Dodgers Midseason Report

Sands Continues To Shine





Best Player: Many yawned when outfielder Jerry Sands clubbed 14 home runs in 41 games for Rookie-level Ogden last season. After all, the 2008 25th-rounder from Division II Catawba (N.C.) was 21 years old, was in his second season at the Rookie level and was the beneficiary of a bandbox of a home park. But Sands disproved his skeptics by clubbing 18 homers in 69 games for low Class A Great Lakes this season before a two-level jump to Double-A Chattanooga.

Sands, a stout 6-foot-4, 225-pound righthanded batter, is playing more first base these days, but with a composite .334/.429/.659 average and a minor league-leading 24 home runs, his position seems inconsequential.

Biggest Leap Forward: Last December, the Dodgers sent Juan Pierre—and a mountain of cash to offset his salary—to the White Sox to acquire a pair of twenty-something righthanders.

Reliever Jon Link seemed to have a future in middle relief for Los Angeles, but starter John Ely, 24, has been a revelation, stabilizing the back of a rotation beset with injury (Vicente Padilla) and ineffectiveness (Carlos Monasterios, Charlie Haeger).

Just seven rookie pitchers this season had made more starts than Ely's 13, and in that time he went 4-6, 4.07 while befuddling opponents with his high-80s fastball, cutter and plus changeup. Ely had struck out 58, walked 22 and yielded six homers in 77 innings.

Biggest Disappointment: After an uninspiring 2009 campaign, outfielder Andrew Lambo raced from the starting line while repeating Double-A. He batted .342 with power through 19 games for Chattanooga, but that's when 21-year-old's momentum came to a screeching halt.

On May 1, Lambo began serving a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test. The Dodgers thought their 2007 fourth-round pick had put recreational drug use behind him. Lambo returned to the Lookouts in late June, but was 9-for-47 in his first 12 games back.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

• While the Dodgers settled in for protracted negotiations with first-round pick Zach Lee, the club quickly signed second-round righthander Ralston Cash and third-round outfielder Leon Landry for slot bonuses.

• Triple-A Albuquerque had used an astounding 36 pitchers through 84 games, eagerly signing recently released veterans like Luis Ayala, Kiko Calero, Jesus Colome, Jack Taschner and Claudio Vargas.