Spring training is kicking in to full gear and Cactus League games are underway. Much is to be decided as to who will play in Albuquerque in 2012. Below is a list of who could be (and who won’t be) on the roster when the first pitch is thrown on April 5th in Omaha.
Who won’t return
Brad Coon – Outfielder signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Damaso Espino – Catcher signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox.
Dana Eveland – Starting pitcher who led the Isotopes in both wins and innings pitched in 2011 was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
Jay Gibbons – Outfielder signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jamie Hoffman – Outfielder was claimed by the Colorado Rockies in the rule 5 draft.
Jon Link – Relief pitcher signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
Travis Schlichting – Relief pitcher signed a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics.
Who might return – If these players don’t make the Dodgers 25-man roster out of spring training, they will most likely return to Albuquerque.
Ivan DeJesus Jr. – Primarily a 2nd baseman, he hit .310 last season and delivered some clutch hitting.
John Ely – Starting pitcher who threw 144 innings for the Isotopes last season.
Tim Federowicz – Catcher who came over from the Red Sox organization during 2011. He hit .325 while in Albuquerque and showed some power.
Russ Mitchell – 3rd baseman played in 25 games for the Dodgers in 2011 and drove in 69 runs for the Isotopes before being called up.
Justin Sellers – Played mostly at shortstop but can also play 2nd and 3rd base. Sellers appeared in 36 games for the Dodgers in 2011 and hit .304 in Albuquerque before the call up.
The following players are either on the Dodgers 40-man roster or are non-roster invitees to spring training. They could potentially be on the Isotopes roster during the 2012 season.
Michael Antonini – Went 10-9 with a 4.01 ERA for AA Chattanooga last year. 2012 will be his 6th professional season.
Jose Ascanio – Has appeared in 43 major league games with the Braves, Cubs, and Pirates. Spent the majority of last season with AAA Indianapolis (Pirates) and appeared in eight games for the Pirates.
Alberto Castillo – Has appeared in 79 major league games with the Orioles and Diamondbacks. Had a 1.91 ERA in 42.1 innings as a reliever last season with Norfolk (AAA Orioles) and Reno (AAA Diamondbacks).
Matt Chico – Chico has a career major league record of 7-15 with a 4.95 ERA over three seasons with the Washington Nationals. Had elbow reconstruction surgery during the 2008 season and missed the 2009 season due to the surgery.
Stephen Fife – Acquired by the Dodgers from the Red Sox in a three-way trade that sent Isotope Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. Fife split last season between AA Portland (Red Sox) and AA Chattanooga (Dodgers). He posted a combined 14-4 record with a 3.74 ERA.
John Grabow – Grabow has appeared in 506 major league games over nine seasons with the Pirates and Cubs. Last year he posted a 3-1 record with a 4.76 ERA in 58 games (all relief appearances) for the Cubs.
Angel Guzman – Guzman has appeared in 88 games over four seasons with the Cubs. After major shoulder surgery in 2010, he is attempting to return to the big leagues. When healthy, Guzman has the ability to dominate at any level.
Wil Ledezma – Ledezma has appeared in 192 major league games over nine seasons. He has a combined record of 15-25 with a 5.40 ERA with the Tigers, Braves, Padres, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Nationals, and Blue Jays.
Josh Lindblom – Lindblom was a 2nd round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2008. Last season, he appeared in 27 games for the Dodgers and finished with an impressive 2.73 ERA. Lindblom spent part of 2009 and 2010 on the Isotopes roster.
Shane Lindsay – Spent last season in the White Sox organization where he finished with a 3-3 record and an impressive 2.18 ERA in 70.1 innings between AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte. He made his major league debut appearing in 4 games for the White Sox.
Fernando Nieve – Has appeared in 99 major league games, starting 19, between the Astros and Mets. Spent most of the 2011 season with the Doosan Bears in South Korea.
Scott Rice – Appeared in 34 games for AA Chattanooga in 2011 posting a 4-4 record with a 1.95 ERA.
Will Savage – Savage started 23 games for AA Chattanooga in 2011 posting a 12-6 record with a 3.95 ERA.
Shawn Tolleson – Tolleson is moving quickly through the Dodger system. Tolleson was drafted in the 2010 amateur draft and moved up from class A Great Lakes to AA Chattanooga with a stop in Rancho Cucamonga in between. Tolleson saved a combined 25 games to go along with a 7-2 record and an impressive 1.17 ERA at the three levels. Perhaps most impressive, he struck out 105 batters in only 69 innings.
Ryan Tucker – Tucker, a former 1st round draft pick of the Marlins, has appeared in 18 major league games with the Marlins and Rangers. Tucker spent the majority of last season at AAA Round Rock (Rangers) appearing in 29 games.
Josh Wall – Wall was a 2nd round pick of the Dodgers in 2005. He spent the 2011 season at AA Chattanooga appearing in 51 games.
