The Los Angeles Dodgers may not have a clear-cut top prospect at catcher, but Gorman Erickson
is having a season that's opening some eyes.
Erickson hit .305 in 63 games for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and was one of three Quakes players chosen for last month's California League All-Star team. The 23-year-old was the only starter among the trio, and his stellar efforts earned him a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga earlier this week.
He has 236 at-bats this year over the two levels, getting much more playing time behind the plate than he did in previous seasons. His career high at-bat total, 261, came last year with Class A Great Lakes.
Now in his fifth year in the Dodgers organization, Erickson said it's been easy working with guys like Ethan Martin and Allen Webster, top pitchers who started the year in Rancho Cucamonga and also got moved up to Chattanooga recently.
"When you play a lot with them it's easy to get in the groove with them," he said. "I can expect certain things from them, and we're on the same page."
Erickson has also benefited from more playing time, even as he split catching duties with J.T. Wise while in Rancho. He became a leader on the Quakes and said he's been able to work on nuances of his offensive game such as batting in runners from third or moving runners into scoring position.
He also took lessons on being a professional from Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who joined the Quakes on June 26 for a rehab assignment.
"He has a presence in the dugout and in the clubhouse," Erickson said. "Any time you can see something from the best and apply it to your game in any way, you're getting that much better."
The Dodgers hope to develop Erickson and their other young players into true professionals. The team runs a Winter Development Program where Minor Leaguers are invited to Dodger Stadium for on-field and off-field lessons.
They take batting practice and meet manager Don Mattingly, as well as visit hospitals around Los Angeles and get introduced to the media relations aspects of the game. The program is designed to prepare prospects for what they'll face once they are promoted to the Majors.
"It's a great introduction to what life would be like when you get called up," Erickson said.
Bump in the road: Stockton ran its winning streak to 17 games before San Jose stopped them cold in an 8-4 loss July 2. The Ports enjoyed few blowout wins during their streak, which started June 12. Three runs or less decided 13 of their wins, and five contests were one-run games. Stockton has won three straight since the defeat.
Quick turnaround: High Desert first baseman Vinny Catricala had a short week in the Cal League. That's because he was hitting .351 over his first 71 games and was promoted to Double-A Jackson on June 30. Catricala went 2-for-5 in his final game for the Mavericks before his sendoff to the Southern League. The first baseman was tied for fifth in the Cal League with 14 home runs.
Blowing up: Lancaster busted out of a seven-game skid with a commanding 10-1 win over Bakersfield on July 4. The JetHawks provided their own fireworks on offense as every player in the lineup picked up at least one hit. Center fielder Austin Wates was the main RBI man, driving in three runs. Right-hander Jose Cisnero earned his fourth win, yielding one run in 6 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts.