Dodgers 2012 Minor League Countdown: 100 - 91

Scott Wingo (right) is a proven winner...but can he become a proven Dodger prospect?

As we enter the second half of my Dodger Minor League countdown, I figured I'd give a little refresher about this list that I'm putting together. In short, am ranking and providing a summary of virtually every player in the Dodgers minor league system who meets the following qualifications: (1) is within the Dodgers organization as of December 14, 2011; (2) is under 28 years old as of Opening Day 2012; and (3) is still considered a prospect by Baseball America standards, which means that pitchers must have less than 50 innings pitched (or 30 appearances) in the majors, and hitters must have less than 130 at bats in the majors. Like Baseball America, I do not take into account service time, and therefore it is possible that I have included prospects who will not technically be rookies in 2012.

In addition, while I do spend a lot of time ranking the players in the order that I think is the most accurate, this list can also be viewed as a "get to know your Dodger minor league system". My goal is for Dodger fans to know at least a little something about all players in the Dodgers system because it makes looking at the minor league box scores more fun. There won’t just be a bunch of names, but instead players that fans have at least heard of.

Now that we've moved into the top 100 Dodger minor leaguers you'll notice that that the names on the list will become more and more familiar. This particular group features several guys from the 2011 draft, a few interesting international players, and a pair of music videos.

100. Blake Dean, 1B (96 games in LoA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 8th round
6’1", 175 lbs, 24 years old, bats left handed
.237 average, .657 OPS, 7 HR’s, 44 RBI’s, 1 SB
Pre 2011 Rank: 77; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Blake Dean was definitely a safe and cost effective pick for the Dodgers as the LSU Senior signed for just $35K. The 10th round pick of the Twins in 2009, Dean chose to return to college for his senior season even though he had already led his team to the national title. In 2010, Dean hit .341 for LSU with a .430 OBP, slugged 12 homers, and led the team with 70 RBI’s. He signed quickly with the Dodgers and was sent to the Pioneer League where he had a solid professional debut, although he didn’t show much power. "Deano" was promoted to Great Lakes in 2011 and was the Loons main 1st baseman, but he had a terrible year at the plate. A .237 average and .657 OPS just don't play at the power position of 1st base. The only positive of Dean's season was that kept up his strong walk to strikeout ratio, which has been one of his trademarks since turning pro. Overall it doesn’t appear that Dean has the offensive ability to make it to the big leagues as a 1st baseman, but he’s still just 155 games into his professional career so he has time to turn it around. In fact, I could see Blake getting promoted to the Quakes in 2012 and having a big season in the hitter friendly league, so he shouldn’t be written off just yet. Finally, the best part about Blake Dean is this music video.

99. Justin Miller, RHP (23.2 IP in AA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2007, 6th round
6’2", 190 lbs, 24.5 years old
2-0, 7.23 ERA, 2.07 WHIP, 5.31 FIP, 5.32 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 45; Pre 2010 Rank: 54; Pre 2009 Rank: 48

