Dodgers Spring Notes: Popup Arms
I got to see Zach Lee and Chris Reed, the club's two most recent first round picks, pitch back to back on my first day attending the Dodgers minor league camp. And trust me, there will be plenty of content about them in the near and distant future. For now, though, I thought I'd focus on two guys who stood out without having the name recognition of top prospects like Lee and Reed. The first player I noticed was Jose Dominguez. The 21 year old Dominican native was acquired back in 2007 on International Signing Day (July 2nd) for $50,000. He hasn't progressed as quickly as one would hope, though he was signed as a 16 year old so he's still young enough to develop. Jose posted decent numbers leading up to 2011, striking out 11.8 per 9 in his debut in 2008, 8.6 / 9 in 2009 and 7.9 / 9 in 2010. In 2009, he tested positive for a PED and was suspended for most of the 2010 season, in which he pitched just 24 innings. Last season, it appeared that Dominguez would break out as a 20 year old in rookie ball, posting a 3.50 ERA in 10 Arizona League games. However, a late season promotion to Ogden derailed his campaign, when he allowed 20 earned runs on 26 hits in just 10 innings. Listed at 6' and 160 lbs, Jose looks like he's put on a little weight since signing. His modest size will likely used as reason to project him as a reliever, but he should be allowed to continue developing as a starter. On Monday, he showed me a mid 90s fastball that touched 97 on the Dodgers' gun and threw one ridiculous curveball that actually broke so much it dropped right out of the strike zone. It's a lot to ask that he maintain the velocity, show consistency with the curve and use a workable changeup, but it would be easy to project him as a late innings reliever with just the fastball and breaking ball. He's young enough to continue to develop in the rotation and if he shows that type of stuff during the year, he should shoot up prospect charts. The other guy who stood out to me on Monday was Ryan O'Sullivan. The Dodgers' 4th round draft pick from a year ago suffered an arm injury prior to last season and didn't pitch in games in 2011 before signing. So it should come as no surprise that he struggled in his debut. That long of a layoff will accumulate rust on nearly any pitcher. In 3 starts, he allowed a 6.48 ERA in 8.1 innings with more walks (6) than strikeouts (5). The brother of Ryan O'Sullivan, who pitched for the Royals last season, Sean showed me two good pitches on Monday. His fastball was also in the mid 90s and he touched 98 on the Dodgers' gun. The pitch looked like it had decent movement as well. He also showed a slurvy breaking ball that kept hitters off balance. Like Dominguez, O'Sullivan doesn't have quintessential size but he should be able to handle a starter's workload. He is an injury risk, but he offers two promising pitches and a good delivery, so he's definitely another one to watch. Coming up: features on Lee and Reed, as well as other minor leaguers and an exclusive interview. Stay tuned.