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Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Big international investments pay dividends for the Dodgers.

Hyun-jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig
Hyun-jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70, First Place NL West)


Yasiel Puig, OF:
Signed out of Cuba in 2012, the 22 year old was a sensation this summer after being promoted from the minors, hitting .319/.391/.534 with 19 homers and 11 steals in 382 at-bats for the Dodgers. He has all the physical tools and skills to be a superstar and has a habit of getting himself into the spotlight, for both good and ill at times. Puig led all major league rookie hitters with a 4.0 WAR and a 160 wRC+. It looks like the Dodgers were right: they took some criticism for signing him to a seven year, $42 million contract, but so far it has been a terrific decision.

Tim Federowicz, C:
Originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox from the University of North Carolina in the seventh round in 2008, Federowicz was acquired in trade in 2011. An outstanding defensive catcher, he isn’t much of a hitter at this point, batting .231/.275/.356 in 56 games for Los Angeles. His glove and leadership skills will keep him employed in the majors for years to come, though more as a reserve than a regular. At age 26, further offensive improvement doesn’t seem likely, but it isn’t impossible.

Scott Van Slyke, OF:
A 14th round pick from a Missouri high school in 2005, Van Slyke hit .348/.479/.627 this year for Triple-A Albuquerque and .240/.342/.465 with seven homers in 129 major league at-bats. Age 27, he doesn’t have great physical tools but he has sock in his bat and some feel for the strike zone. He should be a useful complementary player going forward with power and patience, though he isn’t likely to hit for a high average against big league pitching.

Nick Buss, OF:
A 26 year old minor league vet, Buss was drafted in the eighth round in 2008 from the University of Southern California. He hit .303/.363/.525 with 17 homers and 21 steals this year for Albuquerque, but went just 2-for-19 in a brief major league trial. He is faster and more athletic than Van Slyke and has some chance to contribute as a reserve.

Alex Castellanos, OF:
Drafted by the Cardinals in the 10th round in 2008 from Belmont-Abbey College, Castellanos was traded to the Dodgers in 2011. Age 27, he hit a disappointing .257 at Albuquerque, although he contributed 19 homers and 19 steals. He went 3-for-18 in the majors over eight games. As with Buss and Van Slyke, he could be a useful backup outfielder in the right circumstances.


Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP:
Signed out of South Korea in 2012 for a six-year major league contract, Ryu lived up to the most optimistic expectations by going 14-8 in 30 starts, with a 3.00 ERA and a 154/49 K/BB ratio. Featuring an 87-94 MPH fastball, curve, slider, and changeup, he presents the classic left-handed starter game of throwing strikes and changing speeds and he does it very well, capable of hitting any velocity slot from 65 to 94. He was certainly worth the investment. Age 26, he was very successful in Korea and remained so in the United States.

Stephen Fife, RHP:
Drafted by the Red Sox in the third round in 2008 from the University of Utah, Fife made 10 starts for the Dodgers this year, posting a 3.86 ERA with a 45/20 K/BB in 58 innings, allowing 69 hits. Not overpowering, the 27 year old has a sinker, curve, cutter, and changeup, fitting the classic fourth/fifth starter profile for most clubs.

Paco Rodriguez, LHP: Drafted in the second round from the University of Florida in 2012, 23 year old Rodriguez was ready for the major leagues extremely quickly and was very successful this year, posting a 2.32 ERA with a 63/19 K/BB in 55 big league innings, allowing just 30 hits. Although he can hit 91, he relies heavily on his breaking pitches and they are good ones, holding lefty hitters to a mere .129 average. Right-handers didn’t have it easy either at .198. He should be in big league pens for years to come.

Chris Withrow, RHP:
A first round pick in 2007 from a Texas high school, 24 year old Withrow was erratic as a starter for most of his career but thrived this year after moving to relief, posting a 2.60 ERA with a 43/13 K/BB in 35 big league innings, allowing only 20 hits. He has a mid-90s fastball, a slider, and a curve, and if his command remains in gear he has a shot at being a strong closer down the line. His upside is quite high.

Matt Magill, RHP:
A 31st round pick in 2008 from a California high school, Magill was successful this year at Albuquerque (3.47 ERA, 101/50 K/BB in 86 innings) but had command problems during a major league trial, posting a 6.51 ERA in six starts with a 26/28 K/BB in 28 innings. He has enough stuff to succeed as a fourth starter with a 90 MPH fastball, slider, change, and curve, but obviously he has to do a better job with his command and control. He is 23.

Jose Dominguez, RHP:
Age 23, Dominguez was signed from the Dominican Republic in 2007. He missed time with a quadriceps injury and pitched just 31 innings this year, 25 in Triple-A and eight in the majors. He can hit 99 and has a promising slider, giving him significant relief potential if he avoids health troubles. He fanned 40 in Triple-A with just nine hits allowed.

Onelki Garcia, LHP:
A Cuban defector, 24 year old Garcia became eligible for the draft after moving to the United States and was selected in the third round in 2012. He initially struggled as a starter in Double-A, but was more effective after moving to relief, showing a 90-94 fastball and a curve. Overall he posted a 2.90 ERA with a 67/35 K/BB in 62 innings in the high minors, but walked four in just 1.1 big league innings. His future will come down to how much command he shows.

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