- Arizona League Dodgers (2009–present)
- Gulf Coast Dodgers (1966–2008)
The Arizona League Dodgers are the Rookie level minor league affiliate of the Dodgers. They are below the Rookie Advanced Ogden Raptors within the hierarchy of minor league affiliate teams within the Dodgers farm system. They were previously known as the Gulf Coast Dodgers, and they played in Vero Beach, Florida upon the historic Field One within Dodgertown. They now play at Camelback Ranch, the Spring Training home of the Dodgers.
Matt Martin will be the Manager of the AZL Dodgers as well as the Coordinator of Arizona instruction for 2012. He had been the Dodgers’ Minor League Infield Coordinator for 5 years prior. Leo Garcia returns for his fourth year as hitting coach, and Kremlin Martinez will be the pitching coach in 2012. He had been the pitching coach for the Great Lakes Loons last season.
The AZL Dodgers were founded in 1983. There is no official attendance record since few fans attend the games, although there is no attendance fee to watch the games.
The 12 teams play a short 56-game season in the AZL and is played from mid-June through the end of August in and around Phoenix, Arizona. This Rookie level is often where first-year professional ballplayers begin their careers. Often Dominican players and draftees from high school or college play in the league. Sometimes players from other levels will play in rehab games in Arizona as well.
In 2011 the AZL Dodgers clinched the AZL Central Division by finishing with a 34-22 record. The postseason schedule is a bit different in the AZL. They play in a one-game semifinal round and then a single championship game. The Dodgers went on to defeat the AZL Giants 4-2 in the league championship game on August 31st, their first league championship win since 1990 and 5th overall. Juan Noriega pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in clutch relief. Jason West picked up the save after battling back in the 9th after getting in some trouble. Bryant Hernandez had a double and a triple, Jesus Valdez had 1 RBI, and Delvis Morales hit a go-ahead 2-run single.
Outfielder Joseph Winker was third in the AZL in hitting with a .374 batting average in 43 games. He had 4 homeruns, 46 RBI, and 61 hits in 163 at bats. Luis Meza led the team in ERA with 4.59 and a record of 5-3 in 14 starts and 64.2 innings pitched. He had 50 strikeouts and 21 walks.
Devon Ethier, Andre Ethier’s younger brother, has played 30 games for the Rookie level Dodgers since being drafted by the Dodgers in 2010. In 47 at bats, he has only hit .128 with 6 hits and 4 RBI.
You can find more information about the AZL Dodgers on their official website.
Next time we will overview the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes as we wrap up our look at the Dodgers farm teams this offseason. It’s an opportunity to take a moment to see where the journey from minor leaguer to Big Leaguer may begin for some Dodgers. Some may work through the system quickly or in rare cases go straight from the draft to the bigs, but most often it takes years of hard work and dedication to make it up the ranks.