Los Angeles Dodgers Roster Expansion: Six Players Who Could Earn Spots in 2011
The reinforcements have finally arrived for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Although September 1 was the official day that all Major League teams were permitted to expand their rosters up to 40 players, the Dodgers finally made a series of call-ups on September 5.
Initially it was thought that Los Angeles would pass on giving the fans a sneak peek at the stars of the farm system; however, after the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate, were eliminated from playoff contention, a handful of moves were indeed made.
All indications are pointing to a turbulent signing cycle this winter, and depending on which potential free agents are offered arbitration, Dodgers' fans may be in for a preview of what's to come in 2011.
While Los Angeles continues to barely grasp at the possibility of a playoff berth, it's probable that most of the minor leaguers won't see any significant amount of playing time—at least until the Dodgers are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
For some players, this may be the final opportunity to prove whether or not they have any value whatsoever at the big league level.
For others, having the chance to at least taste the big league atmosphere is invaluable. Taking batting practice, shagging flies, traveling with the squad, and just spending time with the veterans are very precious stepping stones in a farm hand's career.
The following frames display the six players that have been activated, show statistical analysis for each, and offer commentary on how they may contribute to the Dodgers' franchise moving forward.
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A.J. Ellis is no stranger to a Los Angeles Dodgers' uniform.
Ellis' most recent recall marks the fourth time that the catcher has been called up in 2010, and until the Dodgers claimed Rod Barajas off waivers, he was a steady fixture on the Los Angeles roster.
He was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 18th round of the 2003 amateur draft, and at 29 years old, he's seemingly about as developed as he is going to get in his professional career.
In 27 games and 72 at-bats for the Dodgers in 2010, Ellis is hitting .208 with a .266 on-base percentage and a .236 slugging percentage. He also contributed four runs scored, two doubles, and 10 RBI during his time on the big league roster.
Defensively, Ellis is fairly solid with the glove, although his arm could be graded as slightly below-average. Base runners have stolen 20 bags on him, while he was successful in throwing out five runners.
Ellis' future depends on whether the Dodgers offer a contract to Barajas and if Russell Martin is offered arbitration in the offseason. While he doesn't have the offensive potential to be a starter in the Majors, Ellis does have the ability offer suitable cover in a back-up role.
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Sunday marked the third occasion that Jon Link was recalled during the 2010 campaign, yet despite the time he spent on the Dodgers' roster, he hasn't seen much opportunity on the mound.
In six appearances this year, Link has logged just over five full innings of work. His ERA is a modest 3.18, but his WHIP is a substandard 1.76, as he surrendered a total of seven hits and five runs—two of which were earned.
Link, 26, was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 26th round of the 2005 amateur draft. In 2007, the Padres dealt him to the Chicago White Sox for Rob Mackowiak, and last year the ChiSox traded him to the Dodgers along with John Ely in exchange for Juan Pierre.
He doesn't have the power-pitching skills to be a closer, nor does he possess the endurance to be a starter, but if he can prove that he has the ability to get hitters out at the big league level, he may find himself contributing in middle-relief for the Dodgers in the future.
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When John Ely made his Major League pitching debut in early May of this year, some thought that his stuff was so effective that he would remain part of the Dodgers rotation for the remainder of the season.
However, before being demoted, Ely never survived the second inning in each of his last two starts.
In 14 games while on the Dodgers' roster, Ely went 4-7 with a 4.63 ERA. He logged just over 79 innings while striking out 59 and only walking 25 batters. His overall WHIP of 1.36 reflects very positive potential for a rookie.
His meltdown just before the All-Star break was attributed to poor mechanics, but he was able to regain his composure an throw extremely well for Albuquerque down the stretch of the season in the Pacific Coast League.
Still only 24 years old, Ely has time to develop. If he can rediscover and maintain the groove he had in May and June, Ely may be a permanent figure in the Dodgers' rotation for years to come. The amount of action that he sees for the remainder of this season depends on if and when Los Angeles officially falls from contention.
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At only 19 years of age, Chin-lung Hu was signed by the Dodgers as a free agent out of Taiwan in 2003.
Now at 26, Hu has appeared on the Dodgers big league roster in each of the past four seasons, and in 2008 he logged 65 games playing both shortstop and second base.
During his time in the bigs, his glove has been golden, but he was never able to find any type of groove offensively. In 84 games and 150 at-bats in the Majors, Hu has a career average of .200, a .253 on-base percentage, and a .300 slugging percentage.
Yet in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, in 2010 Hu is batting .317 with an OBP of .339 and a .438 slugging percentage.
The Dodgers' coaching staff is very impressed with his defensive abilities, however time may be limited for him to prove his offensive value.
The 2010 campaign certainly promises to be a memorable one for first baseman John Lindsey.
After 15 years in the Minor Leagues without getting a call-up, Lindsey finally got the nod on Sunday as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Lindsey, now 33, began to play professionally in the Colorado Rockies organization at 18 years of age after being selected in the 13th round of the 1995 draft.
Over the course of his career in the minors, the first baseman hit 219 home runs, collected 1,589 hits, drove in 1,035 runs, and netted a .284 average.
In 2010, Lindsey became the first-ever member of the Albuquerque Isotopes to lead the Pacific Coast League in hitting, posting a .353 batting average this season to go along with PCL-highs in slugging percentage (.663) and extra-base hits (70). He also led the team with 25 homers while collecting 42 doubles and 97 RBI.
Even if he doesn't see much time in the Dodgers' lineup, Lindsey will be forever grateful for the time he'll be spending at the big league level.
It's highly improbable that he will have a future with the Dodgers in the Majors. Still, the opportunity exists for Lindsey to showcase his skills for other teams around the League. At the very worst, he will more than likely have a roster spot in Albuquerque in 2011.
Russ Mitchell was selected in the 15th round in the 2003 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers directly out of high school, and the call-up on Sunday marked his first-ever appearance in the Major Leagues.
Mitchell, still only 25, was voted the Albuquerque Isotopes' 2010 Player of the Year. He's having the most productive campaign of his eight-year minor league career, by far. In 122 games this season, Mitchell has a .315 average, 23 home runs, 87 RBI, 38 doubles, and 97 runs scored.
His primary spot is third base, but he also has the ability to cover at second base and first base, if needed. Mitchell also began playing the corner outfield spots over the past month to boost his versatility and further increase his chances of making the big league roster in 2011.
Barring an unproductive spring training next year, Mitchell's chances of being on the Dodgers' opening day squad are excellent.