Down On The Farm: Fast Starts For Castellanos, Van Slyke, Wise, Landry, Arredondo

We’re now two weeks into the minor league season and there are some Dodgers down on the farm who have gotten off on the right foot.

I’ll be focusing on offense here because there isn’t a lot to analyze in regards to pitchers since most of them have either only made a couple starts or have pitched less than five innings in relief.

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Triple-A

This one was tough. It could either be Alex Castellanos or Scott Van Slyke. Both are off to equally fast starts, so I’m just going to chose both.

Castellanos (.333/.444/.556) is playing mostly second base for the Isotopes, and despite the rarefied air in the Pacific Coast League, one thing that has jumped out regarding Castellanos’ quick start: he’s walking.

Coming into the season, Castellanos had a career 7.2 percent walk rate and a 25.9 percent strikeout rate — and that includes his improved walk rate after being acquired by the Dodgers in July. This season, he’s walking at a 17.8 percent clip. He’s probably not going to be able to keep it that high, but it’s an encouraging step in the right direction.

Van Slyke hit home runs in three of his first four games this season and is primed for a big season in Triple-A — that is, until he gets the call to the majors.

Van Slyke (.381/.469/.690) is leading the team in all three triple-slash categories (batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage). But the most impressive stat might be the fact he’s only struck out two times this season (in 42 at-bats).

Van Slyke struck out 100 times in 457 at-bats (21.9 percent) with the Lookouts last season. That’s not a terrible rate, but it could stand to be better. Now, he’s not going to strike out just 4.8 percent of the time this season, but like Castellanos’ improved walk rate, Van Slyke’s decreased strikeout rate is encouraging. Oh, and so are the home runs.

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Double-A

While Kyle Russell‘s 1.025 OPS is impressive, he’s repeating Double-A as a 25-year-old. So, I’m going with J.T. Wise, who is the same age (25 days older) and is in Double-A for the first time.

Wise (.344/.432/.563), playing predominantly first base for the Lookouts, just continues to mash everywhere he goes. His career minor league OPS is .900, and despite always being a little too old for his competition, the first baseman-catcher can put the bat on the ball. His walk rate has increased three consecutive seasons, but so has his strikeout rate, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

The Dodgers are wafer-thin with quality bats in the minors, and if Wise proves he can handle Double-A pitching, a midseason promotion to Triple-A isn’t out of the question. Then again, let’s see where he is in a month or so.

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High-A

Leon Landry was one of the guys who I said had the most to gain this season, despite a down year in Great Lakes. So far, he’s taking full advantage of California League pitching.

Landry (.318/.362/.545) leads the Quakes in most offensive categories — total bases (23), home runs (two), runs (eight), doubles (four), and stolen bases (six). His numbers could be a product of the environment, but he’s the best offensive prospect on the Quakes’ roster anyway.

He’s split time between left and center field, but he’s one of the best defensive outfielders in the Dodgers system and should see a majority of the time in center, despite his poor throwing arm.

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Low-A

Jesus Alberto Arredondo — get used to that name, especially if the guy is going to continue to get on base 47 percent of the time.

Arredondo (.400/.471/.567) was signed out of Mexico, is in his first professional season, and he’s already making a great pitchers league look easy. He’s listed as a¬†shortstop, but he’s been playing second base and just turned 21 in February. Maybe he’s the offensive version of Angel Sanchez, who burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old in the Midwest League last year.

About Dustin Nosler