2011 Dodgers Minor League Preview – Chattanooga Lookouts

With the minor league season right around the corner, I’m doing a mini-series to preview each of the Dodgers minor league full season teams.  Since official rosters won’t be out until next week, I am predicting what the minor league roster will be for each of the Dodgers full season affiliates at the start of the season.

The next part of my series will center on the Dodgers AA team, the Chattanooga Lookouts.  The Lookouts generally field a solid team with a decent amount of top prospects, and this year should be no different.  What’s interesting, however, is that the team figures to return several familiar faces from last season as over half of the players I predict to be on the AA team spent at least some time with the Lookouts in 2010.  That being said, my predictions could be wrong since AA is one of the tougher levels to predict.

The Southern League is one of the more pitcher friendly leagues, which is why the Dodgers like to send most of their top pitching prospects to AA.  The league also has an impact on the Dodgers minor league hitters as the Dodgers have only had two AA hitters record more than 15 homers over the past three years (Sands and Russell Mitchell).  Returning to manage the Lookouts for the second consecutive season will be Carlos Subero, who posted a .468 winning percentage with the team in 2010.  He will be joined by Hitting Coach Franklin Stubbs, who was promoted from HiA, and Pitching Coach Chuck Crim, who was promoted to LoA.

Finally, please note that I did spend considerable time piecing together the teams, and I looked carefully at a number of different factors, including age, position, experience, prior year stats, etc.  Also, you will notice that I put together 27 man rosters for each team instead of the traditional 25.  I did this to take into account any possible injuries at the beginning of the season.

Also, click here for my Great Lakes Loons preview, and here for my Rancho Cucamonga Quakes preview

 

Starting Pitchers:

Pos.

Name

Acquired

My Rank

DOB

Age

Height

Weight

Thr.

SP #1

R De La Rosa

Signed 7/2/07

5

3/4/1989

   22.06

6' 1"

170

R

SP #2

C. Withrow

2007, 1st

4

4/1/1989

   21.98

6' 3"

195

R

SP #3

Aaron Miller

2009, 1st

13

9/18/1987

   23.52

6' 3"

200

L

SP #4

Josh Wall

2005, 2nd

61

1/21/1987

   24.18

6' 6"

190

R

SP #5

Will Savage

Signed 2/2/10

119

8/25/1984

   26.58

6' 4"

210

R

The top part of the Lookouts rotation has the potential to be very good, and will almost certainly be lead by Rubby De La Rosa.  The Dodgers 2010 minor league pitcher of the year was outstanding last season in AA, and has carried that success into spring training this year.  At just 22 years old there is no reason to rush Rubby so he could potentially spend the entire 2011 season in Chattanooga.  After struggling in 2010, Chris Withrow will return to AA for a 3rd season and try to put last year behind him.  His stuff remains very good, but he had trouble keeping the ball in the park last season which led to an ERA of almost 6.  He is also just 22 years old, however, so he has plenty of time to improve.  I have Aaron Miller in the #3 spot where the lefty will provide the rotation with a change of pace.  Miller doesn’t throw as hard as Withrow or Rubby, but has very good control and a developing slider.  Aaron will try and prove that the struggles he had in AA last year during his month long stint were simply a fluke.  Josh Wall might seem like a stretch to be in the Lookouts starting rotation, but the truth is that the former 2nd round pick has already spent 4 years in class A.  In 2010 he was pretty solid for the Loons, so Wall should get a chance to prove himself in AA.  The final spot in the Lookouts rotation is a bit of a toss up, so I picked Will Savage for the #5 starter.  Savage started 2010 in LoA but finished the year in AA, which is why I expect the 26 year old to return to Chattanooga this season.  While Will got rocked in his 16.2 innings with the Lookouts last year, I expect him to perform better in 2011.

 

Bullpen:

Pos

Name

Acquired

Rank

DOB

Age

Height

Weight

Thr.

