Better Late Than Never
The Dodgers spent their 2013 first rounder on Chris Anderson out of Jacksonville and the immediate results were promising. After debuting with the Loons, Anderson moved straight to High-A Rancho, where he spent the entire season.
Anderson got off to a rough start, struggling with his control, which led to a 4.2 BB/9 rate. But he ended the season on a high note, walking just seven batters over his final six starts. The hard-throwing righty will be given ample opportunities to stay in the rotation but may ultimately wind up in the bullpen a la Chris Withrow.
Another late-bloomer this season was Jharel Cotton. A 20th-round pick in 2012, the stocky righty pitched well for Low-A Great Lakes in 2013 and reached Double-A, though he struggled with the Lookouts. He stayed with the Quakes for all of 2014 and, like Anderson, started slow.
However, he made some adjustments and took off in mid-July, closing out the season with seven dominant outings. The 22 year old needs to refine his breaking ball to remain a starter but showed good potential down the stretch of the season.
Along with their first-rounder from 2013, second-rounder Tom Windle pitched for the Quakes and was one of the club’s most reliable starters. He had a few rocky months but finished the season strong. Like Cotton, Windle must show a consistent changeup in order to remain a starter. He’ll have the chance to continue developing it next year with the club’s new Double-A affiliate in Tulsa.
On The Mend
A few players in the middle of productive seasons went down with injuries that abbreviated their 2014 campaigns. Lindsey Caughel was posting strong numbers with the Quakes before being hampered by a strained oblique that caused him to miss some time early in the year.
He returned in late June and pitched well until his season ended early after an Aug. 4. Caughel is the rare control righty with modest stuff across the board but he changes speeds and locates well; think a Stephen Fife type.
Brandon Dixon, the Dodgers’ third-round pick from 2013, got off to a slow start. In April, he OPS’d just .395 in 22 games. But with some hard work, he was able to rebound with an .875 mark in May and continued being pretty productive through early July, when he went down with an injury.
Dixon came back in August and played 15 games, though he didn’t hit as well as before. Drafted as a third baseman, he’s since been moved to second base, and has the speed and athleticism to hold his own there.
The biggest raw power in the Dodgers’ system may belong to Chris Jacobs. A massive guy, he looks more like a tight end than a first baseman. And when he connects, there’s no telling how far the ball may fly. Jacobs clubbed 25 home runs, which ranked seventh in the California League. He’s likely an org guy, but it sure is fun watching him take batting practice.
Another intriguing name is Aaron Miller, a first baseman/designated hitter/right fielder who was drafted as a pitcher. This season was his first as a full time hitter and he did well, hitting 14 home runs and OPSing .826. At 27, time isn’t necessarily on his side but he’s shown a sharp learning curve.
The final player that deserves to be mentioned is Jeremy Rathjen. Drafted as a senior out of Rice in 2012, Rathjen struggled in his full season debut in 2013 and to begin 2014.
However, after going to extended spring training to work on his swing, Rathjen came back and tore the cover off the ball, OPSing 1.040 in July and .828 in August. He’ll be 25 in January, but he’s got tools to spare and could be a late bloomer.