Dodgers 2012 Minor League Countdown: 60 - 51

A shadowed Michael Antonini throwing during the Dodgers 2012 Winter Development Program

Here is the next part of my Dodger minor league player countdown, and we are now just outside my top 50 prospects. This is definitely a good group and only includes two players who have seen their ranking decrease since last year. Also, if you missed any of previous parts of this series, simply click here as it will take you to the "Prospect" section of True Blue LA. As always let me know your feedback on where I ranked everyone.

60. Justin Boudreaux, SS (32 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 12 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 14th round
6’1", 190 lbs, 22.5 years old, bats right handed
.253 average, .793 OPS, 3 HR’s, 25 RBI’s, 17 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Justin Bourdreaux was selected by the Dodgers out of Southeastern Louisiana University in the 14th round of the 2011 draft. He was coming off a junior season where he hit .333 with 8 homers, and in his 3 year college career he had a .307 average, 25 HR’s, and 37 stolen bases for the Lions. In their pre-draft analysis, Baseball America had a surprisingly detailed report on Bourdreaux and predicted he’d be drafted in the 6th – 10th round range. BA also said that Justin has good power and speed, and that on defense he is a solid shortstop (although some scouts think he’s better suited for 2nd or 3rd base). Upon signing with the Dodgers, Bourdreaux was sent to Arizona where he got off to a rough start. Nevertheless he was promoted to the Pioneer League at the beginning of August and he finished the year as the Raptors starting shortstop. Despite his .265 average with the Raptors Justin was a pretty exciting player as he posted a .842 OPS and stole 16 bases without getting caught. His fielding percentage was a little ugly, but his plate disciple and his overall offensive ability lived up to the expectations of his glowing pre-draft scouting report. Looking to the future, if Bourdreaux can stick at shortstop then he has the chance to be a solid Dodger prospect. He’ll probably play with the Loons in 2012, and it will be interesting to see how he performs in his first full season as a professional.

59. Jarret Martin, LHP (110.2 IP in LoA in 2011)
Obtained in a trade for Dana Eveland
6’3", 230 lbs, 22.5 years old
5-12, 4.96 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 7.9 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

The Baltimore Orioles selected Jarret Martin in the 19th round of the 2008 draft, but he declined to sign and instead spent a year at Bakersfield Junior College. The Orioles tried again in 2009 by picking Martin one round earlier, and this time they got their man for a $200,000 signing bonus. Jarret didn’t see any game action in 2009, but his professional debut in the Appalachian League in 2010 was very successful as he posted a 4.07 ERA and struck out 68 batters in 59.2 innings. He did have an issue with his control, however, which is a problem that continued to plague him in 2011 when he was promoted to the South Atlantic League. Strangely enough, Martin also struggled against left handed batters in 2011 as his ERA vs lefties was 6.00 compared to 4.67 vs righties. In addition, Martin’s K rate decreased against the more advanced competition. This past winter he was traded to the Dodgers in the Dana Eveland trade, and despite his mediocre season in 2011 he seems to be a solid pickup for the organization. According to scouting reports he throws in the low 90’s and has decent movement on his fastball, and also has a solid curveball and changeup. He also has a good pitching frame at 6’3", and is still just 22 years old. As I already mentioned his lack of control is his biggest flaw, although I’m also not a big fan of his pitching motion. In 2012 Martin will almost certainly return to class A ball, although I’m not sure whether the Dodgers will send him to the Midwest League of the California League. He’s a guy who could move up significantly in my rankings next year with a good season, and that’s really going to depend on his ability to throw strikes.

Follow the jump for #'s 58 - 51

58. Nick Akins, LF (85 games in LoA, 7 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 19th round
6’1", 220 lbs, 24.25 years old, bats right handed
.229 average, .737 OPS, 14 HR’s, 51 RBI’s, 1 SB
Pre 2011 Rank: 41; Pre 2010 Rank: 56; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

