Most Big Leaguers work their way up the ranks of the minors before ever getting a big league at-bat. Let’s take a look at the Dodgers farm system and some of their minor league affiliates. The next Clayton Kershaw could be on the horizon.
The Great Lakes Loons is a low class A minor league team in Midland, Michigan. They play in the Midwest League. They were founded in 1982, and here is their timeline:
- Great Lakes Loons (2007–present)
- Southwest Michigan Devil Rays (2005–06)
- Battle Creek Yankees (2003–04)
- Michigan Battle Cats (1995–02)
- Madison Hatters (1994)
- Springfield Cardinals (1982–93
On June 2, 2006 The Michigan Baseball Foundation finalized the purchase of the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. They then relocated to Midland, and were renamed the Loons. In September 2006, the Loons began their affiliation with the Dodgers with a two-year player development contract. In April 2007, their home park Dow Diamond opened. Their first game was held on April 13th. Dow Chemical, headquartered in Midland, owns the naming rights for the stadium.
The Dodgers #1 prospect, Zach Lee, played for the Loons last season. He made 24 starts, and finished with a 9-6 record and a 3.47 ERA.
Some familiar Dodgers have also played for the Loons. Clayton Kershaw pitched for the Loons in 2007 before being promoted to AA. Dee Gordon was a Loon in 2009 where he hit .301 with 73 stolen bases. He was the MVP of the Midwest League for that year. Josh Lindblom made his professional baseball debut with the Loons in 2008. He started 8 games and had a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings, and whiffed 33 batters while only walking 4. Kenley Jansen hit .227 with 9 homeruns in his 79 games he played with the Loons in 2008. Ruby De La Rosa spent some of the 2010 season with the Loons as well.
John Shoemaker took the helm as manager for the Loons in January after Juan Bustabad was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. The Loons finished with a 72-67 record for 2011, and unfortunately did not make it to the playoffs.
One promotion the Loons had to celebrate the Dodgers this past season was their Dodger Route of Champions night. The Loons players wore Dodger blue during 7 home games.
Check out a really wonderful and fun blog post documenting the Loons entire 2011 season:
Here is the official Loons website where you can check out their schedule. We will periodically check back with the Loons during their 2012 season along with the other Dodgers affiliate minor league teams.