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Dodgers 2013 Minor League Countdown: 140 - 121

There are plenty of interesting players in this group, including a trio of recent international signees

Matt Wallach has struggled through the past two seasons
Matt Wallach has struggled through the past two seasons

While there is a lot going on with spring training in full swing, I figured it was time to take a step back for a moment and continue our journey through the Dodgers minor league system. While we are still in the bottom half of the rankings, there are still some intriguing players in this group including a trio of recently signed international free agents. As a reminder, you can find all the posts from this series here.

140. Alexis Aguilar, SS/2B (58 games in HiA in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers 4/8/08
5’11”, 162 lbs, 21.75 years old, bats right handed
.255 average, .613 OPS, 1 HR’s, 15 RBI’s, 8 SB’s
Pre 2012 Rank: 116; Pre 2011 Rank: 125; Pre 2010 Rank: 123; Pre 2009 Rank: 135

Signed by the Dodgers out of Venezuela back in 2008, Alexis Aguilar has been with the Dodgers for quite some time now. He spent his first 2.5 seasons in the DSL, and in the middle of the 2010 season he earned rare mid-season promotion from to the Arizona League where he spent the rest of the year. After a very solid campaign in 2011 with the Ogden Raptors, Aguilar moved up to HiA to start the 2012 season despite being just 20 years old. Unfortunately Aguilar had his worst season to date with the Quakes, collecting just 9 extra base hits all year and making 17 errors in 48 games at shortstop. He did continue to strikeout at a relatively low clip, but his walk rate was also low. Given his age and defensive versatility (he can also play 2nd and 3rd base) Aguilar will probably get another chance for Rancho in 2013, although I could also see him spending next season with the Loons to get him a chance of scenery.

139. Ryan Acosta, RHP (67 IP in HiA in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers in May 2011 as a minor league free agent
6’2”, 170 lbs, 24.25 years old
4-2, 4.30 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.74 FIP, 10.61 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: 154; Pre 2011 Rank: N/A

Even though I mentioned this last year, it should be noted that Ryan Acosta has an interesting back-story as his father was former minor league baseball player and then became a coach in the Yankees organization before tragically dying in a car accident when Ryan was in high school. It was obviously a tough time for Ryan, but he continued playing baseball for his dad and was eventually selected by the Cubs out of high school in the 12th round of the 2007 draft. He was given a $225K signing bonus upon signing, but despite his hefty bonus the Cubs released Acosta for an undisclosed reason after just one full season, so he was a minor league free agent heading into 2009. The Yankees then scooped him up, but he was released again after his 2010 campaign despite a 3.50 ERA for their class A affiliate. From there Acosta joined the Dodgers and after a solid season in 2011, he was brought back in 2012 where he was an integral part of the Quakes bullpen and also made a few starts for the club at the end of the season. While he struggled a bit in the rotation, as a reliever he compiled a 3.26 ERA and had a K/9 of 11.5 so that is where his value lies. Old scouting reports have his fastball up to 93 mph and say that he shows good command of his curveball, slider and changeup. The Dodgers did re-sign Acosta again for 2013 and my guess is that the 24 year old will be part of the Lookouts bullpen.

138. Jhosue Bermudez, LHP (7.2 IP in Arz Rookie Lg, 46.2 IP in DSL in 2012)

Signed by Dodgers in 2012
6’0”, 195 lbs, 19.75 years old
6-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 3.37 FIP, 6.29 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Signed this past off-season out of Venezuela, Jhosue Bermudez started off his professional career in the Dominican Summer League by allowing just 3 hits over his first 15 innings. While he eventually came back down to earth and had constantly had trouble finding the plate, overall he had a pretty good season in the Dominican and actually became one of the rare players to earn a mid season promotion to Arizona. While he only appeared in 3 games for the Arizona Dodgers, the fact that he was promoted as a 19 year old in his very first season shows that the organization thinks pretty highly of him. He’s another guy who I don’t know much about in terms of his pitches, but hopefully I’ll learn more about him now that he’s in the states. He’ll almost certainly return to Arizona in 2013.