As I’ve mentioned before, Nick Akins had an interesting baseball career before even turning pro. It started in high school when Nick and his father were involved in an ugly fight during his junior season which led to his expulsion from the team. Nick transferred high schools for his senior year, but wasn’t allowed to play baseball despite his best appeals. He ended up playing in a weekend adult league and the Dodgers actually drafted him in the 13th round of the 2006 draft. Nick didn’t sign, however, and played ball at Riverside Community College for two seasons, winning the JUCO state championship in the process. After the 2008 season Akins transferred to local NAIA college Vanguard, and after hitting .314 over 47 games with 13 home runs and 35 runs batted in, he was again was drafted by the Dodgers, this time in the 19th round. Akins absolutely crushed the ball in the rookie leagues during his first two professional seasons, but most Dodger prospect hounds wanted to see what he would do in a full season league before crowning him the next great Dodger outfield prospect. Well we got our wish in 2011 as Akins spent last season with the Loons, but unfortunately the results were pretty ugly. While he still hit 12 homers in Great Lakes, Akins’ OPS decreased by more than .400 points from 2010 and his average fell to an unsightly .219. Maybe some of his struggles can be attributed to the fact that he suffered a pair of injuries, including strained quad in spring training and a broken wrist after getting hit by a pitch, but overall he simply disappointed. However, here is one highlight from his season. In an April 2011 interview with Loons manager John Shoemaker, he said "Nick is a confident ball player with tremendous bat speed and tremendous power. What he needs to do, to continue to move up the Dodgers' system and become a big league ballplayer, is to gain plate awareness and plate discipline. He is going to strike out. We're just hoping that he can limit the strikeouts. He needs to use the whole field. If he eliminates (his hits) from centerfield over to right, he can be pitched to. He just needs to let the pitcher supply his power." Overall, it seemed that Akins’ true colors came out this past season when he was removed from the shelter of the rookie leagues. Given that he’s basically limited to left field, he’s going to have to hit for both power and average if he wants to continue to climb through the system. For 2012 my guess is that Akins will to Rancho Cucamonga, but even if he has a big season with the Quakes there will still be questions about his abilities since the California League is such a hitter friendly environment. Until I see him perform well in the upper minors I’m going to remain skeptical that he’ll ever make it to the big leagues.

57. Logan Bawcom, RHP (21.2 IP in HiA, 45.1 IP in LoA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 17th round
6’2", 200 lbs, 23.25 years old
5-3, 3.09 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.81 FIP, 11.28 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 90; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Coming out of high school in Texas, Logan Bawcom was shortstop and had an outstanding senior season at the plate, hitting .500 with 12 homers. He went on to play at Midland Junior College as a two way player and had a solid career both as a hitter and pitcher. Bawcom then transferred to University of Texas-Arlington, and it was there that he became a full time pitcher. In 2010 as a junior Logan threw 90.2 innings and had a 3.87 ERA with 87 strikeouts and a .277 batting average against. That prompted the Dodgers to draft him in the 17th round, and the right hander signed quickly and was assigned to the Pioneer League. Bawcom had a relatively solid season in his professional debut as he posted a good FIP and had a great strikeout to walk ratio for the Raptors. He was promoted to the Midwest League to start the 2011 season and it was with the Loons that he really broke out. Bawcom was initially used as Tolleson's setup man, then took over the closer role when Shawn was promoted. While Logan wasn't as good as Tolleson, he was very impressive in his own right as he posted a 2.78 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, a 11.1 K/9, and picked up 14 saves. In a piece written by Loons beat writer Hugh Bernreuter, Great Lakes Manager John Shoemaker said "He’s still learning how to pitch. He doesn’t have much experience pitching. We’re happy with what he’s doing. For some pitchers, it’s not a big deal to pitch in the ninth inning, but for others it makes a difference knowing that this is the end of the game. Logan has done a nice job for us in that respect." Logan himself talked to Hugh about pitching full time for the first time: "It’s made such a difference. It seems like I’m learning something all the time. When I got to pitch in college, I was basically just throwing. It’s a matter of focus as far as pitching. I don’t have to worry about hitting or playing other positions. I put all my focus on pitching and learning how to pitch." In early July Bawcom was promoted to the Quakes where he continued his success and picked up 13 more quick saves in just 21 innings and had a K/9 of 11.9. In the aforementioned article by Hugh, I learned that Bawcom throws a fastball that can reach 95 mph, a changeup, and a slider that is his out pitch. For 2012, my guess is that Logan will return to Rancho Cucamonga where he’ll reprise his role as the team’s closer. If he continues to have success, however, I could easily see him making it up to AA by the end of the year.

