Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dozier shows skills in Rising Stars Game

On Saturday night, there was a gathering of the top prospects in all of baseball for the annual Rising Stars Game as part of the Arizona Fall League. There were prospects from all different levels of the minor leagues with many familiar names and some unfamiliar faces to a national audience. The starting pitchers for each side were the number one and number two draft picks from June's draft. The two top prospects in all of baseball were in the same batting order. This lead to a lot of stories to follow through out the game.

For Twins fans, there was one player that fans tuned in to see. Brian Dozier was recently named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and he was also in the starting line-up for the East division of the Rising Stars Game. He was placed in the eighth spot in the batting order and he was fielding at second base. This was Dozier's first exposure to a national audience and for many fans of the Twins minor league system, this was an opportunity to see a player who rose a lot in the rankings this year.
The East squad struggled to score runs in the contest but Dozier was able to provide a little spark to his team. By the time Dozier came up in the top of the third inning, his team was already down 6-0. The first pitch Dozier saw was a sinker on the outer half of the plate. He tried to stay with the pitch and he slapped it to the opposite field but the ball ended up hooking foul. The next pitch was a fastball on the inner half of the plate and Dozier made solid contact to knock it over the center field fence for a home run.

Dozier would get one more at-bat in the game during the top of the fifth inning. A new pitcher had entered the game and Dozier went up looking for a fastball from right handed hurler Preston Guilmet. He got the pitch he wanted but fouled down the first base line. The first baseman was able to track down the ball in foul territory to retire Dozier after only one pitch.

The AFL West team was pounding the ball all over the field and that made it hard to evaluate Dozier's defense during his limited action in the game. There were a couple of double plays turned by Dozier while he was playing second base. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Christian Bethancourt lined a ball to the third baseman who started to turn the double play. Dozier had to make a very strong turn at second base with Joe Terdoslavich charging in hard as he ran from first base. As the second baseman, Dozier got a lot on behind the throw and was able to complete the double play.

Dozier had another chance for a double play in the bottom of the fifth inning but this play was a little less traditional. The ball was hit back up the middle and the pitcher, Jake Diekman, deflected the ball on the ground to Dozier. This made for a tough play for Dozier to pick up the ball, tag the runner heading to second, and throw to first to complete the double play. It was nice to be able to see Dozier stick with the play when he had to make a quick reaction to a deflection. 

Overall, Dozier was in a line-up that included Bryce Harper and Mike Trout but he was the one to show off some of his offensive power. His team only managed four hits and he was one of only two prospects on the East team to have an extra base hit. It is hard to gain a lot of knowledge from watching a player in only one game. In two plate appearances and a handful of defensive opportunities, Dozier seemed to hard his own with the top prospects in the game. 

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