Athletic Gordon Rises To Another Challenge





Best Player: The Dodgers keep challenging shortstop Dee Gordon—who has jumped from Rookie ball to Double-A in three seasons—and he keeps rising to the challenge. This summer the 22-year-old hit .280/.332/.359 at Chattanooga while stealing a league-leading 50 bases.

After spending most of his amateur days as a basketball player, Gordon is still learning in the field. He made 37 errors in 127 games, though some of those were a product of his tremendous range. The Dodgers would like to see him become more consistent in the field and more disciplined at the plate: His average dropped 97 points from April to June.

Best Pitcher: Hard-throwing Rubby de la Rosa lit up the radar gun at Chattanooga, reportedly hitting 102 mph in a game at Carolina. But the numbers the Dodgers are most interested in are 7-1 and 2.39, his record and ERA in a 2010 season split between the Midwest and Southern leagues.

The pencil-thin, 6-foot-1, 170-pound righthander was especially tough after being promoted to Double-A and becoming a full-time starter. The 21-year-old held opponents to a .203 average and just one homer in his first 46 innings at Chattanooga, working seven innings in each of his last six starts.

Keep An Eye On: A 25th-round pick in the 2008 draft, Jerry Sands has emerged as the Dodgers' top power prospect after hitting .303/.400/.596 while splitting time between the Midwest and Southern leagues. Sands also banged an organization-best 34 homers, tied for second in the minor leagues, and drove in 90 runs. De Jon Watson, the Dodgers' assistant general manager for player development, calls the 22-year-old a "blue-collar baseball rat who's going to play in the big leagues someday."

Sands, who will head to the Arizona Fall League, played all three outfield positions as well as first base this season and showed enough speed to steal 18 bases in 20 tries. He'll need to cut down on his strikeouts—he fanned 119 times in 131 games—but he also scored 101 runs. "He's got a solid approach," Watson said.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

• First baseman/DH John Lindsey and third baseman Russ Mitchell both made the Pacific Coast League's postseason all-star team. Lindsey, minor league baseball's batting champ, hit .359/.407/.659 with 23 homers and 91 RBIs while Mitchell hit .322/.370/.550 with 27 homers and 86 RBIs.

• No minor leaguer was tougher to hit this year than Great Lakes righty Matt Magill, who held opponents to a .197 mark. Magill went 7-4, 3.29 with 129 whiffs in 120 innings.