Yesterday, 2016 Chattanooga Lookouts catcher Mitch Garver was named to the Arizona Fall League’s Top Prospects Team. As a member of the Surprise Saguaros Mitch Garver finished second in the league in homers (4, tie) while hitting .229 with 14 RBIs in 19 games. Joining Garver as a Top Prospect is Nick Gordon. Gordon is the Twins number two overall prospect and hit .346 (4th) in 21 games. Gordon spent last season with the Fort Myers Miracle and compiled a batting average of .291 while driving in 52 runs and stealing 19 bases.
The announcement of the AFL’s Top Prospects highlighted a busy week for current and former Twins Prospects. Here are some other news and notes from around the organization.
- In anticipation of the Rule 5 draft the Minnesota Twins shored up their 40-man roster by adding six players to the roster including five former Lookouts. The aforementioned Mitch Garver was added along with Felix Jorge, Engelb Vielma, Daniel Palka and Zack Granite.
- Former Lookouts slugger Adam Brett Walker II was claimed by the Orioles this week after being dropped by the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2015, Walker II set the Lookouts all-time home run record with 31 in 133 games for the team.
- This week the Twins announced that they have re-signed Alex Wimmers . The former Ohio State Buckeye spent time with the Lookouts in 2015 and 2016 and made his Major League debut with Minnesota last season.
157 games. .308 batting average. 193 hits. 105 runs. 71 extra base hits. 26 home runs. 72 RBIs. Those are the numbers that have propelled 22-year old shortstop, Corey Seager, to not only the top of the NL Rookie of the Year conversation, but right into the thick of the NL MVP discussion. Here are just some of the highlights from the rookie’s record setting campaign.
- His 193 hits were the most by any big league rookie since 2001 (Ichiro Suzuki 242, Albert Pujols 194).
- Was the fourth rookie in the divisional era to finish top 10 in the NL in batting average and slugging percentage.
- His 26 home runs were the third-most by a shortstop in baseball history.
Seager’s numbers tell a tale of dominance about a player who has only played in 184 Major League games. How does such a young player come into the league and make such a large impact right away? Part of the answer can be found by looking at Seager’s path to the Majors. Instead of rushing their prized prospect the Dodgers slowly moved him through the minor league ranks.
In 2014, the phenom made his way to Chattanooga from Rancho Cucamonga and wowed fans right from the start. In his Double-A debut Seager smacked a triple for his first hit and went on to collect a hit in 24 of his first 26 games. The team’s top prospect showed his penchant for belting extra-base hits, finishing the season fifth on the team in doubles with 16 despite playing in 88 fewer games than O’Koyea Dickson who led the team with 36. Despite all the success Seager had in Chattanooga he only hit two home runs, a far cry from his record setting 26 he hit this season. In 2015 the power returned as he unleashed 13 homers as a member of the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. That same year Seager made his Major League debut and recorded two hits in his first ever game with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Even though Lookouts fans only got to watch Seager for 38 games, his tenure with the team will not be forgotten. With the building blocks he has in place it would not be a shock to see him cement himself as one of the best players in all of baseball next season.
CHATTANOOGA (30-27, 66-61) vs JACKSONVILLE (28-28, 69-58)
7:05 pm @ Baseball Grounds – 96.1 FM The Legend, WWW.LOOKOUTS.COM
Kohl Stewart (R, 7-6, 3.04) vs. Matt Tomshaw (L, 3-3, 3.71)
News & Notes
Last Time Out: The Lookouts fell 3-2 Tuesday to the Jacksonville Suns, losing a 2-2 tie with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Zach Jones took the loss in his third inning of work, walking for batters in the last inning, allowing the Suns to score and even the series at one. Aaron Slegers started on the mound and picked up a quality start with 6.1 innings of two run ball. Slegers walked two, struck out three and gave up seven hits. Chattanooga’s offense managed just six total hits and only one for extra bases. Engelb Vielma and Travis Harrison were the only batters with more than one hit (both finishing with two).
