Minor league highlights from 2014

Minor League Wrap

In the October issue of Dodger Insider magazine, Cary Osborne took this snapshot of highlights from the Dodger farm system in 2014, and I thought it would be nice to share with our blog audience before this year passes into next. Click the image above to enlarge.

– Jon Weisman

Guarantee Opening Day seats with a Dodger Mini Plan

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Holiday Mall Tour begins today 
The Dodgers’ Holiday Mall Tour hits the Topanga Westfield mall today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Orel Hershiser will sign autographs there from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by Justin Turner from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dodger 2015 Mini Plans will be on sale. Details can be found at dodgers.com/malltour.

If you want to guarantee your seat to Opening Day 2015 — as well as to a big chunk of next season’s games — you can sign up for a Dodger Mini Plan, starting today.

Dodger Mini Plans come in two options: a 20-game set plan and a 30-game flex plan.

The 20-gamer includes Opening Day, Jackie Robinson Day (with the first ever Jackie Robinson replica jersey giveaway), all 10 bobblehead games and all eight Cy Young Collectors’ Pins games. You’ll also have access to a presale of postseason tickets, if applicable.

Step up to the 30-game flex plan, and you can pick the games you want to go to: Opening Day, games against the Giants, any promotions, any of the 81 home dates.  You’ll also get rights to potential Wild Card, National League Division Series and National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium in 2015.

Visit dodgers.com/miniplans for more information. Pricing information can be found here. And if you’re interested in a Mini Plan with premium seating, click here.

— Jon Weisman

Three more trophies for Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw on Saturday won three MLB.com Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards (GIBBYs). Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more.

– Jon Weisman

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Trip diary: Adrian Gonzalez in Mexico (part 2) — reaching out to students

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By Yvonne Carrasco

Adrian Gonzalez welcomes the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children, and that’s no different when he is in Mexico. Adrian started his Friday in Mexico City at 9 a.m., visiting with nearly 800 youngsters at the Colegio de Bachilleres in Colonia del Valle. This visit was part of a partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Embassy in Mexico City.

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Catching a big break on a trade that wasn’t

Jim Sundberg had a career-low .526 OPS in 1983. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Jim Sundberg had a career-low .526 OPS in 1983. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

By Mark Langill

Mike Scioscia holds the Los Angeles franchise record for most games caught (1,395) during a MLB career entirely spent with the Dodgers from 1980-92. But Scioscia’s place in Dodger history was in jeopardy after the 1982 season, when general manager Al Campanis decided the team needed an upgrade from Scioscia, who batted .219 in 129 games in 1982, and veteran Steve Yeager (.245 in 82 games).

Campanis agreed to trade four players to the Texas Rangers in exchange for catcher Jim Sundberg, a six-time Gold Glove winner who at age 31 had spent his entire career in the American League with the Rangers. Sundberg appeared in 139 games with the 1982 Rangers, batting .251 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI. (more…)

Trip diary: Adrian Gonzalez in Mexico

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By Yvonne Carrasco

On an excursion that began well before dawn Thursday, the Dodgers took a trip to Mexico City in support of Adrian Gonzalez, who was to receive the Premio Nacional de Deportes (PND) at a ceremony hosted by Mexico’s La Comisión Nacional de Cultura Física y Deporte (CONADE).

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Fernando Valenzuela to be honored for impact on lives of Mexican community

Photo: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

Dodger legend Fernando Valenzuela will be presented with the Othli award on Saturday from the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (IME), an agency of the Mexican government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Valenzuela will receive the award, which recognizes those who have had a significant impact on the lives of the Mexican community abroad, on Saturday at Rio de Los Angeles State Park during the Copa IME Becas, an event presented by the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles. (more…)

Dodgers claim catcher Ryan Lavarnway from Red Sox, designate Drew Butera for assignment

By Jon Weisman

Ryan Lavarnway, a 27-year-old catcher who spent most of last season with Boston’s Triple-A team in Pawtucket, has been claimed on waivers by the Dodgers, who have designated Drew Butera for assignment. (more…)

Video: Talking shop with A.J. Ellis

A.J. Ellis spoke to MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” on a number of subjects Thursday. Check it out …

– Jon Weisman

From eyes that saw all, Roger Kahn makes the Hall of Fame case for Gil Hodges

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

Sixteen men — some baseball Hall of Famers, others baseball executives and others baseball historians — will meet this weekend in San Diego at baseball’s Winter Meetings and vote to determine if any of 10 Golden Era Committee candidates will make the Hall of Fame.

Of that list of 10, former Dodger great Gil Hodges just might be the most widely debated name. Hodges was one of the greatest power hitters of the 1950s, a stellar first baseman, a model citizen and the manager of the 1969 Miracle Mets who won the World Series. But Hodges was a career .273 hitter, he didn’t reach 2,000 hits and he never finished better than seventh in an MVP voting.

Here’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting criteria for the Hall of Fame:

Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Based off that wording, does Hodges belong in Cooperstown? To one legendary writer, the answer is yes.

“I would say he gave 100 percent. He was a dangerous hitter. He was a splendid fielder. And what the hell else would you want?” said Roger Kahn on what he would say to the 16 people voting.

Of writers, living or deceased, Kahn may have known Hodges best. The 87-year-old lives in Stone Ridge, New York today and is forever a link to the Dodgers of the 1950s as the author of the baseball classic “The Boys of Summer” and as a beat writer covering the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Roger Kahn

Roger Kahn

Kahn not only saw Hodges on the playing field and in the manager’s office, but he also got to know the man. For someone who got so close to Hodges, there appears to be little bias in Kahn’s words about the former Dodger first baseman. Kahn brings up the fact that Hodges was a power hitter, but his 370 career home runs are less than desirable for Hall of Fame voters. (However, when Hodges retired, he ranked 10th all time in home runs). Kahn recalled that Hodges had trouble against good right-handed pitching and he was a big swinger, but didn’t hit for average.

But on his playing ability, Kahn said Hodges was one of the most dangerous hitters of his era.

“No pitcher liked to be on the mound with guys on second and third and Gil Hodges was up,” Kahn said.

In the 1950s, Hodges ranked second in the big leagues to Duke Snider in home runs and RBI and ranked 10th in hits during the decade. Hodges was the National League’s first recipient of a Gold Glove for a first baseman in 1957 and won the award in 1958 and 1959 as well. He finished in the top three in fielding percentage in the National League 10 times and led the league in the category in 1949 and 1950.

“The greatest players of that era would be (Willie) Mays, probably Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial. Gil was a little below that,” Kahn admits. “He didn’t hit like Musial with a phenomenal average. He was a little below, and we’re talking about some of the greatest players who ever played the game. You could play a game and draft from that era. You’d say, ‘Where would you draft Hodges?’ And you’d say, ‘Probably later in the first round.’ You’d start with Mays, and maybe you get Musial and go on. Maybe 12th, 13th pick you go Hodges.” (more…)

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