Since the 2018 season has not been so forgiving for the Dodgers, let’s reminisce on the good old days. It was just five years ago when the then-struggling Dodgers depended heavily on rookies Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu to bring the momentum and lead their playoff run. While these rookies played important roles, they weren’t the only Dodgers to make their Major League debuts that year.
Leading Up to the Majors: The Dodgers have a history of having Korean-born players on their roster with players such as Chan-ho Park, Jae-weong Seo and Hee-seop Choi, so it comes to no one’s surprise when they signed left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to a six-year, $36 million deal.
Ryu had a successful career in Korea, pitching for the Hanwha Eagles since he was 19-years-old. In seven seasons in his native country, Ryu had a 98-52 record with a 2.80 ERA.
Debut: April 2, 2013
At 26-years-old, Ryu made his debut against the San Francisco Giants at Dodgers Stadium. This was only the second game of the season and the Dodgers took home the loss against their hated rivals. Although he lost the game, Ryu pitched well in his debut, throwing 6.1 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) and striking out five.
Where Is He Now: Ryu probably had his best season in 2013 posting a 14-8 record with a 3.00 ERA. He had 30 starts that year, a feat he has not reached since due to several injuries. He is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA this year but is on the disabled list dealing with a left groin strain.
Leading Up to the Majors: Growing up in Simi Valley, California, right-handed pitcher Matt Magill was drafted by the Dodgers in 2008. As a 31st round pick, Magill worked his way up to the Major Leagues, spending about a year in each minor league level.
Debut: April 27, 2013
Matt Magill made his debut at Dodgers Stadium facing the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers lost that game despite a quality start from Magill. He went 6.2 innings, allowing two runs, while striking out seven.
Where Is He Now: After a stellar debut, Magill struggled with the Dodgers was eventually traded to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Chris Heisey.
This year Magill pitching out of the bullpen for the Minnesota Twins. He has been superb this year, posting a 0.84 ERA through 10.2 innings pitched.
Leading Up to the Majors: On June 28, 2012, the Dodgers shocked the world signing this unknown guy named Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract. Despite the mystery to Puig, he had a solid track record from his playing days in Cuba. In two seasons playing for the Elefantes de Cienfuegos as a teenager, Puig hit .311 with 23 home runs.
Debut: June 3, 2013
Called up from double-A, Puig made his debut against the San Diego Padres at Chavez Ravine. He singled in his first at-bat and wound up going 2-4 that game. While his offense was impressive, Puig’s play of the game came with his arm. He ended the game throwing a bullet to first base, throwing out base runner Chris Denorfia to end the game.
You cannot mention Puig’s debut without mentioning his magical rookie year. He hit .443 with eight home runs through his first 27 games. He finished the season with a .319 average with 19 home runs, and wound up second in Rookie of the Year voting that year.
Where Is He Now: Puig’s career has been a rollercoaster ride since his debut in 2013. He has reached highest of highs, being named an all star in his second season to the lowest of lows, being demoted to the minor leagues in 2016.
This rollercoaster ride has continued again in 2018. He started off slow batting .193 without hitting a homerun before injuring his hip and ankle. Since returning from his injury, he is batting .292 with three home runs in only eight games. For the season he is batting .214 through 43 games.
Leading Up to the Majors: The Dodgers selected Chris Withrow in the first round of the 2007 Draft. Taken ahead of players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson and Corey Kluber, the Dodgers had high expectations for Withrow. Drafted as a starter, Withrow eventually became a reliever.
Debut: June 12, 2013
Chris Withrow’s debut was somewhat forgettable. He allowed a run and three hits in 0.2 innings, earning a blown save.
Although he struggled in his debut, Withrow pitched well his rookie season, with a 2.60 ERA out of the bullpen.
Where Is He Now: The Dodgers traded Withrow along with Juan Uribe to the Atlanta Braves in 2015. Withrow was injured at the time of the trade, recovering from Tommy John surgery but pitched for Atlanta in 2016.
He wound up with the Royals in 2017 but dealt with injuries, which prevented him from seeing action on the field. He is currently a free agent.
Leading Up to the Majors: The Dodgers signed pitcher Jose Dominguez out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old. He matriculated through the minor leagues and impressed the organization with his ability to reach triple digits on the radar gun.
Debut: June 30, 2013
Dominguez pitched out of the bullpen in his debut, playing against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodgers Stadium. He pitched one scoreless inning and struck out one batter in his outing.
He pitched well his rookie year, posting a 2.16 ERA in 8.1 innings.
Where Is He Now: Similar to Withrow, Dominguez dealt with some injuries and ended up being traded. The Dodgers traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Joel Peralta and Adam Liberatore. He then bounced around, playing for the Padres and Giants organizations. Dominguez currently plays for the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican Baseball League.
Leading Up to the Majors: Yasiel Puig was not the only Dodger rookie from Cuba in 2013. Left-handed pitcher Onelki Garcia also came from the island, but joined the Dodgers in a different fashion from Puig. Garcia posted a 12-11 record with a 4.53 ERA, playing three seasons as a teenager for the Indios de Guantanamo in Cuba.
He defected to the United States and ended up being drafted in the third round of the 2012 Draft.
Debut: September 11, 2013
Garcia pitched out of the bullpen at Chavez Ravine in his debut against the Diamondbacks. He did not throw a strike in his debut, walking Adam Eaton on four pitches.
Garcia had an ERA of 13.50 with the Dodgers that year but only his appearances were limited. He allowed two runs in 1.1 innings in 2013.
Where Is He Now: After dealing with injuries, the Dodgers released Garcia in 2014 and he was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. He bounced around, playing in the Mexican League and then going to the Kansas City Royals in 2017.
He now pitched for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, where he is 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA as a starting pitcher.
Leading Up to the Majors: Drafted twice by the Dodgers in both 2006 and 2008, Nick ‘Chili’ Buss spent six years in the minors. He played 650 minor league games before receiving a call up and batting .285 with 54 home runs.
Debut: September 14, 2013
Like every other Dodger that year, Nick Buss made his debut at Dodgers Stadium. The Dodgers got blown out by the Giants that game 19-3. Nick Buss played left field that game and earned his first hit against Tim Lincecum.
Where Is He Now: The Dodgers designated Buss for assignment in 2014 and he was picked up by the Oakland Athletics. He bounced around the league, playing for five organizations after the Dodgers.
He currently plays for the Twins organization and is batting .244 with a home run in triple-A.
Analysis: There is nothing better than seeing a guy finally getting a taste at the big leagues. Five years ago, six players experienced that sweet feeling with the Dodgers. Although only Ryu and Puig are the only players that remain in the Dodgers organization, all of those players will remember their rookie seasons for the rest of their lives.
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