expected of a free-swinger who is still considered very raw.
Scott Wingo - 2B - If there is one thing Wingo proved in 2011 it's that he knows how to take a walk. After winning back to back national championships in college at South Carolina, Scott had a solid professional debut. He hit just .275 with the Raptors but managed to post an OPS of .922 thanks to his ridiculously high walk rate which resulted in a OB% of .464. From a pure tools standpoint I'm not sure that Wingo is much of a prospect, but he is a winner and a gamer and I wouldn't bet against the 22 year old as he makes his way through the Dodgers minor league system.
Position by Position Breakdown (player's age in parenthesis):
Catcher: The Raptors split their catching duties between 3 bodies, with Andrew Edge (23) getting the majority of the starts. Edge got off to a quick start with 6 homers in his first 16 games and an OPS over 1.000 through the month of July. The 2010 24th round pick then slumped badly and ended the year with 8 bombs and a .253 average. Jan Vazquez (20) also spent a lot of time behind the plate for Ogden but the 3rd year switch hitting backstop had yet another disappointing season. His .674 OPS was a career high and he hit his 1st homer as a professional, but those stats are nothing to brag about. The final catcher in the Raptor rotation was 2011 3rd rounder Pratt Maynard (21), who joined the team a little late because he didn't sign with the Dodgers until mid July. I thought that Maynard would dominate the Pioneer League given his age and the hitter friendly environment, but instead he muddled his way to a .239 average and a .687 OPS in 25 games. I expect much better things out of Pratt in 2012 when he'll probably be the Loons starting catcher.
1st Base: The mighty O'Koyea Dickson (21) was the Raptors primary 1st baseman, and his offensive skills were discussed at length above. What I didn't really mention was his defense, which based on some first hand accounts could be described as plus. He had a .988 fielding percentage, but apparently it's his range that sets him apart. Matt Kirkland (20) was Ogden's other 1st baseman and put together a relatively solid campaign in his 2nd professional season. He only hit 4 homers, but managed to bat .292 and had a torrid month of July during which his OPS was .958. Kirkland did lose some value as a prospect when compared to last year, however, because he moved across the diamond from 3rd base where his bat would have been much more intriguing.
2nd Base: Second base was split pretty evenly among three Raptor players, and Scott Wingo (22) led the way with 29 games at the position. Wingo showed some defensive ability with a .982 fielding percentage, and as mentioned above he has a knack for getting on base. Enlly Morales (22) was another 2nd baseman for the Raptors but he had a season to forget with a .260 average and a .637 OPS. He's been a disappointment since coming over from the DSL and is probably not much of a prospect anymore. Alexis Aguilar (20) played all over the infield, but spent most of his time with the Raptors at 2nd base. He had a very solid season at the plate with a .307 average and 14 stolen bases, but his defense was atrocious and he walked in just 2.6% of his plate appearances.
Shortstop: Charlie Mirabal (24) was Ogden's main shortstop for the first half of the season, but lost some playing time when Justin Boudreaux (22) was promoted to the Raptors at the beginning of August. Mirabal was one of the oldest players on the team, and while he posted a .315 average his overall stats weren't all that impressive. Boudreaux, on the other hand, hit just .265 but his .842 OPS was well above that of Mirabal and he stole 16 bases to boot. Justin's fielding percentage was a little ugly, but his plate disciple and his overall offensive ability lived up to the expectations I set for him after reading his glowing pre-draft scouting report.
3rd Base: The hot corner was manned by Jeff Hunt (20) on an everyday basis who had somewhat of a breakout season when you consider what his lack of playing time over the past two years. I've been a fan of Hunt since he was selected in the 15th round of the 2009 draft, but he was limited to just 18 games in each of his first two professional seasons. Jeff didn't wow anyone in his first stint as a starter and struck out way too much, but he still hit a respectable .272 while hitting 4 bombs and posting an OPS of almost .800. His defense definitely needs a little work, however, as his fielding percentage was a sloppy .816. Scott Woodward (22), who also played some outfield, was the other 3rd baseman for the Raptors and his defense was even worse (.778 fielding %). Woodward also hit a measly .219 despite being one of the older players on the team. I'm still not sure why he was our 7th round pick.
Outfield: The outfield was a point of strength for the Raptors as each of the four main outfielders were mentioned above in either the award section or in the "other prospects of note". Joc Pederson (19) led the way with 63 games played and he spent time in all 3 positions, although the vast majority of his starts came as a corner outfielder (mostly in left). As discussed above Pederson had an outstanding season at the plate, but it should also be noted that Joc led the team with 9 outfield assists. James Baldwin (20) made all his starts in center field and by most accounts played solid defense. He has outstanding range, and also showed off his arm with 5 outfield assists in just 47 games. As I mentioned above I expect him to continue improving both at the plate and in the field. Scott Schebler (21) spent almost all his time in right field and posted the best fielding percentage of all the outfielders. He had a great season at the plate and will get the chance to play in a full season league next year. Finally Noel Cuevas (20) filled in at center field during Baldwin's absence, and did a fine job despite the fact that scouting reports pinned him for a left fielder. Left is probably his best position and its where he spent the other half of his time, but its still encouraging to know that he's athletic enough to handing playing in the middle of the field. After posting good offensive numbers in the rookie league he should get another shot at Rancho in 2012.
