Think Blue

Obsessing over the Dodgers' minor league system so you don't have to.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Week in Review - 4/03 to 4/06

Opening day has come and gone, but this looks like it's going to be a very interesting season. Whether it's players returning from injury or phenoms biding their time until a callup, plenty of prospects stand to gain or lose much due to their performance in 2008. And now, with just 4 games having been played, let's take a look at how they've started.

Las Vegas

Hot Pitchers

While he's not much of a prospect, RHP Miguel Pinango has started the season with a strong debut. He lasted 6 innings and allowed just 2 runs while walking 1 and striking out 5. Unfortunately, his opening day gem was lost by the bullpen and he'll have to wait until his next turn in the rotation for his first win.

Don't be fooled by the 6.00 ERA; LHP Greg Miller has started the season strong. Even after picking up the loss due to a bad inning in Friday's game, Miller has pitched 3 innings and walked only 1 batter. He's also struck out 6. If he can keep throwing strikes, Greg would be a valuable addition to the Dodgers' bullpen.

Cold Pitchers

After two years of dominating minor league hitters as a relief pitcher, RHP Jon Meloan has been moved back into the rotation. And he didn't get off to a good start. He lasted 4 innings and allowed 2 runs on 7 hits. The good news is he didn't allow a walk and struck out 3, but I maintain that he's best suited coming out of the pen.

Hot Hitters

Though they don't qualify as prospects, 1B/3B Terry Tiffee and IF John Lindsey have started the year with identical .471/.471/.647 lines. I doubt either one would be called up before September, and probably not even then.

Cold Hitters

OF Xavier Paul put together a solid season at Double A Jacksonville last year and was penciled in as the 51's starting CF on opening day. He has enough speed and more than enough arm to play there, but his bat hasn't come around just yet. Paul has collected just 2 hits in his first 4 games, though he has drawn 3 walks. He has some value at the next level as a backup who can play all 3 positions in the outfield and as a pinch runner.


Jacksonville

Hot Pitchers


A year after tossing a no-hitter in the California League, LHP Marlon Arias made his way up to Jacksonville despite posting a 5.32 ERA. However, his first start in Double A was very promising, as he allowed just 1 unearned run in 5 innings. He's a fringe prospect who could establish himself with a strong season.

Arias' teammate with the 66ers, RHP Jesus Castillo, joins him in the Suns' rotation. And like Arias, Castillo enjoyed a successful debut with the team. Jesus went 5 innings, allowing just 1 run and struck out 3. He'll turn 24 next month so his prospect clock is running out.

Cold Pitchers

It's hard to call a 3.00 disappointing, but much was expected out of LHP Clayton Kershaw after dominating during the spring in the major league camp. Kershaw lasted only 3 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks on his way to a loss. He did manage to strikeout 4 batters, but it wasn't his best performance.

Another top prospect struggled, as RHP James McDonald took the ball on opening day and was hit hard. McDonald allowed 6 basehits and 3 runs (2 earned) while striking out 2 and walking none. McDonald's stuff isn't overpowering and he he has very good command, which can work against him when he faces more advanced hitters. I do expect him to bounce back but I'm not sure he'll reach the majors this season.

Hot Hitters

The youngest player on the team, SS Ivan De Jesus Jr, has gotten off to one of the hottest starts. So far, he's hitting .385/.429/.538 with a pair of doubles. He's yet to draw a walk, something he's done very well over the past few years, but he's also struck out only once. With Furcal as the starting SS and Hu nipping at his heels, it's hard to imagine a scenario where De Jesus Jr gets a lot of playing time in LA. I see him as one of the Dodgers' most valuable trade pieces this season.

Lucas May led the 66ers with 25 HR last season, and now his teammate 1B/3B Russell Mitchell leads the Suns with a pair early in 2008. Mitchell provides a middle of the order bat and has some versatility with his ability to play third base. He's not much of a prospect but worth keeping an eye on.

