Dodgers find relief with Dessens

By Jim Callis

August 19, 2004

The Dodgers’ strength in righthanded relievers has thinned out in the last three weeks after the trade of Guillermo Mota and a season-ending knee injury to Darren Dreifort. Los Angeles moved to shore up its righty bullpen depth Thursday, acquiring Elmer Dessens and cash from the Diamondbacks for outfield prospect Jereme Milons.

Dessens, 33, opened the year in Arizona’s rotation but was the demoted to the bullpen in May. He has pitched much better in relief (2.03 ERA in 29 appearances) than as a starter (1-5, 7.68 in nine outings). Overall, he has a 1-6, 4.75 record and a 55-23 strikeout-walk ratio in 85 innings. Opponents are batting .301 with 11 homers against him. He mixes sinkers, sliders and cutters, relying on trying to trick hitters rather than blowing the ball by them. Dessens is making $4 million in 2004, and his contract calls for either a $4.5 million salary or $300,000 buyout next year. His career record is 39-49, 4.49 in 237 games.

Milons, 21, was a 21st-round pick out of a Mississippi high school in 2001. His brother Freddie is a wide receiver with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. In 114 games at low Class A Columbus and high Class A Vero Beach this year, Jereme has batted .267/.315/.387 with 10 homers, 55 RBIs and 29 steals. Considered the fastest runner in the Dodgers system, he earns 70 grades (on the 20-80 scouting scale) with his speed. Milons covers a lot of ground in center field, where his instincts have improved significantly. He has some power potential, but he swings for the fences too much at times and lengthens his swing. If he can develop an approach that would allow him to get on base more frequently, he could take better advantage of his speed. He’s a career .273/.325/.382 hitter with 12 homers, 101 RBIs and 48 steals in 210 pro games.