The Dodgers Minor League Report
The less said about the Dodgers ugly series loss to the DBacks the better. So I’ll just say the boys in blue played two very bad baseball games Tuesday and Wednesday at Arizona (which happens), the bats went stone cold (which also happens) and Gavin Lux has the yips again (which just can’t happen in the big leagues). But it did happen, along with some other things, all at the exact same time that the Los Angeles Times was preparing an article about “How Dodgers’ Gavin Lux cleared mental hurdles to ignite his career.”
Look, I’m as fond of Lux as the next guy, but in no way, shape or form has he cleared his mental hurdles. And please don’t talk to me about Steve Sax, OK? I know all about Sax, OK? Sax dealt with the yips for a stretch of one season (1983) of a fine career and then got over it. Lux has had a problem throwing the baseball to first base in parts of four seasons, in both the major and minor leagues.
It’s a two-game losing streak for Los Angeles and the team’s first series loss since the opening weekend of the season at Colorado, after which they immediately won seven straight and nine out of 10. Something like that will happen again, with or without Lux doing his thing, whether or not Cody Bellinger is really cured (0-11 in Phoenix) and whether or not Max Muncy can hit Mookie Betts’ weight (.153 and 180, respectively).
After a day off today, Detroit’s Tigers will be at L.A. over the weekend — and wait till you get a load of how they lost a game the other day — with the matchups as follows: Undecided versus Tyler Anderson Friday at 7:10 p.m., Tyler Alexander vs. Clayton Kershaw Saturday at 7:10 p.m. and Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Walker Buehler Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
Buehler, by the way, was brilliant in pitching his first career shutout Monday, a three-hitter, without a free pass issued and 10 strikeouts. And that was a “shutout” Buehler pitched, everybody. We don’t use the obnoxious term, “complete game shutout,” in these parts.
Julio Urias was also great in his outing at Arizona Wednesday, and thankfully, he was not tagged with the loss. He went six strong innings, allowing only a solo home run by Nick Ahmed in the fifth inning and three walks, with four fanned.
But I promised you the occasional Minor League Report, so let’s get to that before Lux is demoted and screws up the Oklahoma City Dodgers, if not the entire Pacific Coast League.
The Minor League Report:
Statistics through April 27.
Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers (12-8, second place in PCL East, 2 games back of Round Rock):
After cruising to a 2.87 earned run average, a 0.957 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings over 15 games and 30 starts at Double-A Tulsa in 2021, Ryan Pepiot struggled upon his promotion to OKC (7.13, 1.800, 46 Ks, 41 IP). This year, the 24-year-old right-hander is a revelation at the highest minor-league level. He’s made four starts, pitching 15 2/3 innings (L.A. limits its minor league starters’ pitch counts, remember), while allowing all of eight hits and seven walks, with a 1.12 ERA, a 0.957 WHIP and 22 Ks.
Andre Jackson, who is now with the Dodgers in Los Angeles, was unhittable at OKC this season, with an 0.84 ERA on three hits, with seven strikeouts in 10 2/3, but with nine walks, which is an obvious problem.
Highlights on the other side of the ball include Zach McKinstry (.375/.419/.625), Kevin Pillar (.318/.423/.619) and Ryan Noda (.328/.456/.578).
Double-A Tulsa Drillers (11-6, first place in Texas League North, 1 game ahead of Arkansas):
Bobby Miller opened his 2022 season by tossing four near-perfect innings, allowing one hit, no walks while fanning six. Since then, the 23-year-old righty was pulled with a high first-inning pitch count after getting two men out, with two hits, a walk and an earned run across, and followed up by allowing five earned on seven hits in the three innings of his last start. Miller’s April ERA stands at 7.04.
John Rooney, who I’ve had my eye on for a while, has made three starts for Tulsa, with a 2-1 record, a 1.023 WHIP, only two walks and 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3.
Drillers batsmen to be excited about are these: shortstop Jacob Amaya (.340/.432/.780 with five homers and 10 RBIs in 14 games), second baseman Michael Busch (.305/.468/.746, 8 HR and 19 RBIs in 17 games) and the 21-year-old right fielder Andy Pages (.277/.390/.445, 2 HR and 16 RBIs). You’ve heard those names before; you’ll hear them again.