137. Jesus Arredondo, 2B (102 games in LoA in 2012)
Signed out of Mexico in 2011
6’0”, 180 lbs, 22 years old, bats left handed
.254 average, .645 OPS, 0 HR’s, 30 RBI’s, 13 SB’s
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Signed out Mexico in 2011, Jesus Arredondo was a surprise name on the Loons 2012 opening day roster given that he was making his professional debut. To be fair he had played in the Mexican League in 2011, but the Midwest League was his first taste of pro baseball here in the states. Arredondo opened some eyes immediately as he was Great Lakes leading hitter for the first month of the season, but unfortunately he came back down to earth in May and finished the year with a very mediocre .254 average. He also showed very limited power, although his 24 double did rank as 4th best on the Loons. His struggles continued into the off-season as Jesus batted just .229 in the Mexican Winter League over 60 games. The good news is that he makes very good contact as he struck out in just 9.4% of his plate appearances during the regular season, and walked more than K’ed in the winter league. Limited to 2nd base he doesn’t provide much value defensively, so he’s going to have to step it up offensively if he wants to have an impact with the organization. For 2013 I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arredondo back with the Loons because he is still quite young and doesn’t really deserve to be promoted.

136. Joseph Winker, 1B/OF (114 games in LoA in 2012)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 28th round
6’1”, 190 lbs, 23.5 years old, bats left handed
.225 average, .674 OPS, 11 HR’s, 64 RBI’s, 8 SB’s
Pre 2012 Rank: 103; Pre 2011 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%. Upon signing with the Dodgers Winker was sent to the Arizona Rookie League and he picked up right where he left off in college. As one of the older players in the league Winker found his name 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. That earned Joseph a promotion to LoA in 2012, but unfortunately he was over-matched in the more advanced Midwest League. While he got a chance to play almost every day and ranked 2nd on the Loons with 11 homers, Winker did little else to impress as he hit just .225. Defensively he split his time between 1st base and right field, although his time at 1st was more out of necessity for the team. Given his struggles this past season I think Winker will return to Great Lakes in 2013.

135. Victor Gonzalez, LHP (Did not play in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers as international FA in 2012
Unknown height, unknown lbs, 17.25 years old
No stats in 2012
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Signed out of Mexico on the first day of the 2012 international signing period, Victor Gonzalez is a 17 year old left handed pitcher. While the exact amount of his signing bonus is unknown, it has been estimated to be around $250K. Outside of his age and place of birth I don’t know anything about Victor as there is not any information about him available out there. I expect him to play in either the Dominican Summer League or the Arizona Rookie League in 2013.

134. Kazuki Nishijima, LHP (47.1 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers in November 2010
6’1”, 190 lbs, 24 years old
8-1, 4.56 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 4.47 FIP, 5.70 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: 97; Pre 2011 Rank: 86; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A

Kazuki Nishijima was signed by the Dodgers in November of 2010 out of Meiji University in Tokyo where he finished his career with a 1.91 ERA. At the time of his signing 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.” Kazuki made his professional debut in the Pioneer League in 2011, but outside of showing immaculate control (2 walks in 32.2 innings) he had a very average season. That caused Nishijima to repeat with the Raptors in 2012 where he again had a another mediocre season. He did provide the club with solid middle relief (including 5 perfect frames out of the bullpen on 7/20/12) and actually recorded a team high 8 wins, but his other stats just weren’t very impressive. Now 24, Nishijima needs to really step it up in 2013 in order to have any kind of shot at a getting on the Dodgers radar. The fact that he’s a lefty and a ground ball pitcher do give him an advantage over other struggling relievers, but again he still needs to put it all together. I think he gets promoted to LoA in 2013 where he’ll have a shot to make a name for himself in the Loons bullpen.

133. Freddie Cabrera, RHP (66.2 IP in HiA, in 2012)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 26th round
6’5”, 210 lbs, 23 years old
1-3, 6.35 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 5.10 FIP, 5.80 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: 126; Pre 2011 Rank: N/A

A Puerto Rican native, Freddie Cabrera played at his college ball at NAIA school Central Methodist and as a junior he went 6 - 4 with a 3.06 ERA through 82.1 innings. Rumor has it that he as a 95 mph fastball, so the Dodgers selected him in the 26th round of the 2011 draft. After jumping around in his professional debut, Cabrera found himself in the Quakes’ bullpen in 2012 and had a rough year. Not only did he have an ugly ERA, but he gave up 9 homers and didn’t strike out very many hitters. Despite his less than impressive stats, I have a gut feeling that Freddie could actually turn into a decent prospect one day which is why I’m ranking him slightly higher than he probably deserves. Maybe it’s his 6’5” frame or his mid 90’s fastball, but I do think that he’ll eventually put together a strong season. That could come as early as 2013, which he’ll probably spend either back in the California League or in LoA with the Loons.