Decisions, Decisions: RHP Kohl Stewart has received a decision in every game since his Lookouts debut, earning his seventh win Friday, with eight one-run innings (7-6). Stewart is 5-2 in his last seven starts with a 2.08 ERA in 43.2 innings pitched during that stretch.
Caught Ya: Stuart Turner gunned down another runner in the Tuesday’s game to raise his caught stealing percentage to .421 (16-for-38) on the year, best in the Southern League. Chattanooga leads the league as a team in CS% as well with a .450 figure (41-for-91).
Pitcher of the Week: Stephen Gonsalves earned Southern League pitcher of the week honors for 8/15-22 after throwing six dominant no-hit innings Wednesday against Montgomery.
Missing Bats: Stephen Gonsalves has K’ed 78 batters in 65.2 innings pitched across 11 starts for the Lookouts, capped by 6 in a quality start Monday. The LHP allowed eight runs in his first two starts lasting just 8.2 combined innings, but has thrown 57 innings with 24 hits and seven runs allowed in eight starts since, with a 1.10 ERA during that span. Southern League batters are hitting just .163 against Stephen in 221 total AB. Gonsalves has allowed just one earned run since July 30th (27 IP since).
How May I Assist You?: Zach Granite picked up another two outfield assists Sunday and narrowly missed a third, running his season total to 12, the most in league. Granite also leads the league in putouts, total chances, and sports a fantastic .996 fielding % in CF. List of other things Granite is top three in the league in: H (1st), R (2nd), 3B (2nd), AB (2nd), AVG (3rd), and SB (1st).
CHATTANOOGA (22-21, 58-55) vs Jacksonville (20-23, 50-63)
7:15 pm @ AT&T Field – 96.1 FM The Legend, WWW.LOOKOUTS.COM
David Hurlbut (L, 7-6, 3.62) vs. Matt Tracy (L, 1-3, 5.70)
News & Notes
Last Time Out: Omar Bencomo, Raul Fernandez and Ryan Eades combined to throw a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over Jacksonville Sunday. Bencomo got things started with seven innings of two hit ball, walking one and striking out five, while Fernandez and Eades each threw a scoreless inning. At the plate, Ryan Walker and Niko Goodrum both homered with Walker finishing 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two driven in as well. Zack Granite also finished with a pair of hits.
Innings-Eater: David Hurlbut, tonight’s starter, has gone six or more innings in 14 of his last 16 starts. The LHP is averaging 5.9 innings per start (129.1/22 GS) and leads the Southern League in frames thrown. His 129.1 innings pitched is the highest total of his career (next highest: 119 IP across three levels last year).
Top-Heavy: The top three hitters in the Lookouts batting order yesterday did almost entirely all of the work for Chattanooga’s offense Sunday. Zack Granite (2-for-4, R), Ryan Walker (2-for-3, HR 2R 2RBI BB) and Niko Goodrum (1-for-4, HR R 2RBI 2K) combined for five of the Lookouts six hits, all four runs scored and all four driven in as well. The only hitter outside of that trio to collect a base knock was Leo Reginatto (1-for-3).
Decisions, Decisions: RHP Kohl Stewart has received a decision in every game since his debut, earning his sixth win Saturday (6-5). Stewart is 4-1 in his last five starts with a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings pitched during that stretch.
Missing Bats: Stephen Gonsalves has K’ed 55 batters in 44.2 innings pitched across eight starts for the Lookouts. The LHP allowed eight runs in his first two starts lasting just 8.2 combined innings, but has thrown 36 innings with 19 hits and five runs allowed in five starts since. Southern League batters are hitting just .195 against Stephen in 159 total AB.
Trade Deadline Impact: Monday’s MLB Trade Deadline had an impact on Chattanooga as the Twins sent Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer to the LA Angels for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz, the latter of which was assigned the Lookouts roster. Busenitz played college ball at Kennesaw State in Georgia, and has had a mixed season so far. The RHP had an impressive 1.93 ERA in 32.2 innings in Double-A Arkansas while seeing his numbers jump to a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings when promoted to Triple-A. Busenitz made his Twins organization debut Thursday night in Mobile, throwing two scoreless innings.