Cold Hitters

4 games must seem like a career to OF Jamie Hoffman, as he's 0 for 8 to start the season. He's playing RF instead of CF as well, so he's expected to hit. Hoffman's not much of a HR threat but he should get his fair share of doubles and some triples. His 2 walks and 2 stolen bases are a good sign.

The guy who displaced Hoffman, OF Adam Godwin, has gotten off to a slow start as well. Godwin is known as a base stealer but he's yet to swipe a bag. He does have 2 more hits than Hoffman, but the .444 OPS isn't something to brag about. When Godwin and Hoffman start hitting, they'll give the Suns a great 1-2 punch at the top of the order.


Inland Empire

Hot Pitchers


2007 supplemental first round pick LHP James Adkins pitched well in Low A and has had continued success to begin his High A campaign. Adkins pitched 4 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and a walk while striking out a pair. The real test for Adkins will come when he reaches Double A, which could happen sooner rather than later.

RHP Javy Guerra, AKA Wild Thing, came back to Inland Empire for a second go-round and had a confusing start. On one hand, he only allowed 1 run in 4 innings and struck out 5. On the other hand, he did walk 3 batters. 3 years removed from Tommy John surgery, it's time for Guerra to regain his command. But if he doesn't he still could make it as a middle reliever with a fastball that touches 97 and a plus curve.

Cold Pitchers

The Dodgers signed one player last June for considerably more than his slot recommendation, and that was RHP Tim Sexton. He joined Adkins in Great Lakes and followed him up to the 66ers. But Sexton's first outing wasn't nearly as good as Adkins'. Tim gave up 3 ER on 6 Hits in 4.2 Innings. His all around stuff isn't great, but he has 4 pitches and good command with a deceptive delivery.

LHP's Cody White and David Pfeiffer were both draft-and-follows who signed prior to the 2004 draft. 4 years later, they find themselves in the California League and with bloated ERA's. White started on opening day but allowed 3 runs in 5 innings while striking out just 1 batter. Pfeiffer came in as a reliever and gave up 3 runs in 1 inning while walking a pair and striking out none. This is likely a make-or-break year for both of them.

Hot Hitters

Coming into the spring 25 lbs lighter seems to have helped 3B Josh Bell. The switch-hitting slugger is off to a great start, batting .471 with 2 doubles in his first 4 games. He ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Dodgers' system coming into the season and he should rank much higher with a good year.

Little known OF Ryan Rogowski has come out hitting as well. He led all Dodger prospects with 39 stolen bases last season and drew 54 walks. Ryan hasn't been running much early on but he's hitting .400 with 3 walks in 4 games. Rogowski profiles as a leadoff hitting CF who gets on base but doesn't hit for much power.

Cold Hitters

Last year, the Dodgers drafted 2B Jaime Pedroza after having drafted his brother a few years earlier. Pedroza was highly regarded in college for his hitting ability and put it on display in his pro debut. But Jaime hasn't started hitting just yet, as he's collected only 1 hit in his first 14 at bats. The move off of SS hurts his value a little, but staying in the middle infield lets his bat play up.

OF Trayvon Robinson was promoted to High A this year despite his 2007 season, not because of it. He's very raw at the plate and in the field, and he's struggled to get on base early on. 2 of Tray's 3 hits have been doubles, though I'm not sure his coaches want him to consistently try to hit for power. He has blazing speed but he needs to draw more walks to utilize it.


Great Lakes

Hot Pitchers

After a disappointing stint with the Loons last season, RHP Kyle Smit has been looking forward to showing what he can do. And in his first start, he was very impressive. 5 innings of shutout ball with 6 strikeouts and only 4 baserunners. Still just 20 years old, Smit has the chance to make a name for himself in 2008.

Last year's 6th round pick RHP Justin Miller had a strong showing in the GCL, including 7 innings of shutout ball in the playoffs. His Low A debut was very good as well, allowing just 1 run in 5 innings with 4 strikeouts. Miller's sinker is good enough for the low minors, but he'll need to continue to polish his slider and develop a changeup to have success at higher levels.

