Although details are not available, converted third baseman turned right-handed pitcher Pedro Báez will replace left-handed fireballer Onelki Garcia on the Glendale Desert Dogs roster for the 2013 Arizona Fall League (AFL), which begins play on Tuesday, October 8.
The substitution was posted on Twitter just prior to the start of Friday’s Game-2 of the NLDS between the Dodgers and Braves by MiLB.com (@MiLB), with no further details.
Garcia, who was drafted by the Dodgers in the 3rd round of the 2012 amateur draft, was one of the very few Dodgers prospects to receive a September call-up. He appeared in only 3 games in relief allowing two runs on one hit while walking four and striking out one in his 1.1 innings of work. Unfortunately, that one hit was a home run, thus giving him an ugly 13.50 ERA. He did, however, hit 96 MPH on the radar gun and will undoubtedly be in the running for a roster spot in the Dodgers bullpen next spring.
Although no reason was given for Garcia’s removal from the prestigious AFL, one would speculate that the move was made to allow Garcia to participate in one of the longer Caribbean Winter Leagues where he would have more time to work on his control issues.
Báez, who signed with the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent in 2007 as a third baseman, enjoyed early success in the minors - enough success to be selected for both the 2009 and 2010 All-Star Futures Games. In 2010 Báez spent most of the season with the (then) Advanced Single-A Inland Empire 66ers (now the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes) but finished the year with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts – and then the bottom fell out.
Báez appeared in 32 games early in 2011 with the Lookouts hitting a weak .210 before suffering an injury that landed him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. Upon returning to action in 2012 with the Lookouts, Báez appeared to be back on track and was selected to the mid-season Southern League All-Star team, but once again things turned bad and Báez was demoted back down to Rancho Cucamonga. When the dust finally settled, it began to look as though the once highly touted third base prospect now had little chance to make it back to the Double-A level, let alone make it to the Big leagues.
But then a miracle happened. Before leaving the game that he loved, Báez decided to give pitching a try, and a wise decision it was.
“They put (Báez) on the mound in instructional league and (his) fastball is really strong,” said Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt of Báez. “You talk about Kenley, when you see the ball come out of (Báez’s) hand… He hasn’t been overwhelmed by thinking too much about pitching. He just sees the glove and throws it and that’s kind of refreshing,” added an obviously impressed Honeycutt.
Báez spent most of the 2013 season at Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga where he was 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA. He was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga (where he once played as a third baseman) and went 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA. It was his overall 3-3 record and 3.88 ERA that earned the hard-throwing Báez a trip to the 2013 AFL as Garcia’s replacement.
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- For the first time in it’s 21-year history, the 2013 Arizona Fall League will present the inaugural Bowman Hitting Challenge, which will take place Saturday, Oct. 12 at 6:35 p.m. MT at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The event will feature top prospects competing in a home run derby-type event.
- In case you were wondering just how big of a deal it is to play in the AFL, 50% of the players on the Dodgers and Braves NLDS rosters played in the Arizona Fall League, 13 on the Dodgers roster and 12 on the Braves roster. That, my friends, is impressive.