RP

Tim Sexton

2007, 25th

53

6/10/1987

   23.79

6' 6"

185

R

RP

S Pomeranz

Signed 12/8/10

New

12/17/1984

   26.27

6' 7"

220

R

RP

R. Boothe

Signed 12/5/07

111

1/30/1986

   25.15

6' 2"

190

R

RP

Justin Miller

2007, 6th

45

8/2/1987

   23.65

6' 2"

190

R

RP

G Aguasviva

Signed 12/15/05

39

8/3/1987

   23.64

6' 2"

166

L

RP

Javy Solano

Signed 3/1/08

28

3/31/1990

   20.99

6' 0"

177

R

RP

L. Vasquez

Signed 10/20/03

47

4/3/1986

   24.98

6' 4"

192

R

CL

Javy Guerra

2004, 4th

29

10/31/1985

   25.40

6' 0"

205

R

The Dodgers AA bullpen should be relatively strong in 2011 as it is filled with several top 50 Dodger prospects.  The closer should be Chattanooga veteran Javy Guerra who will be returning to the team for a 3rd season.  Guerra was injured throughout 2010 and managed to throw just 29 innings, so the wild and hard throwing righty will continue to work on his control in AA.  Luis Vasquez will be another high velocity pitcher coming out of the Lookouts bullpen in 2011.  He spent last year as the part time closer for the Loons, but was added to the Dodgers 40 man roster this past offseason and will get a chance to prove himself in AA.  Javier Solano had an outstanding season last year, but after watching him pitch in spring training I understand the concerns about his physical makeup.  Nevertheless he will barely turn 21 years old when the 2011 season starts, so another strong season can really put him among the Dodgers top prospects.  Geison Aguasviva and Justin Miller are two more top 50 prospects that I have penciled into the Lookouts bullpen.  Aguasviva will be the only lefty out of the Chattanooga bullpen and will play an important role on the team.  Geison regressed a bit in 2010 after an outstanding 2009 season, so he will be looking to rebound in 2011 as a 23 year old.  Miller is an extreme ground ball pitcher who split last season between LoA and AA and posted a 2.10 ERA.  He doesn’t strikeout many batters, but somehow gets the job done and will try and work his way onto the 40 man roster during 2011.  Rounding out the short relievers for the Lookouts will be Robert Boothe, who had terrible stats in 2010 but still has good stuff.  He throws hard with a good mix of secondary pitches, so hopefully he put things together in 2011.  One of the swing men/long relievers will be Tim Sexton, who spent last year as both a starter and reliever.  The lanky right hander struggled last season and allowed way too many homers, but he is still 23 years old so he still has time to figure things out.  The final piece of the Lookouts bullpen puzzle is Stuart Pomeranz, who also figures to play the role of a swing man.  The 6’7" giant was once a solid prospect himself, but is now simply know as the older brother of Indians top prospect Drew Pomeranz.  Now the 26 year old is looking to turn his career around in the Southern League.

Outfield:

Position

Name

Acquired

My Rank

DOB

Age

Height

Weight

Bats

LF

Jerry Sands

2008, 25th

3

9/28/1987

  23.49

6' 4"

225

R

CF

A. Silverio

Signed 11/13/03

40

5/6/1987

  23.89

6' 0"

205

R

RF

Kyle Russell

2008, 3rd

17

6/27/1986

  24.74

6' 5"

195

L

It appears that Jerry Sands will at least start 2011 in AA, so I’m putting him as my starting left fielder.  Sands will also spend some time at both right field and 1st base, but I have him in left field for now.  It remains to be seen how long he’ll be in AA in 2011, but my guess would be that by mid-season he’ll find himself in either AAA or with the Dodgers.  Kyle Russell will most likely return to Chattanooga as the team’s right fielder and will try to improve both his contact rate and average with the Lookouts.  In 273 at bats in AA last season Russell smacked 10 homers, but he also hit just .245 and struck out in 36.7% of his plate appearances.  I have Alfredo Silverio marked down as the Lookouts’ center fielder, however he is more of a natural left fielder so I’m not exactly sure how this is going to work.  Silverio started off 2010 in a horrible slump, but finished the year on fire and ended last season in AA.  I’m sure he’ll return to Chattanooga in 2011 and the 23 year old will look to pick up where he left off last year.

Infield:

Pos.

