Category: Oklahoma City Dodgers

Trevor Oaks – Path to MLB Debut in KC

Trevor Oaks – Path to MLB Debut in KC

Trevor Oaks, his sinkerball, his pinpoint control and his piano playing skills are traveling to the Kansas City Royals organization. This transaction took place on January 5th of 2018. The Dodgers traded Oaks for a big leaguer, in LHP Scott Alexander, and the Royals nabbed a future starting hurler for their rotation with Trevor. A pitchers’ mindset is always important, with that stated, we asked the tall right-hander from Riverside about his thoughts on this move.

When the trade first happened, I had a lot of mixed feelings. I loved playing for the Dodgers and felt like it was a dream come true playing for a hometown team. But at the same time, I was really excited for the new opportunity and a fresh start. It will be a new staff and group of teammates, and I’m looking forward to building new relationships. The Royals have had a lot of success in the past and I’m hoping I can help out the club this next season in Kansas City.”

The humble hurler had an extremely successful and eventful 2016, in which he rose to Triple-A from A-Ball and compiled a 14 – 3 record. The statistical numbers for Oaks in 2017 were not bad, but it was not an easy road to travel for Trevor. He dealt with inconsistencies in his command at times, and his season was cut short with an oblique injury in August.

“2017 was difficult! I felt like it was a battle the whole year, trying to find my best stuff, struggling with injuries… but despite all the difficulties, I was surrounded by really good people who helped me in so many ways. When you’re not playing well, sometimes you want to close your ears and do it your own way. But I definitely kept mine open and learned a lot about ways that I can continue  to compete as well as being a good teammate, when things aren’t really going your way.”                                                                  

 The Royals did not just pick up a prospect for the future in this deal. The Royals acquired a piece of their pitching rotation for years to come with the Oaks deal. Also noted, the significant value Oaks can provide for the Royals, in this article. Knowing all of the possibilities upcoming, do you feel more excited for this spring training?

“It’s hard to differentiate between this year and last year. Last year was my very first experience in a big-league environment! It’s tough to beat that, but this year’s spring training is definitely going to be a close second, just because it’s like your first day of school! New friends, new coaches, new everything!”

Growing up in Riverside, having the Dodgers as one of your local baseball teams, is it bittersweet to be traded away from Los Angeles?

“It’s bittersweet because of the people. You build relationships with coaches and teammates, and it’s hard to leave. But I can play anywhere! I loved the Midwest when I played with the Loons, and I’m really excited that I get the chance to head back there! Plus, I hear Kansas City has some of the best BBQ in the world! Can’t wait to try it!”               

 Fresh start, new opportunities and a lot of excitement for the Cal Baptist Alum, have you considered how much closer you are to your big-league debut?

“A lot has happened this offseason that can definitely get me to where I want to be, but there are no guarantees. I want to earn the spot, and if the Royals think I’m the best man for the job, I’m going to do it the best that I can. Nothing’s been handed to me, so I have to go out there and get better every day and find a way to be a successful pitcher in the big leagues.”

The fact is, the Dodgers have a lot of depth at starting pitching. This was a contributing factor to the trade of the popular, piano playing, prospect from Woodcrest Christian High. It had been rumored that the Royals had wanted Trevor Oaks for some time before this trade occurred. They got their man, and the possibility that Oaks can become a mid-level rotation starter within the year is not out of reach. For those who have watched Trevor Oaks pitch, this statement is not an exaggeration, everything he throws is nasty! Everything has movement! The Royals have quietly mined a gem for their staff. Dodger fans will miss Trevor Oaks, and his relentless attack on the strike zone, his ground ball double-plays, and his winning personality. Best of luck to Trevor Oaks in Kansas City!

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Trevor Oaks began 2016 with Class A Rancho Photo Courtesy of Jerry Espinoza

 

Dodgers Add RHP – Dylan Baker

Dodgers Add RHP – Dylan Baker

 

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Dylan Baker Pitching in College.   Photo Credit Western Nevada CC

     The Los Angeles Dodgers have made a deal today to receive RHP Dylan Baker from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for cash or the infamous player to be named later.

