Dodgers' Deep System Pays Dividends
LOS ANGELES—The Dodgers entered the 2016 season with the No. 1 farm system in the game. They then spent the summer squeezing the fruits of that system on the way to their fourth consecutive National League West division title.
Rookies made 21.3 percent of the Dodgers’ plate appearances and pitched 29.6 percent of their innings, including a major league-high 70 starts. That number was beefed up by Japanese veteran Kenta Maeda. Two players—outfielder Andrew Toles and righthander Brock Stewart—began the season at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga but rose all the way to the majors.
Toles, in particular, was on no one’s radar—manager Dave Roberts said all he remembered about Toles from his occasional spring training appearances was his beard. Yet Toles started in left field for the Dodgers in the playoffs.
The Dodgers’ ability to pull players up from the minors and get immediate major league contributions was a crucial part of their success. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman remarked on "the number of fingerprints” on the 2016 Dodgers, more than he had ever seen on one of his teams.
"I think each instance is specific unto itself,” Friedman said. "A great byproduct of the change and shift that we saw this year on the major league side with (Roberts) and his coaches was to be able to provide that soft landing spot, that environment where guys can come up and thrive and not be afraid to compete, to be put in positions to be able to succeed.
"It could not have worked out any better on that front this year, and I think that is a cultural environment that will continue to grow off of itself and be furthered.”
n Chris Fetter is leaving Ball State after one year as pitching coach to join the Dodgers as a minor league pitching coordinator. The 30-year-old Michigan grad pitched four minor league seasons and worked briefly as an Angels scout.
Dennis Santana Lives Up To Athletic Billing
From light-hitting DSL shortstop to big league starting pitcher, Santana advanced quickly once converting to the mound in 2014.