BEST PLAYER: When you're playing this well, you can change your name to whatever you want and nobody will bat an eye.
Dee Gordon, formerly known as Devaris Strange-Gordon, definitely looks like a guy who has lightened the load. The 21-year-old son of longtime major league pitcher Tom Gordon has been the sparkplug for low Class A Great Lakes this season, leading the Midwest League in stolen bases at the all-star break with 40 and batting .310/.369/.408. He was tied for the league lead with 86 hits and was second with 55 runs. He also won the skills competition held during Midwest League all-star game festivities.
He still has plenty of room for improvement. He was third on the team with 50 strikeouts and had already committed 22 errors at shortstop. His path to Los Angeles appears clear, though, and he is the best-regarded shortstop prospect in the organization.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: He was sent back to the minor league complex before he threw a pitch with the big club in spring training, and that figured to be the last anybody heard of righthander Ronald Belisario for a while.
Instead, Belisario has been pitching in the seventh and sometimes the eighth innings with major league games on the line.
Hong-Chih Kuo and Cory Wade were supposed to handle the Dodgers' set-up duties this year, but Belisario and Ramon Troncoso have taken on those roles. With a new two-seam fastball that cuts in toward lefthanded hitters, the 27-year-old Belisario (who was signed in the offseason after being released by the Pirates) jumped from Double-A to a key role on the team with the best record.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINMENT: A season-ending injury is bad enough, but it's particularly depressing when it comes in a morning "B" game during spring training. Shortstop Ivan DeJesus Jr., broke the tibia in his left leg while sliding into home plate against the Brewers, keeping him off the field for the 2009 season.
Things started out well for the former No. 31 overall pick in 2002, but lately it's been miserable. After it looked like Miller had gotten the hang of the one-batter-at-a-time routine, he was extended a little longer and his outings haven't been the same.
Batters are hitting just .184 against Miller so there is hope. But that 7.94 ERA is a little harsh for a lefty specialist.DeJesus, the Dodgers' 2008 minor league player of the year, was the most advanced infielder in the organization and was seen as a possible replacement for Rafael Furcal before Furcal re-signed with the team. He is expected to make a full recovery.
• It's finally all coming together for lefthander Alberto Bastardo, who was in his third season at Inland Empire. He was named a California League all-star after going 6-2, 3.84 and earned a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga.
• Charlie Blaney, who spent 32 years in the Dodgers front office and last served as VP of minor league operations in 1998, will take over as California League president for 2010.