This article was originally published at Dodgers Nation.
The minor league teams for the Dodgers have been playing for at least two weeks now. Even though it is early let’s take a look at five hitters that are off to a hot start. This list is only for players that have not fulfilled their rookie status in the major leagues so we are excluding players like Kevin Pillar, Zach McKinstry, Jason Martin, and Eddy Alvarez. These are small sample sizes but all of these players are building off of the success from last season.
If you recall, the Dodgers acquired left-handed-hitting Ryan Noda (along with Kendall Williams), in the Ross Stripling trade. He spent the 2021 season in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers. Last season he slugged 29 home runs with Tulsa to lead the Double-A Central League (now the Texas League). He has begun the 2022 season in Triple-A.
Starting with a bang!
Ryan Noda crushes his team-leading fourth homer of the season, and the Dodgers take a 3-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/nnaGsyH613
— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) April 16, 2022
Despite having a lot of former major league players, the leader on offense so far has been Noda. He is slashing .391/.525/.717 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with four home runs. Noda is playing mostly right field and first base to enhance his versatility. Now that the Dodgers have traded away left-handed power hitter players like Luke Raley and Zach Raley, Noda has an opportunity to make his mark.
The Dodgers drafted Damon Keith out of Cal Baptist Univerity in the 18th round of the 2021 draft. In fact, he was only one of two position players the Dodgers selected and he was the only one to sign. Like many players drafted in 2021, Keith started his professional career in the Arizona Complex League (ACL) and slashed .333/.453/.551 in 23 games. This earned him a promotion to the Quakes to begin 2022 and he’s been crushing it from the start.
2021 Dodger 18th round pick Damon Keith hit his first homer of the season over the batter's eye in CF! pic.twitter.com/FDX29Cse0U
— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) April 9, 2022
He’s off to a great start with the Quakes and is slashing .462/.571/.846. Positionally, he has started at all three outfield spots and should continue to rotate at all three spots during his time with the Quakes. A side note about the Quakes, they move players all over the field and each lineup usually has most players at different positions than the day before. Keith is off to a great start and should be one of the first of the position players promoted to the Great Lakes Loons. If you are in Southern California, make sure to go and watch him and the other Quakes.
Before reading any further, you might consider sending a “thank you” note to Angels owner Arte Moreno. He vetoed a trade that would have included Andy Pages in 2020. Now, he is one of the Dodgers’ top prospects.
At Dodgers 2080 we have a full breakdown on Pages. He spent the full 2021 season in High-A with the Loons and slashed .265/.394/.539 with 31 home runs in 438 at-bats. His power has started a bit slow in 2022 but he is slashing .289/.449/.395. He has really increased his walks and might be sacrificing some power for a higher overall on-base percentage. The power will come soon as MLB Pipeline has his power rating as 60 on the 20/80 scale. By the way, his arm is rated as a 65. He has played right field this year but has the talent to play center.
Jose Ramos continues to build on his success from 2021. The 21-year-old native of Panama is a right-handed-hitting outfielder, primarily plays in right, and has one of the strongest arms in the organization.
Another day, another bomb for Jose Ramos, his 2nd of the season pic.twitter.com/A8urEKpm47
— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) April 10, 2022
Last season Ramos seemingly came out of nowhere. He began the 2021 season in Arizona and earned a quick promotion to the Quakes. In just 195 at-bats he slugged eight home runs and slashed .313/.377/.559 and was assigned back to the Quakes to begin 2022. He has started strong with a slash line of .282/.378/.590 with three home runs in just 34 at-bats. Along with Damon Keith, he should be heading to the Loons within a couple of months.
One of the probable untouchables in the minor league system is 2019 first-round draft pick, Michael Busch. During Spring Training I really enjoyed watching him hit. He has one of those approaches and swings that I just know will translate to the big leagues quite well.
Busch ended the 2021 season in Double-A by slashing .413/.491/.739 and has started 2022 with the Drillers again and is slashing .308/.451/.590. The only reason Busch and many others are starting in Double-A again is that the Dodgers are using their Triple-A team to keep some former major leaguers at OKC and have them be ready for a call-up. He should be in OKC very soon. Don’t be surprised if he debuts with the Dodgers in late 2022.
The Dodgers have a loaded farm system and these players are a good example of some of the better players. There are quite a few that have started slowly (see the Great Lakes Loons’ statistics for a good example) but expect them to rebound soon. We’ll be writing about those players on this site and also at Dodgers 2080.