June 23rd, 2023 Scoreboard
- Triple-A Oklahoma City 2, Las Vegas 7
- Double-A Tulsa 4, Northwest Arkansas 5
- High-A Great Lakes 8, West Michigan 6
- Single-A Rancho Cucamonga 4, Lake Elsinore 0
- ACL Dodgers 12, Reds 6
- DSL Dodgers Mega 8, DSL Brewers 1, 3
- DSL Dodgers Bautista 8, DSL Brewers 2, 7
One aspect of Kyle Hurt‘s game that stands out the most is the ability to miss bats, and on Friday night, that penchant for whiffs was on full display for Tulsa:
Of the 948 minor league pitchers who have tossed 30.0 or more innings, Hurt’s swinging strike rate of 21.3% ranks 6th. Seems good! His K-BB rate of 31.6% ranks 8th. Also seems good!
The burly righty did give up his 5th longball of the season, it’s the 4th he has allowed in his last 5 outings, a stretch during which he has been touched up a bit in general as his ERA rose from 1.33 to 3.89 during this timeframe. This period of minor fallibility has coincided with Hurt facing teams for a second or third time this season, but that’s an explanation that lasts only so long, since ideally you’ll see the same major league teams again and again and again.
For the 25-year-old, assuming he continues on a starting pitcher’s development track, successfully changing things up and attacking hitters different ways, while limiting the mistakes and continuing to ramp up the workload, should all be in the marching order as Tulsa approaches the halfway mark of their season. Whatever happens long-term, the electricity he brings is undeniable, and in thinking of 2023, for a bullpen that has been just average at missing bats (24.3% strikeout rate vs 23.7% MLB wide for relievers), Hurt might be yet another Tulsa arm who could bolster the big club at some point.
Jorbit Vivas had a good all around day at the plate for Tulsa on Friday night, going 2/3, with a single, a walk, a stolen base, and this dinger to right:
The 22-year-old Venezuelan raised his slash line for the season to a very good .301/.407/.478, with more walks (30) than strikeouts (27). But, it hasn’t all been sunshine for Vivas either, who, after a scorching April during which he OPSed 1.125, he slipped all the way down to .611 in May. In June, the OPS popped right back up again, to .916. As so often seems to be the case, Vivas is likely neither as good as the blistering start, nor as bad as the subsequent tank, but that high middle-ish spot he is currently occupying is still a heck of a ballplayer.
When the Dominican Summer League kicked off, it was the two Dodger teams that opened the season against each other after working out together all offseason and spending all of camp together. I was rather nonplussed by that, assuming that the youngest Dodger farmhands would be champing at the bit to test their mettle against new, of-age competition all across the Caribbean island nation.
Little did I know.
For a little background, coming into the fourth matchup of the season between the two groups of Campo Las Palmas denizens, Dodgers Bautista had a record of 12-0, where every other team on the island has lost at least three times. Dodgers Mega had a record of 7-2 when they’re not playing Bautista, but 8-5 overall. That’s right — Mega had lost all three blue on blue contests thus far.
With all of that in mind, enter Elias Medina of Mega, who came up in the bottom of the 6th of a scheduled 7-inning ballgame, with Bautista leading 4-3:
Elias Medina, a 17 year old Dominican playing for DSL Dodgers Mega, went deep against DSL Dodgers Bautista on Thursday, and check out this celebration — these aren't just instrasquads/scrimmages, these guys are fired up 🔥🔥🔥— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) June 24, 2023
(might be a little Justin Turner in that swing 👀) pic.twitter.com/U9XunGOhJO
That bat vertically helicoptering across the top of the screen? Pouring onto the field? The salutes? Inject all of that directly into my veins.
Bautista went on to score in the top of the 7th, and closed out their 14th W of the season in the bottom half of the frame, running their record to 13-0 (now 14-0 after Friday’s victory) and dropping Mega to 7-6 (now 8-6).
These are two tremendously talented groups, they both know it, and one of them has gotten the better of the other in every matchup thus far. The next time they play each other is on July 6th, and you better believe that one’s circled on everyone’s calendar down there.
As for the baby Justin Turner doppelganger, Elias Medina, the January 2023 IFA signee is off to an incredible start, slashing .327/.393/.618, with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, and 9 stolen bases with just 1 caught stealing in his first 13 contests. Listed at 5’10, 171 lbs, the Bani, DR native is consistently running 6.3 second 60 yard times, cementing him as a 70 runner at the moment, and he is projected to stay on the dirt with the Dodgers splitting his time between 2B, 3B, and SS thus far.
