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Dodgers 2012 Minor League Countdown: 110 - 101

Rafael Ynoa batting for the Quakes in 2011
Rafael Ynoa batting for the Quakes in 2011

With this post we are now officially halfway through my Dodger minor league player countdown. While this group of 10 guys didn't make the top half of my list, they are all still intriguing players in their own right. Also, in case you missed any of my previous posts, you can find them at the following links:

200 - 191; 190 - 181; 180 - 171; 170 - 161; 160 - 151; 150 - 141; 140 - 131; 130 - 121; 120 - 111

110. Rafael Ynoa, 2B/SS (126 games in HiA in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 7/8/05
6’0", 180 lbs, 24.5 years old, switch hitter
.275 average, .697 OPS, 5 HR’s, 54 RBI’s, 13 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 74; Pre 2010 Rank: 172; Pre 2009 Rank: 89

As expected, Rafael Ynoa came back down to earth in 2011. After a breakout season in 2010 which saw Ynoa sock 9 home runs and steal an impressive 40 stolen bases, Rafael regressed despite a promotion to the hitter friendly California League. An everyday player for the Quakes, Ynoa had a very pedestrian season in 2011 he posted an OPS of just .697. He was also caught in 11 of his 24 stolen base attempts and only hit 5 homers. His lone bright spot was his strong walk to strikeout ratio as the switch hitter struck out in just 13.1% of his plate appearances. In terms of his defense, Rafael played 31 games at shortstop and spent the rest of the season at 2nd base. He had a decent fielding percentage, and back in 2010 the Great Lakes Loons beat writer Hugh Bernreuter said "Ynoa is an outstanding fielder, especially at second base. He had a long string of errorless games during the season and made some spectacular plays. He is very solid, very consistent. The best fielding second baseman the Loons have had". Despite his great defense, I’m sticking with my stance from last year which was that I’m not sold on Ynoa as a legitimate prospect. I don’t think he’s ready for AA, so he’ll probably return to HiA for another season in 2012. Unless he really breaks out again next year, the 24 year old can probably kiss his chances of making the big leagues goodbye.

109. Arce Rodriguez, OF (53 games in DSL in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 1/25/10
6’0", 191 lbs, 19.25 years old, bats right handed
.288 average, .760 OPS, 4 HR’s, 25 RBI’s, 3 SB's
Pre 2011 Rank: 130; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Arce Rodriguez made his professional debut with the Dominican Dodgers in 2010, and played that entire season as a 17 year old. While he had a very poor year at the dish, I liked his youth and figured he’d improve with experience. The turned out to be the case in 2011 as Rodriguez returned to the DSL and put up better stats in every offensive category. He led the team in home runs with 4, and his .288 average ranked second. He also increased his walk rate from 1.6% of plate appearances in 2010 to 6.2%, and only struck out 19.6% of the time. His one drawback is that he appears to be limited defensively as he was used mostly in left field and 1st base, but hopefully he'll hit enough as he moves up the ladder to justify his positions. Given his success in 2011 and the fact that he's already spent 2 seasons in the DSL, Rodriguez will probably be promoted to the Arizona Rookie League next year at the tender age of 19. If he continues to improve, then we might have a rare Dominican born Dodger hitting prospect on our hands.

Follow the jump for #'s 108 - 101

108. Juan Noriega, RHP (4 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 13 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers in August 2011 out of the Mexican League
5’7”, 145 lbs, 21.5 years old
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 0.55 FIP, 14.29 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Juan Noriega is a bit of an enigma. The right hander is listed at just 5’7” and 145 pounds, yet he posted dominant stats with the Dodgers after his contact was purchased from the Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League. In 17 total innings split between the Arizona Rookie League and the Pioneer League, Noriega didn’t allow a single run and walked just 2 batters while striking out 27. And that doesn’t even include his appearance in the Arizona Rookie League Championship where he threw 4.1 shutout frames and picked up the win. The interesting thing is that prior to joining the Dodgers, Juan threw 36.2 innings in the Mexican League and wasn’t all that impressive with a 4.42 ERA and a K/9 of about 7. However, the level of play in the Mexican League is usually compared to AAA, so that actually makes a lot of sense as to why Noriega was a merely average in that league. Also, it should be noted that Juan played in the Mexican Winter League this past offseason and his results were very solid as he recorded a 2.45 ERA over 33 innings, although his K/9 was again less than stellar at 5.7. Overall I’m not really sure what to make of Noriega given his size and stats, but I’m guessing that he’ll spend 2012 with the Loons. His results there should give us a better idea of what kind of future he has with the Dodgers.

107. Abdiel Velasquez, RHP (46.2 IP in DSL in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 7/2/09
6’3”, 184 lbs, 19 years old
1-4, 4.05 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 4.09 FIP, 7.33 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 73; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Abdiel Velasquez is a young right hander from Panama who had an outstanding professional debut in 2010 as a 17 year old with a 2.53 ERA and .150 batting average against through 32 innings. Velasquez returned to the DSL in 2011 and was used mostly in the rotation as he made 9 starts. While most of his pitching statistics appear worse in his sophomore season, his FIP actually improved from 4.39 to 4.09. In addition, the 6’3” Velasquez has a great pitching which I’m hoping generates a good amount of velocity. Given that Abdiel won’t even turn 19 until this upcoming March, he may return to the Dominican Republic for a 3rd season, but he’s also a solid candidate to play in the Arizona Rookie League in 2012. He’s still a sleeper in my book and is someone I’ll continue to watch closely.

