Player of the Week for August 15-21 – Damon Keith
The Midwest League player of the week is outfielder Damon Keith who had a slow start after his promotion to the Great Lakes Loons but has been on fire for the past week.
He was selected in the 18th round – 552nd overall – of the 2021 First-Year Player Draft by the Dodgers out of California Baptist University. He was the only position player signed by the Dodgers selected in that draft and one of only two actually drafted. Shortstop Michael Sirota was the other, but he chose not to sign.
He began his professional career in 2021 with the ACL Dodgers and over 23 games and 69 at bats he slashed .333/.453/.551 with an OPS of 1.004 suggesting he was going to be a hitter.
And hit he did. He was selected as the California League Player of the Month in April. When promoted to the Loons on August 3rd he had posted a triple slash of .299/.433/.55 with an OPS of .933 and with 12 home runs and 65 runs batted in over 88 games.
During the past seven days with the Loons his slash line reads .471/.550/1.235 with an OPS of 1.785. In five games he had eight hits and three walks. Six of his hits were for extra bases including two doubles, a triple and three home runs.
He drove in seven runs.
Have a night, Damon Keith!
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 19, 2022
Hitting Up A Storm – Yunior Garcia
A performance worthy of a curtain call?
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 20, 2022
Bluto upstaged me on Yunior Garcia. Good for him for following the Dodgers MiLB affiliates as closely as he does.
Just turned 21 at the end of July, Garcia originally signed with the Dodgers as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 29, 2017. That is his birthday so he signed on the day he turned 16 which I believe is the first day he was eligible to sign in 2017.
For four years he did not make it out of rookie ball. His first two years were in the Dominican Summer League, 2020 was a canceled Covid-19 pandemic year and in 2021 he played in the Arizona Complex League.
Garcia had a slow start to his 2022 season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes hitting just .186 in April and .245 in May.
Then he became a new hitter. In the last three months he has slashed .353/.423/.612 with an OPS of 1.035. He has hit 12 home runs, driven in 58, walked 23 times and struck out 44 times. In July and August he struck out 20 times and walked 18 times.
Up until Friday, July 19 Yunior Garcia was still a bit of an unknown except with his hitting coach. In that game he actually received a curtain call, something that hitting coach O’Koyea Dickson said he has never seen before.
The curtain call came after he had a career night from the clean up spot on July 19th in which he had five hits, three of which were home runs and six runs batted in along with four runs scored.
Hitting coach Dickson was not surprised by his 489-foot home run with an exit velocity of 110 mph or by his improvement at the plate.
“We worked a lot … over the last couple of months, just simplifying his swing and simplifying his setup because he’s got probably some of the most power in all of Minor League Baseball,” Dickson said of the 21-year-old slugger.
Dickson is also impressed with Garcia’s work ethic and his contribution in the clubhouse as a teammate.
“He’s an awesome kid,” Dickson said. “He’s very, very easy to work with. He’s definitely one of the best clubhouse guys we have here and one of the most stand-up guys that we have in the organization.”
Yunior Garcia came from out of no where and now ranks in the top 10 in five offensive categories.
He is 4th with 28 doubles, 5th with 74 RBI, 5th with a .305 BA, 6th in SLG at .513 and 6th with an .895 OPS.
On Monday, August 22nd Garcia was promoted to the Loons. He debuted on Tuesday night and went 0-5 with three strikeouts.
Dodgers Prospects: A Chat With Yunior Garcia Of The Quakes
The Other Arm – Moises Brito
The 6’5”/215 lb. Brito is somewhat of a mystery that will not unfold until he comes stateside in 2023. He is 20 years old and pitching for the first time in the Dominican Summer League.
With the DSL Blue Jays he posted a 1.86 ERA over 29 innings while striking out 32 and walking just one batter.
With the DSL Dodgers Mega he has pitched 11.1 innings over four games in which his ERA is 1.59 and his WHIP comes in at 0.53. He has struck out 13 and not issued a walk with the Dodgers. On the season he has struck out a combined 45 hitters over 40 innings and walked but one.
At 20 years of age he may well be mismatched against teenagers. However, it is his first year of professional baseball and he does throw strikes.
I am guessing the Dodgers are pretty high on him as they were willing to part with 20-year-old infielder Alex De Jesus in that trade.
One More Quick Hit – Josue De Paula
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 15, 2022
On January 15, 2022 at the start of the international signing period the Dodgers signed infielder Samuel Muñoz who was considered to be their top pick and listed among the top 50 international prospects by Baseball America. He has been a good selection and a top hitter for the Dodgers during the current Dominican Summer League season.
Josue De Paula was also among the Dodgers early international signings in 2022 signing on the same day as Muñoz. De Paula is an outfielder and has played all three outfield positions during the 2022 season.
As the season winds down the two 17-year-old players are neck–in-neck with their statistical summary for the season. De Paula is the top DSL Dodger hitter in 2022 and leads Muñoz in 11 offensive categories.
De Paula ranks sixth in batting average (.349) in the league while Muñoz is right behind in seventh place (.347). Beyond that De Paula leads Muñoz in runs (42), hits (65), doubles (13), HR (5), BB (32), OBP (.448), SLG (.552), OPS (.970) and SB (16).
This is not to diminish in any way the very good season that Samuel Muñoz has had and was perhaps expected, but to highlight the season Josue De Paula has perhaps unexpectedly had. The Dodgers are fortunate to have these two youngsters ready to come to the ACL at some point in 2023.
Two other DSL Dodgers 17-year-old players – both listed as shortstops – lead the league in home runs. Jeral Perez has eight and Mairoshendrick Martinus is tied for second with seven. Only four DSL players have hit more home runs than De Paula with his five.
Interesting Fact: Josue De Paula was born in Brooklyn, NY.