132. Hector Correa, RHP (18 IP in HiA in 2012 – all Giants)
Signed as minor league free agent in 2012
6’3”, 175 lbs, 25 years old
1-2, 7.50 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 4.29 FIP, 11.50 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Signed by the Dodgers this off-season, it was originally thought that Hector Correa was going to be invited to big league spring training. Apparently that is not the case, however, which makes sense given that Hector has never pitched above AA. In fact, Correa spent 2012 in HiA and threw just 18 innings due to injuries, allowing 17 runs for the year. Originally selected by the Marlins in the 4th round of the 2006 draft, Correa was traded to the Giants in 2010 and eventually made it on to the club’s 40 man roster. He was designated for assignment this past September despite being rated as the Giants 14th best prospect just last year. His most recent scouting report has his fastball in the mid-90’s to go along with a plus changeup, but he is very injury prone and obviously his stuff wasn’t working last year based on his stats. Still he was worth taking a chance on with a minor league contract, especially since he has a career K/9 of 9.5, and if healthy he’ll probably spend 2013 in AA

131. Julian Leon, C (Did not play in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers as international FA in 2012
Unknown height, unknown lbs, 17 years old, bats right handed
No stats in 2012
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Julian Leon was signed out of Mexico on July 2nd of 2012 as a 16 year old for an estimated $250K. While there isn’t much information available on the young backstop as of now, at the time of the signing Logan White was quoted as saying that “Leon was highly regarded as one of the best catching prospects on the International market and he should follow a long list of quality catchers to come from Mexico.” Leon, who just recently turned 17, has yet to play a professional game and therefore he’ll debut in 2013. I’m not sure if he’ll play in the DSL or in the Arizona Rookie League, but either way it will be interesting to see how the youngster fares against the competition.

130. Gregory Pena, OF (29 games in Arizona Rookie Lg in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers 11/1/09
6’0”, 175 lbs, 21.25 years old, switch hitter
.270 average, .631 OPS, 0 HR’s, 3 RBI’s, 7 SB's
Pre 2012 Rank: 114; Pre 2011 Rank: 132; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A

Gregory Pena was apparently born in New York, but must have moved out of the USA at some point because he wasn’t subject to the MLB draft. Instead, he was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent and made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 where he hit just .212 as an 18 year old. Pena returned to the DSL in 2011 but he completely turned things around as he led the Dominican Dodgers in almost every significant offensive category. His 31 RBI’s were tops on the team, and he ranked 1st in average (.303), OB% (.389), SLG (.441), and OPS (.830) among players with at least 75 at bats. He also showed off his speed with 23 stolen bases and 5 triples while demonstrating a good eye at the plate. That earned Greg a promotion to the Arizona Rookie League in 2012 where he was used sparingly, but spent time at all 3 outfield spots. In his US debut Pena didn't have a great offensive showing as he failed to record an extra base hit all year long and batted just .270, but on the plus side he stole 7 bases and walked at a decent clip. The switch hitter also performed very well on the road for some reason, batting .367 over 16 games compared to just .182 at home. In 2013 I’m pretty sure that Pena will return to Arizona where he’ll continue to work on his game. At just 21 he has plenty of time to improve, although it’d be nice if he collected at least a few extra base hits next season.

129. Alfredo Unzue, LHP (3.1 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2012)
Drafted by Dodgers 2012, 32nd round
6’1”, 175 lbs, 27.5 years old
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2.90 FIP, 13.50 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Alfredo Unzue is one of the toughest players to rank because I know so little about him. Drafted as a 26 year old in the 32nd round of the 2012 draft, Alfredo has got to be one of the oldest players ever drafted. Originally from Cuba, Unzue was cleared for the MLB draft in 2011 and was selected by the A’s in the 34th round, but he decided to wait one more year which is when the Dodgers took him. His professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League lasted all of 4 appearances because he was placed on the 60 day DL in early August for an unknown reason. The good news is that he posted solid stats in his 3.1 frames, striking out 5 and allowing just 2 hits. Heading into 2013 I’m not sure what to make of Alfredo given his age and his injury. If he’s healthy I’m guessing he’ll play in one of the full season leagues, and if he’s really lucky the Dodgers will put him with fellow Cubans Yaisel Puig and Onelki Garcia in Chattanooga so they can all help each other with the transition to US baseball.

