Dodgers acquire shortstop of the future

By Josh Boyd
December 14, 2001

BOSTON–The Dodgers haven’t been able to move Gary Sheffield at the winter meetings and they didn’t acquire Billy Koch, but general manager Dan Evans feels they upgraded their infield and bullpen by acquiring shortstop Cesar Izturis and righthander Paul Quantrill from the Blue Jays for righthanders Luke Prokopec and Chad Ricketts.

Evans referred to the 21-year-old Izturis as the Dodgers “shortstop of the future.”

Despite hitting .215 at Triple-A Syracuse in 2000, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Venezuela native was rated as the Blue Jays No. 3 prospect last season. Izturis hit .269 for the Blue Jays in brief stints as their second baseman. He hit .292-2-35 in 342 at-bats at Syracuse while playing primarily shortstop. Izturis averaged 24 steals per season over the last four years, but it’s his defense that turns heads.

His smooth, natural actions and slick glove work have drawn comparisons to Omar Vizquel. Izturis has an above-average arm and turns the double-play with ease. The switch-hitter is a free-swinger, though, and he needs to learn to keep the ball on the ground and use his speed. He has hit under .200 from the right side in Syracuse over the past two years.

Izturis was stuck in a crowded Blue Jays middle infield with Felipe Lopez assuming the departed Alex Gonzalez’ shortstop job and rising prospect Orlando Hudson and Homer Bush vying for the second base job. In LA, Izturis will compete with incumbent shortstop Alex Cora, whose .217 average and .591 OPS left a lot to be desired last year.

Ricketts, 26, entered last year as the Dodgers No. 10 prospect. He went 1-3, 2.91 in his second consecutive season in Triple-A. A 6-foot-5, 225-pound righthander, Ricketts was acquired as part of a five-player deal by the Dodgers from the Cubs in December 1999 for Eric Young and Ismael Valdes.

Ricketts complements his low-90s moving fastball with a plus changeup. He’s averaged better than a strikeout per inning over the past three seasons and struck out 70 in 59 innings last year at Las Vegas.