One of the great things about this era of the Dodgers is the minor league system being pretty stacked, year in and year out. Just about every night, whether they were a top prospect or just a dude at AAA still chasing the dream, someone at one level or another did something noteworthy. Looking back on the 2021 season, and thinking about all of the games I watched or followed, four particular homers stand out in my mind as the most memorable, one for each full season club.
Low-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Diego Cartaya announced his presence with authority in just his fourth game state-side, hitting his first career walk-off homer. Since games out of of the Quakes’ home stadium, Loanmart Field, aren’t streamed, this made for a flurry of searching and hitting the refresh button for me, hoping and praying that someone at Rancho got video of his one out grand slam that cemented a 10-9 victory over the Stockton Ports. It turned out that the Quakes themselves were on top of things:
Power is typically the last thing to show up in games for catchers, and Cartaya at 19 left the park at the treetops in leftcenter. Get hyped for this kid.
High-A Great Lakes Loons
As some Dodger fans might be aware, there’s a little bit of animosity directed towards the Boys In Blue from that 79-83 team way down the 5. I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to find that this extends to the minor league level, even if it’s something as small as giving credit where credit is due. Cue James Outman, whose blast onto a distant and rarely reached party deck won’t be added to the tally in Fort Wayne:
Outman just wrapped up a very strong Arizona Fall League, slashing .284/.422/.552 for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
AA Tulsa Drillers
There were several homers that came to mind for me with the Drillers, but one stood above the rest due to the eye-opening nature of it. Miguel Vargas has long shown the hit tool, and while he started to show more power in game in 2021, I hadn’t yet seen a real tape-measure blast, until this no-no spoiling tattoo job:
AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers
Rangel Ravelo had one of the most incredible months of his career for OKC before signing with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, but this particular story stands out the most for me as both my top AAA homer and the the most memorable of the season as well, partly because it also included a business as usual hook:
Unfortunately, Ravelo’s season in Japan ended after just 7 PA due to getting hit by a pitch that broke his wrist. He was a joy to watch while with OKC, and hopefully he heals up well and picks up where he left off for the Buffaloes.