Top of the Class-- The Dodgers had three rookies ranked among Baseball America's top 20 Rookies for the 2006 season: catcher Russell Martin (10th), closer Takashi Saito (15th) and outfielder Andre Ethier (17th). All three began the season as teammates at Triple-A Las Vegas. Other current Dodgers that were previously tabbed by Baseball America as the Top Rookie of the Year are: Nomar Garciaparra (1997) and Rafael Furcal (2000).
In Russ We Trust-- Baseball America ranked the Dodgers' rookie backstop, Russell Martin, 10th among the top 20 selections for Rookie of the Year. Martin made an immediate impact following his May 5 call-up as the team went 7-1 in his first eight starts and went on to post a 71-43 record when he started behind the plate. Martin finished the season hitting .282 with 10 home runs. He ranked among rookie leaders in the National League in batting average (.282, 9th), RBI (65, 7th), runs scored (65, 7th), total bases (181, 10th), stolen bases (10, T-5th), walks ( 45,7th), on-base percentage (.355, 8th) and extra-base hits (40, 9th). In 117 games, the Canada native posted a .993 fielding percentage behind the plate, committing only six errors and allowing five passed balls while cutting down 25 of 96 (.207) runners trying to steal against him. In addition, Martin led all NL catchers with 10 stolen bases. He launched himself into history, hitting the third in a quartet of consecutive home runs hit by Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth in what turned into an 11-10 extra-inning win on Sept. 18 against San Diego. Martin was signed in the 17th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida.
Andre the Giant-- In his fourth season in professional baseball, Andre Ethier broke into the Majors and was tabbed by Baseball America as the 17th best rookie of the 2006 class. Ethier finished the season hitting .308 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI. His .308 batting average ranked third among all Major League rookies. He also ranked among NL rookie league leaders in multi-hit games (33, 10th), hits (122, 10th), total bases (189, 9th), on-base percentage (.365, 3rd), slugging percentage (.477, 7th), extra-base hits (38, 10th) and outfield assists (8, 1st). His 16-game hitting streak (July 26-Aug. 12) tied him for the second-longest hitting streak among all Major League rookies. Ethier was acquired from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 13, 2005 for outfielder Milton Bradley and infielder Antonio Perez.
Slammin' Sammy Soto-- Takashi Saito was ranked 15th by Baseball America in its 2006 top 20 Rookie rankings. The 36-year-old right-hander was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and opened the 2006 season with Triple-A Las Vegas before having his contract purchased on April 7. Saito posted a 6-2 record with a 2.07 ERA and 24 saves, which set a Dodger franchise rookie record surpassing Yhency Brazoban's 21 saves in 2005. Saito became just the 12th Major League rookie to notch 24 saves since it became an official statistic in 1969. He ranked among National League rookie hurlers in saves (24, 1st), games (72, 2nd) and strikeouts (107, 6th). He led all NL relievers in opponent batting average with a .177 mark (minimum 200 batters faced). Prior to joining the Dodgers, Saito enjoyed a 14-year career with the Yokohama Baystars of the Japanese Central League. The four-time All-Star posted an 87-80 career mark in Japan with a 3.81 ERA.
Breaking it Down-- Dodger hurler Brett Tomko will join KTTV/Fox 11 Sports Anchor Rick Garcia on the Extra Innings pre-game show during he World Series to serve as the in-studio analyst. Tomko played an intergal role in the Dodgers success in 2006, posting an 8-7 record with a 4.73 ERA in 112.1 innings. Tomko will draw on his 10 seasons of Major League experience and two post season appearances to provide in-depth analysis of the Fall Classic.
Land of the Rising Sun-- Dodger All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal will be on the roster of 27 Major League Baseball All-Stars traveling to Japan this November to play in a newly-formatted, best-of-five competition against their counterparts from Nippon Professional baseball in an All-Star Series. The series will consist of five games played in Toklo, Osaka and Fukouka between November 3 and Novermber 8. While the first to win three games will be crowned champion, all five games scheduled will be played regardess of the outcome. Preceding the All-Star Series, the Major League Baseball All-Stars will go head-to-head against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo on Thursday, November 2. Furcal finished the 2006 season hitting .300 with 15 homers, 63 RBI and a team-leading 37 stolen bases. He ranked among league leaders in hits (196, t-5th), multi-hit games (62, 4th), at-bats (654, 4th), games played (159, t-6th), plate appearances (736, 4th), singles (140, 2nd), stolen bases (37, 7th), runs scored (133, 10th), home batting average (.333, 9th), bunt hits (9, 6th), average with runners in scoring position (.346, 8th) and was the ninth-hardest player to double up in the NL (one GIDP per 93.4 at-bats). Furcal was voted as the Most inspirational Dodger by his eammates and coaches and received the inaugural Roy Campanella Award.
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