Weighted Baseballs

     One certainly does not need the weatherman to know, it rains a lot in and around the capitol city of Alaska. The average rainfall yearly in Juneau is over 62 inches. In comparison, Los Angeles gets just under 19 inches annually. Such a climate can force some to stay indoors, while others put on an extra layer under, and over and proceed with zero caution. With all that precipitation, there are likely many soaked baseballs.

       The Dodgers latest acquisition, Dylan Baker is a product of this rainy environment. When asked about growing up in Alaska, and trying to play baseball, Dylan had this to say.  “You get use to after a while but it definitely makes the game harder. Everybody just wants to play so it’s really rare to have a rain out up here. Didn’t even matter if we couldn’t see home plate, we played, and it was fun. It looked a lot like the scene from The Longest Yard, when their field got flooded.”  

Baker, who was born in Roseburg Oregon, moved to Alaska after his 4th birthday and grew up in amongst the glaciers, mountains and wildlife that make Juneau unique.

Happy New Year!

The newly acquired Dodger had this to say, in an interview this morning, “I am so excited to join an incredible organization! I love the west coast so that makes it even better.” 

A new year, a new start for Dylan, who is now with his third organization in the last few months. He has been plagued with injuries thus far in his minor league career after being drafted by Cleveland in the 5th round of the 2012 draft.

Sunny Forecast

The Dodgers have just added more depth to their organization with Baker, he has the potential to help, from out of the bullpen, as early as this season. First question on the mind of many, may be, “Is he healthy now?” To which Dylan commented, “My arm is feeling great. My injuries are all in the past now and I’m ready for this year and more.” 

 

 

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Dylan Baker Hurling for the Captains in the Indians Organization       Photo Credit Cleveland

 

 

The Dodgers Front Office has once again invested very little, on a pitcher with tremendous upside. He throws his fastball in the mid to upper 90’s with movement. At times, reports can be embellished a tad bit. When asked for confirmation, Baker retorted, “The reports are true, I sit around 95-99.” 

 

 

 

Tim Locastro – Intensity Personified

Tim Locastro – Intensity Personified

The Will To Win

Branch Rickey uttered one of the most famous sayings about baseball when he stated, “Baseball is a game of inches.” If this is true, then one cannot measure such qualities as heart, hustle, and extra effort. These ingredients can make it difficult to defend against as an opposing team. The scouting report may indicate one game plan. That can be executed to a tee, but the end result: Tim Locastro head first dives safely into first base on an infield single to win the game for the Drillers in extra innings. Not many other players in the Texas League would have been safe on that play.

Just glancing at the Tulsa Drillers stat page every now and again will not tell you the whole story on Tim Locastro. The Bomber Alum is tied for 4th in Runs Scored in the Texas League with 33. He has been an outstanding leadoff hitter for the Drillers, Locastro is 10th in the league with 53 hits. He is in the top 10 in 2B’s (Tied 5th with 12), 3B’s (Tied 3rd with 3), and SB’s (Tied 6th with 7). Of course, if you know Tim Locastro at all, he will do whatever it takes to win, he has been HBP 9 times already this season. He is on pace to “take one for the team” roughly 22 times.

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Look of Determination T. Locastro Photo Credit The Truth Photography

Everyday Timmy

In addition to providing as a stellar and steady leadoff hitter, Locastro has served many roles in the field as well. Recently, I asked him about how tough it is for him to play short stop, second base and center field. “It hasn’t been that difficult, I have gotten to the point where my role is to be able to play a bunch of different positions. I am ready to play everyday, where ever I am needed.” The Dodgers Front Office have placed a large value upon utility and players being able to have multiple roles within the team, with this in mind, Tim Locastro fits that mold. How many gloves does a player like that need to carry at a time. “I have 4 total gloves that are ready to go. I have my infield glove, my outfield glove, a back up infield glove. Then I have a first base glove if I’m needed at first. Always gotta be prepared!” With that sentiment in mind, would you be willing to put on the catcher’s gear or get on the pitcher’s mound? “I would definitely give both catching and pitching a try if I was needed there. I think with some practice I could find a way to catch, although it might not be pretty. The same goes for pitching; I wouldn’t throw hard, but I’d try some funky wind ups to try to mess with the hitter to get them out.” Anything to be on that field, helping his team to victory.

