Born January 19, 1988 in Dallas, Texas. Attended Baylor University. Drafted in the 30th round of the 2010 First Year Player Draft. Listed at 6'2 and 215 lbs. Bats and throws right-handed.
Redshirted his freshman season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Made 16 appearances for the Bears, starting 13 games and posting a 5.17 ERA in 76.2 innings. Allowed 8 homers, walked 29 and struck out 84. Assigned to Ogden after signing and appeared in 26 games, all in relief. Allowed just a 0.63 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched. Allowed 1 home run, 5 walks and struck out 39.
Began the 2011 season in Great Lakes, making 14 relief appearances while maintaining a perfect 0.00 ERA. Allowed only 12 baserunners in 15 innings while striking out 33. Was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga, where he pitched in 5 games, allowing a 0.93 ERA in 9.2 innings while striking out 17 and allowing only 2 hits. Promoted to Chattanooga where he made 38 appearances, recording 12 saves. Posted a 1.62 ERA with 2 home runs, 11 walks and 55 strikeouts in 44.1 innings.
Shawn was a travel league teammate of Clayton Kershaw during his high school days and seemed destined to join Clayton in becoming a high draft pick out of high school. Unfortunately, Tolleson tore his ulnar collateral ligament prior to the draft and went unselected, leading him to fulfill his college commitment to Baylor. While he had moderate success as a starter in college, the Dodgers decided to transition him to the pen after signing, a move that has paid off very well.
He starts off with a four seam fastball that is consistently in the low to mid 90s and he spots it well to both sides of the plate. He also throws a slider in the mid 80s that's about average. But his best weapon is an upper 80s cutter that has devastated hitters from rookie ball to Double A. His arm action is sound and his delivery is funky, somewhere between Mo Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.
It's hard to ignore a guy with a career 1.01 ERA in 97.2 innings, who strikes out 13.3 batters per 9 while only walking 2.1 per 9. He really doesn't need much more time in the minors and would compete for a spot in the big league pen were it not already overflowing. He'll start the season in the upper minors, preferably Chattanooga, before reaching the show sometime this year.
My only real reservation with him is how he pitches against lefties this season. In 2011, left-handed batters hit .259/.317/.422 against him overall and .342 with a pair of homers in Double A. His cutter should be a weapon against southpaws and hopefully he can use it more effectively in 2012.
High. The first "High" grade I've given a prospect. There's really nothing not to like here. Aside from the TJ surgery, which shouldn't be a huge issue since he's relieving now, he has all that you want in a relief pitcher. It's a shame that Colletti's moves will likely delay his debut, but Shawn is yet another homegrown arm that should make an impact for the Dodgers' pen in the near future.
I'd love to see him beat out someone like Hawksworth for a spot out of spring training, but because of Mattingly's affection for veterans I assume Tolleson will begin 2012 in the minors. He should top the list of replacements, though.
Prospect Countdown: #7 Shawn Tolleson
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