128. Cristian Gomez, SS (Did not play in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers as international FA in 2012
5’10”, 180 lbs, bats right handed, 16.75 years old
No stats in 2012
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Cristian Gomez was another one of the international free agents signed by the Dodgers this past July, with Gomez hailing from the Dominican Republic. A shortstop by trade, really the only other information out there about Cristian came from Baseball America, who said that he “stands out in the field with soft hands, good range and an average arm. He's an instinctive player in the field and has gap power from the right side of the plate.” Also, while exact terms of the contract weren’t available, a few sources reported that his bonus was in the low six-figures. Gomez will almost certainly spent 2013 in the Dominican Summer League as the team’s main shortstop, and he is just one of many guys who will make the Dominican Dodgers team fun to follow in the upcoming season.

127. Sawil Gonzalez, RHP (19 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers 5/7/2010
6’2”, 170 lbs, 23 years old
2-1, 3.79 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2.52 FIP, 15.63 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: 184; Pre 2011 Rank: N/A

Sawil Gonzalez was one of the bigger surprises in the lower minor leagues last season. After debuting in the Dominican Summer League as a 21 year old in 2011 and posting a 5.23 ERA, I didn’t think too much of Sawil. Sure opposing batters had only hit .181 against him and he struck out over a batter per inning, but given his age and his lack of control I pretty much overlooked him. So when I saw him on the Ogden Raptors roster to start the 2012 season I was quite surprised, and then I was even more amazed at the stats he put up in the Pioneer League. While he was used sparingly and had a few rocky outings in the second half of the season, overall he allowed just 12 hits over 19 frames and struck out 33. He even picked up 3 early season saves. Unfortunately I don’t’ really know anything else about him, but at the very least the soon to be 23 year old is now on my radar. My guess is that he joins the Loons bullpen in 2013.

126. Jan Vazquez, C (6 games in AA, 20 games in HiA, 40 games in LoA in 2012)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 6th round
5’10”, 165 lbs, 21.75 years old, switch hitter
.252 average, .620 OPS, 1 HR, 16 RBI’s, 5 SB’s
Pre 2012 Rank: 111; Pre 2011 Rank: 84; Pre 2010 Rank: 61; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

After struggling through three seasons of rookie ball, Jan Vazquez surprisingly got to play for 3 different full season teams in 2012. These 3 promotions this past season were mostly out of necessity, however, as the Dodgers 2009 6th round pick has never had an OPS higher than .674 at any level, and currently has a career batting average of .242. Jan started the year with the Loons, but moved up to Rancho after a couple of catcher injuries caused a chain reaction. After struggling through 20 games with the Quakes there was another injury (this time to Matt Wallach), at which point Vazquez got the call to AA where he spent the rest of the season. While all of these promotions were based on need, the fact that Vazquez was the one to get the promotions tells me that he is at least on the Dodgers’ radar. His bat still needs to develop, but he is still just 21 and hopefully all this experience will translate into success later in his career. In addition, back in 2009 Logan White was excited to draft him saying that, “This kid is a real athlete. He shifts, blocks, has perfect size for a catcher. If we don't need him behind the plate, he could play second base because he can really hit from both sides of the plate.” As I just mentioned his batting stills still need to come around, but I do think he has time to improve. I’m guessing he’ll return to either LoA or HiA to start the 2013 season.

125. Daniel Tamares, RHP (Injured in 2012)
Signed by Dodgers 9/26/06
6’3”, 170 lbs, 23.25 years old
No Stats in 2012
Pre 2012 Rank: 69; Pre 2011 Rank: 93; Pre 2010 Rank: 119; Pre 2009 Rank: 74

After 4 years in the Dominican Summer League, including a fantastic 2010 season during which he posted a 1.41 ERA, a 0.77 WHIP, and a 2.64 FIP over 57.1 innings, Daniel Tamares finally got a chance to play in a US based league in 2011. The Dominican native spent 2011 in the Arizona Dodgers bullpen, and although he was using sparingly at the start of the season he really came into his own in the month of August and finished the season with a 2.11 ERA, a 1.65 FIP, and a 13.92 K/9. Given those stats I expected big things from Daniel in 2012, but unfortunately Tamares missed the entire season due to injury. I couldn’t find any specifics on the injury, but my guess is that he had Tommy John surgery. The missed year causes Tamares to drop in my rankings a big, but he is still just 23 years old so if he can come back healthy he still has time to climb through the minor league ranks. His health and how he performs this spring will determine where he plays in 2013, but my best guess is that he starts in extended spring training before joining the Ogden Raptors in June.