Never Satisfied

Tim Locastro is playing excellent baseball for the Dodgers Double AA affiliate. For those who may wonder about the mindset of this young man, look no further than his response to this query: Are you playing at the level you expect out of yourself? “I’m never satisfied with my level of play, always looking to get better and do better. I feel like I should hit a thousand and never get out, but baseballs a tough game and it’s a game of adjustments. Hopefully we can start winning more games here in the coming weeks and we can get hot as a team and make a playoff push for the first half.” He is a terminator when it comes to beating the other team, relentless. Great news for the Drillers now and the Dodgers in the future!

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Tim Locastro on the bases Photo Credit The Truth Photography

Season Stats

 G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB
 49  186  33  53  12  3  1 11  74
 HBP BB SO SB CS  OBP  AVG SLG OPS
 9  12  29  7  3  .356 .285  .398  .754

Stats vs Lefties

 AB R H 2B 3B/HR RBI BB SO AVG
 23  11  11  3  0  5  1  3  .478

Home Field Stats

 AB  R  H  2B  3B/HR  RBI  BB  SO  AVG
 88  16  29  3  3 / 1  7  8  10  .330

Hitting with No Outs

 AB  R  H  2B  3B/HR  RBI  BB  SO  AVG
 87  7  31  5  2 / 0  2  7  10  .356

Day Game Stats

 AB  R  H  2B  3B/HR  RBI  BB  SO  AVG
 53  10  22  6  1 / 0  3  5  8  .415
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Tim Locastro Jedi Leadoff Batter Photo Credit Jeremy Davis
Shea Spitzbarth

Shea Spitzbarth

Spitzbarth Dominates California League, Earns Promotion

Shea Spitzbarth really impressive spring carried over into the first part of the season in Rancho. That led to his promotion to AA yesterday. The right handed closer from Staten Island was as near to untouchable as a closer in the minor leagues can be. He converted all six of his save opportunities for the Quakes, along with striking out 27 California League batters in 15.2 innings. In those innings, Spitzbarth surrendered just 9 hits and walked 5 batters. Only one runner scored versus the red headed, righty reliever while in Rancho Cucamonga. In Visalia (5/12/17), the former Molloy Lion struck out the side on 12 pitches in domineering fashion. The Rawhide batters were behind on his fastball, which in comparison to the curve, must have appeared 10 MPH faster. His promotion to Tulsa became official yesterday, and escalated quickly. He was pressed into action immediately for two shutout innings against Springfield. Spitzbarth has pitched all season in single A, as pitcher who did not belong there. Showing he was ready to move up. Congratulations to Shea Spitzbarth!

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Shea Spitzbarth at ST 2017 Photo Courtesy of Bayleigh Katharyne

A Closer’s Mentality

To finish another team off in the 9th inning takes a certain personality, a mix of intensity, confidence and nasty stuff. Chatting with Shea regarding his curveball, he stated; “I think I’m one of those kids who started throwing it when you weren’t supposed to start in little league.”  Full Interview with Spitzbarth  Shea has the right DNA needed for the job. His role for the Drillers is undefined. The Dodgers AA affiliate have been a “closer by committee” bullpen this season. Whatever his role, however long his chance to pitch, you can be sure he will be locked in, focused and dropping hammers (curveballs, in baseball jargon) on Texas League batters while he has his occasion.

