This is not the first time I have brought up the issue that the Dodgers Triple A affiliate in Albuquerque is a boat anchor on the Dodgers organization. The reasons why are very simple: flyballs are homeruns there and curveballs don’t have much “bite.” Good pitchers can lose their confidence and mediocre hitters become Babe Ruth. The Dodgers just signed Dallas McPherson who just might hit 60 HR there, but is not a Major League prospect anymore because he can hit AAA pitching, but nothing above that. The PCL has been home to many such highly-heralded prospects, such as Billy Ashely, Greg Brock, Brandon Wood and the instant Dallas McPherson, who later were determined to be suspects.
Every hitter who plays at Albuquerque is going to get a big surge in their stats, not just power numbers, but in batting average, because when pitchers can’t rely on their breaking stuff as much, the hitters can sit on their fastballs. By the time someone gets to AAA, I guarantee they can hit just about any fastball. So, whatever a pitcher or a hitter does at that AAA level is unrealistic. It’s fantasy!
I don’t know about you, but I’m more into reality. Look at what Scott Van Slyke did at Albuquerque last year. He OPS’ed .982 and still cleared waivers, because those numbers in the PCL don’t mean anything. If he had that OPS in the International League, teams would have been all over him because that is a legitimate league.
Staying in Albuquerque is a disservice to Dodger fans, Dodger players and a waste of Dodger management’s time. Albuquerque ruins pitchers and hitters.
Currently, the Dodgers have a Low-A affiliate in Midland, Michigan (Great Lakes Loons) and an AA affiliate in Chattanooga, Tennessee (Outlooks). They also have a High-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, California, which is also a hitter’s league. The Dodgers frequently keep their best prospects away from Rancho Cucamonga and Albuquerque. Rancho makes sense logistically, so maybe the Dodgers keep the High-A affiliate there, but Albuquerque just needs to go away.
It’s time for the Dodgers farm system to get legit. It’s time to dump Albuquerque and get the AAA affiliate to a city that is hitter and pitcher neutral. I have two suggestions. Since the Dodgers AA team is in Tennessee and the Low-A team in is Michigan, it only seems logical that the AAA affiliate could be in Kentucky or Indiana, which are both located between Tennessee and Michigan. Two stadiums are exceptional: (1) Louisville Slugger Stadium in Louisville, KY, home of the Louisville Bats (AAA affiliate of the Reds); and (2) Victory Field in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indianapolis Indians (AAA affiliate of the Pirates).
Both are first-class organizations and this would have to be a two-year transition because both have agreements in place with their respective clubs. The natural progression of things would be that prospects could move between A and AA or AA and AAA with just a 3 or 4 hour car ride. Plus, without the rare air of the PCL, you don’t have to worry about ruining a pitcher or giving a hitter false hope. Surely, Guggs and Company (especially Kasten) are smart enough to figure this out… aren’t they?
Of course, I would choose Indy, where I already get Press Passes and would give you excellent coverage of the AAA Indianapolis Indians, Dodgers-style! I am biased on that part because I live here.