Starting Pitchers: The Raptors had a relatively consistent starting rotation in 2011 with four pitchers reaching double digits for starts. Each of the four main starters were discussed above (Gustavo Gomez (20), Raydel Sanchez (21), Brandon Martinez (20), and Derek Cone (21)), so I'll mention the other players that got starts for Ogden here. 2011 8th round pick Rick Anton (22) started 6 games for the Raptors and had an impressive 1.59 ERA in 17 innings which earned him a promotion to the Loons in late July. The lefty’s strikeout to walk rate of 13 to 1 was outstanding, as was his 0.94 WHIP. The 6’11" Chris Handke (23) was used mostly in relief, but he also started 4 games for Ogden early in the season. The Dodgers continue to hold out hope that the giant will be a late bloomer on the mound, but after posting a 6.66 ERA in his 3rd season of rookie ball they might be losing patience with him. Finally Ryan O’Sullivan (21) inked a deal with the Dodgers close to the draft signing deadline, and started 3 games late in the season. He was limited to just 8.1 innings and struggled quite a bit, but the sample size is much too small to make any type of judgment. Despite his limited experience he’ll most likely spend 2012 with a full season club like the Great Lakes Loons.
Relief Pitchers: Yimi Garcia (21) and Matt Shelton (22) had two very different roles for the Raptors in 2011, but they were the teams’ two best relief pitchers by far and were discussed above. Late season call up Eric Eadington (23) was also impressive in his limited time with the club as he tossed 10.1 innings with striking out 13. As I mentioned in my Arizona Dodger report apparently throws 92 - 94 and turned some heads among scouts despite his age. No other reliever on the team with at least 10 IP had an ERA below 4, with the teams’ other Yimy getting the closest. Yimy Rodriguez (24) was a multi-inning reliever as he accumulated 44.1 frames in just 16 appearances and posted an ERA of 4.06. The 27th round pick from the 2010 draft had impressive peripherals, however, as he struck out almost a batter per inning and had a FIP of 3.63. Joel Lima (22) started the 2011 season with a brief and surprising appearance in AA, but mostly struggled in the Pioneer League. He allowed 9 homers in just 34.2 innings which drove his ERA to 5.71 for the season. Hopefully a more pitcher friendly league will benefit Joel in 2012 so we can eventually see the second coming of Lima Time. Carlos De Aza (21) didn’t provide the Raptors with much relief in 2011 as he recorded an ERA over 7 for the second consecutive season. The right hander has a strong frame at 6’3", but at this point he better start getting some better results. Kazuki Nishijima’s (22) professional debut didn’t really go according to plan as he had an ERA of 5.51 for Ogden, but he did show immaculate control which helped him post a FIP of 3.60. I didn’t get any information on what Kazuki threw this season, but previous reports said he was a control guy who threw around 90 mph with a good curveball. While his season will probably get overlooked, I think the lefty could be a sleep prospect for us heading into next year. Steve Matre (23) bounced around between three teams in 2011, but spent most of his time with the Raptors and had an interesting season. His ERA was 5.82 and his WHIP was an ugly 1.82, however he struck out 11.6 batters per inning and his FIP was a much more impressive 3.02. Finally, converted outfielder Michael Drowne (23) seemed to either walk or strikeout everyone in his pitching debut as his K/9 was almost 12, yet he walked more than a batter per inning. At the end of day he had an ERA of 4.56, a WHIP of 2.07, and a FIP of 4.02 while keeping the ball in the park all season long.
|Pioneer League Hitters|
|Hits||Scott Schebler||Tied 4th||84|
|3B||Scott Schebler||Tied 3rd||8|
|Total Bases||Scott Schebler||3rd||156|
|Total Bases||Joc Pederson||4th||151|
|Stolen Bases||Joc Pederson||Tied 3rd||24|
|Stolen Bases||James Baldwin||5th||22|
|Pioneer League Pitchers|
|Wins||Brandon Martinez||Tied 4th||6|
|Games Started||Brandon Martinez||Tied 1st||15|
|Games Started||Raydel Sanchez||Tied 1st||15|
|Hits Allowed||Raydel Sanchez||Tied 4th||89|
|Strikeouts||Gustavo Gomez||Tied 2nd||81|
|Holds||Matt Shelton||Tied 3rd||5|