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2024 Tulsa Drillers Watch List

Perhaps the biggest story in the Dodgers AA affiliate was going to be the competitive battle at the catching position between Diego Cartaya and Dalton Rushing.

There were certainly other questions:

  • With José Ramos as the only homegrown OF on the roster, how would the AAAA OF (Lolo Sanchez and Austin Beck) take to AA pitching?
  • Why is Austin Gauthier starting at AA after his success at Tulsa last year?
  • Will the reacquisition of Brendon Davis be a player to watch?
  • Will there be a breakout season for others assigned at AA – 2B/3B/SS Taylor Young, 2B/C Yeiner Fernandez, 3B/1B Brandon Lewis, 1B Griffin Lockwood-Powell.
  • Will there be other starting pitchers who take the next step after Justin Wrobleski?
  • What relievers will get noticed?

 

AA is the biggest MiLB jump .  If players can succeed at AA, they are more likely to get that chance at some point for MLB.  This is also where players get known as organizational depth.  They will be able to stay in MiLB filling in at AA or AAA.  With the cutback on draft players, these organizational depth players could get more playing time.  The other side of the coin is that with the new 165 player maximum allowed in an organization, more costly AAAA players may not be able to find a job at MiLB.

There are 450 fewer roster spots in MiLB, so success at AA will go a long way.

First the battle of the catchers.

Diego Cartaya is in his 2nd year at Tulsa.  Last year with 403 PA, Diego slashed .189/.278/.379/.657.  His power was still evident with 19 HRs.  That is one HR per 21.2 PA.  Diego has not turned it around thus far this year.  In 77 PA, Diego is hitting .133/.312/.200/.512.  He only has 1 HR so far.

Dalton Rushing has jumped from Great Lakes where he was struggling to stay healthy last year, to Tulsa in 2024.  This year in 95 PA, Rushing is hitting .266/.379/.494/.873 with 4 HR.  Rushing is #9 in the Texas League for SLG, and #10 for OPS.

Rushing has 10 starts at catcher, 10 starts at DH, and 1 start at 1B.  Cartaya has 14 starts at catcher and 4 starts at DH.

Defensively:

Cartaya has 124.1 innings at catcher, 156 total chances, 2 errors, 3 passed balls, and has thrown out 4 of 22 attempted stolen bases (18.2%).

Rushing has 87.0 innings at catcher, 93 total chances, 1 error, 1 passed ball, and has thrown out 3 of 14 attempted stolen bases (21.4%).

Rushing is 6 ½ months older than Cartaya.

It seems clear to me (for whatever that is worth) that Rushing is the catcher of the future for LAD.

BTW, both Yeiner Fernandez and Griffin Lockwood-Powell have catching experience.

The surprise thus far in infielder Taylor Young.  Young is 25 and was the Dodgers 8th round pick in 2022 out of Louisiana Tech.  Louisiana Tech is better known as the college of Terry Bradshaw.  But Young is getting noticed this year.

In his first year at AA, Young is batting .293/.381/.465/.846, 8 doubles, 3 HR, and 9 SB.  He does crack the top Texas League stats in BA (12), doubles (8), OPS (11), and stolen bases (6).

Two organizational players that bear further attention are OF Austin Beck and infielder Brendon Davis.  Austin Beck is a 25 year old RH hitting former 1st round pick (#6 overall) of the A’s. He was out all last year due to injury.  Something that has been a concern his entire career.   In 69 PA, Beck is hitting .295/.362/.590/.952 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 HRs.  Beck was someone I was very interested in seeing this year, and he is not disappointing.  Has he done enough to get the Dodgers interest for 2025?

Brendon Davis is making his second stop with the Dodgers.  He was a 5th round draft pick in 2015 for the Dodgers.  He was traded to Texas with AJ Alexy and Willie Calhoun for Yu Darvish at the 2017 trade deadline.  He has moved from Texas to LAA to Detroit and back to LA.  He has 11 MLB PA.

This year Davis has played a lot of outfield and some 3B.  In 120 PA, he is hitting .284/.367/.402/.769, 6 doubles, 2 HRs.

A couple of players who are looking more like organizational depth are Griffin Lockwood-Powell (GLP) and Brandon Lewis.  GLP is an UDFA out of Central Michigan.  While he has never put up huge numbers, he has been productive enough to have a career OPS of .844.  He is extra valuable because he can catch.  He has 5 starts at catcher this year and has 27 career starts at catcher.

Brandon Lewis (25) was a 4th round draft pick in 2019 out of UC Irvine.  This is his 3rd year at Tulsa.  In his first year, Lewis hit .209 but cracked 24 HRs.  Last year he hit .199 with 7 HRs.  This year, with 88 PA, he is batting .235/.273/.407/.680 with 4 HRs.

