Feature Photo: Koda Glover, RHP, Nationals
(Pictured pitching for Oklahoma State in 2015)
Just as a quick note to my beloved Les Debutantes readers, these next three columns will have a slightly different timeline due to, you know, life and stuff that gets in the way. Our next few weeks’ columns may cover eight days’ worth of debuts. So hang tight with my schedule, and I promise I won’t miss a single debut!
That said, this week’s abbreviated debut roster involves some math that’s as easy as one-two-three:
National League Debuts
ACQUIRED: Via trade from the Marlins for LHP Chris Reed on July 15, 2015. Originally drafted by the Marlins in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Auburn University).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 5-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 35 games between Tulsa (Double-A) and Oklahoma City (Triple-A), striking out 85 and walking 10 while giving up 28 hits in 48 innings, limiting opposing hitters to a .165 BAA.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Oklahoma City on July 21 when RHP Julio Urias was recalled from Oklahoma City and INF Charlie Culberson and OF Zach Walters were sent down.
DEBUT: July 22, in a 16-inning, 4-3 loss to the Cardinals. The sixth of nine pitchers, he tossed two innings of hitless shutout ball, the only blemish on his 32 pitches thrown (20 for strikes) was hitting batter Greg Garcia with two outs in the 12th. Coming on for reliever Louis Coleman to start the 11th, he got the first batter he faced, Matt Holliday, to ground out to third base. After Matt Adams lined out to left, Yadier Molina grounded to third to end that inning. In the 12th, Dayton recorded his first strikeout, getting Jedd Gyorko swinging before Tyler Lyons grounded out to first base. After hitting Garcia, Dayton struck out Tommy Pham to end the inning and his night, as he was lifted for pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig in the 13th.
PLAYER NOTES: Talk about having a need for extra pitchers. Over two nights’ games, the Dodgers sent 17 pitchers to the mound (not 17 different people, but used 17 pitchers – eight on Thursday and nine on Friday, so it was inevitable that Dayton would have gotten into one of them). The left-handed specialist has been effective throughout his seven pro seasons, the first five-and-a-half of which came in the Marlins’ farm system. Splitting his 2015 campaign among three stops – New Orleans (Triple-A) with the Marlins and then Tulsa and Oklahoma City—he was 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA, striking out 65 while walking 15 in 57 1/3 innings, giving up 50 hits. Overall, in 262 career games (six of them starts, all of which came with High-A Jupiter in 2012), he’s posted a 2.79 ERA, striking out 498 batters while walking 124 in 389 2/3 innings and allowing a .221 average.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the eighth round of the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Oklahoma State University).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA and six saves in 33 games between Potomac (High A), Harrisburg (Double-A) and Syracuse (Triple-A), striking out 52 and walking just 14 in 45.1 IP, while allowing 31 hits.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Syracuse on July 20 when RHP Reynaldo Lopez was sent down and LHP Nick Lee was designated for assignment to clear a space on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: July 20, in an 8-1 win against the Dodgers. The last of three pitchers, he needed just four pitches to retire the side in the ninth, throwing all four for strikes. The first batter he faced, Justin Turner, flew out to right field, after which Andrew Toles grounded back to Glover on the first pitch and Scott Van Slyke flew out to left field on the first pitch he saw.
PLAYER NOTES: The second member of the 2015 MLB Draft Class to make his major league debut this season (and, for that matter, in the last four days, following in the footsteps of White Sox pitcher Carson Fulmer), Glover nevertheless managed to see time (and make fans) at all five of the Nationals’ minor league outposts. In 2015, after signing out of Oklahoma State as a junior, he split the season between Auburn (Short-Season A) and Hagerstown (Class A), combining to go 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 19 games, striking out 38 while walking just two—yes, two—in 30 innings, and allowing 22 hits. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup, and projects as a future closer with the makeup to match. He started his college career with two seasons at Eastern Oklahoma State, where he was a starter, but his transfer to Oklahoma State saw the beginning of that future as a late inning, or situational specialist out of the bullpen.
ACQUIRED: Signed as an international free agent (Dominican Republic) on June 21, 2012 (WSH)
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 4-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 16 starts between Harrisburg (Double-A) and Syracuse (Triple-A), striking out 109 in 87.1 IP and walking 31 while allowing 78 hits and limiting opposing hitters to a .234 BAA.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Syracuse July 19 when LHP Sammy Solis was placed on the 15-day DL.
DEBUT: July 19, against the Dodgers, where as the starting pitcher he took the loss in an 8-4 game, allowing six runs, all earned, on 10 hits over 4.2 IP, walking one and striking out nine. He gave up a solo homer to the first batter he faced, Chase Utley, on his third pitch, a 97-mph fastball to start a three-run inning. That was followed by a single by Howie Kendrick and a double by Justin Turner that set up a two-run single from Joc Pederson. After allowing a fourth run in the second inning, he settled down and struck out five of the six batters he faced in the third and fourth, striking out the side all swinging in the third – Yasmani Grandal (who had also fanned looking in the first), Pederson and Yasiel Puig, and struck out Scott Kazmir and Utley looking in the fourth. Lopez allowed his final two runs in the fifth on RBI singles from Adrian Gonzalez and Puig. He threw 105 pitches, 65 for strikes, and his fastball clocked as high as 98 mph.
PLAYER NOTES: Just the second player to debut for the Nationals this season, joining fellow uber-prospect Lucas Giolito, Lopez joined the rotation to replaced injured starter Joe Ross. With the Nats in good position for the postseason, they have been sparing in their use of newcomers but have chosen players who show fans flashes of great futures as well as the ability to contribute right now. Lopez boasts one of the deadliest fastballs in the system, a lively mid-90s pitch that occasionally touches three digits, as well as a power curveball. Coming to the big leagues after just two Triple-A starts, he has moved quickly. In 2015, he spent the summer not far from home base with the Potomac Nationals (High A), a few miles down I-95, going 6-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 19 starts, including the lone complete game of his pro career, fanning 94 in 99 innings and walking 28 while allowing 93 hits. He really put himself firmly on the map in his first stateside outing in 2014 when, between Auburn (Short-Season) and Hagerstown (Class A), he combined to go 7-3 with a 1.08 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 70 in 83.1 IP and walking 26 while allowing just 42 hits, limiting hitters to a .149 BAA. Lopez was optioned back to Syracuse the day after his debut to make room for fellow debutante, pitcher Koda Glover (see above).
2080 NOTES: Lopez checked in at No. 46 on 2080 Baseball’s Preseason Top 125 Prospect Ranking List where C.J. Wittmann had this to say about him: “Lopez features one of the better fastballs in all of the minors, touching triple digits with explosive life. It’s paired with a curveball that can flash plus, and changeup that plays average. Lopez will flash plus command on days he stays within his delivery, but other days can struggle to find the zone. Honing his delivery and command is the focus of his 2016 season.” You can read more about Lopez here in Wittmann’s Prospect Spotlight about him from mid-May.