Walt Disney Picture’s Winnie the Pooh showed children an important life lesson through a honey tree, and that when you bite off more than you can chew you can get stuck in one place. In a similar fashion, many sports experts and analysts have been calling attention to the Los Angeles Dodgers lack of starting pitching, while fans and enthusiasts are wondering whether the Organization has bit off more than it can chew in relying on its bullpen and veteran pitching troubled with injury history.

Last week we highlighted Triple-A starting pitcher Jose De Leon and this week, through various Quotes about Oaks, we will tell a short story about Mr. Trevor Oaks.

Oaks is the 30th ranked prospect in the Dodgers farm system, who may indeed be the next arm up for the big league club as the team struggles to find a starting pitcher that can last longer than one to five innings of work.

As good as Jose De Leon may become, Trevor Oaks might be just a little bit more prepared for the Major Leagues right now.

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“Storms Make the Oak Grow Deeper Roots.”  – George Herbert

Trevor Scott Oaks, one-year younger than De Leon, is a Southern Californian out of Riverside. Oaks pitched for Biola University and California Baptist in excellent fashion before being drafted in the 7th round of the 2014 Major League Draft by the Dodgers. Oaks is 6’3”, 220 lb., and has recovered from Tommy John surgery (2012, while in high school).

The Dodgers.com scouting reporting from Aug. 20th on Trevor Oaks is as follows:

“After spending his freshman year at Biola University (Calif.), Oaks transferred to Cal Baptist and became the highest-drafted player in Lancers history, when he went in 2014’s seventh round after going 11-0 with a 1.68 ERA as a sophomore. Tyson Miller surpassed Oaks when the Cubs took him in the fourth round this June, but the latter still has the chance to become Cal Baptist’s first big leaguer. He threw 7 1/3 shutout innings to win the clincher in the high Class A California League playoffs to cap his first full pro season and swiftly climbed to Triple-A in his second.

Oaks lived off a sinker that sat around 90 mph in college and has ticked up to 92-93 mph in pro ball, now topping out at 96. His fastball plays better than its average velocity thanks to its heavy life. He has feel for a changeup that can become at least an average No. 2 pitch, and he also can mix in a slider and a cutter that sometimes blend together.

Oaks pounds the bottom of the strike zone, and though he doesn’t miss a lot of bats, he has what it takes to be an efficient workhorse starter. He has bounced back from Tommy John surgery in high school to put himself in position to serve the Dodgers as a back-of-the-rotation or middle-relief option.”

Trevor Oaks has a lower earned run average (ERA) (2.75) than De Leon (3.14) with 150.1 innings pitched this season (De Leon has 71.2 inning pitched).  Oaks accomplished this while pitching in the offensively friendly Pacific Coast (AAA), Texas (AA), and California (A-Advanced) Leagues for the 2016 season (see here).

Yes, you read that correctly, Oaks started the 2016 season in Advanced Single-A baseball. Now imagine what Oaks could accomplish in the pitching friendly confines of Dodger Stadium.

Oaks has shown a resiliency in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and to succeed at every minor league level. He has improved his pitching performance in nearly every statistical category in moving up through the Dodgers farm system. Trevor Oaks is now knocking on the proverbial wood door of the Los Angeles Dodgers decision-makers.

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“Today’s Mighty Oak is Just Yesterday’s Nut, that Held its Ground.”  – David Icke

Trevor Oaks has clearly risen to the occasion despite challenges. In looking at his performance, we can see why he could be the next big thing in Los Angeles.

Oaks has accumulated 311.2 innings pitched in his minor league career, De Leon, 316. Oaks may have less strikeouts than De Leon, but he has a lower career (3.12 vs. 3.50), 2016 full season (2.75 vs. 3.14), and Triple-A earned run averages (3.03 vs. 3.14; 62.1 vs. 71.2 innings pitched).

Per Dennis Schlossman with the Think Blue Planning Committee in “Dodgers Prospects: Trevor Oaks Climbing Higher”:

“Scouts seem to think his ceiling at the big league level may be as a back-end starter or a swing man, yet the pundits remain extremely impressed with his command and his ability to induce ground ball outs. His sinker produced a whopping 62-percent ground ball rate across two levels last year, versus a low 13-percent line drive rate. His career 1.69 BB/9 in the minors advocates his ability to locate and maintain solid control.”

As a pitcher with ground ball tendencies, he would fit in nicely with the Dodgers top ranked defense that you can read about here and here. Oaks may indeed be a mighty oak in the making.