Name

Acquired

My Rank

DOB

Age

Height

Weight

Bats

1B

A. Gallagher

2007, 3rd

35

11/16/1988

  22.35

6' 5"

210

L

2B

J. Pedroza

2007, 9th

58

9/12/1986

  24.53

5' 8"

167

S

3B

Pedro Baez

Signed 1/22/07

24

3/11/1988

  23.04

6' 2"

195

R

SS

C. Lara

Trade with Boston

144

4/11/1985

  25.95

5' 11"

150

S

When I made my minor league assignment predictions way back in 2009, I had Austin Gallagher as the Lookouts starting 1st baseman.  He was coming off a successful season in HiA so the logical move was to AA.  Gallagher instead spent 2009 in LoA and 2010 back in HiA, so I think it’s finally time that Austin makes it to Chattanooga.  He is still just 22 years old so the big 1st baseman can still make a name for himself in the Dodgers minor league system.  At the other corner infield position I have Pedro Baez, who is another player that ended last year in AA.  Baez had a lackluster season in 2010 at the plate, but he possesses a rocket arm and is still a physical specimen with a lot of power.  Hopefully he’ll have a solid season at the hot corner for the Lookouts.  I’m guessing that the Chattanooga middle infield will be manned by a couple of minor league veterans.  Christian Lara, who should be the team’s shortstop, had several subpar seasons under his belt before having a solid year with the Loons in 2010.  The only problem was that he was a 25 year old last year playing against 22 year olds, so last year’s stats need to be taken with a grain of salt.  I expect Lara to fall back to earth in 2011 against the older competition.  Finally, 24 year old Jaime Pedroza should return to the Lookouts as the team’s 2nd baseman in 2011.  The smallish switch hitter was streaky in 2010, and he’s going to have to really put together a strong season in 2011 if he wants to ever make it up to the big leagues.

Catcher/DH:

Pos.

Name

Acquired

My Rank

DOB

Age

Height

Weight

Bats

C

Tony Delmonico

2008, 6th

37

4/27/1987

  23.91

6' 0"

194

R

DH

Scott Van Slyke

2005, 14th

55

7/24/1986

  24.67

6' 5"

195

R

BU C

Matthew, Wallach

2007, 22nd

65

2/17/1986

  25.10

6' 1"

205

L

Tony Delmonico missed a good portion of the 2010 season due to injury, but when he was healthy he showed a knack for getting on base.  Delmonico is my guess for the Lookouts 2011 starting catcher, and while he only hit 3 homers last year, he posted an OBP of .410 thanks to his strong walk rate.  Still just 23 years old and only two years into his catching career, I think that Delmonico remains the Dodgers top catching prospect heading into 2011 because he has the most upside.  In terms of the Lookouts backup catcher, I believe that Matt Wallach will get the call for Chattanooga.  Wallach had a bit of a breakout season in 2010 with 11 homers and a .773 OPS, so he’ll look to build on that season in 2011.  Scott Van Slyke should serve as the DH for the Lookouts in 2011 while also playing his fair share of right field.  Van Slyke played at 3 levels in 2010 (HiA, AA, and AAA) and one could probably argue that he deserve to be in AAA in 2011, but with a crowded Isotopes outfield I believe that Scott will be destined to return to Chattanooga to start the upcoming season.  Van Slyke hasn’t proven that he can hit against advanced pitchers, so this year will be a real test for him. 

Bench:

Pos.

Name

Acquired

My Rank

DOB

Age

Height

Weight

Bats

BU INF

Steve Caseres

2008, 9th

67

3/26/1987

  24.00

6' 4"

220

L

BU OF

Elian Herrera

Signed 5/14/03

123

2/1/1985

  26.14

5' 11"

190

S

Utility

A. Garabedian

2007, 8th

131

8/26/1985

  25.58

6' 2"

210

R

Utility

Wilberto Ortiz

Signed 1/18/11

New

1/30/1985

  26.15

5' 10"

180

R

The Chattanooga backup players will be less than exciting in 2011 as there won’t be many legitimate prospects on the Lookouts bench.  Backup infielder Steven Caseras will be the most exhilarating player of the bunch because he does have legitimate power despite recording a mediocre season with the 66ers in 2010.  Elian Herrera will serve as the super utility player because he can play both infield and outfield.  He is a speedy player without much power who has been in the Dodgers organization for more than 8 years.  I’m guessing that Alex Garabedian will fill the role of the 3rd catcher and utility player.  He didn’t play much last season but is a pretty good offensive catcher.  Finally I have Wilberto Ortiz as another utility on this team, who signed with the Dodgers as a minor league free agent this offseason.  He should be able to play all over the infield.

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