After continually putting it off, I’ve finally decided to get to the trio of players I solely wanted to write about because I’ve never forgotten their names due to how unique (I think) they are.
They also played for the Dodgers at almost the same time, with two being teammates for one season and the other missing out by just a few years. I also stalled because I wasn’t sure about how easy it would be to find photos, but I’ve dealt with that for a few of these now.
Starting with the furthest back of the three, Hubbard arrived in Los Angeles as a free agent in December 1997 to fill a role in the outfield behind Gary Sheffield, Raul Mondesi and a combination of others in left field.
Debuting for the Rockies in 1994 after about eight years in the minors, Hubbard only received 209 PAs across five seasons in Colorado, San Francisco and Cleveland. The Dodgers offered him a career high of 235 PAs in 1998, with him slashing .298/.358/.452/.810 across 94 games. A 36-year-old Devon White was added in the offseason to fill in the third outfield spot alongside Sheffield and Mondesi, with Hubbard again filling in as needed around the outfield.
Batting .314/.387/.390/.777 across 82 games and 120 PAs in 1999, Hubbard played a similar role, but did have one odd occurrence in his career stats. On July 11, 1999, Hubbard started in left field, batting second, and drove in a career-high five RBIs (of 72 in his major league career) in a 14-3 victory against the Seattle Mariners. Much more interesting than that, however, was Hubbard’s only three innings at catcher in his major league career. From 1988 to 1990, Hubbard had played 81 games at catcher in Houston’s minor league system, but had just one appearance in Triple-A in 1996 after that.
Why did he need to catch for the Dodgers in the middle of the season? Well after he hit a three-run double and the following pitch was thrown near Mark Grudzielanek’s head, the benches cleared.
After leaving the Dodgers, Hubbard’s transaction history took off with short stints for the Braves, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Cubs, Padres, Cubs again, a Mexican League team, the Cubs yet again, Astros, somehow seriously the Cubs again, and the Rays.
Amazingly the four different stints with the Cubs led to just 21 PAs, all coming in 2003.
Acquired in a July 31, 1998 deal with Grudzielanek and Carlos Perez for Jonny Tucker, Peter Bergeron, Wilton Guerrero and a still in the minors Ted Lilly, Bocachica had been a Top 100 prospect for Baseball America from 1995 to 1997. He landed fifth on the Dodgers’ Top 10 list entering 2000 and slipped to eighth in 2001 after batting .291/.382/.449/.831 for Double-A San Antonio in 1999 and .322/.390/.560/.950 for Triple-A Albuquerque in 2000.
After 10 September PAs in 2000, the Dodgers threw him into their utility role for 2001, as Bocachica played 125 innings at second, 52 innings at third and 39 innings in the outfield. With an OPS of just .663 in 179 PAs, his role diminished in 2002 before being traded to Detroit on July 25 for a player to be named later and Tom Farmer. While Farmer never surpassed Triple-A, the PTBNL became Jason Fransor in September. Following one season in the organization, the Dodgers flipped Fransor for Jayson Werth in March 2004.
Bocachica went on to play for the Tigers, Mariners, A’s and Padres before stints in Japan and Mexico. He’s now on the staff of the A’s Triple-A team after spending the past few years with the organization.
Lastly, here’s a name I’ve never forgotten despite the fact that he played in just 33 games for the Dodgers between 2002 and 2003, and never returned to the majors.
Just like Bocachica, Ruan was a former Top 10 prospect for the Expos before being sent to Los Angeles with Guillermo Mota for Matt Herges and Jorge Nunez (originally acquired in the trade with Shawn Green) in March 2002.
I honestly wish I could understand why this name has stuck with me for so long, especially after seeing Ruan’s .231/.231/.327/.558 line in 52 PAs as a Dodger. It might have been seeing him as a kid in Triple-A Las Vegas, or the fact that he left to play in the Royals organization for a year and a half before returning to the Dodgers from 2006 to 2008.
In fact, Ruan’s entire Triple-A career took place in Las Vegas for the Dodgers, with a career line of .312/.335/.380/.716 and amazingly just two home runs.
The best game of Ruan’s professional career (and honestly a game I remember, so maybe this is why) came on Sept. 2, 2002 in Arizona, when he hit for Odalis Perez in the 7th inning as the Dodgers led 10-0. Connecting for a single, Ruan came around to score on a David Ross double. Home runs for Adrian Beltre and Mike Kinkade helped Ruan get back to the plate for another at-bat, the rare occurrence of a pinch hitter batting twice in an inning. Ruan doubled with the bases loaded, driving in two of his career five RBIs, as the Dodgers took a 16-0 lead.
Now 2-for-2 in a game he entered in the seventh, Ruan actually got a third plate appearance in the ninth. Facing Mark Grace. And while Ruan couldn’t hit his first career homer off of Grace, flying out to left field, Ross did so one batter later.