According to Baseball America, the Dodgers have inked a pair of players that were key contributors to the Isotopes’ division title last year in catcher J.D. Closser and relief pitcher Hyang-Nam Choi. Both have signed Minor League deals with the Dodgers and could possibly both be with Albuquerque again this season.
Last year Closser, who entered the season with 160 Major League games, started the season in Double-A, a move not a lot of players with his Big League tenure would make. Nevertheless, he impressed the Dodgers with his work ethic and earned a promotion to the ‘Topes on June 15 when catcher A.J. Ellis made his first stint with the Dodgers. In Albuquerque, Closser batted .295, but was even more impressive in the way he contributed in the community. The switch-hitting backstop was always willing to visit hospitals or schools and was great with young fans. If Ellis wins a job as Russell Martin’s back-up in Los Angeles, there’s a very good chance Closser will be Albuquerque’s everyday catcher.
Also back in the Dodgers’ fold is Choi, who was sensational for the ‘Topes in middle-relief after joining the team on May 16. In 33 games, the right-hander went 9-2 with a 2.34 ERA, while holding opponents to a .236 average. Down the stretch, Choi was one of the Isotopes’ most consistently dominating pitchers and was instrumental in the team making the playoffs.
Another signing of note that involves a former Isotope is the resurfacing of slugger Jason Stokes, who signed a Minor League deal with the Detroit Tigers. Stokes, who was the Marlins’ second-round pick in the 2000 draft behind Adrian Gonzalez, showed a lot of promise, earning “Best Power Prospect” accolades in 2005 before his career was sidetracked by injuries. In the last five years, Stokes, who played for the ‘Topes sporadically in 2005 and 2006, has only logged 395 plate appearances (he didn’t play at all in 2008 or 2009).
One more quick word of thanks to all of those who donated to the Isotopes’ “Haitian Relief Pitch” last week. More than $19,000 was raised for victims of the terrible earthquake, which made for a pretty amazing day at Isotopes Park. It’s extremely humbling to see how people rally around others in need. Thanks again!!