Overview of the Positional Players for the Las Vegas 51's, Dodger AAA affiliate for 2007:
These are strictly my opinions.
MVP - D Young
Best Prospect - Matt Kemp 1st half, Andy La Roche 2nd Half
Positional Prospects - Loney, Abreu, Hu, Kemp, D Young, La Roche
Possible Major League Filler - Lindsey, Valdez, McDougall
This was an interesting combination of some of our best future talent intermixed with complete deadwood. If you went to a game in April you could have seen 3/8 of the Dodger Sept starting lineup. In July, after Loney and Kemp got the call you could have watched the possible 2009 infield except for Loney, with Abreu, Hu, and La Roche filling out the diamond.
1st Loney - The 23 year old had came into spring blocked by Nomar at 1st base. He failed to win a spot on the 25 man roster and started in Vegas. In 58 games he posted a 722 OPS amid whispers of his sulking due to being in Vegas. Once he was promoted his talent took over and he now looks to be the Dodger 1st baseman for the next 5 years. I have no explanation of how such a talented hitter could post a 722 OPS in the Pacific Coast League.
2nd Abreu - This 22 year old was the least ballyhooed of the prospects but he was on fire at the beginning of the year. He got a call up when Betemit was found wanting and the Dodgers tried him at 3b. He appears to be the heir apparent to Jeff Kent at 2nd , and hopefully will replace Ramon Martinez as the Dodger Utility infielder in 2008. He showed gap power, excellent contact hitter, but little plate discipline. His defense is supposed to be above average for a 2nd baseman.
SS Chin-Lung Hu - The 23 year old joined the team after winning the Futures game MVP while playing for AA. He hit even better for the 51's and slugged 8 home runs in 192 ab's, while posting a slug% over 500. His defense is supposed to be gold glove caliber but the hitting was a bit of a surprise. With Furcal's contract coming to an end next season don't be surprised to see Hu manning SS in 2009 or even 2008 if the Dodgers get bold and trade Rafy.
3rd La Roche - Age - 24; Coming into the year he was the Dodgers number one prospect but he sure didn't look like it the during the first 1/3 of the season. He got a call up to the Dodgers and walked a little, but showed nothing else during his brief tenure. Sent back to AAA he went on the DL, and just when you had to wonder what was going on he went absolutely crazy hitting 12 home runs in 90 ab's, with a 1.40 OPS for the month of July. When Betemit was traded and Nomar went on the DL, it appeared his call up was imminent, but LaRoche went on the minor league DL with a back problem. It was terrible timing for the Dodgers and for him. Finally on Sept 2nd, he got the call and as we write this he is the Dodger 3b for now, and hopefully for the future.
Outfield - Delwyn Young - Age - 25; After two lackluster seasons at AAA, Delwyn exploded and was the teams MVP by my account. He had 76 extra base hits including a league record 54 doubles. Coming into the season his prospect status had dimmed but this outburst for the sweet switch hitting corner outfielder should put him back on the map.
Outfield - Matt Kemp - Age - 23; Hard to include Matt Kemp in here but he did get 161 at bats so we'll profile him. Made the Dodger roster but then got hurt and rehabbed in Vegas. When he was healthy they said they didn't have room so he bided his time in Vegas tearing it up to the tune of a 914 OPS. The Dodgers haven't had a home grown outfield prospect like Kemp since Mondesi hit the scene. Expect him to be even better. He profiles like Dave Winfield or Dave Parker. Nicknamed the Bison.
Barnes - at 32, I have no idea why he's even getting playing time in anyone's organization much less ours. Posting a 691 OPS he really should hang it up and get a coaching job.
Mitch Jones - Now in Japan but for two months the 29 year old was the 51's best hitter.
John Lindsey - The 30 year old had his best minor league season posting a plus 1000 OPS. Between AA /AAA he hit 30 bombs. He replaced Mitch Jones when Jones went to Japan. They appear to be interchangeable with neither player having much of a chance for a major league career.
Bigbie-he had a great spring but didn't make the team. Sent to AAA he did well enough, but when he found out we had no plans for him he took his game to the Braves and finished the year in their AAA system. At Richmond he struggled and while he might make it back to the big leagues, it is doubtful he will ever get significant at bats.
Choo Freeman - the former top prospect for the Rockies is now 27 and has no future with us. Expect him to sign with another organization next season.
Wilson Valdez - If Ramon Martinez can find major league employment I would expect Wilson Valdez to be able to do the same. He is a better fielder then Ramon at all the infield positions, plus he has speed.
McDougall- the 28 year old had a solid year but I know nothing about him other then this. He is not a prospect but he might be able to help some team in a utility role. It is possible that he could be a better option then Olmedo since he does have some pop while giving us better defense.