Projecting the Dodgers’ Minor-League Rosters: Double-A & Triple-A

Editor’s note: Chris Jackson rounds off the minor league roster projections with Chattanooga & Albuquerque. Also, don’t forget to enter the Opening Day roster contest — open through 9pm PT tonight!

Van Slyke is one of nine outfielders who will vie for an Isotopes roster spot this spring. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

Scott Van Slyke is one of nine outfielders who will vie for an Isotopes roster spot this spring. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A Southern League)

Starting rotation: Onelki Garcia, Zach Lee, Aaron Miller, Rob Rasmussen, Chris Reed

All prospects, all the time, in east Tennessee this year! Garcia has the most pure stuff, but the least experience. Lee and Reed will hope their potential matches the results this season. Miller will have to fight to keep his starting spot after a middling season. Rasmussen will get some attention as the new guy in the organization.

Bulllpen: Geison Aguasviva, Steve Ames, Kelvin De La Cruz, Eric Eadington, Jordan Roberts, Andres Santiago, Chris Withrow

That is a lot of lefties, but it is hard to figure out where else to put them. De la Cruz is not a LOOGY and will give them a second long reliever to go with Santiago, who could start if Miller struggles. Aguasviva could fight his way to Albuquerque. Roberts is 27, so if he can’t stick here, his time with the Dodgers may be done. Ames and Eadington figure to share the closing job, though Withrow could see saves, too, now that the Dodgers have committed to him as a reliever. Just missed: Javier Solano

Catchers: Gorman Erickson, Christopher O’Brien

Erickson will be looking for some redemption after a lousy 2012. O’Brien was decent enough at Rancho to merit the promotion.

Infielders: 1B–J.T. Wise, 2B–Rafael Ynoa, SS–Alexis Aguilar, 3B–C.J. Retherford, UTIL–Joe Becker, Omar Luna

Wise and Ynoa have played well enough to earn promotions, but they are blocked at Albuquerque barring some trades. Aguilar is the pick I am least confident in; it could be a half-dozen other guys. In other words, please, Dodgers, sign some random Cuban defector shortstop to spare the poor fans in Chattanooga watching a guy with a career .662 OPS. Retherford had a big year at Rancho, but struggled with the Lookouts, so he will return here. Luna and Becker didn’t play a lot of shortstop last year, but they sure could this year. Just missed: Chris Jacobs 1B, Elevys Gonzalez 3B/2B, Miguel Rojas 2B/SS

Outfielders: LF–Yasiel Puig, CF–Joc Pederson, RF–Blake Smith, OF–Nick Buss, Bobby Coyle

Puig and Pederson are premium prospects. They both figure to play all three outfield spots here. Smith deserves to move up, and he certainly could, but for now I have him starting with the Lookouts. Buss and the talented but oft-injured Coyle return. Just missed: Kyle Russell

Final analysis: If some of the pitchers can translate their potential into results, then this team could be the favorite to win the Southern League. The rotation is six-deep and strong, while the bullpen is strong from both sides of the mound. The outfield should carry the offense, with shortstop being the only real concern on the infield. The Lookouts should be fun to watch this season.

Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

Starting rotation: Fabio Castro, Stephen Fife, Matt Magill, Matt Palmer, Mario Santiago

Magill is the legit prospect here. Fife returns and will be the first called up in the event of an injury to a starter in L.A. Palmer can chew up innings, but that is it. Castro was terrible last year with the A’s organization and might not last long in Albuquerque. Santiago is a gamble, with the Dodgers/Isotopes hoping he can carry over the success he found in Korea last year with the SK Wyverns.

Bullpen: Michael Antonini, Blake Johnson, Hector Nelo, Red Patterson, Paco Rodriguez, Cole St. Clair, Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall

Antonini’s health is in question, so he might not crack this group. Rodriguez and Tolleson both deserve to pitch in the Majors, but I have Javy Guerra and Ted Lilly taking the last two spots. Johnson and St. Clair return in the long relief roles. Wall should close again. Patterson moves up, but it could easily be Ames instead. Nelo, a minor-league Rule 5 pick, gets the nod over the plethora of Triple-A vets signed this off-season. I am also betting that the veteran trio of Kevin Gregg, Mark Lowe, and Peter Moylan will opt out at the end of the spring. Just missed: Juan Abreu, Victor Garate, Gregory Infante, Wilmin Rodriguez, Luis Vasquez

