With the Quakes and Loons on their All-star breaks and the rookie leagues getting set to start later this week, I figured it was a good time to take a deeper look at each of the Dodgers minor league teams.
Albuquerque Isotopes: 38 - 32, 2nd place in the Pacific Coast League American Southern Division
Summary: The Isotopes are only a half game behind the Round Rock Express, and because the Pacific Coast League mirrors the big leagues in that they don't play two halves but instead accumulate their record over the entire season, Albuquerque has several months to claim the top spot. The bad news, however, is that the other two teams in the division are also very good as the last place team is only 3 games out of first place.
Notable Hitters of the 1st half: All of the best hitters for the Isotopes in 2013 have already been promoted to Los Angeles as Scott Van Slyke, Tim Federowicz, and Alex Castellanos were all tearing it up in Albuquerque. The one surprise has been Nick Buss who leads the team with 10 homers and 41 RBI's (albeit with way more at bats that the other players who were promoted). The 26 year old Buss had had some success in the past, most notably with the Quakes in 2011, but he's never shown quite this much power before.
Notable Pitchers of the 1st half: Blake Johnson has been the Isotopes best starter so far in 2013 as he leads the club with 72.2 IP, 63 K's, and 6 wins. Johnson's 3.10 ERA is great for the hitter friednly PCL, and he's only walked 19 batters for the season. Angel Castro, who is currently on the DL, has also thrown very well as his 60 IP rank only behind Blake and his 3.45 ERA is also very respectable. Out of the bullpen Chris Withrow was making a name for himself with a 1.93 ERA before he got promoted, while Josh Wall has a 2.70 ERA to go along with about a strikeout per inning.
Chattanooga Lookouts: 34 - 35, 2nd place in the Southern League North Division
Summary: At a game under .500 it's a bit surprising that the Lookouts are in 2nd place, but they are also 9 games behind the division leader and will have to wait for the 2nd half to make a playoff push after the records reset.
Notable Hitters of the 1st half: The names here are obvious as both Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson were great in the first half of the season. As we all know Puig has continued that success in LA, while Pederson has cooled off a bit, especially in terms of his home run rate. Even still the 21 year old leads the league with his .884 OPS, and he also has 19 stolen bases. The only other player on the Lookouts with an OPS over .800 is Brian Cavazos-Galvez who joined the club a little late, but already has 6 homers to go along with a .293 average.
Notable Pitchers of the 1st half: There are a ton of notable pitchers on the Lookouts, but I'll try to keep this somewhat brief. Zach Lee has been outstanding with a 2.65 ERA over 71.1 frames to go along with 65 K's and a 1.15 WHIP. Rob Rasmussen was even better prior to his promotion to AAA as his ERA was 2.42 and his WHIP sat at just 1.07. Chris Reed has been shaky at times and has a very low strikeout rate, but he's kept his ERA below 4.00. In the bullpen Yimi Garcia has been outstanding as opposing hitters are batting just .172 against him, and the hard throwing Jose Dominguez earned a promotion to AAA with a 14.5 K/9 and a 2.60 ERA.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes: 31 - 39, 4th place in the California League South Division
Summary: The Quakes have shown signs of lift as a team through the season, but they finished the first half 8 games behind the first place JetHawks (Astros). Rancho had a similar record both at home and on the road, finishing below .500 in both cases.
Notable Hitters of the 1st half: The big story over the past month has been Jonathan Garcia who has been on fire recently. Even though he is in his 5th season of professional ball, Garcia is still the youngest player on the Quakes roster at 21 years old yet he ranks 5th in the league with his .966 OPS and is tied for 2nd with 16 homers. He still strikes out way too much, but he's still been very fun to watch this season. Fellow 21 year old Noel Cuevas is also quietly having a solid season with 5 homers, 9 triples, 17 stolen bases, and a .306 average. Minor league veteran Ryan Mount is having a resurgence with 7 bombs and a .343 average which would lead the league if he had enough at bats to qualify.
Notable Pitchers of the 1st half: Ross Stripling got off to a quick start for the Quakes and maintained an ERA below 3 while striking out more than a batter per inning prior to his promotion to AA. Duke von Schamann has also moved on to the Lookouts, but before that he leading Rancho with 8 wins. Jarret Martin has been a bit unlucky this season and also been a bit wild, but he has struck out his fair share of batters and has a K/9 of 10.2. Pedro Baez has had some ups and downs in his first season as a pitcher and has a 3.10 ERA through 29 innings, but his FIP is a little higher at 3.92 and his WHIP is 1.52 due to a relatively high walk rate. Finally I'd be remiss if I didn't mention closer Michael Thomas who simply dominated the competition before moving up to AA in May.
Great Lakes Loons:27 - 43, 7th place in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
Summary: The Loons were terrible in the first half of the season, and only a late hot streak kept them out of the cellar. Great Lakes was especially bad at home where they went just 12 - 21.
Notable Hitters of the 1st half: The big name on this team is 2012 1st round pick Corey Seager, and while he's dealt with a pulled hamstring over the last month or so, the 19 year old has held his own when healthy. Over 131 at bats Seager has 11 extra base hits including 4 homers, and his OPS is an even .800. The most productive hitter on the roster might come as somewhat of a surprise as 22 year old catcher/1st baseman Tyler Ogle leads the club in most offensive categories. Tyler's 9 homers and 33 RBI's are best on the team, as is his .856 OPS and his .412 on base percentage. James Baldwin has 21 stolen bases but continues to struggle in all other aspects of the game, while newly converted outfielder Aaron Miller is still adjusting to life as a hitter and is batting just .219 through 19 games.
Notable Pitchers of the 1st half: The most consistent pitcher for the Loons in the first half was probably Carlos Frias as he won 5 games and posted an ERA of 2.63 over a team high 68.1 innings. That performance earned the 23 year old a promotion to HiA this past week. Jharel Cotton has also been very good for Great Lakes as he's struck out a batter per inning while positing a 3.03 FIP and a 1.01 WHIP. 19 year old Miguel Sulbaran is another guy who's been solid as he's also been averaging about a K per inning, and he's kept the ball in the yard as well which has led to a FIP of 2.50. The biggest pitching story for the Loons, however, has been 16 year old Julio Urias who had everyone in awe after he allowed just 1 run through his first 11.2 innings as a pro. While he's come back down to earth over his last two starts, the young phenom sports a 3.12 ERA and is striking out more than a batter per inning for the season.