106. Joel Lima, RHP (3 IP in AA, 34.2 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 2/22/08
6’0”, 165 lbs, 22.5 years old
3-1, 5.26 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.48 FIP, 9.08 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 88; Pre 2010 Rank: 102; Pre 2009 Rank: 65

Joel Lima, the much younger half brother of the late Jose Lima, was signed by the Dodgers in 2008. After spending two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, where he posted a combined 2.71 ERA through 69.2 innings, Joel was promoted to the Arizona League in 2010. Although he was limited just 17.2 innings with the Arizona Dodgers, Lima had yet another excellent season with a superb ERA and a solid strikeout rate. That brings us to 2011, which saw Lima spend a few months in extended spring training before making his season debut all the way up in AA when the Lookouts were short on relievers in early June. After two impressive appearances Lima was spent back to extended spring training, then spent the rest of the year with the Ogden Raptors. Unfortunately Joel struggled a bit in the Pioneer League as he allowed 9 homers in just 34.2 innings which drove his ERA to 5.71 for the season. He did strike out a batter per inning, however, and showed pretty good control with just 12 walks for the season. I’m guessing that Lima will move to Great Lakes in 2012, and hopefully a more pitcher friendly league will benefit Joel so we can eventually see the second coming of Lima Time.

105. Andy Suiter, LHP (43.1 IP in HiA, 10 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 10th round
6’3”, 215 lbs, 24.75 years old
1-2, 4.56 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4.66 FIP, 7.93 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 81; Pre 2010 Rank: 94; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Coming out of high school Andy Suiter was a prize recruit by UCLA, but then due to a broken wrist and poor coaching decisions he transferred to UC Davis where he finally got an opportunity to play. He was drafted by the Yankees in 2008 in the 32nd round, but obviously didn’t sign and returned to UC Davis in 2009. While his 2009 college stats were rather unimpressive, he did improve his velocity and was hitting 94 mph by the end of the season. So the Dodgers decided to take a chance on him with their 10th round pick, and after the draft Logan White said “This kid has a really good arm…He's throwing 94-95 now and has a good change and a good curve ball. The question is getting him to command the strike zone.” Unfortunately Logan was right because control has been Suiter’s biggest issue since turning pro as he has walked 7.2 batters per 9 innings for his career. Outside of his terrible walk rate Suiter’s been pretty good, but you can’t keep your ERA down when you always have runners on base. This past season Suiter spent most of the year with the Quakes (his time in Arizona was on a rehab assignment due to a minor injury), but he was used mostly in middle relief because he couldn’t be trusted in late inning situations. Despite his control issues, Suiter remains an intriguing minor league player due to his mid 90’s fastball and his success against left handed batters (3.60 ERA vs lefties in 2011). I don’t think he’s ready for AA, so he’ll probably return to Rancho Cucamonga in 2012. If he is able to improve his control, however, he may eventually have value as a LOOGY at the big league level.

104. Tae-Hyeok Nam, 1B (30 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 6/16/09
6’0”, 209 lbs, 21 years old, bats right handed
.221 average, .649 OPS, 2 HR’s, 11 RBI, 1 SB
Pre 2011 Rank: 66; Pre 2010 Rank: 50; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

When the Dodgers signed Nam in June of 2009, he became the first Korean high school player they had ever signed. He was scouted throughout his high school career by the Dodgers, where he hit 22 home runs and had 43 RBIs in 65 games to go along with a .314 average. After the signing, Logan White said that Nam had “good power and well above average speed.” White also stated that “Nam is strong physically. With the help of our player development staff, I'm confident that he will become a fine player.” Unfortunately, Nam has been far from a “fine player” in his brief professional career. After getting his feet wet in 2009, Tae spent 2010 in the Arizona Rookie League and had a decent season for a 19 year old with 3 homers and a respectable .713 OPS. He also struck out in 23.5% of his plate appearances, which wasn’t all that bad. Fast forward to 2011, however, and Nam regressed significantly in every offensive category. Not only did he hit just .221, but his strikeout rate increased to 31.1%. The only improvement he showed was his defense, but given that he plays first base he’s going to have to hit a whole lot more if he wants to progress through the system. Despite his struggles I’ve got to think the 21 year old will move up to the Pioneer League in 2012 to give him a change of scenery.