Justin Miller’s 2011 season is a bit of a mystery to me. After a stellar 2010 season with the Lookouts where he posted a 2.76 ERA over 42.1 innings, the ground ball specialist got off to a very rocky start with Chattanooga in 2011 and then in early June he was then placed on the restricted list for the rest of the season. I can’t find why Miller was put on the restricted list or why he missed the rest of the season, but one can only hope that Justin returns to the organization in 2012 and is ready to pick up where he left off in 2010. To provide a little more background on Miller, Justin was considered to be one of the best community college pitchers available in the 2007 draft, yet he fell to the 6th round where the Dodgers gladly scooped him up. What probably scared most teams away was the fact that Miller actually spent more time in right field than on the mound during his final college season, as he developed a tender elbow. Nevertheless, he was hitting 94 on the radar gun before his injury, and at 6’3", the Dodgers felt like he had a very projectable frame. In his first three professional seasons, Miller was used strictly as a starter and had pretty disappointing results. His career win-loss record heading into 2010 was 11 – 26, and he was much too hittable. So the Dodgers decided to move Justin to the bullpen in 2010, and they have got to be pleased with his results. Starting the year in LoA, Miller recorded a 1.30 ERA through 34.2 innings and had an outstanding .208 batting average against. Given his success the Dodgers moved Miller up to AA where he wasn’t quite as dominant, but as mentioned above he continued to get the job done. After the 2010 season Justin was invited to participate in the AFL, and prior to the start of the Fall season DeJon Watson said about Miller: "We'll try to push the envelope with him. He has a sinking fastball. He's a ground-ball pitcher, and we want to get him prepared for next level. He'll probably start the season at Double-A. We want him facing better hitters here to understand the adjustments he'll need to make. He can be deceptive, and we want him to get to where hitters are chasing his pitches." Again I’m not sure what put Miller’s career on hold, but if he does return in 2012 he’ll probably get another chance in AA where he’ll continue to work out of the bullpen.

Follow the jump for #'s 98 - 91

98. Jose Dominguez, RHP (10 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 43.2 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 7/2/07
6’0", 160 lbs, 21.5 years old
4-4, 6.20 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 3.87 FIP, 8.72 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 113; Pre 2010 Rank: 134; Pre 2009 Rank: 60

Signed for $50,000 as a 16 year old at the start of the 2007 international signing period, Jose Dominguez impressed scouts back then with a 90 mph fastball and a solid curve. At the time, Logan White said, "It’s rare to see a kid as polished as he is." In his professional debut in 2008, the then 17 year old Dominguez showed potential with an 11.8 K/9 through 42 innings in the DSL. In 2009 he also had a solid season, with a 3.64 ERA through 59 innings. However, after the 2009 season he received a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol. So Dominguez sat out most of the 2010 season, but when he did return to the DSL that August he had an amazing run, posting a 1.13 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and .191 batting average against in 24 innings. That was good enough to earn Jose a promotion to the Arizona Rookie League in 2011 where he ranked 2nd on the club with 43.2 innings pitched. He actually did very well with the Dodgers as he posted a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over his 10 starts. So why was his overall season ERA so bad? Well Dominguez got promoted to the Pioneer League at the end of July, and in 3 starts he got crushed for 20 runs in just 10 innings. He returned to Arizona after his failed stint in Ogden and finished the season with the Dodgers. Overall, I do like Dominguez as a potential prospect since he is still young and seems to have good stuff on the mound. Obviously his suspension gives me some concern, but hopefully he’s learned his lesson. For 2012 I believe that Jose will probably get another shot with the Raptors, and he may even find his way into a full season league before the year is up.

97. Kazuki Nishijima, LHP (32.2 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers in November 2010
6’1", 190 lbs, 23 years old
2-1, 5.51 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 3.60 FIP, 7.44 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 86; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Kazuki Nishijima was signed by the Dodgers in November of 2010 out of Meiji University in Tokyo. To quote from the Dodger press release, "Nishijima, who spent his prep years at Yokohama High School -- former home to Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka -- posted a 6-5 record and a 1.91 ERA during his collegiate career. Nishijima is just the second Japanese college player the Dodgers have ever signed." Keiichi Kojima, the Dodgers supervisor of scouting in Japan said "Nishijima is known for his curveball and his consistent arm slot. He locates fastballs on the lower part of the plate and induces a lot of ground balls." After working out in extended spring training, Kazuki made his professional debut in the Pioneer League with the Ogden Raptors and was used mostly as a long reliever. In 14 appearances Nishijima’s ERA wasn’t all that impressive, but he did show immaculate control which helped him post a FIP of 3.60. I’m guessing his consistent arm slot is what allowed him to issue just 2 walks for the season. Also, as advertised, he got quite a few ground balls. To complicate matters in his debut season, Kazuki had to adjust to life in the US for the first time, and was recently quoted as saying "I like American baseball culture, though Japanese fans and stadiums are very different from the United States. We don't talk much in a baseball stadium. We're kind of quiet, just watching the game. Here, in the U.S., people sometimes make fun of (the players), are more excited." Overall, while Nishijima’s fastball usually only sits in the high 80’s and tops out at around 91 mph, I think this lefty could be a sleep prospect for us heading into next year given that he has great control and is a sinkerball type pitcher. He’ll probably spend 2012 with the Loons and hopefully he’ll show improvement as he progresses through the system.