You can’t tell a whole heck of a lot about these kids until they make it to full season competition, and Medina is likely two years from that, so I’m not here to tell anyone he’s the next superstar prospect in the system. But, he is an indicator of good process; he signed for $177.5k, which while not an entirely paltry sum, is definitely on the lower end of an IFA system that saw bonuses as high as $5.6 million for the period, so a large amount of legwork likely went into identifying and agreeing to a deal with a player who is surely making the scouting directors from opposing clubs scratch their heads. Getting large swaths of these kinds of plus-plus athletes in the system, absolute toolsheds with solid swings and already showing feel for barrel despite having the lowest bonus pool yet again, is a coup. One of these lotto tickets is bound to hit. If it happens to be one of the guys like Medina, who’s a hell of a lot of fun, all the better.
Peter Heubeck put together another strong outing for Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, tossing 5.0 scoreless IP of one-hit ball, walking 2, and striking out 6, and giving the 20-year-old the best two-start stretch of his young career:
The Baltimore, MD native has had, as young pitchers are wont to do, bouts of dominance interspersed with head-scratching clunkers this season, but the sky-high ceiling that motivated the Dodgers to select him in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft is most definitely still present, and he is trending in the right direction. His strike percentage is up, from 56% in 2022 to 61% in 2023, and his strikeout rate is up, from 29.6% to 32.9%. His walk rate is down, from 17.6% to 13.4%, and his HR/9 is down, from 1.99 to 1.05. All in all, he appears to be closing in on dialing it in enough to possibly earn a bump to Great Lakes some time in the second half, and stringing together another handful outings together could be just the ticket.
Reynaldo Yean, a 19 year old with a fastball up to 102, tossed another scoreless inning tonight for the ACL Dodgers. His stats in six appearances in complex ball:— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) June 24, 2023
When I wrote about him, I mentioned that he profiled as a reliever only, and the Dodgers seem to agree, as six of seven appearances have been of the single inning variety. That said, with such overwhelming stuff, you would think he’d be Westward bound before too long. But, I have no idea what it takes to get a ticket from Glendale, AZ, to Rancho Cucamonga, CA handed to you these days, though I imagine something like this usually gets it done.
Gavin Stone had another outing on Friday. While his showing was less than ideal, it wasn’t without positives:
The number one question here is whether the velo uptick is borne out of usage — Stone threw just 21 fastballs out of 88 pitches, which amounts to a very limited usage clip of 22%.
What immediately comes to mind for me is the stellar 2020 campaign turned in by Yu Darvish, who dropped his fastball usage, 4 seam and 2 seam combined, down to just 24.8%, while averaging a career best 95.5 mph with the pitch and posting what was at the time a career-high +3.1 runs prevented with the his 4-seamer. If you are only throwing 25ish heaters a game, you can probably afford to grunt and put as much mustard on them as possible without impacting your ability to go deep into games. Darvish did this while also throwing a cutter, a splitter, a changeup, a slider, and both a hard and a slow curve, so he was buoyed by both an eclectic pitch mix, and the savvy to effectively deploy it.
Stone’s only secondaries are a changeup and a slider. When you start turning the lineup over a second or a third time, as was the case on Friday, living in dying with the same pair of secondaries can become a little problematic. So while it is a positive that the velo ticked up, looking beyond just the radar gun readings, a larger in-game sample is necessary to feel confident about Stone’s velo returning to its 2022 form in an effective manner.
Lastly, pitchers are athletes, exhibit 72-D:
Alec Gamboa was called on to pinch run for Tulsa in the 9th, and on this base hit to right, he went 1st to 3rd, showing off that head first slide — maybe he can teach Lux a thing or two? 😂 pic.twitter.com/as8K9cTBrN— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) June 24, 2023
Gavin, please for the love of all that’s holy, take notes.
Here’s Saturday’s start times for the minor-league clubs (all times Pacific), along with the Dodger affiliate’s starting pitcher:
- Oklahoma City vs Las Vegas – 5:05 PM, Landon Knack
- Tulsa vs Northwest Arkansas – 5:05 PM, Nick Nastrini
- Great Lakes at West Michigan – 4:05 PM, Hyun-il Choi
- Rancho Cucamonga vs Lake Elsinore – 6:30 PM, TBD
- ACL Dodgers vs ACL D-backs Red – 10:00 AM, TBD
- DSL Dodgers Bautista vs DSL Braves – 7:00 AM, TBD
- DSL Dodgers Mega at DSL Pirates Black – 7:00 AM, TBD
Enjoy your Saturday, folks.