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Justin Sellers still has time to turn it around, but has been abismal thus far.
For some prospects, the 2011 minor league season has been just as troubling as the 2011 major league Dodger campaign. The inability to buy a hit for some hitters, the puzzling loss of control for some pitchers and the hope that they don't get the dreaded demotion call for those whose talents are beginning to be questioned.
This slide is not about ragging on young guys who are struggling mightily and toiling away on bus rides. It's about bringing to light the flaws in minor league prospect ranking systems.
Currently, three of the top 10 prospects (according to MLB.com) in the Dodgers system have really found trouble. By putting so much pressure on them to perform as the No. 3 prospect in the organization, the kids often believe they have to hit 30 home runs and break out of who they are as players.
For Justin Sellers at Triple-A Albuquerque, this year has been tough. The Bellflower, Calif. homegrown Isotope second baseman is a testament to hardworking guys, overcoming the fact his physique is pedestrian. At 5'10" and 160 pounds, Sellers is not expected to be a power threat. After hitting 14 last season, he has hit five this year but suffered through a season-long slump with an average now at .205.
Sellers has 27 strikeouts, which is about 12 too many for this point in the season, but his .340 on-base percentage has made up for shortcomings. On the older side at 25 years old, Sellers must improve mightily if he wants to get a phone call to try to help out the paltry Dodger offense in Los Angeles.
In a the nearby desert to Los Angeles, Ethan Martin has been sweltering in the warm Rancho Cucamonga spring. In 38 innings, Martin has allowed 28 runs, a 6.63 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. The 24 walks are not a positive sign for the big 21-year-old righty, but hopefully he can figure it out soon.
Lefty pitcher Greg Wilborn had some intrigue surrounding him at the end of 2010 but has struggled as well at Rancho with a 7.04 ERA in 30 innings. Since Wilborn is 24 years old, time is running out if he wants a shot at the big time.
Others who have failed to impress have been Jon Link, the Triple-A pitcher who was shuttled back and forth from Los Angeles countless times last season. Link has a 5.25 ERA in 20 innings, trying to carve out his niche as either a starter or a reliever but not finding success either place.
Speaking of pitchers shuttled back and forth last season, Travis Schlichting has also found trouble on his way to a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings of relief. Both pitchers could easily be considered for call-ups if the current trend of Dodger pitching continues but have not proven they deserve it yet.
Rounding out the disappointing list is Chattanooga's Chris Withrow. Chris, No. 6 on the list of top 10 prospects, is currently 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA. His WHIP is 1.52, and he hasn't been able to put hitters away, with only 34 strikeouts. The 21-year-old has shown promise, posting a 2.45 May ERA but still has to climb out of the hole of being the worst starter on the Lookout squad.