With the possible exception of Miller, and quite possibly him too, all of the above Drillers will spend a chunk of time at OKC before long, with the dream of a major league callup this year a distinct possibility.
Advanced-A Great Lake Loons (7-10, fourth place in Midwest League East, 6 GB of Dayton):
The Loons don’t hit much. In the first 23 games of the 2022 campaign, Great Lakes’ batters have combined to hit .203/.317/.345, and sported a lineup that concluded yesterday’s 5-1 loss at Western Michigan with the following batting nine averages, .214, .164, .208, .220, .212, .186, .138, .192 and .200.
What the Dodgers’ Advanced-A club lacks in hitting it makes up for in pitching, and in particular, starting pitching. That walks are a problem at this level should be no great surprise, so I’ll just skip the WHIP figures and lay out the rotation’s other individual stats: Nick Nastrini (4.15 ERA, 8 2/3 IP, 17 Ks), Kyle Hurt (2.35, 7 2/3, 13), Cole Percival (2.84, 12 2/3, 11) and Gavin Stone (3.00, 9 and 12). All four of those guys have futures in baseball.
Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (10-7, second place in California League South, 2 GB of Lake Elsinore):
Six men have started games for the Quakes this season, although one of them was major league reliever on rehab, Tommy Kahnle, who served as an opener and ran for the hills after his inning of work each time, without being scored upon. Nineteen-year-old first-round draft pick in 2021, Maddux Bruns, is the most interesting of the actual California Leaguers at Rancho Cucamonga. He’s got a 3.18 ERA, with 12 strikeouts over 5 2/3 in three games.
The Quakes position player who intrigues me most is outfielder, Damon Keith. Bats right, throws right; an 18th round pick in last year’s amateur draft out of California Baptist University, where he hit .309/.412/.529, with 16 homers and 64 RBIs in 327 at bats. He’s been better as a professional, beginning with a 23-game stint in rookie ball following the draft, producing a .333/.454/.551. In the first 15 games at Rancho in 2022, Keith is hitting everything, boasting an insane .414/.521/.724 mark, with five doubles, two triples, three homers and 11 RBIs in 71 plate appearance.
Diego Cartaya is hitting .178/.339/.333 with two homers and seven RBIs in 56 plate appearances.
There has been a lot of discussion about the Rawlings baseball in use currently, about whether there is something about it which has led to a decrease in home runs in 2022, about what Major League Baseball is doing to the ball to cause it, and in at least one case, by a pitcher who had just thrown six shutout innings, about how awful it is for pitchers to grip and throw.
Here is a great piece about the new baseball, by Eno Sarris and Ken Rosenthal at the Athletic. But beware the science within.
One would expect physics professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Alan Nathan, to have something to say on the matter, and on the science of baseball, and he does. It’s called “Home Runs and Drag: An Early Look at the 2022 Season.”
And while it’s from 2019, you may also want to read this piece of silliness — “Home runs are slowly killing baseball, and something needs to be done” — to get an idea about MLB’s motivation to mess with the baseball, by Barry Svrluga at the Washington Post.
Oh. My. God.
This is how the Tigers lost to the Twins at Minnesota Tuesday night.
Baseball Photos of the Day:
The Dodgers prior to their game at Arizona Monday. Photo by Jon SooHoo.
From photographer Jean Furth, April 23: “Controversy surrounded the A's-Rangers game this afternoon in Oakland as Texas plated a pair of runs in the 8th inning to win by a score of 2-0. Brad Miller's two-out single scored Adolis Garcia from third base, though left fielder Tony Kemp's throw home beat the second Ranger, pinch-runner Eli White, who was initially called out. The umpires called for a crew chief review and allowed the second run to count after determining that A's catcher Sean Murphy illegally blocked home plate. Even in defeat, the A's eight wins this season are still tied for the most in the AL West.”
Pete Rose, getting a taste of his own medicine.
Reggie Jackson before the 1971 All-Star Game.
Video of Reggie Jackson during the 1971 All-Star Game. Video of the entire NBC broadcast of the 1971 All-Star Game. And a story about the 1971 All-Star Game.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Read OBHC online here.