96. Malcolm Holland, 2B (25 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 33rd round
5’11", 165 lbs, 19.75 years old, bats right handed
.159 average, .430 OPS, 0 HR’s, 3 RBI’s, 5 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

When the Dodgers selected Malcolm Holland in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, I figured he’d be a tough sign. He had been recruited to play defensive back for Boise State (here are his senior season highlights), and given that he was picked in such a late round I figured he’d want to either play football or try and improve his draft position by playing ball at a junior college. As it turns out, the Dodgers were willing to give Holland a $160K contract while letting him play both for the Dodgers and for Boise State football, but the Broncos didn’t like the idea. According to Malcolm, "That's what I wanted to do. That's what the plan was. I talked to the Dodgers and they were fine with it. Boise wanted me to play one sport." So Holland took the money and gave up football, and made his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League. As the club’s primary 2nd baseman Holland hit just .159 and made 8 errors in 24 games, but despite his dismal stats I’m not all that worried. Malcolm is extremely raw, having focused on multiple sports up until this point, and according to Logan White he has similar tools to Dee Gordon when he was drafted. He also did have one bright spot in his 2011 season as he showed a good eye by walking in 11.5% of his plate appearances. In 2012 I’m sure that Holland will spend another year in a rookie league, possibly spending the season as the Ogden Raptors 2nd baseman.

95. Jonathan Martinez, RHP (32.1 IP in DSL in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers before the 2011 season
6’1", 170 lbs, 17.75 years old
5-1, 1.67 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 2.98 FIP, 8.63 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about the youngest player in the Dodgers organization. According to his player profile he was born in Venezuela, but that is the only thing I can find about him other than his 2011 stats. Speaking of his 2011 season, J-Mart was absolutely dynamite in his professional debut. He played the entire season as a 17 year old, yet posted some of the best stats of anyone in the DSL. Outside of the numbers shown above, Martinez had a .168 batting average against and completely shut down right handed batters to the tune of a 0.99 ERA. The only caveat is that Jonathan threw just 32.1 innings, but that is only because he was so young and therefore the Dodgers wanted to ease his arm into game action. Given his age and limited use Martinez will almost certainly return to the DSL in 2012, but he will definitely be one of the players to watch in the Dominican next season.

94. Kazuya Takano, RHP (38.1 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers in November 2010
6’1", 170 lbs, 19.25 years old
3-3, 6.81 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 5.13 FIP, 7.75 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 76; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Kazuya Takano was the first Japanese high school player to sign with the Dodgers when he joined the team in November 2010. According to the Dodger press release after he inked his deal, "Takano, a senior at Buntoko High School in Kumamoto, Japan, has been highly evaluated by the Dodgers. [He] has a very smooth delivery and flexibility." After signing, Kazuya said "I've been working hard to make my dream to become a professional baseball player come true. I am very thankful to the Dodgers organization and I will work even harder to become a big leaguer as soon as possible." As expected Takano made his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League in 2011, but unfortunately the youngster struggled through the season as he gave up 8 homers in just 38.1 innings for a 6.81 ERA. Overall he made 13 appearances, with 5 of those coming as starts. The good news is that Kazuya posted a relatively solid strikeout to walk ratio of 3 to 1, and of course the best thing he has going for him is his age. According to one article I found, Takano pocesses a fastball that tops out at around 90 mph, a decent slider, a curve, and a split-finger pitch. In 2012 I would guess that Kazuya will return to Arizona to get another year of experience under his belt, hopefully with better results.