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Shea Spitzbarth Bullpen in Lancaster Photo by S. Douglas

Stats are listed below for the recent college graduate. This season is young and he has only pitched in 12 games (1 in Tulsa 11 in Rancho) thus far. His career stats include a 2.22 ERA in 77 innings worked. He has 116 strike outs in those innings and has converted a perfect 15 of 15 save opportunities. Spitzbarth has been stingy in his career, allowing opposing hitters a .194 batting average against him. His career WHIP is an astonishingly low 0.91. Keep in mind, he has pitched 13 games (7 in ’15, 6 in ’16) for the Ogden Raptors of the hitter friendly Pioneer League in Rookie ball. These are impressive numbers for a potential future closer. Looking forward to seeing Shea rise through the system and into Los Angeles in the near future!

Pitching Stats 2017 Rancho

W L ERA G SV IP H R ER BB  K
1 0 0.57 11 6 15.2 9 1 1 5  27

Pitching Stats 2017 Tulsa

W L ERA G SV IP H R ER BB  K
0 0 0.00 1 0 2.0 2 0 0 0  1

Career MILB Pitching Stats

W L ERA G SV IP H R ER BB  K
3 4 2.22 51 15 77.0 54 20 19 31  116

 

Drillers Win 9 – 3

Drillers Win 9 – 3

Crazy 8’s

In an inning that saw the Drillers only collect two hits, they had their best run producing frame of the young season. The Cardinals defensive did help, they committed three errors in the 8th inning alone. There was also a wild pitch and 4 walks that set the boys from Tulsa up for the large offensive outburst.

The Drillers came to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning trailing the Redbirds 3 – 1. Former Boston Red Sox set up man, Daniel Bard came in throwing side arm gas up to 94 MPH. He retired the first man he faced, pinch hitter Wynston Sawyer, on a ground ball to the hole between third base and short stop. The pesky Tim Locastro worked a walk with one out to get it all started for Tulsa. After a failed bunt attempt by Tyler Holt, the Cardinals catcher threw a strike right back to his pitcher, Daniel Bard. Only problem, Bard was not looking. He took a fastball off the top of the head and was visibly shaken. He continued to pitch, but he was not right. His balance was gone and his vision for the strike zone seemed blurred. He walked Holt and Farmer in consecutive at bats. He was not even close to the strike zone. Springfield replaced Bard with RHP Blake McKnight to face the hot hitting Edwin Rios.

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Tulsa Drillers Logo

 

Mr. Clutch

Edwin Rios came into today’s game tied for the Texas League lead in runs batted in with 26. The left handed hitting 3B has been among the team leaders in runs, home runs, batting average and RBI’s thus far in the 2017 campaign. The exact hitter Manager Ryan Garko and fans of the Drillers would want stepping to the plate in the bases loaded situation.

Edwin Rios got one of the few hits in the 8th inning, but he made it count. Although only credited with the one RBI, (E-9) two runs did score on the bases loaded line drive single to right field. After another walk (K. Garlick) and then two more errors. Johan Mieses grounds out. Then Wyston Sawyer comes to the plate once again in the inning. He entered in the 8th as a pinch hitter. He made his second chance count, Sawyer launched a 3-run HR to the opposite field, over the 4 foot high wall in right field. This blast made the score 9 – 3 and pretty much finished the Cardinals for today.

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Edwin Rios at ST ’17       Photo by S. Douglas

Pitching Performance

Great job by starter Colt Hynes and by the bullpen today. Colt went 4 innings and allowed just the 2 runs. Hynes was followed by Chris Powell, son of former Dodgers pitcher Dennis Powell. He pitched two solid relief innings, but did surrender one run. Corey Copping came in to pitch the 7th and 8th innings and was in command and dominated the Springfield batters. The 8th inning could not have looked any different from the top to the bottom halves. Copping threw strikes, stayed ahead of the batters and finished them off in a timely fashion. As opposed to the Cardinals, and the fiasco that was the bottom half of inning 8 to follow; complete with walks and defensive blunders. Copping earned the victory for the team. He looked sharp and confident. Great sign for the Drillers and the entire Dodgers family! Karch Kowalczyk finished the game up for the Drillers with a perfect 9th to end a strong team performance.

