Past and future are represented for the Tulsa Drillers in the parent Los Angeles Dodgers’ selections of the 2022 Branch Rickey Award winners.
The Dodgers’ minor league pitcher of the year is Gavin Stone, who excelled at three levels, spending the most time with the Double-A Drillers.
Stone led the full-season minor leagues with a 1.48 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). In 121²/³ innings, he walked 44 and struck out 168. With Tulsa, he was 6-4 with a 1.60 ERA. Stone started the season at High-A Great Lakes and ended at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he had a 1.16 ERA in six starts. In his last outing Monday, he pitched six shutout innings, struck out 11 and didn’t issue a walk.
Selected as the top position player was catcher Diego Cartaya, who started and ended the year as the Dodgers’ top overall prospect. Cartaya is projected to be with Tulsa next season.
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This season, Cartaya batted a combined .254 with 22 homers and 72 RBIs for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Great Lakes.
Although the Dodgers like the 21-year-old Cartaya’s hitting potential, his defensive skills and intangibles are even more impressive. Cartaya, who is 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, is athletic, has a strong arm and leadership skills. Cartaya played in the 2022 Futures Game.
Drillers notesTulsa had two pitchers finish among the minors’ top-10 strikeouts leaders — Nick Nastrini was eighth with 169 and Stone was tied for ninth at 168. Arizona prospect Brandon Pfaadt, who pitched against the Drillers on their opening homestand, led with 218.
Alec Gamboa, who was 11-4, had the most wins by any Drillers pitcher since Chase De Jong, who had 14 wins when he was the Texas League pitcher of the year in 2016.
Frisco wins pennantTexas Rangers affiliate Frisco won its first Texas League pennant since 2004 as it swept Wichita two games in the championship series, 11-3 and 7-5. In the clincher, Frisco rallied in the eighth and ninth innings before winning in the 10th as Evan Carter’s two-run single proved to be the difference.
Around the minorsThe Dodgers, as usual, were among the top organizations in wins and losses. They finished fourth with a .545 winning percentage, finishing behind Tampa Bay (.576), Colorado (.549) and the New York Yankees (.548). Texas was 10th at .522 and St. Louis was 19th at .487. Kansas City barely edged out Oakland to avoid being last among the 30 major league farm systems — both had .426 winning percentages. …
Arkansas’ Taylor Dollard, who was 16-2, led the TL in wins and ERA (2.25). He posted the most TL wins in a season since San Antonio’s Josh Geer had 16 in 2007. Dollard was 4-0 in four starts against Tulsa. …
Former OSU/Verdigris pitcher Peyton Battenfield (8-6) finished fourth in the Triple-A International League with a 3.63 ERA for Columbus (Cleveland Guardians). Former OSU/Jenks right-hander Thomas Hatch was 10th in the IL with a 4.87 ERA as he went 8-7 for Buffalo (Toronto Blue Jays). …
Moises Gomez, who started the year in the TL, led the minors with a combined 39 homers for Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. He is the first St. Louis Cardinals prospect to win the homer title since Ivan Cruz in 2002. Gomez had 23 homers for Springfield. He never had more than 19 homers in five previous pro seasons and had only eight in 2021 with Double-A Montgomery.
Brandon Dixon, an infielder with the Drillers in 2015, is back in the majors for the first time since 2020 as he was called up Sept. 27 by San Diego. He started the year in the TL and had a combined 23 homers and 74 RBIs in only 50 games and 195 at-bats for San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso.
Bradley sidelined againBroken Arrow graduate Archie Bradley won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels. He suffered a broken elbow while climbing over a dugout railing during a brawl against Seattle on June 26. In September, he made four rehab appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake, but was placed on the IL again Tuesday with a right forearm strain. Bradley finished 2022 with a 4.82 ERA in 21 relief appearances.
Rucinski in KoreaUnion graduate and former Miami Marlins pitcher Drew Rucinski has been incredibly consistent and durable during his four seasons with the NC Dinos in Korea’s KBO League, except for his won-loss record. In each season, he has made exactly 30 starts and pitched between 177 and 188 innings with his ERA ranging only from 3.05 to 3.18.
This year, Rucinski, 33, is 9-12 with a 3.07 ERA with probably one start remaining. In 187 innings, he has walked 33 and struck out 186. His previous won-loss records were 9-9, 19-5 and 15-10. Last winter, he signed for $2 million, one of the highest contracts by a foreign player in the KBO League.