Jamey Wright – Wright was a 1st round draft pick of the Rockies in 2003. Wright has thrown over 1800 innings in MLB and has a career record of 85-121 with a 4.93 ERA. Wright appeared in 60 games for the Mariners last season and had a very respectable 3.16 ERA.
Josh Bard – Bard, a 3rd round pick of the Rockies, has 10 years major league experience, appearing in 586 games with a career .254 batting average while playing for five different teams. He split last season between AAA Tacoma and the Seattle Mariners.
Gorman Erickson – Hit .293 with 13 HR and 66 RBI between High A Rancho Cucamonga and AA Chattanooga in 2011.
Jeff Baisley – Baisley appeared in 14 games for the Oakland Athletics in 2008. In 2011, he played in 134 games for AAA Salt Lake (Angels) hitting .303 with 20 HR and 100 RBI.
Luis Cruz – Cruz has 56 games of major league experience with the Pirates and Brewers. Last season, he appeared in 67 games for AAA Round Rock (Rangers) hitting .273.
Josh Fields – Fields is a former 1st round pick of the White Sox. Fields has appeared in 217 major league games and has a career batting average of .234. Fields split the 2011 season between AAA Colorado Springs (Rockies) and the Yomiuri Giants of the Japan Central League.
Lance Zawadzki – Zawadzki appeared in 20 games for the Padres in 2010. In 2011, he played for AAA Omaha (Royals) hitting .233 in 91 games.
Matt Angle – Recently claimed off waivers from the Orioles, Angle hit .271 for AAA Norfolk and made his major league debut appearing in 31 games for the Orioles in 2011.
Alex Castellanos – Castellanos came to the Dodger organization in the Rafael Furcal trade last season. He hit .320 with 23 HR and 85 RBI between AA Springfield (Cardinals) and AA Chattanooga.
Chris Pettit – Pettit has appeared in 11 games with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2011, he played for AA Arkansas (Angels) and AAA Salt Lake, appearing in 124 games.
Alfredo Silverio – Silverio had his best professional season in 2011 while playing at AA Chattanooga. He hit .306 with 16HR and 85 RBI. Silverio was involved in a serious car accident in January. He is currently not participating in baseball activities due to concussion like symptoms.
Cory Sullivan – Sullivan has six years major league experience, appearing in 476 games for the Rockies, Mets, and Astros. He has a major league career batting average of .271. In 2011, he played in 36 games for AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies).
Scott Van Slyke – Van Slyke had a breakout 2011 season at AA Chattanooga. He won the Southern League batting title and won the Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year award. At Chattanooga, he hit .348 with 20 HR and 92 RBI and had a .427 on-base percentage. Van Slyke (son of former major leaguer Andy) had briefs stints with the Isotopes in 2009 and 2010.
Permanency hasn’t always been a thing in Jerry Sands’ life. During his past few offseasons the left fielder has served as a substitute teacher for middle and high schools, but looks to make a more prominent impact in his true subject of expertise — baseball.
Sands spent roughly two-thirds of the 2011 professional baseball season with Triple-A Albuquerque. He appeared in 94 games with the Isotopes, blasting 29 home runs and hitting .278, before making his Major League debut with the Dodgers. Dressed in “True Blue,” Sands posted a noticeable .253 batting average with four homers and 56 RBI in 61 games.
He’s hoping it will be enough to get a phone call from the Dodgers this season for a full-time spot rather than a roster fill-in. Unfortunately, when Sands’ phone finally rang, it wasn’t quite the call he expected.
The Dodger hopeful’s phone rang at 4:30 AM with an automated call from Johnston County School District, looking for a substitute teacher for the day. Not exactly the type of news a full-time position seeker is hoping for.
“I want to be the starting left-fielder,” the 24-year-old Sands told the Globe and Mail last Thursday, a few hours after notifying the schools that he won’t be available for at least the next six weeks. “But no matter where they put me, I’ve got to show I can play.”
Sands has made a fair impression thus far in Spring Training, catching the eyes of Manager Don Mattingly, who is concerned about giving Sands the right amount of playing time. Mattingly acknowledged a lack of at-bats could potentially stunt the growth of Sands’ Major League development.
However, ESPN reported today that Juan Rivera will get the “vast majority of starts in left field,” leaving Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jerry sands in reserve, bench spots. Mattingly also suggested Rivera wouldn’t see as many as 150 games, leaving room for the Dodgers to “mix and match with Tony Gwynn and Jerry Sands as far as lefty-righty.”
While it seems playing time is all but set for Sands, it still is too early to pigeon hole the slugger as a Triple-A/Major League rotating player. The season can bring about many kinds of opportunities through trades or injuries, and Sands has continually proven he can rise to the occasion. The full-time baseball commitment is much larger than a substitute teacher, but no one wants to give up chasing the big-league dream. That, and the league-minimum salary of $480,000 definitely beats his other options.
I’m sure even Sands’ middle school students can appreciate that math.