Will the Dodgers protect either player in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft?

Other than Diego Cartaya, perhaps the biggest disappointment for me has been José Ramos.  This is his 2nd year at AA.  After hitting .240/.333/.409/.742 with 19 HRs with 485 PA, he is hitting .196/.262/.393/.655 and 6 HRs.  He is striking out at 40% this year after striking out at 28.9% last year.  He is still the #28 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and the #26 prospect on the updated BA top 30 for LAD.

Pitching wise, Ben Casparius pitched well enough to get promoted to AAA where he just pitched a gem in his OKC debut.  I will write more on him when I get to AAA.

LHSP, Justin Wrobleski, started out very well.  After 3 starts, his ERA was at 1.88 (14.1 IP).  His next 3 and 14.0 IP?  12 earned runs.  I will let you do the math.  In 28.1 IP he has struck out 29, but has only walked 4 batters.  That is excellent control, but with the number of hits he has surrendered, his command has not been very good the last three games.

He is still just 23 at AA, so he is still a legit prospect.

Hyun-il Choi is trying to get back to where he was the LAD MiLB pitcher of the year in 2021.  After 4.0 IP in 2022 and 60 IP in 2023, he is up to 6 starts and 26.2 IP in 2024.  3 starts for OKC and 3 starts for Tulsa.  He struggled mightily in April.  But in May, he had a 6.0 IP no hit pitching at OKC. His last start was for Tulsa, and while it did not meet the OKC results, it was still very good.  He is 24 and so far splitting time at AAA and AA.

My favorite reliever this season for Tulsa is Jack Dreyer.  He also reached AAA.  He is a 25 year old UDFA out of the University of Utah.  In 14.2 AA IP, he has not allowed a run.  He has given up 6 hits and 3 walks with 20 Ks.  Yes, he dominated AA batters and was very deserving of a promotion to AAA.  In his AAA debut he pitched a 1.0 clean inning with 1 K.  He is someone to keep watching for.

Sauryn Lao is a converted corner infielder who has just started pitching last year.  He started out struggling, but in his last 7 relief appearances and 10.0 IP, he has not allowed a run with 5 hits, 3 BB, and 12 K.  He is a potential late inning high leverage reliever to keep an eye on.

I have been waiting for Jack Little since he was drafted in the 5th round in 2019 out of Stanford.  He has been a huge disappointment for me until this year.  In 2024,he has appeared in 11 games, 12.2 IP, with a 2.84 ERA,1.03 WHIP, and .191 BAA.  He has 13 K against 4 BB.  He has been a reliever since his Stanford days, so even though 26 years old, there is time for him as a middle reliever.

Ronan Kopp has continued with poor control.  12 walks with 6.1 IP.  He is just 21.  He is a big at 6’7” 250 pounds.  His arm is just too good to give up on.

I hope I begin writing about Ben Harris again sometime soon.

I am not sure there are any MLB All Stars in AA (including Dalton Rushing), but the depth is there.

 

MiLB GAME SUMMARY REPORT

 

Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Houston) 3 – OKC Baseball Club 1

Austin Gauthier – 3-4, 1 run, double 3.  After 5 games and 23 PA at OKC, he is 9-19 with 4 BB and hitting .474/.565/.789/1.354 with 1 HR and 3 doubles.  He also has a SB.

Michael Flynn went 2.0 IP, 1 HR and 5 K.

Stephen Gonsalves and Ricky Vanasco had 2.0 IP each.  No runs, no hits, 4 walks, and 4 Ks.

 

Box Score

 

 

Midland RockHounds (A’s) 14 – Tulsa Drillers 0

Yon Castro allowed 5 runs on 5 hits and 2 BB and recorded just 1 out.  Tulsa used 6 pitchers plus OF Chris Alleyne in the 9th.  Only Jack Little and Antonio Knowles pitched a scoreless inning.  Ronan Kopp had another 4 BB in 2.0 IP.

Tulsa had two singles on the night.  José Ramos and Chris Alleyne.

 

Box Score

 

 

Lansing Lugnuts (A’s) 11 – Great Lakes Loons 8 – 11 innings

Jackson Ferris allowed 5 runs in 5.0 IP.  Three other Great Lakes pitchers did not perform well.

  • Kyle Nevin was 3-5 and 4 RBI
  • Dylan Campbell was 2-6
  • Nelson Quiroz double (2)
  • Sam Mongelli double (4)
  • Dylan Campbell triple (1)

Great Lakes was 4-19 WRISP.

