Results tagged ‘ Darnell Sweeney ’

Dodgers add Chase Utley for postseason pursuit


By Jon Weisman

On Monday, MLB.com Statcast analyst and Dodger Insider magazine contributor Mike Petriello wrote about a key reason general managers might be interested in Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who has for most of 2015 been having the worst season of his career.

“Utley’s average exit velocity jumped more than five full mph (since returning from the disabled list),” wrote Petriello, “and his average batted-ball distance increased more than 25 feet. In 28 plate appearances since returning, he’s got 13 hits, including six extra-base hits. To put that into context, Utley has just 18 extra-base hits all year long; a full one-third of them have come in the last week.”

Combine that with Utley’s long-term track record in regular-season and postseason play, and the never-ending desire to upgrade the active roster, and you have an inkling why the Dodgers traded minor leaguers Darnell Sweeney and John Richy to the Phillies today for Utley and cash considerations.

Utley’s presence will supplement the Dodgers off the bench and in the infield, especially while second baseman Howie Kendrick remains injured, freeing Kiké Hernandez to roam the diamond more. The Dodgers have not announced who will vacate the 25-man roster to make room for Utley.

Drafted by the Dodgers in 1997, Utley chose instead to attend UCLA, as this 2008 Times story by Bill Shaikin relates. After signing as a first-round pick with the Phillies in 2000 and making his MLB debut in 2003, Utley would go on to have a .366 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage in 6,617 plate appearances.

In 2014, had a .339 OBP and slugged .407, before falling to .257/.275 this year until he went on the DL on June 22. In his return, he is 15 for 31 with a 1.227 OPS.

Sweeney, a 24-year-old infielder-outfielder taken in the 13th round of the 2012 draft, has a .332 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He leads the Pacific Coast League with 32 steals (in 45 attempts).

The 23-year-old Richy, a third-round selection in last year’s draft, has a 4.20 ERA in 124 1/3 innings this year for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga with 105 strikeouts against 181 baserunners.

Chase UtleyToday’s acquisition, of course, reunites Utley with his longtime double-play partner in Philadelphia, shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Both players will be free agents after this season. The last pitch Utley saw as a Dodger opponent was the final pitch of Josh Beckett’s no-hitter on May 25, 2014.

It was only two Augusts ago that the Dodgers acquired another 36-year-old infielder from Philadelphia: Michael Young. The long-time Ranger, short-time National Leaguer hit .314 with the Dodgers in 53 plate appearances, though with only one walk and three extra-base hits. Young then went 1 for 10 in the playoffs.

In August 2006, the Dodgers had unqualified success with another former Phillies infielder, Marlon Anderson. Coming over from the Nationals at age 32, Anderson hit .375/.431/.813 in 73 plate appearances, including his 5-for-5, two-homer extravaganza in the 4+1 game.

And continuing with the NL East in August theme, there was Ronnie Belliard in 2008. Another National expatriate, the 34-year-old Belliard hit .351/.398/.636 to finish the regular season, then batted .300 with hits in all eight Dodger playoff games, including the tying RBI in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ National League Division Series Game 2 comeback win.

The two minor-leaguers sent by the Dodgers to Philadelphia for Rollins have nearly completed their first seasons for Double-A Reading. Starting pitcher Zach Eflin, a 21-year-old righty, has a 3.43 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 4.5 K/9 in 107 2/3 innings, while 23-year-old lefty Tom Windle has a 4.47 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 5.9 K/9 in 90 2/3 innings. Windle was moved to the bullpen June 30 after starting his first 14 games.

Dodger minor league report No. 13: Swingin’ Sweeney and wedding and birth announcements

By Cary Osborne

Three of the four Oklahoma City Dodgers’ Pacific Coast League All-Stars played in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game. Darnell Sweeney batted leadoff, started at second base and went 0 for 3. Austin Barnes started at catcher and went 0 for 2. Reliever Ryan Buchter came in in the seventh inning and walked two and struck out two in his only frame, allowing no runs in the 4-3 Pacific Coast League loss to the International League All-Stars.

Dodgers top prospect Corey Seager was honored with a selection but didn’t play in the game.

Sweeney has been on a tear his last 16 games, with five home runs, seven doubles and a .365/.414/.746/1.160 line. Interesting about Sweeney is that he hit three home runs in his previous 67 games. He hit a career high 14 in Double-A last season, but his speed numbers took a giant dip from 48 in 2012 to 15.