93. Matt Shelton, RHP (26.1 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 24th round
6’4", 205 lbs, 23.25 years old
4-2, 2.05 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 3.12 FIP, 10.25 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

After pitching four years at Sam Houston State, Matt Shelton was selected by the Dodgers in the 24th round of the 2011 draft. In his four seasons with the Bearkats Shelton had some solid stats, including a 1.99 ERA as a reliever in 2009 (see the 1:18 mark of the video) and a 2.87 ERA through 94 innings as a starter in 2011. Matt signed quickly with the Dodgers and was assigned to the Ogden Raptors where he became one of the team’s best bullpen arms. While he was used somewhat sparingly due to his college workload, Shelton posted a 2.05 ERA and struck out over a batter per inning. He was especially effective against right handed batters who hit just .177 against him. In terms of his stuff on the mound, I wasn’t able to find a velocity reading on Shelton, but I’m guessing he throws relatively hard based on his 6’4" frame. I did find out, however, that he has a curveball and changeup in his repertoire. I would expect Shelton to play with the Loons next season where he should be a key piece of their bullpen. Similar to Shawn Tolleson, he could be another late round pick who moves quickly through the system.

92. Scott Wingo, 2B (32 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 7 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 11th round
5’11", 175 lbs, 23 years old, bats left handed
.302 average, .950 OPS, 4 HR’s, 17 RBI’s, 7 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Scott Wingo left South Carolina as a baseball hero. When you put his name into YouTube, you can find a ton of videos of him including this awesome song. He scored the winning run in the 2010 College World Series, then led the Gamecocks to another title in 2011 while being named the College World Series most outstanding player. His overall college stats in 2011 were a .338 average, 4 homers, and an outstanding .467 OB% thanks to a 44 to 36 walk to strikeout ratio. Upon signing with the Dodgers Wingo was sent to Arizona, but after hitting almost .500 he was promoted to the Pioneer League. He hit just .275 with the Raptors but managed to post an OPS of .922 thanks to another ridiculously high walk rate. He also matched his 2011 college total with 4 long balls and stole 7 bases to boot. From a pure tools standpoint I'm not sure that Wingo is much of a prospect, especially since he wasn’t drafted out of high school or after his junior year of college. That being said, Scott is a winner and an extremely hard worker so I wouldn't bet against him as he moves through the Dodgers system. He’ll most likely spend 2012 with the Loons, and I’ll bet that he becomes a fan favorite up in the Great Lakes region.

91. Tyler Ogle, C (6 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 9th round
5’11", 193 lbs, 21.5 years old, bats right handed
.167 average, .333 OPS, 0 HR’s, 2 RBI’s, 0 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Tyler Ogle played his college ball at Oklahoma, and actually took over the catching duties from fellow Dodger farmhand JT Wise. Like Wise, Ogle is an offensive minded catcher, and during his junior year with the Sooners Ogle hit .343 this season with 9 homers and 15 doubles in 201 at bats. Upon getting drafted, Tyler said "Obviously, I am excited to be drafted by the Dodgers’ organization and the opportunity to play pro baseball. However, I still have a year left to play at ... Oklahoma with the chance to graduate. So, I have a tough decision to make." After a relatively drawn out process, Ogle finally inked a deal with the Dodgers on August 9th for a reported $100K. Because he signed so late his professional debut lasted just 6 games, and he managed just 3 singles in 18 at bats. According to Baseball America’s pre-draft report, Ogle "makes consistent hard contact and has solid power from the right side of the plate, and he controls the strike zone well. He's a decent defender with fringy arm strength." Based on that report it seems like Tyler could have some value, although he’ll have to work hard if he wants to make it to the big leagues. Given his abbreviated debut I don’t think Ogle is ready for a full season league in 2012, so he’ll probably spend next year in the Pioneer League as the Raptors starting catcher.

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