The Los Angeles Dodgers almost lost Scott Schebler. In fact, the outfielder thought they had.
En route to Dodger Stadium in 2010 to sign a contract, Schebler found out the team wasn't quite matching his asking price after all. Determined to stand his ground, the native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, decided to fly back home and honor his scholarship to Wichita State rather than start his professional career.
"I thought it was all over," the Chattanooga slugger said.
The Dodgers, though, upped their offer on the day of the August deadline that year and Schebler said yes this time.
"It was crazy," the left-handed hitter said. "They had someone drive from Chicago with the contract to beat the deadline by a couple hours.
Schebler, who received a $300,000 bonus, finally made it to Dodger Stadium last September when he was honored as the team's Minor League Player of the Year.
"They mentioned that I got to the see Dodger Stadium when it looked even nicer, because they had finished a lot of remodeling," he said.
It may not be too long before the Dodgers' No. 9 prospect gets to play in Chavez Ravine. The 26th-round Draft choice from an Iowa junior college about whom the team was on the fence has come a long way.
"It's all worked out great," he said.
Schebler, who hit for the cycle June 1, had a three-homer game Aug. 12 to take over the Southern League lead. He had a league-best 12 triples in addition to his 25 home runs and also was tops in extra-base hits and total bases while slugging .548 with a .359 on-base percentage.
"I'm happy with my season but not satisfied," said the 23-year-old, who was batting .276 through 121 games.
Schebler is certainly glad the Lookouts play at AT&T Field now rather than History Engle Stadium a couple miles away. He came up empty in the Home Run Derby there the night before the Southern League All-Star Game.
"It didn't really bother me," Schebler said. "I knew I wasn't a batting-practice power hitter, and I got to see Kris Bryant put on a show. He was amazing."
Schebler likely wouldn't be leading the Southern League in homers if the Chicago Cubs hadn't promoted their No. 1 prospect from Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa in late June, but his numbers are still impressive.
Schebler has hit 17 of his homers and eight of his triples at AT&T Field, where he is batting .305 with 44 of his 67 RBIs in 64 games.
"This is a good place to hit, and I'm really comfortable with the routine at home," he said.
It can be tough for a hitter to go from the Class A Advanced California League to the pitcher-friendly Double-A Southern League. Schebler, who led the Cal League in total bases and extra-base hits while recording 27 homes and 91 RBIs for Rancho Cucamonga last year, fell victim for a while.
"I think I over-thought it at first," he said. "It took me a couple of months to get in a groove."
Schebler played football, basketball and soccer during high school in addition to baseball and also set records in indoor track and field. In fact, he originally thought his college future was in football.
High school baseball is played during the summer in Iowa and doesn't attract many scouts. But Schebler hit .446 with 20 homers as a freshman at Des Moines Area Community College. Still, there were questions about Schebler's signability.
"I may have outpriced myself," he said.
The Dodgers, though, took a chance and liked Schebler even more after he tore up the Northwoods League that summer playing for Green Bay. But they had to make the money work.
Down time: The Atlanta Braves are being cautious with second baseman Jose Peraza, their top prospect. He hasn't played for Mississippi since Aug. 12 because of a left groin strain and was placed on the disabled list on Monday. Peraza is hitting .341 in 42 games with Mississippi after posting a .342 average in 66 games for Class A Advanced Lynchburg. The 20-year-old from Venezuela had 60 steals in 75 attempts for the two teams. He is No. 55 among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects.
Streaking: The Chattanooga Lookouts' 11-game winning streak was five short of the Southern League record set by Montgomery in 1968. Lookouts records are incomplete, but it was definitely the team's longest streak since moving to AT&T Field in 2000. Chattanooga was just 14-25 in the second half before the streak, which began Aug. 1 and ended Aug. 14 with a 5-4 loss to Jacksonville. The Lookouts didn't allow a run in four of the final five victories during the run.
Staying hot: Mobile third baseman Brandon Drury, Arizona's No. 6 prospect, batted .352 with four homers and nine RBIs in his first 15 games after being promoted from Class A Advanced Visalia. Drury was 9-for-20 with two homers and five RBIs in a series at Pensacola, then followed that up with a three-hit game in Mobile versus Mississippi on Aug. 17. He batted .300 with 35 doubles, 19 homers and 85 RBIs in 73 California League games. Drury, who turns 22 on Aug. 21, was part of the trade between the D-backs and Atlanta that sent Justin Upton to the Braves.
Familiar face: First baseman Hunter Morris, a Huntsville native who was named Southern League Player of the Year in 2012, rejoined the Stars as he worked his way back from a broken wrist suffered in late June while with Triple-A Nashville. Morris was just 1-for-14 in his first four games with Huntsville after playing five rehab games in the rookie-level Arizona League. Milwaukee's No. 17 prospect was hitting .274 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 78 games for Nashville before being hit by the pitch that broke his wrist. Morris batted .318 with 28 homers and 118 RBIs for Huntsville in 2012.