Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Welcome to the Blue, Dylan Baker!

The first Dodger move of 2018 is exactly what you'd expect. It is being reported, via Chris Cotillo on twitter, that we have claimed right-handed pitcher Dylan Baker from the Milwaukee Brewers:
After spending the past five years as an Cleveland Indians prospect, Baker was DFA'd and claimed by the Brewers in late November. Then in late December he was DFA's again when Milwaukee signed a couple free agents. Now, he joins the Dodgers as the 40th member of our roster -- which makes me wonder if he'll also be DFA'd again should the Dodgers make a significant roster move. Regardless, Dylan Baker is a Dodger now.  Per a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired right-handed pitcher Dylan Baker from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later.
Baker, 25, has posted a 12-11 record with a 3.58 ERA in 65 career minor league games (48 starts) over five seasons with the Cleveland Indians organization (2012-17). In 241.2 career innings, he has held hitters to a .236 batting average while striking out 213 batters against just 98 walks. 
In 2017, Baker made 13 relief appearances with Double-A Akron, going 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA (4 ER/12.2 IP) and struck out 10 against just one walk. He also appeared in four games (two starts) with Rookie-level AZL Indians going 1-0 and allowed just two runs (one earned) in 4.0 innings. Baker was claimed off waivers on November 27, 2017 by the Brewers. 
Baker was originally selected by the Indians in the fifth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Western Nevada College.
Over his minor league career, Baker has dealt with a significant amount of injuries; including a broken fibula, Tommy John Surgery, fasciotomy in his forearm, a bone spur, etc. Per Brian Hemminger at Let's Go Tribe:
Brian Hemminger: I read a quote from you saying, “I didn’t know how mentally tough I was until I had to go through all that,” and I personally can’t think of a player who’s been through what you went through before they even made it to The Show. What helped you stay focused? There are probably a lot of players who would have thrown in the towel. 
Dylan Baker: I definitely thought about that, but my wife was with me in Arizona throughout the rehab process and she helped a ton and supported me and went beyond what she should have to do. My family supported me, telling me to keep my head up, it’s gonna be better after this, stuff like that. The Indians also, everyone talking to me, getting phone calls, everyone asking how it’s going and all the people were around me telling me, ‘Hey, it’s gonna get better, it’s gonna get better, keep going.” The support was awesome.
As for what he brings to the table, Dylan Baker demonstrated excellent control last year with a mid to high 90's fastball. Per a Baseball Prospectus scouting report last year:
With health again being the key, Baker has a tremendous chance to pitch key innings out of the Cleveland bullpen before the year is over and potentially play a strong role in their playoff and championship aspirations this year.
 Per Kyle Lesniewski at Brew Crew Ball:
Baker’s plus fastball/slider combination along with his command/injury questions do portend to an ultimate future in relief, but he does have previous experience as a starter. He worked almost exclusively out of the rotation prior to returning from his elbow injury and threw 143.2 innings in Class-A ball in 2013. He’s also previously received praise for his changeup, which Baseball America described as a pitch that “made strides...and could eventually give him a third quality offering” when they rated Dylan as Cleveland’s #24 prospect after the 2015 season. At 6’2” and 205 pounds, Baker possesses the “prototypical starter’s build” that is considered desirable when evaluating young arms, but couples it with a delivery that has been described as “high-effort.”
Hopefully his potential out of the bullpen will be realized this season in Los Angeles. In honor of Dylan's joining the Dodgers I made the above two fantasy Baseball cards of him.

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