56. Jesus Valdez, 3B/1B (23 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 19th round
6’3", 180 lbs, 20 years old, bats right handed
.241 average, .746 OPS, 3 HR’s, 15 RBI’s, 2 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Jesus Valdez is a very confusing, yet intriguing prospect. Selected by the Angels in the 5th round of the 2010 draft out of high school as a pitcher, Valdez declined to sign with the Halos and instead decided to attend Oxnard Jr. College. He was a two way player for Oxnard, spending a lot of time on the mound while also playing 3rd base, and according to Baseball America he was expected to be picked in a similar round in 2011 and had improved as a pitcher. Things didn’t go as expected for Valdez, however, as he lasted all the way to the 17th round where he was scooped up by the Dodgers. In addition, instead of selecting Valdez as a pitcher, the Dodgers announced Jesus as a 3rd baseman. Surprisingly Valdez signed quickly and was sent straight to the Arizona Rookie League. While Valdez actually spent most of the season at 1st base and DH, he is supposed to be a solid defender that can handle the hot corner. At the plate he put up decent numbers, smacking 3 homers in 83 at bats and striking out in just 13.7% of his plate appearances. That brings us to mystery number one, because he is listed as a right handed batter, but in the only video I could find of him hitting he was a lefty. The bigger mystery, however, is why the Dodgers wanted "Chewy" as an infielder. Apparently Valdez has a 94 mph fastball along with a good slider, so you’d think the Dodgers would want him on the mound. You have to trust the scouts, though, who must have seen something special with him as a hitter. Heading into 2012 and beyond, the Dodgers have options with Valdez which makes him an exciting prospect. If he struggles as a hitter he can always move back to the mound because he is still so young and possesses a good fastball. Next season I’m guessing he’ll move up to the Pioneer League where he’ll get a chance to hit in a favorable environment.

55. Chris Jacobs, 1B (65 games in LoA in 2011)

Drafted by Dodgers 2007, 17th round
6’5", 257 lbs, 23.25 years old, bats right handed
.288 average, .914 OPS, 12 HR’s, 33 RBI’s, 0 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 82; Pre 2010 Rank: 55; Pre 2009 Rank: 24

Don’t write off Big Chris Jacobs just yet. After 4 minor league seasons of struggles and mediocrity, Jacobs finally had a breakout campaign in 2011 despite playing in just 65 games. A back injury caused him to miss the first month and a half of the season, then he got off to a very slow start. He caught fire in July, however, and finished the year with a team high .914 OPS. He also pounded out 12 homers in just 215 at bats and had an OB% of almost .400. Not to mention that his strikeout rate improved from 31.3% in 2010 to 24.6% this past season. According to Loons hitting coach Lenny Harris, "[Jacobs is] so strong, maybe the strongest player in the organization. We want him to use his hands more instead of his muscle, and he’s learning to do that." A three sport athlete in high school who comes from a football family, Jacobs came to the Dodgers with a ton of raw power but without refined skills. A lot of coaching has helped him putting it all together and he is now poised for a big 2012. As a 1st baseman he is going to have to continue to hit for both average and power if he wants to stand out, but that shouldn’t be a problem in 2012 if he spends next season in the California League and is able to stay healthy.

54. Yimi Garcia, RHP (52.1 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)

Signed by Dodgers 1/29/09
6’1", 175 lbs, 21.5 years old
4-2, 3.10 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.80 FIP, 12.21 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 79; Pre 2010 Rank: 47; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Yimi Garcia made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2009 and immediately burst onto the Dodgers prospect scene with an outstanding first season. The right hander had a 1.67 ERA through 54 innings with the Dominican Dodgers with a 0.96 WHIP and a .202 batting average against. That earned him a quick promotion to the Arizona Rookie League in 2010, but things didn’t go so well for Yimi stateside as his ERA jumped to 7.04. Despite his struggles the Dodgers had faith in Garcia and decided to promote him to the Pioneer League in 2011. Yimi didn’t let the organization down as he turned out to be one of the best pitchers for Ogden last season. Even though he only started 1 game for the Raptors, Garcia was a workhorse and ate up 52.1 innings. Garcia 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 posted 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. I wasn’t able to unearth any detailed scouting reports on Yimi, but I did find a good quote from Raptor manager Damon Berryhill after a July game when he said "(Garcia) was outstanding. Fastball command, he had a nice slider working and he was aggressive toward the hitters and really pounding strikes. It's important for the fact that he pitched well enough to finish the game, good solid innings, especially when your bullpen's a little short, been used a bunch and they need a rest. He came out and gave us that." Garcia seems like a lock to play with the Loons in 2012, although I’m not sure if he’ll be used as a starter or reliever. He seems to thrive in both roles so it looks like the Dodgers have a decision on their hands.

53. Stephen Fife, RHP (137 IP in AA in 2011; 103.1 of those IP w/the Red Sox)
Trade with Red Sox for Trayvon Robinson
6’3", 210 lbs, 25.25 years old
14-4, 3.74 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 3.96 FIP, 6.24 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

