MIDLAND, Mich. - The baseball off-season has presented another proving ground for several former Loons.
Players such as Corey Seager, ranked No. 2 on the Los Angeles Dodgers' Top 20 list, and Yimi Garcia (No. 12) have honed their skills in the Arizona Fall League - a showcase for future major leaguers - while others are playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Seager and Garcia are among seven former Loons who played for the Arizona Fall League's Glendale Desert Dogs. The league, whose all-time roster includes the likes of Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Torii Hunter, concluded its 31-game regular season last Thursday.
Each MLB team sends six key prospects to the AFL, ensuring that the talent level is high. The 2013 MLB All-Star Game featured 36 AFL alums, including AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers.
The Dodgers' 2012 first-round draft pick, Seager was impressive with the Loons in 2013 as he batted .309 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI in 74 games. That earned him a promotion to the California League, where he struggled while still showing more glimpses of his potential.
Playing against even tougher competition in Arizona, Seager hit just .181 for the Desert Dogs but belted two home runs - including a grand slam in his final game - and drove in 10 runs. He was ranked among the AFL's top 10 prospects by one publication.
Garcia, who pitched for the Loons in 2012, spent last season with Double-A Chattanooga. He made 49 appearances with the Lookouts, all in relief, striking out 85 batters in 60 1/3 innings. He had a 2.84 ERA with Glendale in the AFL over 12 2/3 innings.
Other former Loons on the Desert Dogs' roster were Jarret Martin, Craig Stem, Pratt Maynard, Mike Thomas and Brian Cavazos-Galvez. Thomas, who had a 1.24 ERA as a reliever for the Loons in 2012, was a 35th round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2011 who has pitched consistently well in the minors.
Dee Gordon, one of 10 former Loons on the Dodgers' 40-man roster, is playing for Tigres del Licey of the Dominican League. The Dodgers' 2012 Opening Day shortstop, Gordon has played center field for del Licey.
Gordon had 73 stolen bases for the Loons in 2009 while batting .301. He has a .256 career MLB average over parts of three seasons with the Dodgers.
Nick Buss, who hit 10 home runs with 63 RBIs for the Loons in '09, is playing for Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan winter league and has a team-high 15 RBIs. Buss played in eight games with the Dodgers last season.
Pitcher Matt Magill, who made 20 starts for the Loons in 2010, is pitching for Indios de Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican winter league. Magill has started three games so far and is 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA. Meanwhile, four former Loons are playing Down Under. James Baldwin, James Campbell, Blake Smith and Chris Jacobs are competing in the Australian Baseball League.
Final Arizona Fall League Stats
Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF, 67 AB, .269 Avg., 2 HR, 7 RBI, .329 OBP
Corey Seager, SS, 72 AB, .181 Avg., 2 HR, 10 RBI, .253 OBP
Pratt Maynard, C, 26 AB, .115 Avg., 1 HR, 3 RBI, .258 OBP
Yimi Garcia, RHP, 0-1 W-L, 2.84 ERA, 12.2 IP, 8 K, 3 BB, 1.03 WHIP
Jarret Martin, RHP, 0-1 W-L, 5.40 ERA, 15 IP, 15 K, 16 BB, 1.93 WHIP
Craig Stem, RHP, 0-0 W-L, 9.00 ERA, 4 IP, 0 K, 0 BB, 1.00 WHIP
Mike Thomas, LHP, 0-1 W-L, 4.76 ERA, 5.2 IP, 7 K, 3 BB, 1.76 WHIP