The Ogden Raptors will again be the Dodger affiliate in the Pioneer League in 2014. The advanced rookie league is comprised of a four team Northern Division and a four team Southern Division. The Raptors compete in the Southern Division along with the Orem Owlz (LAA), Grand Junction Rockies (COL), and Idaho Falls Chukars (KC), the eventual champions in the Pioneer League in 2013.
The Raptors played their first game on June 20 losing to the Grand Junction Rockies 11-6 and finished their schedule on September 8 with a 6-3 loss to those same Rockies. The Raptors came within one game of capturing a play-off spot in the first half but struggled in the second half falling to 16-22 and 36-40 on the season, well out of a play-off spot in the second half.
During the season forty-four different players dressed for the Raptors. Seventeen of the players were drafted by the Dodgers in the June 2103 First Year Draft while five of them returned to the Raptors having played with the team in 2012. Sixteen players advanced from the 2012 Arizona Dodgers and six from the 2012 Dominican Summer League Dodgers. During the year eight Raptors were promoted to the Class A Great Lakes Loons including Zachary Bird who was selected as the 7th best prospect in the Pioneer League by Baseball America.
The 2013 Raptors had six players whose fathers had MLB experience: Alex Santana (Rafael 1983-1990), Jordan Hershiser (Orel 1983 – 2000), Jesmuel Valentin (Jose 1992 – 2007) , Dillon Moyer (Jamie 1986 – 2012), J.D. Underwood (Tom 1974 – 1984), Zach Babbit (Mack Babbit 1981). Of the six, only Zach Babitt never saw his father Mack “Shooty” Babitt play professionally. Babitt played only 54 games in the big leagues for the Oakland Athletics in 1981. On the other hand, Raptors manager Damon Berryhill played with or against their fathers. “I knew these guys when they were nothin’ 9-year-olds running around and now they’re in pro ball,” said Berryhill. “But just because their parents were big leaguers doesn’t mean they’re off and running.”
Several of the Raptors players who had a productive 2013 season were:
Scavuzza (19) was a 21st round selection by the Dodgers in the 2012 First Year Player Draft. A 6’4” 195 pound outfielder he struggled in 2012 with the AZL Dodgers hitting just .220 and showing little power. A right-handed hitter he found his power stroke in 2013 leading the league in home runs with 14, placing third with a .578 SLG percentage and an OPS of .927, fifth best in the league. Scuavuzza capped off his season with a Pioneer League All Star selection. Baseball America ranked him as the 9th best prospect in the Pioneer League. In a July 26, 2013 interview, Dodgers Vice President of Amateur Scouting Logan White told Dustin Nosler “(It) may take a little while, but I think Scavuzzo certainly opened up a lot of eyes because he’s a really good athlete and can do some things. He’s a guy that you’re going to see and go, ‘wow.’”
Santana (20) was selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2011 draft out of Mariner High School in Cape Coral, Florida and completed his third year of professional baseball in 2013. His first two seasons, complete with a low OBP, were cause for some concern. However, with the Raptors, his .327 batting average was the third highest in the league and his OBP rose to a very respectable .391. The 6’ 4” 200 pound Santana has yet to find his power stroke but Logan White believes it will develop. White called Santana “a potential cornerstone at third base,” adding that as Santana matures, he sees the line-drive swing turning into a powerful one.
Valentin (19) was the Dodgers first round supplemental draft pick in the 2012 draft (51st overall) awarded to the Dodgers when Rod Barajas left the team as a free agent. Playing on the same squad in Puerto Rico as top draft prospect Carlos Correa, Valentin had to defer to Correa at shortstop and play second base. His professional baseball time has been divided between shortstop and second base. He has all the defensive tools to succeed at either position, including a very strong arm, quick feet and great natural instincts. A switch hitter he has a line drive swing with some pop. As a Raptor he hit ,284 with 17 extra base hits, and had an OBP of .379. He was advanced to the Great Lakes Loons later in the season. “Valentin is worth the 51st pick because he’s a switch-hitter, a polished Major League defender with a chance to be an offensive player in the middle of the diamond,” said White.
Curletta (19) was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona. After an uneventful year with the AZL Dodgers in 2012 he began the 2013 season with the Raptors. He started slowly in June but his batting average improved each month after that through September. His final batting average of .326 was fourth highest in the league while his OBP of .402 ranked seventh in the league. Another 6’4” right-handed hitter, Curletta is listed at 225 pounds. He hit 21 home runs in his junior year so the Dodgers expect he has a power stroke that will be revealed as he climbs the ladder in the Dodger farm system. As an eleven year old Tommy Lasorda signed his shirt at a charity event, :”To a future Dodger.”
Chigbogu (19) was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Raytown South High School in Missouri. He is a 6”1” 240 pound left-handed hitting first baseman. He had a slow start with the AZL Dodgers in 2012 and returned to the Dodgers in 2013. After eleven games in Arizona, with five home runs and 19 RBI, he was promoted to the Raptors. With the Raptors he hit .254 with another nine home runs and 31 RBI. Plate discipline is a bit of an issue with Chigbogu as he struck out 90 times in 2013 compared to 25 walks. He sounds like another great kid. When asked what was his first thought when he got drafted, he said, “First I thanked God and then I thanked my mom for everything she has done for me, on my batting gloves I write F.O.E family over everything.”
Barlow (20) was selected by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita, California. He pitched only 1.2 innings with the Arizona League Dodgers in 2011 and missed the entire 2012 season after Tommy John surgery. He was able to pitch regularly in 2013 but was quite hittable. With a four pitch repertoire – fastball (94), strong curveball, slider, changeup – Barlow also has the make up the Dodgers like to see in a pitcher. He was a Dodger Pride winner in August. Even with a very average year Baseball America picked him as the twentieth best prospect in the Pioneer League.
Although the Raptors Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Dodgers is scheduled to expire at the conclusion of the 2014 season, there is every indication that the Dodgers will renew their affiliation with the popular minor league franchise, which averaged more than 3,000 fans per game during 2013 – tops in the Pioneer League.