Notes From The Coast: Dodgers Lefties Mashing At Prodigious Pace
Our latest bi-monthly look at all the baseball news and happenings out West.
The Dodgers entered Wednesday with the most home runs (37) in the National League. Particularly notable is how much of that power has come from the left side.
Dodgers' lefthanded batters are hitting .314/.398/.655 with 26 home runs this season, all of which are best in baseball among lefties. Cody Bellinger (nine home runs) and Joc Pederson (eight) have led the way, with Max Muncy (four), Alex Verdugo (three) and Corey Seager (two) chipping in.
The Dodgers are currently on pace to finish the season with 222 home runs by lefthanded hitters. That would be the highest total in major league history. According to Major League Baseball, the record for most home runs by lefthanded batters on one team in a single season is 164 by the 2009 Yankees.
Lefthanded power has been a prominent feature for the Dodgers in recent years. They led the NL in home runs by lefties in 2018 (109), ranked third in 2017 (118), finished second in 2016 (112) and were first in 2015 (108).
This year’s group is on pace to outdo them all, and more lefties are on the way. Two of the Dodgers’ top three prospects entering the year—Verdugo and shortstop Gavin Lux—bat lefthanded. Their top prospect, catcher Keibert Ruiz, is a switch-hitter who is significantly more dangerous from the left side.
Injured Lists Start To Grow
As the minor league season moves into its third week, injuries are starting to pile up.
Giants' No. 1 prospect Joey Bart will miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, Giants manager Bruce Bochy told local media Tuesday night. Bart, the No. 26 prospect in the BA Top 100, suffered a fractured second metacarpal when he was hit by a pitch from high Class A Stockton (Athletics) righthander Mitchell Jordan in the fourth inning of Monday’s game in San Jose. The power-hitting catcher was off to a .270/.341/.541 start with two doubles, a triple, and two home runs in 10 games for San Jose. He had a 1.000 fielding percentage and had thrown out 7 of 19 (36.8 percent) runners from behind the plate.
Giants farm director Kyle Haines said Bart will be in a cast for approximately two weeks before before resuming baseball activities at the Giants' complex in Arizona.
"Return to game action is four to six weeks, two weeks until he's healed and then (we'll) start building his hand strength up," Haines said. "He'll hit in the cage, take batting practice, get some reps in and then we'll get him back up to San Jose."
While the fracture is on Bart's receiving hand, Haines said there wasn't any concern the injury would adversely affect Bart's defense.
"It was a pretty minor non-displaced fracture. No deformities, no resetting bones, nothing like that," Haines said. "Just surface level. It should heal up. We're fortunate it didn’t break a lot worse and need a longer rehab. Just going to get it in a cast and let it heal up."
Padres' No. 19 prospect Luis Campusano, fresh off winning California League player of the week, was also placed on the 7-day injured list Tuesday. He reportedly suffered a head contusion after taking a foul ball off the mask during Monday’s game with high Class A Lake Elsinore. A team spokesman confirmed the injury.
Flashy Leather From Joey Ortiz
New Mexico State shortstop Joey Ortiz is batting .433 with a 1.257 OPS, but that’s not what is catching scouts’ attention. Ortiz is earning a reputation as a must-see defender out West, with evaluators across the board labeling him a 70-grade defender at shortstop. Some are saying Ortiz is one of the top defensive players they’ve ever scouted, and it’s to the point Ortiz is now rising into top-10 rounds consideration.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Garden Grove, Calif. native isn’t hurting himself at the plate either. Ortiz hit for the cycle April 14 and was named Western Athletic Conference player of the week.
Corbin Carroll Keeps Climbing
Teams that pick in the back half of the first round are doing their due diligence on Washington prep outfielder Corbin Carroll, but the growing consensus is he’ll be gone by the time they pick. Carroll, a center fielder at Seattle’s Lakeside High, currently ranks No. 6 on BA's Top 400 Draft Prospects list and is increasingly cementing himself as likely a top-10 draft pick.
Though smaller in stature at a listed 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, the lefthanded-hitting Carroll has added enough strength that some evaluators now project sneaky power to go with polished instincts and a well-rounded skillset. If he is drafted in the top 10 picks, he would be the first Washington high school player to do so since Moses Lake HS outfielder B.J. Garbe was drafted fifth overall by the Twins in 1999. Carroll is committed to UCLA.