Blake is Back
In 2004, the Dodgers used their second round pick on Blake Johnson, a prep RHP from Louisiana. But only two years later, he was dealt to the Royals. He spent the better part of the next 5 seasons struggling to succeed in the upper minors. In 2011, he moved to the Rockies' system.
Then came March 2, 2012. The Dodgers held a tryout camp at their spring training facility. They signed two players. One was an infielder named Brandon Mims. The other, a right-handed pitcher named Blake Johnson. After nearly 8 years, the player and team were reunited.
His second go-round with the organization didn't exactly get off to a smooth start. Blake split the year between Double and Triple A, having mixed results in each stop. His ERA with Chattanooga was a respectable 3.38. In Albuquerque, it ballooned to 5.74.
Today, I saw a pitcher who was dominant. He was consistently working in the mid 90s with his fastball and, while he featured a curve as his go-to breaking ball earlier in his career, Johnson depended on his slider to frustrate opposing hitters. He appeared to mix in the curve, as well as a change, but didn't really need them. He shutout the opposing team for 3 innings, striking out at least 4 batters.
A starter when he signed, Johnson is now a reliever. However, his velocity didn't waver in his three inning stint today. He's certainly got a starter's build, at around 6'4 and 210 pounds. If he remains in the pen, he'll need to improve his control, as he walked a combined 3.5 BB/9 last season. He also surrendered 6 homers in 42.1 innings with the Topes in 2012. If his performance begins to reflect his pure stuff, Blake could reach the majors before his 10th minor league season concludes.
Another B and J
These two being Blake Smith and Joc Pederson, two of the Dodgers better outfield prospects. Joc started the Double A game today and Blake took over for him in the middle of the game. Pederson was uncharacteristically aggressive at the plate, seeing just 5 pitches in two at bats, making outs both time. Smith came in and promptly walked on 5 pitches in his first time to the plate.
A pair of near-forgotten prospects appeared in the Double A game today. Angelo Songco started at first base, while Nick Akins played left field. After Akins lined a single to left, Songco took a pitch from the opposing lefty deep to right-center, sending Akins to third on a standup double.
Meanwhile, Kyle Russell played the outfield for the Triple A squad and still has trouble making contact. Already 26, it appears that his days as a prospect have passed. However, watching him and Dallas McPherson in Albuquerque would be fun.
The Dodgers signed center fielder Robbie Garvey out of a tryout camp earlier this month and I've gotten to see him play a few times. I can tell you this: he's scrappy with a capital S.
He's a little guy, listed at 5'8 but probably closer to 5'6. He's fast, buzzing down the line and unafraid of stealing second or third. He shows good range in the outfield, has a decent arm and his bat is fairly quick.
He played Indy league ball last year and hit just .250. He'll be 24 in April, so there's not much time for him to produce. I see him as more of an organizational guy anyway, but he's fun to watch.
Dodger Diamonds in the Rough - 3/17/13
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