 

Box Score

 

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 3 – Visalia Rawhide (Arizona) 2

Gabe Emmett started and lasted 4.0 innings.  1 run, 4 hits, and 4 BB.  Christian Ruebeck followed with 2.0 innings and 5 Ks.  Noah Ruen finished the final 1.1 IP for his 3rd save in 3rd opportunity.

The Quakes scored all three in the 4th.  Josue De Paula opened with a double (8), stole 3rd, and Jordan Thompson hit a sac fly.  Joe Vetrano drew a BB and Oswald Osorio followed with a single.  A passed ball put runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out.  Sean McLain hit a sac fly to score Vetrano.  Jesus Galiz singled and scored Osorio.

RC had 4 hits.  No Quake batter had more than 1 hit.  De Paula’s double was the only XBH.

 

Box Score

 

ACL Giants 2 – ACL Dodgers 1 – 8 innings

 

Box Score

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Singing the Blue

Love these articles, Jeff. Thanks for the effort it takes to put them together.

I wonder if we’ll ever know what’s up with poor Cartaya. I really hope it’s something physical and someone cures him someday. He seemed like a really good kid.

Beck and Davis are definitely worth watching since we aren’t exactly deep in outfield prospects. I saw Davis in a few at bats during ST and was impressed with how he looked at the plate. Time will tell, I guess.

I’ve been rooting for Brandon Lewis since we drafted him, but I don’t really expect to ever see him in LA. If I recall correctly he lost a huge amount of weight in college and I was hoping we’d have a great story to tell some day.

I’ve had my eye on Dreyer and Lau for awhile now. I think they both have a chance to make contributions in LA at some point. Lau, the second coming of Pedro Baez. Hope he doesn’t need as much time between pitches.

I was holding my breath for the first half of the game last night, waiting for SD to finally get to Paxton. Apologies, Mr. P., another great outing for you. Loved Teoscar’s reaction and bat flip when he hit the slam. What a nice signing that’s turned into.

Singing the Blue

I forgot he went to Alemany which, as you probably recall, is where my younger daughter attended.

And his birthday is between my son’s (9/23) and mine (11/23).

Dionysus

All that high-end pitching talent got scattered like so many clouds in a beautiful sky.

Miller: after establishing himself as our next ace, poof
Sheehan: arrived one year early, disappeared
Stone: real and spectacular
Knack: doing his job, insurance policy
Hurt: eponymous
Frasso: o gone and by the wind grieved ghost
Ryan: send me location
Grove: settling in pretty well in pen

I always forget someone. Wrobleski & Casparius next up

Phil Jones

*Another great pitching performance this time by Paxton. Had that curveball working.
*Pages is just a cool customer and just takes things like that great catch down the line, in stride. Ho-Hum.
*Top 4, Muncy strikes out on 3 fastballs with Freddie on 3rd with one out. Orel said it, Waldron wouldn’t risk the K-ball with the runner on 3rd and he was right. Max couldn’t put 3 fastballs the ball in play. Then Teoscar pops up. 2 Poor at bats, Max especially.
But both made up for it later. Max’s defense has gotten so much better and Teoscar’s salami was huge.
*Consecutive nights, Doc has put on a Run and Hit. I love the play. Besides a straight steal with the right runner, I would use it instead of a Hit and Run all the time, for a couple of reasons. If the hitter takes a ball out of the zone, it should be a tougher throw for the catcher. Otherwise the hitter can his hack on a hittable pitch. I like staying out of the double play as a worse case scenario.
*I’ve sure seen an abundance of RHPs using arm-side running 2 seamers for backdoor strikes the last couple games.
*I’m glad Joe Davis explained “Live Fungoes” which I would have never known, had I not seen the drill live in Spring Training. It just sounds like an oxymoron. I’d never used it, or seen it, before but I’d sure use the drill now if I was coaching.
As Joe explained, a skilled fungo hitter gets a soft toss and hits ground balls at game speed to the infielders. It’s so much better than routine, 1/2 speed traditional fungo drills. I wish I had thought of it.
*I love the Matt Waldron story, despite hating the Padres. His carreer was going nowhere and farting around with a sideline K-ball, he took to a real game. It worked and was a career changer.
There’s a million stories about the pursuit of that pitch. Most every infielder throws a great one warming up on the sidelines. But put them on incline, ask for consistency, and it’s a different story. A backup slider has a chance but a shitty Knuckleball the spins and turns over 3 rotations, is BP. So Waldron seems to be a mystifying hybrid Knuckleball pitcher. He can float that baby in there and then bust you with 95 fastball and a curve.
*I had a good one on the sidelines that I learned from and old-time knuckleballer named Bob Tiefenauer. He told me that the secret to the pitch is to stride 1/2 as far down the hill. It’s a standup pitch that’s best if pushed toward home.
*My dad was a national quality fastpitch pitcher when he came out of the Navy in the late 40’s. His career lasted into his 50’s. He featured the traditional rise ball, drop ball, a pitch he called an “in-shoot drop” and for a changeup, throw a dead ass Knuckleball. It was a monkey on a leash. You could be fooled by the speed change but even if you times it, it danced off the barrel. That’s the theory behind Waldron’s approach and I like it.
Hoping for a quality start from Ferris and hope the top of the order gets going.