124. Cory Embree, OF (24 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2012)
Drafted by Dodgers 2012, 38th round
6’3”, 218 lbs, 20.75 years old, bats right handed
.320 average, .902 OPS, 0 HR’s, 18 RBI’s, 1 SB
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Despite one of the final picks of the 2012 draft, there is a lot to like about Cory Embree. After hitting .451 for Maplewoods Community College in his freshman year, Embree joined the Arizona Dodgers and tore it up in his professional debut. While he didn’t connect on any homers, Cory collected 5 doubles and 4 triples in just 24 games, while walking in 11.2% of his plate appearances. His .320 average ranked 2nd on the team, as did his .409 OB%. Defensively Cory spent time in both right and left field and didn’t make an error all year. Despite his draft position Embree could be a sleeper heading into 2013, and he may even have a shot at the Loons opening day roster. Realistically he’ll spend this upcoming season in the Pioneer League where he’ll get to play in a very hitter friendly environment.

123. Blake Johnson, RHP (42.1 IP in AAA, 29.1 IP in AA in 2012)
Signed out of a tryout, originally the Dodgers 2004 2nd round pick
6’5”, 200 lbs, 27.75 years old
5-4, 4.77 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 4.36 FIP, 6.78 K/9
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

As most people know by now Blake Johnson was originally a 2nd round pick by the Dodgers in 2004, but after just 2 and a half seasons he was traded along with Odalis Perez to the Royals for Elmer Dessens. Johnson’s first year in the Royals organization was a good one, but things went downhill from there and he was eventually released. He caught on with the Rockies for a very short stint, but was again out of a job as spring training started in 2012. That’s when he tried out for the Dodgers and was offered a contract by the club that initially drafted him. After starting the 2012 season with the Lookouts in AA, Blake was promoted to Albuquerque where he finished out the season. While his stats were pretty ugly for the Isotopes in the hitter friendly PCL, the Dodgers were happy enough with him to re-sign him for the 2013 season. He rewarded the organization by performing very well in the Venezuelan Winter League, allowed just 8 hits and 1 earned run over 13 innings. Given his age and experience I’m sure the Dodgers will again stash Johnson in AAA, and while he’s a long shot to ever make it to the big leagues the big right hander is a good insurance policy to have around.

122. Matt Wallach, C/1B (59 games in AA in 2012)
Drafted by Dodgers 2007, 22nd round
6’1”, 210 lbs, 27 years old, bats left handed
.232 average, .662 OPS, 4 HR’s, 17 RBI’s, 2 SB
Pre 2012 Rank: 78; Pre 2011 Rank: 65; Pre 2010 Rank: 125; Pre 2009 Rank: 64

Matt Wallach has had a rough past couple of years. After opening some eyes in 2010 with 11 homers and a .822 OPS over 24 games in AA, the son of Dodgers current 3rd base coach has regressed in each of the past two seasons. Injuries have played some role in that regression, but that’s still no excuse for a .232 average and a .662 OPS as one of the older players in the Southern League. This is especially true for a player that gets so much extra attention from the coaches, starting with the fact that Wallach has been invited to four straight Winter Development Programs. During the one that I attended in 2012, this was very evident when Tommy Lasorda specially asked for Wallach to get some additional batting practice after all the other players were done for the day. Despite his poor play of late, I’m sure Wallach will continue to get opportunities with the organization. While I no longer think he has a shot to make it to the big leagues, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt start the 2013 season in AAA (although he would probably only be a part time player for the Isotopes).

121. Ryan Mount, OF (71 games in AA in 2012 – All with Angeles)
Signed as minor league free agent on 1/17/13
6’0”, 190 lbs, 26.5 years old, bats left handed
.236 average, .639 OPS, 5 HR’s, 26 RBI’s, 3 SB’s
Pre 2012 Rank: N/A

Ryan Mount was a 2nd round pick of Anaheim back in 2005, but after spending 8 seasons with the Angels organization he was finally released in December of 2012. Mount was signed by the Dodgers to a minor league contract a month later, with the hope being that Ryan would recapture the form that once earned him a $615K signing bonus. In looking at his stats Mount has never really lived up to expectations as his career batting average is just .263. He did hit 16 homers in 2008 to go along with a .849 OPS and a .290 average, but that was the peak of his statistical performance as he mostly struggled through the next four years in AA. Now 27 years old, Mount will have to turn things around in 2013 in what will probably be his 5th go around in AA.