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At least 18 different former Diamond Dawgs played professional baseball this past season. Some just started their careers, some just ended it, but from the rookie leagues to the majors, we try to recap how the season went for all dozen and a half who toiled in various levels of Major League Baseball organizations in 2012.
Mitchell Boggs is the only UGA product still chasing a World Series dream. After beating the Braves in the Wild Card play-in game, Boggs and the Cardinals are squaring off against the Washington Nationals in the NL Divisional Series. Boggs got two outs in the games against Atlanta, and has gotten 5 outs in 2 games against the Nationals as of the time of me writing this (they play today, and he will almost certainly pitch in today's game). Boggs pitched well for the Cardinals down the stretch, helping them make it back to the post season for the 3rd time in his 5 seasons, as they look to repeat as World Series champions. He lead the team with 78 appearances on the year, pitching 73 1/2 innings on a 2.21 ERA, striking out 58, walking 21, and allowing 56 hits. The Dalton native should get a nice pay raise this winter.
Jeff Keppinger just completed his 11th professional season, and 8th on a big league roster, with the Tampa Bay Rays. It was arguably the best season of his career, hitting career highs in average (.325) and HRs (9) and walked almost as often as he struck out in (24 to 31) in over 400 plate appearances. He'll be a free agent this winter, and could get a sizeable contract.
Gordon Beckham had another disappointing campaign with the Chicago White Sox. The former top Dawg in Athens has seen his numbers steadily decline over his 4 MLB seasons. And while year 4 saw a slight rebound from year 3, they are still a far cry from a promising rookie year in 2009. There are some positives though, as he did put up career highs in games played (151), HRs (16), runs (62), and hits (123), and had an arguably strong year defensively. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, which means his bat has probably one more year to improve before the White Sox have to make a tough decision on keeping him.
Justin Grimm was the 4th former Diamond Dawg to play in the Majors this season, making his debut on June 16th after little more than a year in the minors. He began the year in AA, before getting the call up to the Texas Rangers, before heading back to AAA to close out his minor league season. He went 11-6 with an ERA under 3 in 25 games (22 starts) between those two minor league levels. In the majors, Grimm made 5 appearances (2 starts), allowing 14 runs in 14 innings, while striking out 13 and walking 3. Look for him to compete for a spot on the Rangers staff next spring, where he could work in either as a 5th starter or in their bullpen.
Clint Sammons saw his season end on the 4th of July with an injury I can't determine through google or the team's or Times-Picayuene's archives. He spent the year with the Miami Marlins AAA affiliate, New Orleans Zephyrs, and had arguably the worst year of his career at the plate, hitting .188, and reaching base less than 22% of the time he stepped to the plate (obp of .219). He turns 30 next year, and without knowing the injury, his playing career is likely entering it's final stages if it hasn't already. Good luck to Sammons as he searches for a minor league deal this winter, or perhaps moves in to a coaching role somewhere.
Josh Fields finally made it to AAA this year, after spending almost all of the previous 3 1/2 years in AA where he debuted back in 2009. Fields had 8 saves in 32 games with Boston Red Sox AA affiliate in Portland (Maine), and another 4 saves in 10 appearances for their AAA club in Pawtucket. Fields' numbers for the year were a combined 2.01 ERA in 58 1/3 innings, with 78 strikeouts to a mere 18 walks. He did not allow an earned run in 13 2/3s innings of work at AAA after getting the call up in early August. Fields, now 27, will likely try to find a role in Boston's bullpen next spring, or be injury insurance down in AAA.
Brooks Brown spent the entire season in AAA for Detroit's Toledo Mud Hens. After spending the last two years with the Tigers' AA club, Brown started the year pitching several games out of the bullpen before taking his turn in the starting rotation. He improved some in the second half of the year, and once he took on a starter's workload, but his season was still a bit of a struggle. In 112 innings (29 games, 19 starts), the righty from Statesboro had a 4.90 ERA, 58 walks, and 81 strikeouts. Like Fields, the now 27-year old Brown likely gets an invite to spring training where he'll hope to catch on in the bullpen, or at worst go back to AAA to be ready in case an injury requires him to help the big team.
Stephen Dodson rounds out our AAA Dawgs, having spent the entire year with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Colorado Rockies organization. Also 27, the Chattanooga native didn't take the mound after July 23. He finished his season appearing in 30 games, all in relief, for the Sky Sox, posting a 4.26 ERA in 38 innings, registering 22 strikeouts and 15 walks. A "strained right wrist" ended his season, or at least that's what our fellow SBNation site, Purple Row said about the Rockies farmhand. He, like Fields and Brown, is almost sure to get a spring training camp invite before joining a AAA club to provide depth.