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Dodger minor-leaguers Seager, Barnes, Sweeney and Buchter selected for Triple-A All-Star Game

By Cary Osborne

The Dodgers’ top prospect, Corey Seager, along with catcher Austin Barnes, second baseman/outfielder Darnell Sweeney and relief pitcher Ryan Buchter, will represent Oklahoma City in the July 15 Triple-A All-Star Game in Omaha.

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Dodger minor league report No. 9: Olivera goes yard and buzz on Bellinger

By Cary Osborne

Hector Olivera hit his first career stateside home run on Tuesday. The Cuban import and Tulsa infielder took Kansas City farmhand and reliever Mark Peterson deep in the seventh inning. Olivera went 3 for 3 in the game and also walked. He is now 5 for 18 at the plate with four singles.

Buzz is starting to pick up on first baseman Cody Bellinger. He’s been a regular here in the report, but there he is front and center on MiLB.com on Thursday. Bellinger is profiled here for his developing power and defensive ability.

Bellinger, the son of former Yankees infielder Clay Bellinger, is batting .283/.354/.557 with 12 home runs (33 total extra-base hits) and 46 RBI in 58 games. Bellinger hit the game-winning two-run home run in the 10th inning on Wednesday against Modesto.

And the reward is a selection to the California League All-Star team, which was announced Thursday. The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are hosting the 2015 California League vs. Carolina League All-Star Game on June 23.

California League batting leader Kyle Farmer, who will start for the Cal League at catcher, and second baseman Brandon Trinkwon, will join their Quake teammate Bellinger on the team. Pitcher Jose De Leon was selected, but because of his promotion to Tulsa in May, he won’t be playing.

Now, for the rest of the news …

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Dodger minor league report No. 6: The dominant De Leon

Jose De Leon (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Jose De Leon (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Cary Osborne

Friday should mark the Double-A debut of one Jose De Leon. The Tulsa Drillers have listed as De Leon as their starter for their game at Northwest Arkansas, and all we’re waiting for is the 22-year-old right-hander’s promotion becoming official — after a quick and dominant run through what is considered a hitter’s league in the California League.

De Leon’s last outing with High-A Rancho Cucamonga saw him go 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, two walks, an unearned run and eight strikeouts on Sunday.

Since he truly jumped on the radar last season, De Leon has been magnificent. Let’s start in Rancho, where he averaged 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings and had a 7.3 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Since the start of 2014, he’s had a 13.9 K/9 and 6.1 K/BB ratio. He’s not only avoiding walks, he’s not giving up many hits. In 114 2/3 innings since the start of 2014, he has given up just 84 hits — just four of them have left the yard.

We got to know De Leon in January. Here’s a reminder.

Now here’s the rest of the show …

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Dodger minor league report No. 5: A new view of an old award

By Cary Osborne

The monthly Dodger Pride Awards have been redefined. In the past, the award has recognized non-measurable excellence at the minor league level and was selected by players and staff on each respective club.

Now, instead of a position and pitcher of the month per team, there are two awards selected based off of statistical data — “Strong Mind Pitcher of the Month” and “Strong Mind Position Player of the Month.” A third award, “Strong Mind Teammate of the Month,” is voted on by players, coaches and staff.

It’s a clear evaluation shift of minor leaguers that falls in line with the thinking of information-hungry farm director Gabe Kapler.

The winners of the pitcher and position player of the month are selected based on a strict statistical method incorporating several baseball measurables, including best first-pitch strike percentage, best 1-1 count strike percentage, best overall strike percentage, best walk-strikeout ratio, best swing percentage on strikes and lowest chase rate.

The Strong Mind Pitcher of the Month for April was Oklahoma City’s Scott Baker. The Strong Mind Position Player of the Month was Rancho Cucamonga infielder/outfielder Jarek Cunningham.

Great Lakes infielder/outfielder Mike Ahmed was the Strong Mind Teammate of the Month.

More on Ahmed later, so let’s get into this …

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Happy Minor League Opening Day

Joe Wieland

Joe Wieland (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Cary Osborne

While the Dodgers have today off, it’s a big day for the organization, with four minor-league teams beginning their regular seasons, including the two new affiliates in Oklahoma.