The Dodgers obtained Stephen Fife from the Red Sox as part of the three-way Trayvon Robinson trade. Fife wasn’t exactly the centerpiece of the deal, but as a 2008 3rd round pick he does have some pedigree and has put up some strong stats in the past. During his junior year at the University of Utah he actually went toe to toe with Stephen Strasberg during a 2008 start. Upon signing with the Red Sox Fife posted a 2.33 ERA in the New York-Penn League, then put up decent stats the next season in Class A. 2010 saw Fife spend his first season in AA, and while his stats regressed a bit he still held his own as a 23 year old in the Eastern League and worked a team high 136 innings. Stephen returned to the Eastern League in 2011 and showed solid improvement before getting traded to the Dodgers. Fife joined the Lookouts for the final month of the 2011 season and made 6 decent starts, then he was sent to the AFL. Unfortunately Fife bombed during his stint in Arizona and recorded an 8.06 ERA over 25.2 rough frames. He did participate in the Dodgers Winter Development this past January, however, so hopefully he worked out his issues there. In terms of his stuff, Fife was the Red Sox #17 prospect heading into the 2010 season according to Baseball America, so I was able to get a decent scouting report. He has a sinking fastball that sits in the low 90’s and touches 94 mph, and he also features a changeup, a curveball, and the occasional slider. There are several videos of him on Youtube throwing in the AFL, and here is one of them. Back in 2010 BA thought he could be a #3 starter in the big leagues, but at this point that seems unlikely. His strikeout rate has dropped significantly over the past few seasons, which would OK given that he is a groundball pitcher, but the fact that he allowed 6 homers in just 8 AFL starts has me worried. That being said, with another year of experience I could see him being a useful emergency 5th starter for the Dodgers while holding down a rotation spot in AAA. Now that’s he’s on the Dodgers 40 man roster he actually might get a ticket for Albuquerque as soon as 2012, and hopefully he’ll be able to hold his own in the difficult pitching environment of the Pacific Coast League.

52. Tony Delmonico, C (111 games in HiA in 2011)

Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 6th round
6’0", 194 lbs, 24.75 years old, bats right handed
.268 average, .811 OPS, 12 HR’s, 63 RBI’s, 1 SB
Pre 2011 Rank: 37; Pre 2010 Rank: 17; Pre 2009 Rank: 13

Tony Delmonico has found yet another defense home. Drafted as a middle infielder in 2008, Delmonico made the transition to catcher in 2009 and spent the next two injury riddled seasons behind the plate. While he seemed to be showing some defensive improvement as a backstop, the Dodgers decided to move Tony to 3rd base in 2011 given their lack of depth at the position. As the Quakes main 3rd baseman Delmonico’s defense at the hot corner was not all that great as his fielding percentage was .926, but that’s also not bad for someone trying to learn the position. He talked about his defensive move in this interview, and was also quoted as saying "I like how fast the ball comes at you over there." At the plate Tony had a solid unspectacular season, and his stat got overshadowed a bit by some of his teammates like Songco. Like he's done throughout his career Tony continued to get on base at a great clip, ranking 2nd on the team with his .387 OB%, and he also connected on a career high 12 homers. After a blistering debut in the Pioneer League to start his career Delmonico has consistently dropped in my rankings, and this year he fell even further because he lost some defensive value. That being said he is still one of the best 3rd base prospects for the Dodgers, and should get a shot to play every day for the Lookouts in 2012. Hitting against AA pitching will be a big test for him, but if he holds his own and continues to improve his defense then I would say he definitely has a chance to one day make it to the big leagues.

51. Michael Antonini, LHP (148 IP in AA in 2011)
Trade with Mets for Hu
6’2", 200 lbs, 26.5 years old
10-9, 4.01 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4.13 FIP, 7.97 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Michael Antonini was originally selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2007 draft out of an interesting place called Georgia College and State University. His career got off to a great start as he posted outstanding numbers in the low minors and even made it up to AA in just his 2nd professional season. That got Antonini noticed by Baseball America as he was named the Mets’ 15th best prospect heading into the 2009 season. Over the next two years he held his own as he split his time between AA and AAA (here’s some footage from 2010), and then he was traded to Los Angeles for Chin-Lung Hu in December of 2010. In his first as a Dodgers Antonini was Chattanooga’s workhorse as he logged a team high 148 innings. He ranked second on the Lookouts with 10 wins, and had a solid ERA of 4.01 with a K/9 of almost 8. After the season Michael was added to the Dodgers 40 man roster, probably due to the fact that LA is short on left handed starting pitching prospects. He was also invited to participate in the Dodgers offseason winter development program, and Ned Colletti threw out another interesting option for Antonini when asked about adding another lefty to the bullpen. Colletti said "There’s some competition in the bullpen. [Michael] Antonini has a chance to do it." In terms of his stuff, Antonini doesn’t throw real hard (high 80’s while touching 91 mph) so he doesn’t really profile well as a reliever, but he has a plus-plus changeup that could one day get him to the show. He also has decent movement on his pitches and shows a good ability to spot his pitches. His ceiling isn’t real high, but I could see him being a spot starter at some point a la John Ely (especially now that’s he on the 40 man roster). Looking ahead to next year, I will guess that Antonini will join the Isotopes rotation for 2012.

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