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Monday, January 20, 2014

Los Angeles Dodgers' Winter League Wrap-Up + Dodgers Digest Debuts.

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but I came across it and LOVE it.

Most of my analytical work for the past three and a half years was written up at Memories of Kevin Malone and ChadMoriyama.com.

However, that has changed with CM.com mostly closing down its doors as a new mega-Dodgers' blog is about to hit the interwebs. It was a fun ride, and I may still post occasionally over there, but for the foreseeable future -- or until the Dodgers hire me, cough cough hint hint -- I'll be writing about the team here, as in the olden days of 2009-2010.

I'm jumping back into the saddle with a general recap of some key and notable Dodgers' prospects who participated in Winter League baseball.

Key Prospects....and Dee Gordon:

Seager, the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2012, spent the winter in the Arizona Fall League. In 19 games he struggled at the dish, hitting just .181/.253/.306/.559 with five extra-base hits and a 25:7 K:BB mark.

Seager's struggles don't concern me one bit for a number of reasons. First, it's a small sample size. Second, he's only 19. Third, it was Corey's first full season of pro ball and he admitted he was fatigued when the AFL rolled around. Finally, he's uber-talented, and I'm of the opinion that more often than not the exceptionally talented pan out.

I have Seager as my number one L.A. prospect. Whether he sticks at shortstop or more than likely moves to third, he'll give the Dodgers an impact and cost-controlled bat moving forward, something they desperately need and haven't had in quite some time.

Pederson cemented himself as a top prospect in 2013, garnering a top spot in most Dodger prospect lists. He followed up a breakout 2012 campaign with another excellent showing, slashing .278/.381/.497/.878 with a .398 wOBA as a 21-year-old in his first taste of Double-A ball.

His strong play continued into Winter League action as he tore up the Venezuelan Winter League to the tune of a .255/.439/.473/.912 line in 34 contests and over 100 plate appearances. He drew an incredible 36 walks but did whiff 42 times while clubbing 13 extra-base hits.

While I'm not positive Pederson will stick in center field long-term, he does provide great depth and is one of the few guys major league or near-major league ready who can man center. He also happens to be the club's best trade bait among minor leaguers actually available in a deal, as I wrote about last June.

Guerrero was the name on Dodgers' fans minds, finally signing in Los Angeles after a prolonged "will he, won't he?" courting period. He came to Winter Ball late and was sidelined for some time due to a hamstring injury.

He was shut down eventually to ensure he didn't further injury himself and prioritize the club over his Dominican Winter League team. In 12 DWL games he hit .289/.325/.447/.772 with four extra-base hits. The second base job in 2014 is basically his to lose, and though it's fair to say he could certainly use some minor league seasoning, he is 27.

Also of note: he finally has his work visa, so no Ronald Belisario-esque worries.

This is not a Yasiel Puig situation due to Guerrero's advanced age, although of course he's nowhere near as talented as #ManBearPuig is. However, if Alexander has anywhere near the type of Spring Training that Puig did last year, he won't have to worry about heading to Albuquerque or Chattanooga to start the year.

Gordon makes this list rather than the below one because he stands a very real chance of making the bench for the 2014 major league squad. He was moved to center field in an attempt to increase his versatility and usefulness to the big league club.

Gordon posted a 12:5 K:BB mark in 12 games of Winter League action and an impressive slash line of .381/.426/.397/.823. I don't put any stock in those excellent offensive numbers, however, as it's 16 games in Winter Ball. His 669 plate appearances of .256/.301/.312/.613 MLB offensive output with a .274 wOBA means significantly more to me, although it is nice to see him get on-base so he can use his incredible speed.

Unfortunately, you can't steal first. Well, you theoretically can if you're adept at drawing walks. Remember kids, CLOG THOSE BASES CONSTANTLY.

If Gordon, soon to be 26, can competently field the position to any degree he could easily find himself with one of the last bench spots, as his speed and positional versatility could be quite the asset if used properly.

Other Notable Players and/or Performances:

Magill, 24, is probably slotted in as the 7th or 8th arm amongst Dodgers' starters, although he did everything he could in five Puerto Rican Winter League starts to fall further down the depth chart.

He posted a 1.57 WHIP and 6.43 ERA in 21 innings while walking 13 and striking out 16. Magill posted big strikeout numbers in the minors and entered 2013 coming off of an excellent 2012 in AA (2.93 FIP, 10.33 K/9, 3.75 BB/9) before struggling in a short major league stint and not looking overly impressive in AAA this year.

The talent is there for Magill to be a solid number four or five starter, and on the plus side he still has no trouble missing bats. He must cut down on the free passes moving forward though if he doesn't want to transition to the pen, ala Chris Withrow.

Dominguez, who saw action in the bigs last season (9 games, 8.1 IP, 3.53 FIP) before suffering an injury, struggled in ten relief outings in the Dominican. Jose, a big strikeout guy in the minor leagues, struck out eight against four walks in ten innings. He posted an ERA of 5.40 during his stint in the DWL.

At just 23 years of age, Dominguez will begin 2014 in either Double or Triple-A. Should one of the newcomers (Chris Perez, Jamey Wright) struggle or injuries befell members of the Blue Crew pen, Dominguez will be on the short-list of call-ups for the bullpen corps.

Buss, who got into eight games down the stretch in 2013, hit .301/.337/.495/.832 in 23 games in the Venezuelan Winter League. He had nine extra-base hits and only whiffed eleven times. However, he only drew three walks during his time in Venezuela.

Buss' ceiling did not change with his performance, as he's already 27 and is still a fourth outfielder at best and more of a fifth outfielder/AAAA player in actuality.

Castro, 31, was excellent in eight starts in the Dominican Winter League. He fanned 37 against 13 walks in 48 innings of work while posting a 1.29 ERA. I don't like ERA, but I'm also not going to take the time to calculate FIP for Winter Ball and a 31-year-old career minor leaguer.

Castro, in his first season in the Dodgers' organization, was quite good in hitter-friendly Albuquerque. He's way, way down on the depth chart but every organization needs depth in the high minors.


All Winter League numbers can be found here, via MLB.com

Image via Salon.


A new Dodgers' blog debuts today: Dodgers Digest. It features my writing mentor and former blogging boss, Chad Moriyama; Mike Petriello of MSTI fame; Dustin Nosler of Feelin' Kinda Blue; and newcomer Daniel Brim.

Go and check it out. Good luck gents.

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