Roster assignments have been made in Oklahoma City (Triple-A), Tulsa (Double-A), Rancho Cucamonga (High-A) and Great Lakes (Low-A), so we can see just how the front office’s offseason moves have set up the depth in the Dodger organization.

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The good, the bad and the unusual in a 7-5 loss

By Jon Weisman

There was plenty of action in today’s 7-5 Dodger loss to the Cubs, but the marquee attraction in the “Have You Seen This Before?” Department was … no, not Sergio Santos’ four-strikeout inning, but the fact that he had a 1-3 strikeout on a pitch that caromed back to him before he threw the batter/runner out at first.

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Livin’ in the future …

By Jon Weisman

Throughout my childhood, I would hear tales of Lew Alcindor leading the 1965-66 UCLA freshman men’s basketball team to victory over the UCLA varsity, which had merely won the NCAA title the season before.

The situation isn’t really the same, but if nothing else, the 2015 Dodger junior varsity gives a hint of what it must have been like to experience such excitement from the future.

Dodger prospects and reserves have been shining all spring long, but the eighth inning of today’s 10-5 victory over Oakland turned the brightness up to 10.

First, they tended the top of the eighth in dazzling fashion, with Erisbel Arruebarrena — playing out of position at second base — ranging far to his left to flag a ground ball, before doing a 180-degree turn to whip the ball to super-prospect Corey Seager, who stepped on second and fired to Kyle Jensen at first for an inning-ending double play.

SweeneyThen in the home half of the inning at Camelback Ranch, Darnell Sweeney followed singles by Austin Barnes and Jensen and a walk to Seager with a grand slam — to the opposite field, no less.

Next, after Alex Guerrero singled and O’Koyea Dickson calmly took first base after being hit by a pitch, Scott Schebler hit a towering homer of his own to center field.

Before Schebler had finished getting high fives in the dugout, Chris Heisey homered to left, capping the eight-run eighth inning for the Dodgers, who are now 8-2-4 (.714) in Spring Training, in no small part because when the reserves come in, they have been fairly dominant.

Lest it be forgotten, the Dodgers were led in the early going by Darwin Barney, who went 3 for 3, and Joc Pederson, who walked once and made this catch in center field.

Yeah, yeah — it’s March. But it’s been fun.

In case you missed it: Back against the wall … in March

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

For more photos from Wednesday, visit LA Photog Blog.


Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago CubsBy Jon Weisman

Yasiel Puig certainly didn’t look uncomfortable in center field Wednesday, at least until he collided with the wall.

And sure, I held my breath as his back smacked, but all was well.

Puig not only continues to look both athletic and smart in the outfield, he helped get the Dodgers going on offense by beating out an infield single and later avoiding a sure force at third base to load the bases.

He’ll still draw howls every time he makes a mistake, but don’t be surprised if those mistakes come farther and farther apart.

Meanwhile …

  • Zack Greinke, who allowed five baserunners in two innings of Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Chicago, feels healthy but said he was experimenting with his slider, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “I’ve been trying to make the slider better than last year, but it hasn’t worked,” Greinke said. “I’m trying to figure if I keep trying or go back to last year’s. I’m trying everything. It looks good, but I’m giving up more hits than normal.”
  • Here’s what Julio Urias had to say after allowing three singles and a sacrifice fly, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News: “It looks like a bad outing on paper, but I look at it as a good outing because it’s something I can work on,” Urias said through an interpreter. “My confidence is absolutely there. I want to work on the slider, the changeup as well, locating pitches in the zone.”
  • The four batters Urias faced (Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Miguel Montero and Chris Coghlan) are a combined 38 years older than the 18-year-old pitcher.
  • Non-roster lefty reliever David Huff has impressed Don Mattingly, according to Gurnick. “He’s got a lot of weapons, a clean delivery and he handles everything well,” Mattingly said. “He’s really interesting.”
  • The Dodgers used five former first-round picks on the mound in Wednesday’s game: Greinke, Huff, Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Chris Anderson, who took the loss after allowing a run on a walk, single and sacrifice fly in the eighth.
  • Darnell Sweeney has been working closely with Davey Lopes this spring, writes Ari Kaye for MLB.com.
  • Former Dodger reliever Peter Moylan signed an unusual deal with Atlanta, notes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Moylan, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, will be a Rookie League player-coach in 2015 with an invite to Spring Training as a Major Leaguer in 2016.