Dominican Dodgers Reviewed

In 2005 the Dodgers fielded only one team in the Dominican Summer League after years of sponsoring a pair of clubs operating from their Campo Las Palmas base. It was an economic move as much as anything for they had one fewer group of players to pay. It also represented an unspoken cutback in their Latin operations for they haven't been seeking players from that area -- or paying out large bonuses -- as assiduously as in the past for some time now.

The team, as usual was not just comprised of Dominican players but of those from around the Caribbean. This time there were three from Venezuela and two apiece from Mexico and Panama with the rest being home-grown talent. It was a more than respectable season in which the Dodgers finished in a virtual tie for second place in their division with an entry sponsored by Seattle, four games behind the Athletics, recording a 37-29 mark.

They certainly didn't accomplish this with offense for as a team they averaged only .240, racking up only a dozen home runs, four of those by rookie outfielder Jose Tejada, who displayed some pop but also a lot of holes in his swing, averaging a mere .170 with a team-high 48 strikeouts.

Two players stood above the others at the plate -- Yovanny Rosario and Alexis Marte. Rosario, in his third season is a 20-year-old outfielder converted from second, who led the team in batting, stolen bases and triples while tieing for the top spot in doubles. Marte is a 20-year-old rookie first baseman who led in RBI and on-base percentage, drawing 29 walks along the way. He didn't drive anything out of the park although he's certainly big enough at 6-2, 197 to do so down the road.

If the Dodgers didn't hit a lot as a team, they made up for it in pitching for they held opponents to a collective .215 average while compiling a 3.04 team ERA. It was as a whole, a group of young strong arms, predictably wild on occasion.

The staff leader was third-year righthander Nelson Mendoza who went 6-4, 2.54, holding opponents to a .239 mark. He certainly could throw strikes as he led the club in innings (78) striking out 72 in that span. while walking only 12 Second-year righthander Jhonny Nunez was 4-3, 1.92 while allowing the opposition only a .152 batting mark. First-year righthander Joel Ramos, an 18-year-old Panamanian, was the main man out of the bullpen assisted by late signee Victor Perez, both with three saves..

Perez, who came on in a hurry, would rank as the most pleasant surprise while the biggest disappointment would be Amaury Guzman. This Guzman is a big (6-3, 219) strong outfielder who was in the United States during extended spring before he was judged too raw and sent back. He did drive in 24 runs yet managed to hit only .210 with two home runs in his second season.

Team leaders in key departments

Games- Marte 64
Hits- Rosario 69
2B- Rosario, Elian Herrera 11
3B- Rosario 5
HR- Tejada 4
RBI- Marte 37
SB- Rosario 21
Ave.- Rosario .318
OBP- Marte .405

Innings- Mendoza 78
Wins- Mendoza 6
ERA- Jhonny Nunez 1.92
SO- Mendoza 72
OBA- Nunez 1.52