Dodger Farm Report July 17

When you consider the minor leagues, it's always best to remind yourself that developing players, not winning, is really what it's all about. These days, in the case of the Dodgers' top farms, that reminder has to be almost constant. For example, consider Jacksonville and Ryan Ketchner. Oh, the Suns lost -- for the fourth time in a row, in fact. That was hardly the fault of Ketchner, who was pitching rather superbly as he has since he was acquired from Seattle at the beginning of the season.

Ketchner is a 22-year-old lefthander who's 40 percent deaf and who reads batters like he does lips, uncannily. His fast ball tops out at 88 but he gets great movement, mixes his pitches extremely well with excellent command and almost always throws to a batter's weakness. Just as he did Saturday against Birmingham for 6.1 innings in which he was reached for only five hits and a solitary run, walking just one while striking out eight. He left with a 2.37 ERA but in a 1-1 tie.

Elvin Nina came in to hold the Barons down for 2.2 more but they finally got the winner off Brian Steffek (2-5) in the 11th. Only James Loney and Eric Riggs came up with two hits each in the paltry Suns attack as they stranded seven runners to fall seven back in the Southern League East.

Hold that thought about development because the other Dodger farms once again came up with only one victory among them.

Vero Beach 6, Clearwater 3--That winner was the Dodgers behind Chad Billingsley (7-4), who went seven, spacing seven hits, walking just one while striking out eight. Both Delwyn Young (14) and Jesse Hoorelbeke (11) hit for the circuit as Scott Gillitzer and Brett Dowdy each had two hits. Beau Dannemiller was perfect for the final four outs to collect his second save. The Dodgers hold a one-game lead in the Florida State East.

Portland 13, Las Vegas 4--It is L. A.'s hope that Brian Falkenborg can help them in the second half but he hardly looked the part here, being ripped for eight runs in three innings as his record dropped to 2-5 and his ERA inflated to 5.44. Antonio Perez hit his 14th homer for the 51's who have now lost five in a row and seven of their last nine to trail by 15 in the PCL South.

Rome 13, Columbus 2--Another discouraging outing for Jonathan Figueroa (1-3) as he was bonked for nine hits and 10 runs before leaving in the fifth. The Catfish trail by 1 1/2 in the SAL South.

Marlins 7, GCL Dodgers 5--The third defeat in succession for the Dodgers who are four behind in the East. Alfredo Gonzalez (0-3), making another rehab start, looked sharp for two, only to tire in the third, yielding three runs. Four more off Chase Bassham negated some strong outings by Kalen Gearhart and Cory Wade and a late Dodger rally. Jamie Hoffman hit his second home run plus a single.

The Ogden-Missoula game was delayed 45 minutes when an umpire was caught in a traffic jam. When it finally got going, Blake DeWitt homered and Justin Orenduff struck out four in three innings as the Raptors jumped out 2-1, only to have a rainstorm wipe out the proceedings. They'll play a makeup doubleheader tonight.

Injury Report--Ogden has probably lost righthander Phil Sobkow for the season because of a broken bone in his right hand, suffered when he was hit by a line drive Friday.