Imagine dousing a ghost chili pepper in Pepper Palace hot sauce and chowing down while wearing a Santa suit next to a furnace on a summer day in Death Valley. Now double that level of hotness and you have an idea of how well the Dodgers have been playing over the last week and a half.
The offense is finally healthy (almost—Carl Crawford is still a few rehab games away from returning), the bats are clicking, the bullpen has been revamped, and Yasiel Puig is still doing his best Mike Trout impression.
In just over a week, the team has made up over five games in the standings, and now, improbably, sit only four games behind the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks. The most promising development in the front office has been the lobotomy performed on Ned Colletti. Well, that's the only reasonable explanation for the long-awaited DFAs of both Luis Cruz and Matt Guerrier.
The open roster spots have been filled by some prospects, including Chris Withrow again, and another exciting young pitcher who can touch triple digits with the fastball. Let's see where the top 10 list ranks, in comparison to last week.
Don't forget, I am no longer considering Matt Magill and Yasiel Puig "prospects," based on big league service time. And at the rate this youth movement is rolling in Los Angeles, that list might be getting longer in the coming weeks.
All stats courtesy of MiLB.com and current as of 6/30/2013.
Season stats: 17 G, 16 GS, 2.95 ERA, 88.1 IP, 78 H, 33 R, 29 ER, 24 BB, 80 K
Last week's stats: 2 GS, 1.50 ERA, 13 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 10 K
Last time we checked in with Lee, he was fresh off his worst start of the year. A four-inning, six-run drubbing had bumped his ERA up over 3.00. Last week saw the return of the dominant ace we have been enjoying all season long. His best start of the year was arguably his most recent one (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 K).
The Magill spot starting experiment failed, so I wonder—like I do every week—when Lee will get his shot at the MLB level for the Dodgers. It's no secret that the Dodgers have been active in the trade market, looking at starters like Ricky Nolasco of the Miami Marlins. But Dodger Nation is clamoring to see what Lee can do against big league competition. Either way, he'll see time before the year is up.
Season stats: 79 G, .302 BA, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 25 SB, .910 OPS
Last week's stats: 6 G, .333 BA, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SB, 1.178 OPS
Pederson is the next big thing in the Dodgers system, but unfortunately there is absolutely no room for him at the major league level. He's been ripping Double-A pitchers all year, and would make for a great fourth outfielder. But right now, he would be a fifth or sixth at best. That won't even be considered until rosters expand.
Anyway, Pederson had another good week, hitting two homers in one game, and stealing three more bases without being caught. That gives the toolsy outfielder 25 thefts in 28 attempts, which is an eye-popping ratio, even for minor league ball.
Season stats: 46 G, .294 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB, .854 OPS
Last week's stats: 6 G, .250 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .606 OPS
This is a soft "down" for Seager, who managed to hit in five straight games last week, including his most recent start, in which he also drew three walks. For a kid with only 16 free passes all year, that is a noteworthy number.
Seager has had a tumultuous season, including time spent on the DL, and definitely isn't progressing as fast as the Dodgers would hope because of that. But he's clearly talented and is still hitting Single-A pitching with a vengeance. I'd like to see Seager get a shot at Double-A eventually, but his plate discipline will have to improve.
Season stats: 24 G, 1.78 ERA, 25.1 IP, 25 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 12 BB, 32 K
Last week's stats: 1 G, 0.00 ERA, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Withrow may not be on this list for long, but that is for good reason. He got the call this weekend for the second time, and pitched one inning against the Phillies in a series-clinching win. I was always an advocate of Withrow sticking in the bullpen after his first call-up, and now I think he will.
The Dodgers seem to be leaning towards the younger, flame-throwing bullpen in order to solve some of the many issues we've seen at the end of games this season. Withrow, whose only flaw with the Dodgers so far has been his inability to get the third out after being dominant to get the first two, will be a welcome addition.
Season stats: 15 G, 14 GS, 2.58 ERA, 83.2 IP, 71 H, 26 R, 24 ER, 17 BB, 81 K
Last week's stats: 1 GS, 0.00 ERA, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
I am absolutely obsessed with this kid. Stripling dominated Single-A before being promoted to Double-A a few weeks back. Since facing stiffer competition, he's been even better. And his most recent start was one of his best, as he went eight innings, allowing just a pair of hits, no runs and no walks.
Stripling's nearly five-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio is absurd, and he seems to be progressing way ahead of schedule. I'd be shocked if Stripling doesn't see some time in Triple-A in the next month or so, and wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him get a few innings down the stretch with the big league club.
Season stats: 25 G, 1 GS, 1.49 ERA, 10 SV, 36.1 IP, 28 H, 6 ER, 9 BB, 39 K
Last week's stats: 2 G, 6.75 ERA, 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Yes, the guy with the 1.49 ERA saw his stock drop. Last week, it was a preposterous 1.08 ERA. But after two appearances in a row giving up a run (including the first homer he's allowed since being moved up to Double-A—second home run in total), Thomas looks human.