103. Joseph Winker, OF (4 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 43 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 28th round
6’1”, 190 lbs, 22.5 years old, bats left handed
.348 average, 1.007 OPS, 5 HR’s, 47 RBI’s, 4 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Joe Winker was selected by the Dodgers in the 28th round of the 2011 draft after spending four seasons at Mercer University. In his college career Winker established himself as one of the A-Sun Conference’s best player, and in 2011 as a senior he hit .359 ranked 3rd in the conference with a .630 SLG%. He also hit 13 homers and posted a .448 OB%. Here’s a video of him being interviewed after a game in the A-Sun Conference tournament…go to the 4:20 mark. Upon signing with the Dodgers Winker was sent to the Arizona Rookie League and he picked up right where he left off in college. The 22 year old was a little old for the league, but he led the club in every offensive category except for runs and stolen bases. His name was also scattered all over the Arizona Rookie League leader board as he led the league in OB% and also ranked 2nd in the league with his 1.068 OPS. He finished the year with a short stint in the Pioneer League. Despite his impressive stats, Winker doesn't figure to be much of a prospect because of his aforementioned age and the fact that he doesn't really have any standout skill. If he continues to rake then I’ll be forced to change my option, but for now I think he’ll simply be a nice organizational player for the Dodgers. Joe will probably get a chance to play for the Loons in 2012, but I given the Dodgers outfield depth in the lower minor leagues he might not get the chance to be an everyday player.

102. Steve Matre, RHP (1.2 IP in LoA, 17 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 6.2 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)

Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 39th round
6’2”, 185 lbs, 23.75 years old
0-1, 4.26 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 3.00 FIP, 9.24 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 100; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

The Dodgers took a late flyer on Steve Matre in the 2010 draft as they selected him in the 39th round even though he hadn’t play college ball that year due to Tommy John surgery that he had in 2009. Prior to his surgery Matre had completed three outstanding seasons at College of Mount Saint Joseph. As a freshman he immediately stepped into the closer role, and held it all throughout his college career. His career ERA was 1.19 and he registered 32 saves – just 3 short of the Division III record. His best season came in 2009 when he had a 0.41 ERA, a 13.1 K/9, and a .133 batting average against in 22 innings. In addition, even though he missed the 2010 college season, he was cleared to play in a summer league and continued to impress by striking out 20 and walking just two in 15.2 innings of work to go along with a 1.15 ERA. Upon getting drafted, Matre said “I was really excited to hear that I was chosen. It was like a dream come true and something that I’ve wanted to do (play professional baseball) for a long time.” He also participated in an interesting video that was posted on YouTube. After a very short professional debut, Steve started the 2011 season in Ogden where he threw 17 innings of middle relief for the Raptors. Matre got hit around pretty good, however, and posted a 5.82 ERA and a .342 batting average against despite a strong FIP and K/9. A minor injury in early August sent Matre back to Glendale, and he ended up throwing in 7 games for the Arizona Dodgers before finishing his year with a single appearance in LoA. In terms of his stuff, according to Matre himself he throws in the low 90’s with a 4 seam fastball (cut), 2 seam fastball (sink), a slider, and a changeup. Overall I really like Matre as a sleeper prospect, and I think he could have a breakout season for the Dodgers in 2012. Also, everyone knows that it usually takes two full years for someone to fully recover from Tommy John, so 2012 could be his year. I bet he spends the year in the Loons bullpen and could eventually make his way into the closer role for Great Lakes.

101. Steve Domecus, C/LF (60 games in LoA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 9th round
6’3”, 220 lbs, 24.75 years old, bats right handed
.276 average, .771 OPS, 5 HR’s, 23 RBI’s, 2 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 78; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Steve Domecus grew up in Northern California, and after a great high school career he decided to attend UC Santa Barbara. After redshirting his first year (2006), Domecus only started 5 games in 2007 and was told after the season he’d be used as a part time DH the following year. Knowing that he had what it took to be a catcher, Steve transferred to Moorpark Junior College and drew a lot of attention from college and pro scouts. Next thing he knew, the White Sox called during the 2008 draft and asked if he’d sign if he was selected in the 7th round. Domecus wrestled with the decision, but finally told Chicago that he wanted to transfer to Virginia Tech instead. In 2009, his first year at VT, Domecus hit .406 but didn’t show much power and was limited to just 40 games due to a broken hand. Therefore he didn’t get drafted, and returned for his senior season where he improved many aspects of his game. In 2010 Domecus hit .365 for the Hokies with 27 doubles, 13 homers, 60 RBI’s, and 12 stolen bases as the team’s main catcher. Here is some video of his offense and defense. The Dodgers liked what they saw and selected him in the 9th round of the 2010 draft, and Steve made his professional debut in the Pioneer League with relatively average results. He was promoted to Great Lakes in 2011 and served as the part time catcher for the Loons. He missed some time early in the season due to a high ankle sprain, but still got off to a hot start and was hitting .349 at the All Star Break with a .978 OPS. Unfortunately “Doe” struggled in the 2nd half, however, and ended the year with a .276 average. It should also be noted that after he was drafted, most scouts didn't think he would stay behind the plate as a pro, and given that he only threw out 16% of base-stealers a move to the outfield (where he spent some time in college) might be required. I’m not sure his bat plays as an outfielder, however, and Steve knows that. During this past season he told Hugh Bernreuter “I’m athletic enough to play other positions ... I played some games in left field last year. But my future and my value is as a catcher, and that’s what I’m working at.” In 2012 I would guess that Steve will move up to the Quakes and again be a part time backstop.