After a long holiday break, our running post “Three Stars of the Series” returns covering the Lookouts set of games against the Birmingham Barons from this past week. The Lookouts took three of the five games to win their 8th straight series, and, as such, weren’t short of impressive performances. Let’s see who the best of the best were in this weeks Three Stars of the Series.
Third Star: DJ Hicks
The Lookouts big first baseman had a nice series at the plate, going 7-17 (.412). Hicks scored a run and drove in six teammates, playing in all five games. He also hit his sixth homer of the season but just his first against a team not named the Jackson Generals.
Second Star: Stephen Gonsalves
One of the Lookouts four new, young, and highly-touted starters shined in his second AT&T Field start improving to 2-0 in home games by means of a six inning three hitter. While Gonsalves allowed five free passes, he also struck out five running his total to 19 punch outs in 14.2 innings pitched.
First Star: Mitch Garver
After getting honored as the Minnesota Twins minor league player of the week, Garver adds to his accolades with the first star spot from Chattanooga’s last series. Garver went 8-for-13 against the Barons, scoring six times and driving in four in as many contests. Mitch rode the momentum to a .455 batting average through the last seven days while also hitting his eighth home run (the most among Southern League catchers at the time).
Honorable Mentions: It wouldn’t be a three stars of the series post without Zack Granite. Granite hit .500 (9-for-18) scoring four times with three RBI, while fellow oft-mentioned three star candidate Leo Reginatto hit .357 in the set against Birmingham. Aaron Slegers just barely got edged out of the three star spots, throwing a six inning quality start (7 hits, 2 runs allowed) to win his sixth straight. Finally, Zach Jones has shined in his return to the Lookouts after making his way back to the Twins farm system per the Brewers returning his Rule 5 draft selection. Jones has yet to allow a run for the Lookouts in 2016 and threw 3.1 innings in two appearances against the Barons, striking out five.
CHATTANOOGA (8-5, 44-39) vs BIRMINGHAM (6-6, 35-47)
7:15 pm @ AT&T FIELD – 96.1 FM The Legend, WWW.LOOKOUTS.COM
Aaron Slegers (R, 7-4, 3.41) vs. David Holmberg (L, 5-4, 3.71)
News & Notes
Last Time Out: Stephen Gonsalves, Jake Reed and Trevor Hildenberger combined for a three hit shutout Wednesday morning, leading the Lookouts to a 6-0 victory over the Barons. Gonsalves went 6 innings, allowing all three of Birmingham’s hits while striking out and walking five batters. Reed threw two perfect innings with a pair of punch outs and Hildenberger closed the game with another perfect inning and a strikeout. Zack Granite and Mitch Garver both had multi-hit days (2-for-4 and 2-for-5 respectively), while six different Chattanooga players drove in a run.
Quality Work: Aaron Slegers won his fifth straight game and threw his eighth consecutive quality start Saturday night. Slegers is 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA through that stretch and is 7-4 with a 3.41 overall. Slegers also struck out a career high 10 batters last night.
Moving Parts: The Lookouts gained three new faces and said goodbye to two familiar ones Thursday as Daniel Palka was called up to Rochester and Omar Bencomo was placed on the disabled list to make room for pitchers Tyler Jay and Felix Jorge as well as OF Edgar Corcino. Jay was the number six overall pick in last year’s draft and comes highly touted as the #2 Twins prospect, #52 prospect in the top 100, and #4 of the top ten LHP prospects in all of baseball (per MLBPipeline). Jorge was 9-3 with a 1.55 ERA in 14GS with 11 walks compared to 77K in 93 innings pitched while Corcino was hitting .264 through 73 games.
Missing Bats: Stephen Gonsalves has had some struggles with control and had just one quality start in his three outings with the Lookouts but he shined yesterday, going six shutout innings while striking out five. One thing he has undoubtedly done well is strike batters outs. The LHP has Ked 19 Southern League batters in 14.2 innings pitched.
