Friday, July 08, 2016

Welcome to the Blue, Andrew Toles!

Here's a Cinderella story of a different kind.  Just a couple weeks ago the Dodgers brought up a kid who began the season in Single-A.  His name was Brock Stewart, and he made his Major League debut as a starter last week after beginning the year at the bottom of the ladder.  Now we have a similar scenario in Andrew Toles.  As you may have heard, the Dodgers are planning to bring up the outfielder (per JP Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers), and he too began the season in Single-A.  Although, unlike Stewart, Toles journey had a far more circuitous route. 

Andrew Toles was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 3rd round in 2012 (while Andrew Friedman was there).  He was a high-flying athlete with fantastic speed, and looked to be a solid prospect destined to roam the outfield for years to come.  Unfortunately, he had some baggage, and although specifics are scarce we do know that three ballclubs effectively gave up on him.

First there was the University of Tennessee.  Having gotten an scholarship to play ball, Toles was eventually dismissed by the Volunteers during his sophomore season.  Soon thereafter he played at Chipola College in northern Florida (a school that produced Jose Bautista and Russell Martin) and was also sent packing for breaking team rules. Then came the 2012 Draft.  He quickly signed for $394,200 and soon shined in Tampa's minor league system.  In fact, in 2013 he slashed .326/.359/.466/.826 and stole 62 bases for their Single-A club, and was named the Rays Minor League Player of the Year.  However, not everything was rosy.  On numerous occasions he was pulled from games for a lack of hustle, and that attitude continued the next season.  Per David Egbert at Rays Colored Glasses:
Unfortunately, the poor play was only the start. The real telling moment for Toles came a few weeks ago when he was once again pulled from a game for not hustling. Then, for some reason, he never returned to the lineup. Toles remained on the active list, but never played. Finally on June 19th, he was placed on the “temporary inactive “ list. Nobody knows what that means, but it isn’t good. As usual, the Rays are very tight-lipped about the situation. However, it does sound like we have reached a point where Andrew Toles needs some help.
Several months later, during spring training in 2015, the Rays released him.  Fast forward to September and he gets signed to a minor league contract by the Dodgers.  Now, Andrew Toles is on the verge of stepping on the field as a Major League ballplayer.  Per JP Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers:
According to multiple sources, the 24-year-old outfielder will be recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to tonight’s game against the San Diego Padres. Toles began the season at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, was promoted to Double-A Tulsa in May, and played another eight games at Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to his promotion. Toles’ combined slash line across the three levels: .330/.375/.507, with 23 stolen bases in 32 attempts.
No doubt, Toles has had to climb several mountains before getting to where he is today.  Hopefully, whatever demons hampered him in the past are long since gone.

Below are some links to check out:
Per a Dodgers press release:
Toles made the start in center field for Triple-A OKC in last night’s contest against Omaha (Royals), going 3-for-5 with a run scored, a double and two RBI. He combined to hit .330 with 52 runs, 99 hits, 23 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 37 RBI and has stolen 23 bases in 32 attempts in 73 games with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (22 G), where he began the season, Double-A Tulsa (43 G) and Triple-A Oklahoma City (8 G). Prior to his promotion to the big leagues, he led Dodger minor leaguers in hits, doubles and stolen bases, while ranking among the best in batting average (3rd), runs (2nd), triples (T-4th) and RBI (T-7th).

The Decatur, Georgia, native, who signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on September 23, 2015, has posted a .309/.348/.456 slashline and has recorded 383 hits, 194 runs, 83 doubles, 26 triples, 16 home runs, 142 RBI and 123 stolen bases in four professional seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays’ (2012-14) and Dodgers’ (2016) organizations. He was originally selected by the Rays in the third round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Chipola Junior College (FL). 
BTW, he will wear #60.  Also, Carlos Frias was optioned to Triple-A.

In celebration of his promotion to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy Baseball card of him.  I used a photo grabbed from MiLB on twitter and the 1992 Score Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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