We are drawn to sports not just for entertainment, but for timeless storytelling. Everyone loves an underdog story; happenings such as the 2015 champion Kansas City Royals or the Chicago Cubs snapping a century of misery this October. Los Angeles is the land of narratives, and Andrew Toles’ tale is one fit for the big screen.

Toles’ ascension is one of the most improbable in recent history. Andrew Friedman drafted Toles in the third round of the 2012 draft with the Tampa Bay Rays, despite Toles being dismissed at the University of Tennessee and being suspended and benched at Chipola JC. He was a quickly star in the system, winning the Rays’ Minor League Player of The Year award in 2013.

Just a short time later, Toles’ past followed him and it fell apart. He was benched for laziness, his performance plummeted and he was placed on the inactive list for “personal reasons.” He was later released in 2015 spring training.

Toles took up a less spectacular lifestyle, bagging groceries at a local Kroger in Georgia. He remained devoted to a MLB career, working out daily, preparing for another opportunity. Friedman’s familiarity paid off – Toles signed with the Dodgers in October 2015. In one season, he went from Class-A Rancho to starter on the National League’s second best team. Toles is already one of Friedman’s shrewdest pickups.

After destroying minor league pitching to the tune of .331/.374/.511, Toles was promoted about midway through the season. In 48 games, he slashed .314/.365/.505 while becoming arguably the team’s go-to clutch player. In every epic moment that propelled the Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants in the West race, it felt as though Toles was in the middle of it. Most memorably, Toles hammered a grand slam to rally the Dodgers past Colorado in late August. He started eight games for L.A. in the playoffs.

With fans and front offices alike obsessing over potential acquisitions during the holiday season, it’s easy to forget who is in place, or who could take the next step.

It remains to be seen if Toles is an every day player. He struggled mightily against left-handed pitching last season. The Dodgers lineup is still imbalanced, so a platoon role shouldn’t hold Toles’ development back.

Toles turns 25 in May, and while he was inconsistent, there’s no reason to believe he can’t improve. The Dodgers have a glut of outfielders, but Toles has the two major aforementioned advantages: the ability to hit right-handed pitching and upside. Toles may never become a true starter, but it could be worth L.A.’s time to figure it out. Athletes with his knack for the timely play are rare. If Toles went from Class-A to the MLB playoffs in one season, it’s too early to declare his ceiling.

As Hollywood becomes stale with remakes and unoriginal fabrications, Toles might be writing a script deserving of the red carpet.

Kenta Maeda is having a fun offseason

About The Author

News Desk

Gabe Burns is an award-winning journalist. He serves as a reporter and editor at the DodgersNation news desk. He additionally works as editor-in-chief of The Spectator, Valdosta State University's student paper. Gabe's work has been featured on a number of platforms, including Draft Breakdown and Pro Football Spot. His byline has been cited in media such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Aside from covering Dodgers baseball, Gabe enjoys watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning. He can be followed on Twitter at @GabeBurns_DN.

9 Responses

  1. Arodc03

    Love to see Tole grow into everyday player for LA. He’s got pretty good speed on the bases and I’d love to see him steal bases like he did when he was in Class A. LA hasn’t had a speedster since Dee Gordon and they could use that type of threat.

    Reply
  2. BCRobitaille

    Good article Gabe. one thing though… “he struggled mightily against LHP??” He had only 13 ABs against them last year with 3 hits including one of his HR. Extremely small sample size, no? Also his minor league stats show he can hit them pretty well

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  3. RaySossamon

    Dodgers outfield is fine—Need a big #2 starter like Chris Archer–add Longoria to the trade also==Do a blockbuster with Tampa bay

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  4. Tmaxster

    I agree if you look at his minor league stats he hits everyone very well. This man is a very good all-around offensive threat. His speed is the component that gets me excited. We need speed in the lineup and Toles made things happen. We were a much better team offensively with him in the lineup and he is a solid defensive Outfielder.  With Toles, Puig, and Thompson, we have batters that can hit lefthanded pitching.  Remember before Thompson hurt his back he had reduced his strikeouts and added BA. OBP,  and power….
    The great thing about Puig, Thompson, and Toles are that they all can readily play Centerfield….They have very good speed and good arms. Toles showed an incredible arm last year. Puig, of course, has given us some UTube highlights and a couple of the best throws I have ever seen.
    I am hoping that this year we can carry one less bullpen pitcher as we cannot get so unlucky to have that kind of injury bug hit us again…Although I do blame the Front Office as they gambled on Anderson, McCarthy and Kazmir and lost on all three bets…
    This year they are betting on Hill but we have solid young arms with Stewart, Stripling, Wood, and Urias backing them up. Although I expect Urias to be in the rotation.

    A rotation of Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, and Urias sounds very solid. I believe they will attempt to trade or give away Kazmir and McCarthy and not re-sign Anderson….
    McCarthy has double-indemnity in that he is a physical injury risk and he is a head case as once he was free of injury he could not throw strikes. The man is a mess…..I doubt anyone will touch him…
    But I like the idea of a platoon outfield as we have several young guys that can play very well and each have a variety of talents….I hope Toles worked on base stealing this inter…

    Reply
  5. Brad Machado

    RaySossamon Where would Longoria play? We have an excellent third baseman. Also, let’s not forget that Archer pitched bad enough to lose 19 games last year.

    Reply
  6. Tmaxster

    Brad Machado RaySossamon I agree Brad…Our Pitching Rotation is fine…And Turner is a great third baseman…The only hole is 2nd base and I would be OK with Kike and maybe a Calhoun platoon…With the offense of our infield and catcher positions and the outfielders and utility players, we have on the roster we can mix and match.

    Reply
  7. Brad Machado

    RaySossamon If they trade for a second baseman I hope it’s not Kinsler. He may have one or possibly two productive years left. I don’t think Dozier would ever hit for a real high average but his bat has some good pop. Also why not bring back Chase Utley? He definitely gives them intangibles and from what I understand is a great clubhouse presence.

    Reply

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