Cold Pitchers

A year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, RHP Bryan Morris made strides in the spring and has regained his low to mid 90s velocity. However, in his first start in more than a year, he allowed 3 earned runs and ended up with a no-decision. The silver lining was the fact that he did not walk a batter. Usually, pitchers coming off of TJ surgery have problems with their control. So that, coupled with his 6 strikeouts, doesn't make this start too bad.

Two years ago, RHP Steven Johnson began the year at Double A. Granted, he was filling in for an injured Justin Orenduff and only made two appearances, but still. Last season he spent the whole year in Great Lakes and he's back for more. Unfortunately, this year didn't start with a bang. 7 hits and 3 ER in 4.2 innings won't help him move up the ladder, so he'll need to work hard to maximize the effectiveness of his otherwise mediocre stuff.

Hot Hitters

When the Dodgers drafted OF/1B Andrew Lambo in the 4th round, they got a steal. They got a first round bat who fell due to perceived character issues. But so far, there've been no problems and Andrew has done nothing but flat out hit. Lambo's hit in all 4 games this season, including a walk-off double in Sunday's contest. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a 66ers uniform before the year is over.

A pair of returning Loons, 1B/3B Brian Mathews and 2B Preston Mattingly, have hit the ground running. Mathews has a pair of doubles and 3 walks to contribute to his 1.068 OPS. Mattingly already has a HR and hasn't yet committed an error. Both infielders should get plenty of playing time as the season rolls on.

Cold Hitters

20 year old Dominican 3B Pedro Baez started strong in the GCL last year, taking a rehabbing Pedro Martinez yard in the process. But it's been slow going for Pedro in 2008, as he's gotten just 2 hits in his first 16 at bats and has struck out 4 times without walking once. His slow start is understandable, given Baez's raw skillset. However, his tools are undeniable and he's well worth the wait.

OF Erik Kanaby hit .338 last season with the Ogden Raptors and posted a .427 OBP. He has plenty of speed but needs to work on his baserunning. Though he's played all 4 games thus far, he has just 2 hits in 12 at bats. However, he already has 2 stolen bases and a walk. The OF is crowded, so Kanaby will have to start hitting soon to keep his playing time.

3 Comments:

  • At 1:02 AM , Anonymous Jeff said...

    my main focus this year has been on the loons team. they are by far the dodgers most talented team.

    saying morris is cold is tough. he was throwing a shutout through 5 and should have been pulled but they sent him back out.

    smit and miller were awesome obviously.

    lambo, it would be awesome if he could put more loft on the ball and start hitting it out. but that will come with experience.

    mattingly's no errors is awesome. it would be cool to see him bat like 280 and become a legit prospect.

     
  • At 4:20 AM , Blogger Phil said...

    great recap. really enjoy reading your editorials and a week in review is excellent.

    definitely some mad dedication you put in all your work and this is another example to show for it.

     
  • At 1:48 PM , Blogger Jared said...

    I agree Jeff. Great Lakes is definitely the team to watch this year, especially if Chris Withrow joins the team.

    I really didn't want to call Morris' first start "cold" but I just felt it wasn't nearly as dominant as it could have been. Morris actually allowed a run in the 2nd inning and two more in the 6th, and I agree that he should have been pulled after 5. However, the fact that his coaches believed he was able to stay out there for 6 is a testament to how well he's come back from surgery. And I was very pleased with Smit and Miller's outing.

    Lambo should hit for some power, though it's going to be tough in the Midwest League. I look at him and see 40 doubles with about 15 HR. Mattingly seems to have taken to 2B, which is funny because right after he was drafted, Logan White held a chat over on the Dodgers' website. I asked if he thought Preston could profile as an offensive-minded 2B and he said he could.

    And thanks for the kind words Phil. I'll continue posting the weekly reviews throughout the season.

     

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