Catchers: Jesus Flores, Matt Wallach

Flores could easily be subbed out for Federowicz if the Dodgers opt to have the prospect play every day and the veteran back up A.J. Ellis. Consider them interchangeable. Wallach has never hit, but he plays good defense and seems like a safe bet to the backup. Just missed: Eliezer Alfonzo, Wilkin Castillo, Ramon Castro

Infielders: 1B–Nick Evans, 2B–Elian Herrera, SS–Dee Gordon, 3B–Dallas McPherson, UTIL–Rusty Ryal, Justin Sellers

Evans always earned rave reviews for his defense, which could be a big help for Gordon’s wild throws (remember how Mark Teixeira made Derek Jeter look better back in 2009?). While it can be speculated that Gordon could or should be in the Majors, until he proves otherwise, I have him here. Sellers is another guy most people are counting out, but the Dodgers have not dumped him yet, even after his arrest in Sacramento. Herrera can, and likely will, play everywhere, but he should play almost every day. McPherson will DH against AL teams, since his back is unlikely to hold up for 144 games. Ryal gets the nod because the Isotopes need the left-handed bat. Just missed: Alfredo Amezaga UTIL, Brian Barden 3B, Ozzie Martinez SS

Outfielders: LF–Scott Van Slyke, CF–Tony Gwynn Jr., RF–Alex Castellanos, OF–Jeremy Moore

Unless Castellanos returns to the infield, this outfield is tough to figure out. Both he, Moore and Van Slyke are all right-handed hitters, so it would make a lot of sense for someone like Smith (who hits left-handed) to move up from Chattanooga. Unless the Isotopes only carry seven relievers (which, fat chance), it won’t happen unless the Dodgers move Van Slyke in a trade. Moore gets that backup spot because he can play all three positions and because the Dodgers obviously think very highly of him as he was the only free agent to participate in their prospect minicamp last month. Just missed: Matt Angle, Brian Cavazos-Galvez

Final analysis: This team does not look as talented as last year’s playoff squad, at least on paper. The rotation looks awfully suspect behind Fife and Magill. The bullpen could be good, at least. The lineup lacks left-handed bats, but should be able to score enough runs to keep games interesting. If the Dodgers can’t find any additional starting pitchers, however, it could be a long summer of 12-10 scores in Albuquerque, which this reporter is not very interested in watching anymore.

Dodgers Add Mark Lowe to Crowded Bullpen

Per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com — and, I might add, a fellow BU Terrier — the Dodgers have signed reliever Mark Lowe to a minor-league deal with an invite to camp. Crasnick adds that Lowe would get a base salary of $1.5m if he makes the team, with incentives that could push the deal up to $2.1m. At least five other teams had interest in Lowe, who had been with Texas since being part of the Cliff Lee deal with Seattle in 2010.

Nice sideburns, guy. via

Nice sideburns, guy. (via)

I find that last part interesting, because as we’ve been discussing, the Dodgers really don’t have a ton of room in their bullpen — in fact, they have more reasonable options than spots available. Still, I’m happy with this, because you can never have too many relievers and Lowe, while inconsistent, has had his moments, as we discussed on January 31:

Then there’s Lowe, who is the only one I believe the Dodgers actually have interest in, given that not only did we hear reports of such interest in December, but all the way back in 2009. Lowe came up through the Seattle system with heat that touched triple digits, but missed much of 2006 and 2007 after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right elbow. He made it back to spend most of 2008 and 2009 in the bigs, then had back surgery in 2010 and went to Texas as part of the Cliff Lee deal while on the disabled list. Lowe pitched decently if not exactly fantastically (4.32 FIP) for Texas in 2012, though he did miss more than a month with a right intracostal strain. It should be noted that he carried a 2.00 ERA into September, but a brutal month (seven earned runs in four innings) pushed that up to 3.43. ERA! For relievers!

Lowe doesn’t turn 30 until June and still carries some potential in that big arm, though strictly as a ROOGY thanks to a big platoon split.

