Vets, rookies pace Dodgers' All-Stars

Departing Jerry Sands led organization in homers and RBIs

By Robert Emrich / Special to | November 16, 2012 5:58 AM

This offseason, is honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League Baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

While the squad in Los Angeles may have had their season end in disappointment, the franchise's Minor League squads gave fans reason to stand up and cheer. The affiliates combined for the third-highest winning percentage in the Minor Leagues at .529.

Ogden fell just short of a title, dropping the best-of-3 Pioneer League Finals to Missoula.

Three other affiliates reached the postseason, though none advanced past the opening round.

Dodgers Organization All-Stars

Catcher -- Eric Smith, Ogden (63 games): Smith showed the polish you'd expect out of a Stanford University product, batting an organizational-best .336 for the Raptors. He finished ninth in the Pioneer League with 55 RBIs, drew more walks (33) than strikeouts (32) and perhaps most surprisingly for a catcher, smacked seven triples, tops on the club.

First base -- Jerry Sands, Albuquerque (119 games), Los Angeles (nine games): Sands, an organizational All-Star each of the past two seasons, endured a strange season. He was traded as a player to be named later to Boston in the blockbuster deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers but spent the entire season with L.A.

In Albuquerque, Sands proved lethal with the bat, leading Dodgers Minor Leaguers with 26 homers, 107 RBIs and finishing 10th with a .296 average. Splitting time between first base and the outfield, the North Carolina native racked up 11 outfield assists while committing just one error in the outfield.

Second base -- Alex Castellanos, Albuquerque (94 games), Los Angeles (16 games): "Have bat, will travel" is the motto of Castellanos. The Florida native saw time at second base, third base and the outfield for the Isotopes. It didn't matter where he took the field though, because his bat carried him. Acquired from the Cardinals at the Trade Deadline in 2011, Castellanos batted .328 with 17 homers and led the Pacific Coast League with a 1.010 OPS. For good measure, he swiped 16 bases and smacked seven triples.

Third base -- C.J. Retherford, Rancho Cucamonga (74 games), Chattanooga (44 games): Joining the club as a Minor League free agent, Retherford made a good first impression, finishing second among Dodgers Minor Leaguers with 23 homers. The Florida native was also second with 92 RBIs and was eighth with a .311 average.

Shortstop -- Corey Seager, Ogden (46 games): The Dodgers' first-round pick in 2012 signed quickly and got off to an even quicker start, collecting three hits in just his second pro game. He didn't stop, finishing the season with a .309 average and slugging eight homers for the Raptors. Seager showed incredible poise for an 18-year-old in his debut season, drawing 21 walks while striking out 33 times. Manager Damon Berryhill, a former Major Leaguer, was impressed by Seager.

"We have a young kid, Seager, who is just getting introduced to baseball, is mature above his age and who has a calm demeanor about him," he said.

Outfielders Scott Van Slyke, Albuquerque (95 games), Los Angeles (27 games): Van Slyke, the son of former Pirates outfielder Andy Van Slyke, moved up to Triple-A to start the year after a stellar 2011 season and proved it was no fluke. The 2005 14th-round pick batted .327 with 18 homers and finished third with a .982 OPS. He also tied for the team lead with 34 doubles. Unlike his father, who won five Gold Glove awards as an outfielder, Scott struggled defensively, posting a .960 fielding percentage in 59 games in the outfield.

Joc Pederson, Rancho Cucamonga (110 games): Pederson, the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect, did it all in 2012 for the Quakes. The 20-year-old was second on the club with 18 homers, fourth with 70 RBIs and second with 224 total bases. He also finished fifth in the organization with 26 stolen bases and displayed a pretty good glove, committing two errors in 111 games while throwing out nine base runners.

Malcolm Holland, Ogden (60 games): Holland would seem to be an unusual choice if you took a quick glance at his batting average of .244 and his home run total of zero. It's the other things that stand out however.

The Airzona native put together a remarkable .421 on-base percentage thanks to a Pioneer League-best 54 walks. Holland also led the league with 44 steals while getting caught nine times. Thanks to the walks and the speed, Holland managed to score 46 runs despite having more bases on balls than hits.

Utility player -- Jeremy Rathjen, Ogden (68 games): Another member of the team with the best record in the Pioneer League, Rathjen made numerous contributions across the board offensively. The Texas native was fourth in the organization with a .324 batting average, slugged nine homers and drove in 53 runs for the Raptors. He also led the league with 67 runs scored and tied for third with a .943 OPS.

"Rathjen ... has been in our leadoff spot and has been swinging the bat well," Berryhill said after the club clinched a first-half title. "Defensively, he's been solid and has been getting on base consistently."

Right-handed starting pitcher -- John Ely, Albuquerque (27 games), Los Angeles (two games): This was truly a remarkable season for the veteran hurler. Ely set a franchise record with 14 wins, led the organization with a 3.20 ERA and led the Pacific Coast League with 165 strikeouts. All that led to his being named the league's Pitcher of the Year.

A season before, Ely struggled in the same spot, going 7-8 with a 5.99 ERA for the Isotopes. The biggest difference was in the number of hits he allowed. After allowing more than a hit per inning in 2011, Ely held Pacific Coast League batters to a .238 average, en route to a league-leading 1.10 WHIP.

Honorable Mention: Matt Magill: Magill continued his steady climb up the organizational ladder, notching 11 wins for Chatanooga. He led all Dodgers hurlers with 168 strikeouts and posted a 3.75 ERA in his first season in Double-A.

Left-handed starting pticher -- Miguel Sulbaran, AZL Dodgers (11 games), Ogden (one game), Great Lakes (two games): Sulbaran matched his 2011 win total of six while moving up to a higher level. The Venezuela native was seventh in the organization with a 3.82 ERA and fanned 69 batters in 68 1/3 Minor League innings across three levels.

Relief pitcher -- Steve Ames, Chattanooga (54 games): It was just another year for the right-handed Ames, who notched 18 saves for the Lookouts while posting a 1.56 ERA. Among relievers in the Southern League, the Washington native was third in strikeouts per nine innings pitched, at 10.23. After allowing four runs in a June 4 appearance, Ames allowed just three runs over his final 31 appearances.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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