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A Minor Review of 2009: Los Angeles Dodgers

Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for a second year.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Graduate: Ronald Belisario, RHP
Belisario was always one of those talented pitchers that bounced around organizations because he could never truly turn his potential into results. That changed pretty quickly after the Pirates organization gave up on him. Belisario jumped from double-A to the Majors and posted a 2.04 ERA (but a 3.51 FIP) and allowed just 52 hits in 70.2 innings. He also posted a walk rate of 3.69 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 8.15 K/9. Belisaro also did a nice job of limiting the home run (0.51 HR/9) thanks to a 56.0% ground-ball rate. He’s pretty much a one-pitch pitcher (He throws the heater 85.3% of the time), but with a bowling-ball fastball that sits around 95 mph, that’s pretty much all he needs.

The Riser: Tony Delmonico, C
Drafted as an infielder, Delmonico moved to catcher in 2009. It increased his value as a prospect but it’s also slowed his ascent through the minors. The crazy power numbers that he showed in his debut (.716 slugging) have leveled off as expected but he still showed a good bat in ’09 at low-A ball, especially for a catcher. Delmonico’s work behind the plate has received mixed reviews but most feel he’ll be good enough to stick as a backstop. He threw out 26% of runners trying to steal against him. An injured hand ended his season prematurely on Aug. 4.

The Tumbler: Austin Gallagher, 3B
Affected by injuries, Gallagher’s career has been moving backwards instead of forwards. After a solid debut, the third baseman was promoted all the way high-A for the 2008 season. He held his own given his age and lack of experience, but he played in just 78 games. Sent down a step in ’09 to low-A ball, Gallagher’s offense declined to a line of .257/.319/.345, although his strikeout rate dropped five percent. Unfortunately, he did not play after July 3 due to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.

The ’10 Sleeper: Justin Miller, RHP
I’ll admit, Miller is a real sleeper. The right-hander had a rough year in low-A and high-A. At the lower level, he posted a 4.70 ERA (4.25 FIP) and allowed 125 hits in 115 innings of work. His walk rate was solid at 3.60 BB/9 but his strikeout rate was low-ish at 5.17 K/9. Upon a promotion to high-A, Miller lost all seven starts and posted a 8.13 ERA, but his FIP was just 5.18. He allowed 52 hits in 34.1 innings of work and his strikeout rate dropped to just 3.67 K/9. What we have here is a pitcher that pitches to contact with a crazy number of ground balls (61.9%) and an average repertoire (88-92 mph fastball, slider, change). With better defenses behind him, he could develop into a nice No. 4/5 starter or middle reliever.

Bonus: Andrew Lambo, OF
Lambo was identified as the ’08 sleeper for the Dodgers after a very nice campaign in low-A ball. He followed up with a promotion to double-A in ’09 but his bat was much quieter. His overall line was .256/.311/.407 and his homer total dropped from 18 in ’08 to 11 in ’09. However, he did hit 39 doubles, so there is some potential for some of those to jump up and over the fence as Lambo matures as a hitter. Another positive was the increase in his walk rate despite the promotion to double-A. The walk rate rose from 5.3% to 7.3% and the strikeout rate dropped from 25.0% to 19.3%. It wasn’t a stellar year but it wasn’t a complete waste, either, as Lambo made some adjustments.