The Tools of Ignorance: After going 3-for-3 with four runs scored and two driven in with his 8th homer of the season Monday, Lookouts catcher Mitch Garver passed Biloxi’s Jacob Nottingham (7) for most home runs by a Southern League catcher in 2016. Garver was a triple shy of the cycle.
Zack The Flash: With a monster 4-for-5 night at the plate Monday, Zack Granite extended his hitting streak to 15 games, before ending it there Tuesday. Granite hit .363 in June, going hitless just twice in 25 games. He has nine extra base hits (4-2B, 2-3B, 3 HR), with 18 runs scored and 10 RBI, eight stolen bases, while walking more than he has struck out in those 25 games (9BB/7K). The hot streak elevated Granite into second in stolen bases (32) and in to the top three in hits (88) and runs (47).
Streaking: The Lookouts beat the Blue Wahoos in three of five games in their first clash of the second half to clinch their seventh straight series victory. Chattanooga went 17-9 in the month of June, and has started July 3-1.
Behind Enemy Lines
The Lookouts began a five game series at home against the Jacksonville Suns yesterday, falling 3-1. Let’s take a look Behind Enemy Lines for a little more information on Chattanooga’s current opponent.
Team, Record (Affiliate): Jacksonville Suns, 26-30 (Miami Marlins)
Dates, Start Times and Pitching Match Ups:
Sunday, June 5th 5:15 EST, DJ Baxendale, Loss (5-6) vs Chris Mazza, Win (2-1)
Monday, June 6th 7:15 EST Ryan Eades (R, 2-2, 4.93) vs Jake Esch (R, 6-4, 4.29)
Tuesday, June 7th 7:15 EST David Hurlbut (L, 3-3, 4.53) vs Austin Brice (R, 3-4, 2.02)
Wednesday, June 8th 7:15 EST Aaron Slegers (R, 2-4, 3.84) vs Matt Tomshaw (L, 1-1, 1.80)
Thursday, June 9th 11:15 EST Kohl Stewart (R, 0-0, 21.60) vs Patrick Johnson (R, 2-1, 4.14)
Suns Team Leaders:
|AVG||RF Moises Sierra (.323)||W||SP Jake Esch (6)|
|R||CF Yefri Perez (32)||SV||RP Tyler Kinley (5)|
|HR||RF Moises Sierra (7)||SO||SP Austin Brice (51)|
|RBI||LF Austin Dean (36)||ERA||SP Austin Brice (2.02)|
|SB||CF Yefri Perez (33)||WHIP||SP Austin Brice (1.06)|
Top Prospects (per MLBPipeline):
LHP Jarlin Garcia, Rank – #3 in system
2016 stats – 1-3, 4.54 ERA, 39.2 IP (9GS), 38 H, 11 BB, 27 K, .253 BAA, 1.24 WHIP
Despite being just 23 years old, Jarlin Garcia is a veteran of the Marlins farm system, having signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. Garcia had an up and down intro to professional baseball, but finally found some consistency with Class High A Jupiter last year, going 3-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 18 starts and earning a spot in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Garcia is a 6-foot-2 left-hander with a clean delivery and easy velocity in the low-to-mid 90s. The fastball rates at 65 on the scouting scale (out of 80) and stands out as his best pitch, with his curveball (50), slider (45) and changeup (50) all rating out as average offerings. MLB Pipeline lists his as projected as a future No. 4 starter that could get to the big leagues this season. As of now, the Lookouts don’t have to worry about him as he is on the disabled list with left triceps strain issues.