Obviously, he’s had his share of injury concerns, so he’s not someone you want to count on; still, a guy on the right side of 30 with some track record of big-league success is nice piece to add on a no-risk non-roster invite. You do wonder how he fits into a Dodger bullpen that already has to figure out how to potentially add a starting pitcher or two to the core group of Kenley Jansen / Brandon League / J.P. Howell / Ronald Belisario / Matt Guerrier, plus accommodate Javy Guerra & Shawn Tolleson fighting for jobs, and eventually work Scott Elbert back into the mix when he’s healthy — not to mention other NRIs like Peter Moylan.

That said, Lowe is hardly the kind of guy who demands you make room for him — if he was, he wouldn’t be coming on a non-guaranteed deal — so it’s a pretty nice problem to have. I’ll tell you this, though… more than ever, “Guerrier” really sticks out like a sore thumb among those names above. We’ve barely heard his name at all this winter, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was elsewhere by April.

Back to Lowe — some upside, no risk. You wish every deal was like that, so well done.

Dodgers Attend Mark Lowe Throw Day; Sign Minor Leaguers You’ve Never Heard Of

This is what counts for news these days:

That would be Mark Lowe, Ryan Rowland-Smith, & Kip Wells. I’m guessing that since they shared the throw day, not all of the teams were interested in all of the three players, and that’s convenient, because here’s my simple analysis on Wells: no. Hey, a guy heading into his age-36 season who got DFA’d by the Padres in August after a 5.85 FIP and two years out of baseball? Where do I sign up?

Rowland-Smith is somewhat more interesting, since he only just turned 30 last week and had some good years as a lefty swingman for the Mariners between 2007-09 before completely imploding in 2010, going 1-10 with a 6.55 FIP around time missed to a back strain. He spent the last two seasons in the minors for the Astros & Cubs, generally pitching poorly, and his brand of flyball homer-happy pitching would be a hilarious fit for Albuquerque, so here’s to hoping that’s not likelyl.

Then there’s Lowe, who is the only one I believe the Dodgers actually have interest in, given that not only did we hear reports of such interest in December, but all the way back in 2009. Lowe came up through the Seattle system with heat that touched triple digits, but missed much of 2006 and 2007 after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right elbow. He made it back to spend most of 2008 and 2009 in the bigs, then had back surgery in 2010 and went to Texas as part of the Cliff Lee deal while on the disabled list. Lowe pitched decently if not exactly fantastically (4.32 FIP) for Texas in 2012, though he did miss more than a month with a right intracostal strain. It should be noted that he carried a 2.00 ERA into September, but a brutal month (seven earned runs in four innings) pushed that up to 3.43. ERA! For relievers!

Lowe doesn’t turn 30 until June and still carries some potential in that big arm, though strictly as a ROOGY thanks to a big platoon split. While I wouldn’t mind adding him to the mix, I assume he can probably land a big-league deal somewhere, and with a Dodger bullpen group that already has Javy Guerra, Shawn Tolleson, Peter Moylan and others pushing for what may be only one spot behind certainties Kenley Jansen, Brandon League, Ronald Belisario, Matt Guerrier, J.P. Howell, and a probable deposed starter, I’m not sure I see the opportunity for him.

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In other news, the Dodgers signed two more minor league free agents, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America — righty pitcher Kyle Cofield, late of the Pirates, and outfielder Jaylen Harris late of… well, more on him in a second. The 6’5″ Cofield was an 8th round pick of the Braves in 2005 and spent a few seasons as a starter in the Atlanta system before being shifted into relief when he was traded to the White Sox for Scott Linebrink after the 2010 season. He spent part of 2012 with the Pittsburgh Double-A affiliate in Altoona before being released on June 29 for unknown reasons; he’s not a prospect and I’m guessing he’s ticketed for the Chattanooga bullpen in 2013.

Harris is a little different, because he’s not even listed on baseball-reference; as far as I can tell, he’s never played professional baseball. A fair amount of Googling brings us to this site, which indicates he’s 5’9″, graduated from a Texas high school in 2011, and that he lists Razor Shines as one of his “mentors”. Oddly, it does list Shines as being with the Mets, for whom he was the first base coach in 2009-10, but I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence that Harris signed with the Dodgers now that Shines has moved on to their Single-A team in Great Lakes. Harris probably spends the year in the complex leagues, and chances are we never speak of him again.