“If you go to a tree with an ax and take five whacks at the tree every day, it doesn’t matter if it’s an oak or a redwood; eventually the tree has to fall down.”  -Jack Canfield

The point has been belabored and for good reason: the Dodgers need starting pitching and their starting pitching needs to last longer into their starts. The injury ax has hit the Dodgers this year and despite the challenges, the team has survived and even thrived as they battle with the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West Division. Well, we have a solution and his name is Trevor Scott Oaks.

Consider this:

Oaks, through three levels of minor league pitching and 150.1 innings pitched (more innings pitched than any current Dodgers starting pitcher), has never pitched less than five innings in any start in 2016. He has pitched three 8 inning games, one complete game 3-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts (his most recent start on 8/15/2016), six starts with 7+ innings pitched, and nine starts with 6 innings pitched. No current Dodgers starter not named Clayton Kershaw has even come close to his performance, stability, and stamina.

For good measure, Oaks has accomplished the above while only throwing 72 to 106 pitches per start. That does not tell the entire story, however. Through 23 starts and carrying a 14-3 record, Oaks has only reached 90+ pitches in five of starts and 100+ pitches in two.

The Dodgers bullpen, ranked the second best in Major League Baseball as of 8/20/2016 according to ESPN.com stats, also has the second most innings pitched (427.1) behind the Cincinnati Reds. The fact that the Dodgers have used one extra reliever all year and that they treat their farm system like an assembly line of talent, the Dodgers have found a way to spread the workload and build a fantastically-talented and performance-based ball club. Due credit and recognition to Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts and the front office of Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, and company.

However, the injury ax and lack of length in the starting rotation may eventually lead to the proverbial Dodgers tree being cut down. Trevor Oaks is awaiting his call to provide some relief.

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“In Creating, the Only Hard Thing is to Begin: A Grass Blade’s No Easier to Make Than an Oak.”  – James Russell Lowell

Trevor Oaks has made his name known and he is turning heads. He began his professional career as a Tommy John project. He is now one of the top thirty prospects in the Dodgers farm system.

Again, per Dennis Schlossman with the Think Blue Planning Committee in “Dodgers Prospects: Trevor Oaks Climbing Higher”:

“If his past is any indication of his current work ethic, Oaks will persist in perfecting his craft while continuing to advance through the Dodgers’ system in rapid fashion.

Oaks’ demeanor demonstrates that he’s very wise beyond his years, and his belief in the Christian faith certainly appears as a very valuable asset as he progresses toward his career goals — a few of the prototypical qualities that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman always seems to seek out in his draft choices.”

Per Trevor Oaks in Schlossman’s article:

“Being a Christian is difficult anywhere you go. I think playing ball, everything is magnified. People are always watching. It’s important to remember who you represent and be loving/accepting of all your teammates no matter where they’re at in life. You have to run your own ship, but you also need to relate to people and be a genuine person. You gotta invest in people’s lives.”

Sounds like a rock solid oak tree, a wonderful mixture of talent and character. Since they play together at Triple-A Oklahoma City, maybe Oaks’ and De Leon’s strong character and work ethic will have a positive effect on right fielder Yasiel Puig.

“Many a genius has been slow of growth. Oaks that flourish for a thousand years do not spring up into beauty like a reed.”  -George H. Lewis

Much like the saying in business that “Funny how it took 50 years to enjoy overnight success,” player development is important, but the opportunity must be given and taken.

Per Dennis Schlossman with the Think Blue Planning Committee in “Dodgers Prospects: Trevor Oaks Climbing Higher”:

“As for his weaknesses, Oaks admits that he needs to continue to develop his arsenal of breaking pitches as a strategy to produce the ability of missing more bats.”

Per Trevor Oaks in Schlossman’s article:

“I think just improving my offspeed stuff. My fastballs get a lot of ground balls, but I need my slider and changeup to generate some swings and misses. It’s been much better this season, but I want that trend to continue throughout the rest of my career.”

We hope that opportunity is soon for Trevor Oaks and Jose De Leon. Regardless, the future is bright and tall.

NEXT: As Vin Scully Closes Out His Career, Joe Davis Continues Journey with the Dodgers

DodgersNationTV: Dodgers History Save No. 162

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About The Author

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Jeremy M. Evans is the Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing sports and entertainment professionals in contract drafting, negotiations, licensing, and career growth. Evans is an Outreach Captain for the Sports Lawyers Association and is an award-winning attorney and community leader. He can be reached at [email protected] or via his website: www.CSLlegal.com.

One Response

  1. denschloss

    Oaks earns PCL POTW honors… http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20160822&content_id=197054492&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_l112&sid=l112

    Reply

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