Last edited 5 days ago by Phil Jones
Badger

I worked with an older guy at Medical Nucleonics in the early 70s that was a former pitcher for nationally ranked fastpitch teams in the 50s and 60s. When talking about it I said “I can hit anybody”, which I believed to be true and was game on for this guy. So we gave it a go one day. I got one foul ball off him. And he was 10 years retired by then.

Fungo hitting might be a lost art. I have a buddy in Oklahoma, an artist in wood crafting, who made his own fungo bats. He coached in SE Oklahoma for years, hit infield right and left handed, mastered the top hand toss and could hit up the shoot pop ups to the catcher on first attempt every time. I have no idea who might still do this.

Good tip about the half step on the knuckle ball. I never considered that. I threw a two fingered knuckle ball for years. I threw it hard by pushing it and when successful it was pretty much impossible to hit. Problem was it was only successful half the time and you’re right, a tumbling knuckle ball is BP. When umpiring a Colt League game I threw one back to the pitcher, it surprised him, glanced off his glove and hit him in the chest pretty hard. I felt bad about it but after the game he came to me asked how to throw it. Have no idea if he was ever able to throw it

Phil Jones

Badger, my dad also played baseball as did all of his softball mates. They would play exhibitions against the local Class C team in those days. The softball guys killed the pro team as they could hit baseball pitching but the baseball guys had no chance against my dad.
I played both and until you’ve had a couple of weeks of BP, you have never seen anything rising like a good riseball and the speed is the equivalent of 100mph fastball.
My dad pitched with and against the legendary Eddie Feigner, who played in the league play until 1950 when he formed the King and His Court. In 1967 my dady and I were watching TV with the Hollywood All Stars facing the MLB All-Stars in a fastpitch game. James Garner was pitching, as I recall, and claimed to down with a sore arm. They ask for volunteers to take over and Eddie was sitting in the crowd. He volunteered to pitch and struck out Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Maury Wills and Harmon Killebrew.
In his exhibitions Eddie would strike out guys blindfolded, between his legs, behind his back and from 2nd base. I faced him once and hit a double. The next times up I swear I never saw the ball. Kind of the fast pitch answer to Satchel Page.

Last edited 5 days ago by Phil Jones
Badger

I saw Feigner in Wisconsin. My friend, Joe Garr, the old guy who blew it by me, told me he pinned 3-0 shutout against him.

I played a lot of fastpitch in Northern California. Frankly I preferred slow pitch. In fastpitch I played games where I got 3 at bats and no balls hit my way at short. That never happened in slow pitch. I loved playing defense in that game.

Bumsrap

Slow pitch is a blast.

Bumsrap

I’ve probably haven’t had much more than 20 at bats in fast pitch softball and the one at bat I remember most was a pitch coming in waist high down the middle of the plate and actually thinking “you stupid SOB” and swung hard at it with confidence. The ball wasn’t caught. The catcher couldn’t reach it as it sailed to the backstop. I’ve never seen a ball rise and break as much as that ball. At least I could laugh. It was comical.

Badger

The really good ones could make even the best hitters look foolish at times.

Badger

Buehler. Still think he’s back? I’ll agree he’s here.

Bluto

He has a back.

Singing the Blue

I’m sure you agree that we have to give him a decent amount of time. It’s been almost two years.

In the meanwhile, it doesn’t feel good to go down to SD and lose two out of three, but it seems like we do this every year and manage to survive the embarrassment of it all.

Badger

Buehler’s bad day was matched by the Dodgers offense. Another team schneid?

I agree he needs time and suggested he be given it at OKC. He just doesn’t look ready.

Bumsrap

He needed another day off.

Bluto

Zachary Rotman is the Site Expert for Halo Hangout and a contributor for Rising Apple Blog. He’s a recent graduate of Drexel University with a Sport Management degree.

Badger

Good read.

I agree with letting him pitch for as long as he wants to. Perhaps not every 5th day but now and then probably wouldn’t hurt. He could likely put up 7-8 WAR as an outfielder which would help pay the $700 million but as was mentioned it’s the brand that will bring in the dough.

I wonder if he could maybe use some of that $700 million to buy a piece of the action down the road.

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