The Dodgers are coming back to Albuquerque. It is only for four games but don’t expect a wave of nostalgia to overwhelm the current Oklahoma City players.
That is all largely due to the fact that only a small number of players on the squad ever suited up in an Isotopes uniform. In fact, only two healthy pitchers and one infielder ever wore an Albuquerque uniform.
Right-handed starter Zach Lee (2014) and right-handed reliever Ramon Troncoso (2010-12), who was out of the Dodgers’ organization for two seasons before returning this year, are the only two ex-Isotopes on the OKC roster. Middle infielder Darwin Barney played briefly in Albuquerque in 2014 after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs.
Injured pitchers Josh Ravin (2014) and Steve Smith (2013-14), a former New Mexico Lobo, also spent time with the Isotopes. Both are on the disabled list, with Smith having made just one relief appearance in August while Ravin has been out since July 30.
Manager Damon Berryhill and hitting coach Franklin Stubbs, a former Albuquerque Duke, are still on the coaching staff with OKC. Longtime Isotopes pitching coach Glenn Dishman was reassigned to Single-A Great Lakes.
While the ties to Albuquerque are few and far between, this current Dodgers Triple-A team is playing more like the Dukes of old. OKC is 76-50 going into Saturday’s games, leading the American North Division by 6.5 games over Omaha (70-57).
As one might expect, moving from the high altitude of New Mexico to Oklahoma has certainly helped the pitching. The Dodgers’ team ERA of 3.85 is the fourth best in the PCL, well ahead of the Isotopes’ 4.97 mark, which is 13th in the 16-team league.
Lee, who will start Sunday night’s series opener, has gone 9-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 16 starts. That is a considerable rebound from last year’s 7-13, 5.38 numbers in Albuquerque.
The rest of the OKC staff has fared well, though it is mostly made up of veterans. Joe Wieland (10-5, 4.43), Scott Baker (7-3, 3.39), Eric Surkamp (6-3, 3.56), Mike Bolsinger (2-3, 2.80) and Brandon Beachy (1-1, 3.80) have all logged significant big-league time in their respective careers.
While Lee is the only significant pitching prospect, currently ranked at No. 17 in the MLB.com midseason update of the Dodgers’ top 30, there are several hitters of note, another sign of Los Angeles’ improved farm system. No. 1 Corey Seager, No. 4 Jose Peraza, No. 11 Austin Barnes and No. 12 Scott Schebler are all regulars in the lineup.
Seager, the No. 2 overall prospect in the Minors, has hit well (.277/.333/.431, 10 HR, 47 RBI) since coming up from Double-A Tulsa while splitting time at shortstop and third base. Peraza, acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves, has adapted quickly (.313/.333/.433) in 17 games with OKC while playing second base, shortstop and the outfield.
Barnes (.315/.387/.479, 8 HR, 41 RBI) has been solid all year at catcher. Schebler, an outfielder, has rebounded (.242/.320/.418, 12 HR, 45 RBI) after a slow start to the season.
Other regulars of note have included first baseman-outfielder O’Koyea Dickson (.260/.300/.416, 10 HR, 44 RBI), outfielder Kyle Jensen (.257/.308/.463, 15 HR, 56 RBI), first baseman Andy Wilkins (.254/.309/.483, 16 HR, 61 RBI) and infielder Buck Britton (.249/.297/.337, 5 HR, 40 RBI). Barney (.294/.333/.385, 4 HR, 25 RBI) has been solid with the glove at second base and shortstop.
The four-game series begins Sunday at 6:05 p.m. The games Monday through Wednesday will all start at 6:35 p.m.