Trevor Holder had a solid year in the Washington Nationals organization, split between their high A affiliate in Potomac and their AA team in Harrisburg. He actually saw his numbers slightly improve with the step up, as his ERA dropped from 4.01 in A+ to 3.78 in AA. For the year, the Birmingham bred Holder started 19 games, pitched in 29 total, and had an ERA of 3.92 in 128 2/3 innings, 77 strikeouts, and 31 walks. I'd expect him to start next year back in AA, with an eye towards continuing his climb up the ladder if he can post more strong outings.
Rich Poythress spent his entire year at AA, aside from a rehab assignment mid season. The Seattle Mariners farmhand hit .304 in 86 games for the AA Jackson Generals. But while his batting average and over .400 on base marks are outstanding, the 1B position is generally a power spot and the Greenbrier High School product lacked it. After crushing 31 HRs in 2010, Poythress has only hit 20 since, and just 6 this year for the Generals. Whether the 25 yr old begins next year in AAA or back in AA, the Mariners will be hoping he can refind the power he left back in California with High Desert.
Jeffrey Walters was among those who performed well enough his club moved him up midseason, going from low A Savannah to high A St. Lucie in the New York Mets organization. Strictly a reliever, Walters saw his ERA go from under 1 with Savannah to a still solid 3.76 in St. Lucie. In just his second full season, the Orlando native combined to pitch in 36 games, with a 2.30 ERA in 54 2/3 innings. He'll likely start next year back in Florida, hoping another solid start can get him moved up to AA.
Bryce Massinari is among those who saw their season cut short due to injury. Playing for the Modesto Nuts, high A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the catcher hit .232, with 5 doubles and 2 HRs in only 26 games. He was apparently hit by a pitch in the forearm, back on May 20th, and that ended his season. Let's hope it wasn't too serious, and he can get back on the field next year.
Zach Cone played in the South Atlantic League all season, affectionately known as the Sally. His first full season in the Texas Rangers organization was spent on the Hickory Crawdads where he hit .262 in 112 games, logging 27 doubles, 17 HR, 64 RBI, and 10 steals. Not the best season for the soon-to-be 23 yr old, but a solid one nonetheless, and it should be more than strong enough that the Rangers move him up to their A+ team Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League next spring.
Chase Davidson, as you can see on his player page at MiLB.com, had a dreadful season, playing in just 9 games for the Houston Astros' Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York-Penn League, striking out 9 times and getting 5 hits. We can't find any info on him being hurt or of him playing after June 28th. If anyone can add why his season ended so early, please let us know in the comments. It's hard to imagine his career would end so soon, just his second pro season after last year got off to such a great start in rookie ball.
Berry Tanner didn't take the mound for the Oakland A's Vermont Lake Monsters, also in the New York-Penn League, until August 21st. The Waycross native who went by Cecil with the Diamond Dawgs pitched 5 innings in 4 games, allowing 6 hits, 1 home run, and 8 walks while recording 6 strikeouts. The big righty has not had a promising start to his pro career.
Alex Wood, in contrast, has had a brilliant beginning to his pro career. Perno's ace this year was drafted in the second round of the draft this June by the Atlanta Braves, who sent him to their A ball affiliate in Rome after signing. The aggressive start at a higher than normal level for draft picks did not cause any problems as the lefty from Charlotte made 13 starts, going 52 2/3 innings with a 2.22 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 14 walks. The numbers looked even better before he started to where down and had bad outings in 2 of his last 3 starts on the season. Look for the Braves to continue to be aggressive with Wood, and for him to follow in the line of their last two highly drafted college left handers (Sean Gilmartin from Florida St and Mike Minor out of Vanderbilt), skipping A+ completely to join their AA team in Mississippi next spring for his first full professional season.
Levi Hyams was the only other Diamond Dawg to enter the professional ranks this summer, having also been drafted by the Atlanta Braves in June. The 2B was sent to the Appalachian League's Danville Braves where he helped them make the playoffs. In 45 games, the 19th round pick hit .254, with 10 doubles, 5 HR, and 7 steals for the year. He will likely start next season in Rome.
Nathan Moreau saw his career come to a close, calling it quits after just 2 games in April for the Baltimore Orioles' Frederick Keys. We hope the rest of the year went a lot better for the south paw than that pair of games did.
If you're still reading after all of that, let me say thank you. I have enjoyed keeping track of these guys all summer, and hope you've enjoyed following along. Spring training is just a couple months away, so keep an eye out for next season's opening update sometime in late April after the full season (A, A+, AA, and AAA) minor league teams get a couple weeks under their belt.