Todd Donovan Led Minors With 65 Steals

The running game has a hallowed tradition in Dodger baseball. Think of Maury Wills or Jackie Robinson. It's been the same in the minor leagues, as well. Dodger farmhand Alan Wiggins stole 120 in 1980 and Maynard DeWitt swiped 110 back in 1946.

Thus, it seems fitting that the sole player from a Dodger affiliate who led all the minors in any major department was Todd Donovan who had the most stolen bases, a total of 65. Donovan got 62 of those for Jacksonville, three during his 13-game stay with Las Vegas.

That figure is modest compared to the accomplishments of Wiggins or DeWitt, of course, but it does reflect a change in the way the game is played today. They aren't running like they did in the days of Maury or Lou Brock. That it's still a factor is reflected by the fact that the Dodgers traded for Donovan, getting him from the Padres so he could bat leadoff for Jacksonville and when he got on, go-go.

Which is what he did for he was caught 13 times. Still, you look around the system and you find that he's almost an aberration for no one else remotely compared to him in this department.

The Jacksonville team, for example, stole only 116 bases altogether, meaning Donovan had over half his team's output. Next to him on the Suns list was Russell Martin with a far more modest 15. But Jacksonville was an absolute bunch of fliers compared to Vegas which managed only 57 as a team. The leader was Henri Stanley, who succeeded seven times, being caught the same number.

Vero Beach, on the other hand, did a lot of running under Scott Little, who even sent Cory Dunlap, hardly noted for his dazzling speed. The Vero Dodgers totaled the same as Jacksonville, 116, doing it without a Donovan in their lineup. They did have Chin-lung Hu and Matt Kemp, who led the club with 23 apiece. Kemp's number is even more impressive when you consider he wasn't allowed to attempt a steal for some time after spraining a wrist while sliding into a base in spring training. And when you also consider that he led the team in home runs and RBI, you see a glimpse of the multi-talented player he's become.

Oh, yeah, Dunlap huffed and puffed his way to five. Not all that bad for a guy built like Warren Sapp.

Actually, the player who finished second to Donovan overall was Justin Ruggiano, who racked up 24, 16 with Vero, eight with Jacksonville.

Columbus was a far more reluctant group on the basepaths, succeeding on only 45 attempts for the season. Their leader was Jamie Hoffman, who managed nine before leaving for Vero three -quarters of the way through. No one else who stuck around the Catfish for the entire campaign did as well.

The rookie teams, Ogden and the Gulf Coast Dodgers were more energetic in this department although their team totals of 75 and 39 respectively still ranked near the bottom of their leagues. Recognizing the need for more overall speed in the organization, the Dodgers drafted both Adam Godwin, the NCAA champ, and Trayvon Robinson, another jetster to beef up the running game.

Godwin started slowly with Ogden, then came on for 12 steals although he was caught seven times. The team leader, though, was Jesus Soto, who made it 13 out of 14. B. J. Richmond also added a dozen. Robinson swiped six for the GCL Dodgers where the team leader was Ivan DeJesus, Jr. with eight.

One of the more successful men played with the Santo Domingo Dodgers in the Dominican Summer League, Jovanny Rosario, who stole 21 in 60 games. As a team, these Dodgers recorded 72.

While it is obvious, the next Maury Wills doesn't appear on the Dodger horizon, in all things are improving. Still, as noted, that's the game these days. When you see that Godwin, the collegiate champ, wasn't drafted until the 11th round, you can surmise that fast feet aren't all that high on the priority list of any team these days.