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Corey Copping in 2016     Photo Credit Tomo San

Today’s Pitching Line

Tulsa Drillers
Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Colt Hynes 4.0 4 2 2 2 4 1 4.13
Chris Powell 2.0 1 1 1 1 4 0 1.50
Corey Copping (W, 2-1) 2.0 1 0 0 0 4 0 2.81
Karch Kowalczyk 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.65
Totals 9.0 6 3 3 3 13 1 3.70

 

Tulsa Drillers
Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
Tim Locastro SS 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .263
Matt Beaty 1B 3 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .238
    Corey Copping P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    a- Tyler Holt PH-LF 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .227
Kyle Farmer C 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .250
Edwin Rios 3B 4 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 .361
Kyle Garlick RF 3 2 2 0 0 1 1 1 1 .255
Jose Miguel Fernandez 2B 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .263
Jacob Scavuzzo LF 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .175
    Karch Kowalczyk P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Johan Mieses CF 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .068
Colt Hynes P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
    Chris Powell P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
    Wynston Sawyer 1B 2 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 .295
Totals 31 9 6 2 0 2 6 5 5 .248
a-Batted for Copping in the 8th.
BATTING
2B: Rios (10, Hudson); Beaty (3, Hudson).
HR: Garlick (8, 7th inning off Hawkins, 0 on, 0 out); Sawyer, W (3, 8th inning off McKnight, 2 on, 2 out).
TB: Beaty 2; Rios 3; Sawyer, W 4; Garlick 5.
RBI: Garlick (19); Rios (27); Fernandez (10); Sawyer, W 3 (8).
2-out RBI: Sawyer, W 3.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Scavuzzo; Fernandez; Rios.
SF: Fernandez.
Team RISP: 2-for-9.
Team LOB: 4.

 

Final Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Springfield
(15-14)
0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 3 6 3
Tulsa
(14-16)
0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 X 9 6 0

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5/9) Starting Pitcher’s:  Matt Pierce ( 1 – 2  3.64 ERA) vs. Andrew Sopko ( 0 – 2  4.91 ERA) at Oneok Field.

Layne Somsen

Layne Somsen

Best Pitcher in Dodgers System?

Layne Somsen is perhaps not the answer most would have given to the question. However, he is the answer for the pitcher with the most innings thrown, yet to allow an earned run. In the early 2017 season, from a statistical standpoint, the righty reliever is the best pitcher in the Dodgers system. Somsen, who made his MLB debut nearly one year ago (May 14, 2016) for the Cincinnati Reds, has pitched in his first 9 games of this season, 14.2 innings, without yielding an earned run. Layne Somsen has always had a low earned run average in his minor league career (2.57). The Yankton South Dakota native had a bump in the road last season with Oklahoma City, his uncharacteristically high ERA and WHIP in 6 games indicated a problem. He was placed on the disabled list for the rest of the 2016 campaign.

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Layne Somsen 3/3 vs Royals at ST Photo by S. Douglas

The Dodgers of Oklahoma City have a bullpen that some MLB teams would love to have. Layne Somsen is a name that is sometimes overlooked among the bunch of bigger, more flashy names. Somsen, obviously over his injuries of a year ago, has been one of the most consistent relievers in all of baseball to this point in 2017. It has not been easy. Baseball, particularly in the PCL, never is. The Jackrabbit Alum has had his share of walks (6) and hits (9) allowed, he has worked out of jams and had many chances to keep the opposing hitters from driving in runs.

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Layne Somsen Pitching on 3/3 at ST Photo by S. Douglas

If Layne Somsen continues his assault on opposing batters in the PCL, we may see him and his tenacious spirit on the mound in Los Angeles well before the September call ups. Lots of injuries and stuff would need to happen, certainly not wishing that upon any MLB team. It would be nice to see Layne helping the Dodgers bullpen this year, in Oklahoma and in Los Angeles. For fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, its a comfort to know that dependable relievers like Somsen are only a flight away.