OF Austin Dean, Rank – #6 in system
2016 stats – .260 AVG, 52H-200AB, 28 R, 36 RBI, 10 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 25 BB, 44 K, .343 OBP
Austin Dean passed up enrollment at the University of Texas to sign with the Marlins in 2012 after they selected him in the 2012 draft. The decision paid off quickly as he was a Class A South Atlantic League All-Star in his first pro season, and an all-star again last season in the Florida State League where he finished second in doubles (32) and fourth in hits (139) through 136 games. He uses his strength and quick swing to produce line-drives and work line-to-line rather than swing for the fences often, leading to high career doubles numbers, though he does have six homeruns through 54 games this season. While he was drafted as an infielder, he has since transitioned to the outfield, covering ground well and showing enough arm strength to profile as a big league left fielder. Dean went 0-for-5 in the series opener yesterday, but don’t expect the natural hitter to go so quietly through the next four games.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Today the Chattanooga Lookouts announced their preliminary Opening Day roster for the 2016 season. The 30-man roster led by manager Doug Mientkiewicz is composed of 16 pitchers, four catchers, five infielders and five outfielders. The roster will be trimmed down to 25 by Thursday.
This year’s roster features 19 players who were on last year’s Southern League Championship team including Series MVP Jason Wheeler. Joining Wheeler in the rotation is fellow southpaw David Hurlbut and right-handers DJ Baxendale, Aaron Slegers and Ryan Eades. The rest of the Lookouts pitching staff features four of the Twins top 30 prospects. Nick Burdi (#9), J.T. Chargois (#10) and Jake Reed (#16) are back from last season and are joined by Mason Melotakis (#20). The bullpen is rounded out by Jason Adam Mike Strong, Corey Williams, Brandon Peterson, Marcus Walden and Alex Wimmers.
Captaining the Lookouts’ pitching staff will be a group of four catchers that includes Stuart Turner (#23), Carlos Paulino, Mitch Garver and Jairo Rodriguez. The infield will be manned by DJ Hicks, Levi Michael, Niko Goodrum, Leo Reginatto and Engelb Vielma. Vielma will be making his Double-A debut after spending last season in Fort Myers. The speedy infielder led the Miracle with 35 stolen bases and 119 hits.
In the outfield Travis Harrison (#24) returns and is joined by Zach Granite, Joe Maloney, Shannon Wilkerson and Daniel Palka (#29). Palka is entering his first year with the Twins organization after spending last season with the Visalia Rawhide (Arizona Diamondbacks). In 129 games, Palka slugged a team-high 29 homers and drove in 90 runs.
Fan will be able to see the 2016 Lookouts squad debut tomorrow at AT&T Field when the team takes the field at 6:15 p.m. for an exhibition game against Chattanooga State. The Lookouts 2016 regular season, presented by FSG Bank, begins on the road in Biloxi on April 7. The team makes their 2016 home debut on April 12 when they face off against the Jackson Generals at 6:15 p.m. at AT&T Field. Single game tickets for the upcoming season are now on sale on line and over the phone. For more information on how to secure your seats to the season’s best games, call the Lookouts ticket office at 423-267-4TIX.
By Ben Chambers
I guess it was technically a good weekend, as the games were spread out over multiple days in Austrailia, even if the two main games were both on the same day here. Either way, it was a great time to be a Dodgers fan. Here’s a rundown of the action that happened at Sydney Cricket Ground:
Before the season got started, the Dodgers scheduled an exhibition game with the Australian National Team. There were many benefits to the game, including getting one last chance to warm up before the games started counting. The Dodgers let 2013 Lookouts’ starting pitcher Zach Lee take the mound for the start. He had a very strong performance, continuing to shine when the spotlight is on him. He pitched four innings, gave up one run on three hits, issued zero walks and struck out six. The video below shows some of his dominance, including striking out the side in the 4th inning.
There was another former Lookouts’ player who had a huge game: Yasiel Puig. When Puig broke into the majors, he took the league by storm. First by his arm and then by his bat. The first game after he was called up, he made a catch on the track and then threw out a base runner trying to get back to first base to end the game. Most of the teams in the Majors now know about the cannon he possesses. Word may not have reached all the way down under, however. In the 6th inning, a runner from second base tried to score on a single, and Puig threw him out by a mile.
Puig’s bat made its appearance in the 8th inning. Down 2-0, Puig came to bat with a runner on first, and he launched one deep to left field, tying the game. The Dodgers were able to tack on two more runs in the inning and that was all that they needed to win the game.
