During the MLB season in 2008, I was browsing around the internet one day to figure out who were the top Dodgers prospects at the time. I wasn't much into Dodgers prospects as I was focused on the product that was playing on the major league field, but after all the buzz that gravitated towards 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw, I was just amazed that the Dodgers had a special arm rise up the ranks really fast (sorry, Chad).
So when browsing through the prospects, I wanted to know if we had any other special arms like Clayton and warmed up to Scott Elbert. Well we know how that ended as Elbert's ceiling is a top reliever...
Anywho, jump to the present and here I was, sitting in my room, waiting to see what Ethan Martin's final line was before I left to the gym. It was the only satisfaction I could get for this terrible Wednesday after hearing the terrible news from the evil empire that is the NCAA, and watching my favorite baseball team lose the series to a shitty team*. As I was running on the treadmill, I was amused at the very fact that the sports teams that gets me through the day are led by the Dodger's... Minor league teams and our prospects.
The Dodgers are having a terrible season, but their affiliates are not as each team has a unique aspect to keep your eyes on.
Great Lakes Loons: After drafting Zach Lee in the 2010 MLB Draft, I became obsessed with the signing Odyssey of Lee. On judgement day, I kept up with the LSU updates that Lee had a change of heart, from football to baseball. When news broke out that Zach would be signing with the Dodgers, well that salvaged the 2010 Dodgers season. Though he's out with elbow concerns, Lee has performed up to par as the Dodgers top pitching prospect. Add Garrett Gould, Ryan Christenson, and Jon Garcia, and this has been another great Loons season to watch.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes: This was my least interested team before the season began, but their fun to read about now since they score like 59** runs per game. I'm always cheering for Lemmerman, Smith, Erickson, Songco, and Solano. I still believe Ethan Martin can contribute in the major leagues, not with the bat, but with his arm. Is he a starter? Doesn't seem likely as his numbers are correlating to a black hole if he continues to start, but he's a power arm and can be a reliever. I'm really hoping Shawn (Shaun?) Tolleson becomes Kenley '10. Maybe not spring up all the way to the majors, but damn is his cutter carving opposing batters. With the addition of Aaron Miller, who is now throwing low to mid-90s with a plus slider and change up, the Quakes are more than interesting to watch. Just ask Eric.
Chattanooga Lookouts: Probably the most intriguing team to watch, pitching wise. You have the usual top starters in Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Withrow, and now Allen Webster, to form a trifecta to lay waste on Southern League hitting. I like Silverwidow's idea that Eovaldi and Webster should develop a rivalry since their birthdays are three days apart (Webster being the oldest). Withrow is slowly having a solid bounce back year. His strikeout rate is nine per nine innings and has thrown away the change up and is now using a slider. The pair of 24-year-olds, Kyle Russell and Scott Van Slyke, are tearing the ball apart with both having an OPS above .900. Stephen Aames and Josh Lindblom are the star relievers. Lindblom will be a part of the Dodgers pen in 2012... Unless he's traded.
Albuquerque Isotopes: Jerry Sands, Dee Gordon, and Trayvon Robinson are the more interesting of the bunch to follow on the team, but like the Quakes, I enjoy reading the offensive numbers they put up night after night. Now that Sands is doing his thing with the Dodgers, there are only a couple of prospects I really follow, which are Dee and Tray. That doesn't mean I don't like to see IDJ, Ely, Jaime, or AJ perform.
After the 2010 season, the season ended with hopes that Sands and Rubby will show everyone what we believed they were made out of this season. We got a preview of what Rubby can do yesterday and Sands is starting to show positive signs with the bat. I love this. I love to see the players we draft and continue to develop through the minors make a difference on the Dodgers. We may not have the top tier position prospects (still waiting on Scott Schebler, James Baldwin, and Joc), but damn do we rock when it comes to pitching. Thank you, Logan White.
Rubby, Webby, Chris, Eovaldi, Ethan, Lindblom, Aames, Tolleson, Aaron, Ryan... Need I say more?
The 2011 MLB Draft is near and I can't stop reading through each player's scouting reports. Last week, for the first time in my life, I was actually excited to watch a college baseball game on TV because it featured highly touted prospect (Sonny Gray of Vanderbuilt). Three years ago, I couldn't even answer who the Great Lakes Loons were, but now I can. Damn it, I'm a nerd.
P.S. - Thanks Phil (for starting the minor league updates) and Brandon (for being an excellent analyst/writer on TBLA)
* Sorry Astros
** Rough Estimate