His overall numbers are outstanding, and it would never hurt to have a third southpaw reliever in the big league bullpen when the rosters expand, but we'll have to wait and see if Double-A hitters have finally figured Thomas out, or if this was just a fluky week.
Season stats: 17 G, 15 GS, 3.51 ERA, 92.1 IP, 80 H, 41 R, 36 ER, 32 BB, 65 K
Last week's stats: 2 GS, 2.37 ERA, 13 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 14 K
The great Chris Reed Revival continues to chug along. He hasn't given up more than two earned runs in a start since May 18, after an absolutely catastrophic start to the season. He's working his way up this stock board, and very well may end up in the top five again by year's end (started at number four).
Reed has cut down on walks overall, but still issues eight free passes in his last three starts combined. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the improving numbers over his next couple starts, or if they level out to mediocrity. Either way, the Dodgers will be happy if their number-four prospect (coming into the year) just finishes the year pitching well in Chattanooga.
Season stats: 22 G, 1.78 ERA, 25.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 13 BB, 40 K
Last week's stats: 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
I have no excuse. Not including the 6'0", 168-pound, 22-year-old flamethrower on this list to begin with was a gigantic oversight on my part. I consider myself an expert in this realm, and just completely ignored Dominguez all season long, despite those numbers you see above. Consider this a mea culpa.
Dominguez is the exciting young righty who made his debut in the eighth inning of Sunday's game and routinely hit triple digits with his fastball. Despite his stature, Dominguez looked like he was smoothly, easily rushing the ball up there at 101 miles per hour. He also has a ridiculous off-speed arsenal that ranges from 83-86 miles per hour. That's unfair to a batter.
I know the one inning was an extremely small sample size, but unless Dominguez completely collapses in his next couple outings, you're looking at a permanent member of the big league bullpen (which means he's not long for this list, unfortunately).
Season stats: 7 GS, 3.42 ERA, 26.1 IP, 26 H, 10 ER, 13 BB, 30 K
Last week's stats: 1 GS, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
The 16-year-old phenom continues to dazzle. He bounced back from a rough start last week (three runs in 4.1 innings) to post a great line in his one start this week. Urias struck out a career-high seven batters and scattered four hits over 4.2 innings, although he walked three.
He has yet to surpass five innings in any start, but keep in mind that he's still just a teenager. Urias has a long, successful career ahead of him, but it's going to be a slow, nurturing process. For now, we can enjoy his occasional, pitch-limited starts and look forward to 2017 when Urias might have a legit shot at cracking the big league team.
Season stats: 29 G, 3.13 ERA, 14 SV, 37.1 IP, 24 H, 13 ER, 6 BB, 48 K
Last week's stats: 2 G, 27.00 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Garcia is still the best option in this position for now. Apologies to Ryan Mount, the Single-A second baseman who has been raking this year, but drops off the list because he's been injured for a few weeks.
Back to Garcia, though. The Double-A closer has been pretty good this year, racking up an eight-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. But he has been susceptible to the long ball, serving up eight of them, including two in his last appearance. That is an unacceptable number for a closer at any level.
As explained in last week's article, I will now be giving a short explanation for each player's "just missed status" from now on. I will also be confining it to five players:
1. Duke von Schamann, RHP (Double-A)
This guy continues to impress, but just can't quite crack the top 10. His last two starts have been very mediocre, but his season overall shows a lot of promise. Von Schamann has a 3.43 ERA in four starts since being promoted to Double-A, with 22 strikeouts and just five walks.
2. O'Koyea Dickson, 1B (Single-A+)
Dickson is hitting .284 with nine home runs and 51 RBI this season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, but has slowed down as of late. He has all the talent in the world, but I need to see a little better, more consistent numbers before he breaks back into the top 10.
3. Nick Buss, OF (Triple-A)
Buss is hitting .290 with 11 homers, 58 RBI, 10 steals, and a .904 OPS. No doubt the kid is having a solid season, but I can't justify squeezing him into the top 10 unless he goes off in the next couple weeks. Unfortunately for Buss, he's about fifth in the pecking order for "next outfielder called up."
4. Steve Ames, RHP (Triple-A)
In 28 games as the Triple-A closer, Ames has saved eight games and has a 3.27 ERA. Those numbers are slightly down from last week, and he's just been inconsistent all season long. If he puts it all together, he has a future in the big league bullpen. Until then, he just misses.
5. Onelki Garcia, LHP (Double-A)
It seems only fair to give Garcia some love. He was originally in the top 10 as a starting pitcher, but he struggled mightily. Since being moved to the Chattanooga bullpen though, Garcia has only surrendered one earned run in 12 innings of work. His walk totals are slightly down and strikeout numbers are slightly up. Garcia may have found a home in the bullpen.
Don't forget to tune into next week's version of Dodgers Stock Up, Stock Down!