Brazoban Released; Lindblom Promoted

The Dodgers made one of those moves that will never make the nightly news, but are endemic to professional baseball. Yhency Brazoban was released and second-year man Josh Lindblom was promoted to the major league camp. It's a story of both lost and gained opportunity and one that is played out many times during spring training.

Yhency Brazoban took over the closers spot for the Dodgers when Eric Gagné developed arm trouble in 2005 after saving a breath-taking 152 games over the previous three seasons. He would save eight more before undergoing season-ending ligament surgery on June 24. He pitched in only two games in 2006 and saved one of them to lead the Dodgers all-time charts with 187 and was granted free agency at the end of the season.

Twenty-five year old Yhency Brazoban stepped into Gagné's shoes in June of 2005 and saved 21 games before the season ended, setting a new club record for a rookie.

But then arm trouble and weight trouble cut him down to just 11 appearances from 2006 through 2008. He was non-tendered in 2008 but re-signed and invited to spring training where he again experienced arm trouble.

He was apparently unable to control his weight and while he was officially listed at 250 in press guides, many suspected he was perhaps 20 pounds heavier than that. Now he is out of a job at age 29.

Enter Josh Lindblom, the #8 prospect on the LADugout list and the Dodgers' second round draft choice in the 2008 amateur draft, who was a closer while in college at Purdue University. The 6-5, 240-pound right-hander was selected in the second round and 61st overall in the June draft.

If he needed a subtitle it could be, "The right man at the right time>"

Assistant GM Logan White and Scouting Director Tim Hallgren projected Lindblom to be a starter. That was how he was used during his rookie season that involved eight starts at Great Lakes and a single start at Jacksonville.

White also predicted he would be the first member of the 2008 draft class to make the big club.

He was sent to Low-A Great Lakes, well above the normal placement of even a college pitcher and he made the move look good, working eight games, allowing only 14 hits in 29 innings while striking out 33 and walking four. So along with his 1.86 earned run average he was promoted.

Not only promoted, he jumped past High-A Inland Empire right into Double-A Jacksonville where he only had time for one start before the season closed but he made the most of it, allowing five hits in five innings, striking out for and walking one.

"He showed poise and maturity," Dodgers assistant general manager De Jon Watson said after the season. "He was receptive to the switch back into the starting rotation and a lot will depend on the Dodgers needs as we go along.
"This kid can pitch."

Not invited to spring training, he nevertheless got his first chance in a split-squad game against Oakland March 16. After Jason Schmidt, James McDonald and Shawn Estes were tacked for 10 runs, manager Joe Torre called for the rookie.

He faced seven Oakland batters, retiring six of them and allowing only a harmless double. The invitation to the Major League side of the complex came shortly afterwards.

Whether he is actually in the running for a spot on the 40-man roster and a trip to Los Angeles, is not exactly clear. Is he following the lead of Clayton Kershaw and Blake DeWitt in 2008 when they were moved to the big league clubhouse in the middle of the spring and wound up playing in Los Angeles?

With Torre's pitchers after getting smacked around on a regular basis this season, you know he's at least going to get a long look, but perhaps it's more to gauge his readiness for an in-season callup.

His chances to make the opening-day roster are very long, remembering he has had only one start above Class A in his short career. But one would think he has a decent chance of being in the majors sometime this year if he can take advantage of this opportunity.

And in the highly competitive world of major league baseball, an opportunity is all you can ask for and that's something many never get even close to.  

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