Dodgers Sign Two From Tryout Camp, and Sadly, I Care

In case you’re wondering how slow things are in a big-league camp that has 95% of its jobs spoken for and no real games until Monday, we’re giving a full post to news that really ought to be a tag-on to something more substantial: the news that the Dodgers did indeed sign two players from the open tryout yesterday. Sadly, batboy Francisco Herrera was not among them, but thankfully neither was washed-up lefty Doug Davis. Actually, beyond the fact that the chances of either of these guys ever being mentioned on this blog again are infinitesimal, there’s something mildly interesting about each of them.

26-year-old righty Blake Johnson was once the Dodgers’ 2nd-round pick way back in 2004, six spots ahead of Hunter Pence & Dustin Pedroia. (Oops.) Midway through his third season in the organization, he was dealt by Ned Colletti along with Odalis Perez & Julio Pimentel to Kansas City for Elmer Dessens, in a deal that was far more about dumping Perez than it was about acquiring Dessens. He stuck with the Royals through last year, making it as high as Triple-A, before being released in July and finishing out the year with Colorado’s Triple-A club. In 40 career Triple-A games, his ERA is 7.79, so it’s hardly even a given he’ll make a minor-league club this year, much less be someone we ever have to think about again.

Far more interesting to me is 19-year-old middle infielder Brandon Mims, who was a 9th-round pick of Toronto in 2010 and played all of one game for their rookie league club that summer before missing all of 2011, an absence I can only find vaguely referred to as “personal issues”. Jays Journal had a good look at him last March, before it became known he wouldn’t be on the field:

From what information we have on the draft bonuses from 2010, Mims got the 4th highest bonus in the 9th rd. Only the Yankees, Orioles, and Rays spent more.

His bat speed is fast, and he makes consistent contact from both sides of the plate. He has also grown to reach 6’0″ and could should add some strength to his frame as well, so it is possible that he exceeds expectations in terms of power. What I know, however, is that he is a switch-hitter that is said to have enough arm to play anywhere in the infield. That, coupled with a strong glove and above-average speed spells the perfect utility player.

Obviously, who knows what caused him to miss last season, but the thought of getting a guy who seemed to be decently regarded in 2010 for free right now seems like a worthwhile gambit to add some much-needed depth into the system. Now let’s never speak of him again. (Update: more minor league signings, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Rick Bauer, a veteran of parts of seven big-league seasons and briefly a member of the Dodger organization with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2007 has been signed after spending 2009-10 in independent leagues and 2011 out of baseball. Righty pitcher Brian Anderson has also signed, though I am not quite sure if it’s the 28-year-old who saw time in the low minors for the Giants in parts of four seasons, most recently in 2010,or the about-to-be 30-year-old who was a major league outfielder for five years before transitioning to the mound in 2010. I know which one I’d prefer. Update #2: Eddy confirms that it is the converted outfielder. Cool!)

Elsewhere…

* As we discussed the other day, expanded playoffs have now been officially approved. ESPN’s Jayson Stark has further details, including clarification that the wild card play-in games will indeed be a winner-take-all affair. Despite all of the reasons I’m uncomfortable with the second wild card, I do really like how it makes winning the division take on more meaning, allowing the winner to reset their rotation and await the winner of the wild card play-in.

* Jon Weisman compares the Dodger starting rotation to the rest of the NL West at ESPN/LA, saying that “only if things break right for them do the Dodgers figure to have better than the third-best rotation in the division.” Can’t really argue with that.

* Sandy Koufax had some extremely complimentary things to say about Clayton Kershaw today, and how could you not?