Layne Somsen 2017 Pitching Stats *5/7/17

W L ERA G   H     R/ER    BB    SO IP
2 0 0.00 9    9    2 / 0    6   13 14.2

 

Layne Somsen Career Minor League Stats

W L ERA G     H     R/ER    BB    SO IP
12 7 2.57 105 164 77 / 60 92 210 210.0

 

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Layne Somsen Photo Credit Leo Weekly
Loons Outlook-with Manager Jeremy Rodriguez

Loons Outlook-with Manager Jeremy Rodriguez

Young Season

Great Lakes, single A affiliate of the Dodgers, and defending league champs, have won two straight games as they begin to warm up along with the weather. It has been a cold start to the Midwest League for the entire region. Average temperatures in the 40’s, wind chill factors below that, with the occasional game snowed out. That chill has certainly extended to the Loons bats. Until Luis Paz got hot the last couple games, with his walk off home run on Sunday and 3-4 performance yesterday, he was hitting south of .100. At a glance it would appear many players have had a tough time at the plate to begin the young season. Oneil Cruz Mitchell Hansen, Cody Thomas and Gage Green all have batting averages below .200 currently. To only peak at the box score would ignore the quality at-bats that these young men are having and hard contact they’re making. Some of the outs are smashed, but, right at a defender. Loons fans have seen all of these players hit some scorchers, unless they fall in for a hit, the box score still shows a zero for that plate appearance. You can’t see minor league development from numbers alone. Perhaps the most perspective one could truly attain on these players, and the team as a whole, is to speak with their leader. Loons Manager Jeremy Rodriguez told me, “this team doesn’t quit. They have a lot of heart, a lot of energy, a lot of passion and that’s all I really want from my guys.”

 

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Jeremy Rodriguez Manager Great Lakes Photo Credit Great Lakes Loons

 

Loons Manager

Jeremy Rodriguez, born in Burbank and grew up in Southern California, is in his first season with the Dodgers Organization after spending the last seven years with the Padres. He was a minor league catcher for five seasons and Managed for the Friars’ Dominican Summer League team the last two years. Before his professional career, Rodriguez played collegiately at California State University, Bakersfield. He prepped at Crespi High in Encino. Before he played for a varsity team, before he attended high school, Jeremy took lessons on baseball and hitting from Reggie Smith. Perhaps there is no one more qualified to impart knowledge on the game than Mr. Smith. The Loons dropped their first four games of the season against the Lansing Lugnuts, before winning at Lake County 6-2 on April 10th. Win number one for the Padres former 16th round draft pick, the Roadrunner alum responded, “Great experience for me to get that first one as a Dodger and the first one in the United States. Definitely awesome to get it out of the way, the guys really pulled together and it was great.” Wondering about such an achievement, I asked who he felt shares in that victory with him? “My father,” was his statement after telling me that he could go on for a half hour about all the people that helped him along the way. Jeremy continued, “he was my number one coach my whole life, still is.”  The Manager at Midland went on to speak of his high school coach at Crespi, the late Scott Muckey, and his coaches while in college, Bill Kernen and Joey Robinson. “I have been very blessed with a good group of coaches.”  Pure baseball wisdom. Patience, a virtue for any Manager, particularly one managing 19 year old talent in the Midwest League. Jeremy has that engrained in his baseball DNA. A true benefit for the development of the Loons players of today and the future.