A few other Lookouts made their way into the game. Scott Van Slyke played the whole game, but went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. Dee Gordon also started the game, but went 0-2 with a strikeout. Joc Pederson came in late in the game, and his only plate appearance was a walk. Rojas pinch-hit in the 9th inning, but struck out. Former Lookouts’ pitcher Chris Withrow got the last two outs of the 8th inning, striking out both the batters he faced.
This game was a battle of lefties, with the reigning NL Cy Young award winner in Clayton Kershaw getting the win and Wade Miley taking the loss. Miley didn’t have a bad outing, though. He and the other Diamondbacks’ pitchers were able to tame Puig, where he went 0-5 with three strikeouts. It was the other former Lookout who started the game which was the difference in the game: Scott Van Slyke.
Van Slyke came up to bat in the 2nd inning, and absolutely rifled one to left field. It was hit so hard that the left fielder for the Diamondbacks, Mark Trumbo, turned around and climbed the fence before he even looked back for the ball. Also, as Van Slyke was running past first base, the Dodgers first base coach was giving him a high 5 as if he hit it all the way out. The wind was coming in directly from left field, though. When Van Slyke was about halfway to second base, everyone saw the ball hit off the wall around stomach high, giving him an unexpected double. Two batters later, the Dodgers scored their first run of the game.
In the 4th inning, Van Slyke came back up with Adrian Gonzalez on first base, and he actually did get that ball to leave the park. He snuck one out, with it ducking just inside the right field foul pole. It was another surprise for Van Slyke, as he said after the game that he thought it would either get caught or go foul, and that he didn’t think it had a chance to get out of the park.
That homer the Dodgers a 3-0 lead at the time, and when you have Kershaw on the mound, as well as the bullpen that they have, three runs seems like an insurmountable lead. Although Kershaw did end up giving a run, once it got the the 9th inning, the ball went to Dodgers closer, and former Lookouts closer, Kenley Jansen. The fireballer gave up a 2-out walk, but quickly got the last batter to ground out, closing the door on that game.
The score of game two made the game seem much closer than it really was. Throughout the game, the Dodgers were able to get onto Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill, who before last night was 6-0 in 10 starts against them. Two former Lookouts who led the charge against Cahill were Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig.
Gordon grounded out to lead off the game, but that was the only out he would produce all game, going 3-4 with two runs scored, one RBI, and was also hit by a pitch. Puig hit right behind him, and went 3-for-5 with one run scored, two RBIs, a strikeout and was also hit by a pitch. Puig has always been a phenomenal talent, but a very aggressive player and that did get him into a little trouble on the base paths. He got caught in a rundown in the 3rd inning when he tried to stretch a single into a double. Also, in the 6th inning, a ball trickled away from the Diamondbacks’ catcher. Puig tried to take 3rd base, but a slight hesitation on his part was all that was needed to easily throw him out.
By the time that former Lookouts’ pitcher Chris Withrow took the mound for the 6th inning, the Dodgers were already winning by a score of 6-0. After giving up a walk and a single to start the inning, he was able to induce two ground balls which lead to three outs, and got him out of the jam. Kenley Jansen might have thought that he had the night off with such a large lead, but the Diamondbacks rallied in the 8th and 9th innings. Jansen took the mound only needing one out to finish the game, and a man on base. Mark Trumbo jumped on the first pitch he saw from him, and hit a home run, bringing the Diamondbacks with two of the Dodgers. Jansen got the best of Parra, however, and struck him out on four pitches to end the game, giving the Dodgers the sweep down under.
It was definitely a great opening series, in a great venue. If this is a glimpse of what the Dodgers are going to look like this year, then they’re going to win a ton of games. Baseball Prospectus projects them to win 98 games this season, and that’s hard to argue against that after the last couple of days. It’s very early, but it looks like they’re poised to win the division and make a postseason run.
For 28 of the teams in Major League Baseball, the regular season will start on the 30th or 31st of March. However, there are two teams who will start their season a week early, and do so in the land down under: the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. Sporadically over the last decade, Major League Baseball has sent two teams overseas to start the season. The last time they did so was March 28-29, 2012, when they sent the Mariners and Athletics to Tokyo, Japan.