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Carlos Rincon at ST ’17 Photo Credit Tomo San

In our interview from spring training last month,  Interview with Jeremy Rodriguez ST ’17 , we spoke about players who’s talent “jumped out” at him. Carlos Rincon and Keibert Ruiz were two names the former catcher mentioned immediately. Rincon has started the 2017 season as the Loons most productive and arguably most consistent hitter thus far. He and Brendon Davis, .333 and .327 respectively, are the main-stays of the lineup in this young season. When scouting reports begin to circulate about you, as they have about Rincon, the true tests come. The Midwest League has already begun to pitch him differently. Rincon, like any young power hitting prospect, must make the necessary adjustments. According to his Manager, Rincon is passing his early tests. “He is learning, which is great!” Rodriguez added, “he is making adjustments.” Those are high remarks from the skipper about his young hitting protégé. Rincon has seen much more off speed and breaking balls lately. He has remained on the ball, with his weight back. Going deep in counts and hitting the ball sharply. Carlos Rincon is the #24th ranked prospect on the Dodgers very talented Top 30 List.

Carlos Rincon 2017 Stats

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB AVG
15 57 10 19 2 1 6 14 41 .333

Keibert Ruiz is also ranked on that list, #13. The young catcher from Venezuela that the Dodgers organization is so excited about has shown great promise early. In late March, Manager Rodriguez said, “I expect my catchers to take control of the defense and the pitching staff. I expect great communication and leadership.” That department has not been a concern for the Loons as Ruiz and Steve Berman have been more than effective in handling the pitching staff. Watching Ruiz behind the plate, his footwork, poise, and framing abilities, it is easy to see why he is valued so highly. Catching and defense may be the first thoughts when the name Keibert Ruiz is mentioned, but his at bats have been solid as well. The young backstop has come up with some important run producing at bats. As Jeremy Rodriguez noted, “he clutched up that at bat! He grinded it out.” We had been speaking of Keibert’s recent 6th inning at bat, with 2 outs,and Rincon at 3B. Ruiz had a 9 pitch at bat before stroking a single to centerfield. When the Manager confirms it as a “professional” at-bat, you know it’s accurate.

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A.J. Alexy at ST ’17 Photo Credit Tomo San

Loons Pitching Well

The Loons pitching staff have shown early success and strides to keep pitch counts down and limit runs. Starting pitching, in particular has been especially consistent and impressive. Led by A.J. Alexy and Jordan Sheffield , the staff has kept the Loons in position to give the team a chance at a victory. Dustin May (2.93 ERA) and Devin Smeltzer (2.25 ERA) have also had great starts to the ’17 season. Parker Curry and Willian Soto have pitched “lights out” coming from the bullpen. Jeremy Rodriguez and his catching staff have some of the most highly touted pitching prospects in the system, pitching for them. That’s got to be a good feeling, especially in comparison to the cold of the Midwest League. I asked the general of the Loons dugout about one of his youngest starting pitchers. The Skipper describes A.J. Alexy in this way, “He competes…like every time he goes up there I can never tell if he has his best stuff or he has his worst stuff that day because of his confidence on the mound, his attitude and the way he goes about his business. That’s something I have been impressed with especially for such a young pitcher.” As far as compliments a Manager could bestow on a young pitcher, this quote is among the best. It will be interesting to watch these young pitchers develop this season.

If the hitting can heat up and match the pitching, this team will be doing plenty of winning this season. However, the best thing that can happen to these players is to stay injury free and to develop. These young men will benefit from the experience that Jeremy Rodriguez brings to the clubhouse and the field. He has played in countless games behind the plate, for some of the most knowledgeable coaches baseball has to offer. The Dodgers family as a whole benefits from the new Loons Field Manager. Two more games at Dow Diamond versus Lake County, then the Loons travel to Dayton to play a four game set against the Reds affiliate. No shortage of talent on this roster! Go Loons and Go Dodgers!!

CLUB W L PCT GB ELIM# HOME AWAY DIV L10 STRK
Great Lakes Loons (LAD) 7 11 .389 4.0 50 4-6 3-5 7-11 5-5 W2
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New Manager for the Great Lakes Loons, Mr. Jeremy Rodriguez. Photo by S. Douglas

Loons Manager Jeremy Rodriguez told me, “this team doesn’t quit. They have a lot of heart, a lot of energy, a lot of passion and that’s all I really want from my guys.”