This year, the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks are being sent to Sydney, Australia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the game played by the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants on January 3, 1914. These two games will be played in the exact same stadium, the world famous Sydney Cricket Ground. They will be played on Saturday, March 22, with the first being at 4 a.m. EST (7 p.m. local time), and the second at 10 p.m. EST (1 p.m., March 23 local time). Both games will be aired on MLB Network as well as Fox Sports Arizona and SportsNet L.A.
The Lookouts have been the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2009, when they took over the club from the Cincinnati Reds. In that time, many big leaguers have spent time at AT&T Field, including eight of the 30 players which took the long, 16 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean to get to Australia earlier this week. The active roster will have to be whittled down to only 25 players on Friday, but we will definitely see some of those Lookouts take the field.
The former Lookouts’ player who will receive the most playing time, as well as have the biggest impact on the game, is Yasiel Puig. Puig got into the spirit of the games quickly in Australia by bringing his bat flip to the game of cricket. Although he only played 40 games in Chattanooga in 2013 before being called up to the majors, he was the best player on the team while he was there. Puig hit .313 with eight home runs in 167 plate appearances. Once he got to the Dodgers, he took the league by storm. He helped the Dodgers turn their season around and if it wasn’t for another Cuban phenom in Miami, Puig would have been the Rookie of the Year.
Three other players who graced the field in a Lookouts’ uniform in 2013 got a ticket to go to Sydney as well. Miguel Rojas, who only hit .233 in 130 games last year, has played very strongly in Cactus League games. Rojas has hit .444 in 27 at-bats this spring, giving him the best average of all the Dodgers who have seen more than two times at the plate. Joc Pederson was the second best hitter for the Lookouts in 2013, with Puig being the only one who was better than he was. He also was near the top of the Southern League for stolen bases, and is currently ranked as the 36th best prospect in all the minor leagues on MLB.com. Zach Lee was the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, leading the rotation for the Lookouts. Lee is the only player who made their way to Australia that might be back in a Lookouts’ uniform in 2014, but he is still trying to work his way up in the organization.
Kenley Jansen, who is the closer for the Dodgers, was in a Lookouts’ uniform in 2010 and 2011. The first year, Jansen went 4-0 in 22 appearances, with a minuscule ERA of 1.67, splitting time between Chattanooga and L.A. He came back in 2011 and pitched in only five games before being permanently called up to the Majors. He has been the closer for the Dodgers the last two seasons, accumulating 62 saves over his career, with an ERA of 2.10.
Scott Van Slyke, who may be known most of all for his standoff with Joe Kelly in the NLCS last year (see below), was a teammate of Kenley those two years, although he made his way to the majors a little more slowly. He averaged .312 in the Scenic City, driving in 121 runs in 770 plate appearances. He’s seen a little less success in the major leagues, only hitting .219 in his sporadic at-bats mainly being a bench player and pinch hitter.
Another Lookout from the 2010 season was Dee Gordon. The speedster stole 53 bases for the Lookouts that year and has split each of the last three seasons between Albuquerque and the Dodgers, stealing 66 bases in the Majors and 58 for the Isotopes.
The final Lookouts’ player to make his way to the Sydney Cricket Ground is the one who had the most time spent in a Lookouts’ uniform. Chris Withrow was in Chattanooga for a little over three seasons, playing between 2009 and 2012 at AT&T Field. He was a starting pitcher until 2012, where he struggled with the Lookouts. They moved him to the bullpen that season and he flourished. In 2013, Withrow began the season with the Isotopes, with an ERA of 1.71 in 25 appearances. That was good enough to get him called up to Los Angeles, where he continued to do well, going 3-0 with an ERA of 2.60 in 26 more appearances.
No matter which five players don’t make it onto the 25-man roster for those two games, there will be a large stamp left on the games from players who got an opportunity to play just up the hill from the Tennessee River.