Dodger Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Rubby De La Rosa

Get to know Rubby De La Rosa. The hard-throwing Dominican-born Dodger pitching prospect is the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

De La Rosa is one of those players who wows scouts and flummoxes batters. He began the season with the Dodgers’ Single-A partner, the Great Lakes Loons and went 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA. He pitched in 14 games, starting five. In 59.1 innings, he struck out 55 batters.

In late July, the 6-1, 170-pound right-hander was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga, where he finished out the season and flourished.

The 21-year-old from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic went 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA for the Lookouts. In eight games, all starts, he struck out 39 batters in 51 innings. He didn’t allow more than three earned runs in any game. He gave up three earned runs just once during that period.

All told, he was 7-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 22 games in 2010, striking out 94 batters to 38 walks in 110.1 innings.

La Gran Fiesta

The performers for La Gran Fiesta at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 19 range from one of People En Español’s 50 Most Beautiful to artists with L.A. roots in a multi-musical genre celebration.

 

La Gran Fiesta is the grand finale of the free Viva Los Dodgers Day festivals. It will take place in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, with gates opening at 9:45 a.m. and the concert beginning at 10 a.m.

 

The headliner is Dulce Maria, who has twice been selected to the People en Español’s 50 Most Beautiful list. The singer-songwriter and actress has been a pop star since she was 10 years old. Most recently she has been in the bands Jeans and the award-winning RBD. She is now a solo artist and is about to release her debut solo album Extranjera. Dulce Maria will hit the stage at 12:15 p.m.

 

Opening the show will be “El Gavilan” Ricardo Cerda. The young norteña artist from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico takes the stage at 10 a.m. Yolanda Perez’s Banda follows at 10:35 a.m. Perez was born in Los Angeles and has been described as “one of regional Mexican music’s chameleons.”

 

Vital, a Latin rock band from the San Joaquin Valley, will hit the stage at 11:10 a.m.

Sonsoles, an L.A.-based group with influences such as Ozomatli and Juanes, will perform its eclectic brand of music prior to Dulce Maria.

 

First pitch versus the Colorado Rockies is set for 1:10 p.m. Celebrate Hispanic culture, music and food beforehand.

Back to School Shopping Spree

Not only did 20 disadvantaged youth receive $100 apiece courtesy of the Dodgers Dream Foundation and Staples for a back-to-school shopping spree, they were able to spend it while being guided by a couple of Dodgers.

 

Dodger outfielder Jay Gibbons and former Dodger outfielder Rudy Law led the kids through an El Monte Staples while they picked out school supplies.

 

“You guys ready to do some shopping?” asked Gibbons as he met his group of kids. “I am. If you don’t want to, I will.”

 

Gibbons has three children, the oldest being 18-month-old twins, so they’re not ready yet for school shopping. But he remembers leading his parents around a store when he was a kid.

 

“I liked spending my parents’ money for sure — on clothes, on pencils and binders,” said Gibbons. “It’s always an exciting time going back to school.”

 

Law’s group led him to the computer section where he was bewildered by the changing times.

 

“Lord help me. We didn’t have a computer when I was a kid,” said Law, who made his Major League debut with the Dodgers in 1978.

 

The 20 children from the El Monte City School District left with backpacks, highlighters and other supplies. But the highlight of the event was being able to share it with some Dodgers. Gibbons even handed them tickets to a future Dodger game.

Passing the Torch

In 1990, Fernandomania came to a close with the Dodgers. Yet it didn’t come without a passing of the torch to another Latino pitching star — Ramon Martinez.

 

Both players had defining moments that year. Fernando Valenzuela, clearly not the same pitcher he was during the height of Fernandomania, still showed he had something left in the tank. On June 29, 1990, Valenzuela tossed the only no-hitter of his career in a 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

Years later Valenzuela would reflect on the effort for Baseball Digest saying, “Many people were thinking my career was over when I hurt my arm (in 1988). But this game makes all that hard work to get back worthwhile.”

 

The Mexican-born pitcher finished the season at 13-13. It was the final season of a career that began in 1980 when he made his debut out of the bullpen on Sept. 15. The next year, Fernandomania was born and he won the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award.

 

Though he never reached the same heights as Valenzuela, Martinez nonetheless made an impact for the Dodgers, particularly in the 1990s.

 

He made his debut in 1988 and made 24 appearances in his first two seasons, but he was unleashed in 1990. The highlight of his one and only All-Star season came less than four weeks before Valenzuela’s no-hitter.

 

On June 4, 1990, the right-hander from the Dominican Republic struck out 18 Atlanta Braves, tying Sandy Koufax’s club record. Martinez went 20-6 in 1990 with a 2.92 ERA and 223 strikeouts.

 

His final season in a Dodger uniform was 1998. During the decade, he won 116 games, the most by a Dodger pitcher in the ’90s. On July 14, 1995, he pitched his own no-hitter in a 7-0 win over the Florida Marlins.

Viva Fernandomania!

There was nothing in the ’80s like Fernandomania. With that unique windup and nasty screwball, Mexican left-hander Fernando Valenzuela burst onto the scene in 1981 like few pitchers in baseball history. Sure, he pitched a little out of the bullpen late in 1980, but he was still a relative unknown when he made an emergency Opening Day start in 1981.

 

In his first eight games that season, the 20-year-old threw seven complete-game victories with five shutouts. Today we hear of Stephen Strasburg and his unbelievable start. Valenzuela was on a different level.

 

In 1981, Valenzuela was the National League Cy Young Award winner and the Rookie of the Year. He also finished fifth in the NL MVP vote.

 

In the 1980s, few pitchers had a better stretch than Valenzuela’s run from 1981 to 1986. In those six seasons, “El Toro” was 97-68 with 84 complete games, 26 shutouts, a 2.97 ERA and 1,637 strikeouts. In 1986, Valenzuela pitched 20 complete games. That was the last time a Major League pitcher threw that many complete games. He was an All-Star every year during that stretch. He made a commercial for Corn Flakes. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice. What else didn’t he do?

 

You want clutch, Valenzuela went 5-1 in eight postseason games during the 1980s, with a 2.00 ERA.

 

Come celebrate the 1980s and the achievements of ’80s stars like Fernando Valenzuela at ’80s Night at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 6 when the Dodgers host the Washington Nationals at 7:10 p.m.

Furcal En Fuego

At first he thought of declining the invitation, but when it came down to it, Rafael Furcal took great pride in representing the Dodgers at the 81st All-Star Game. Just 30 miles down the 5 freeway at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, the site of the Midsummer Classic, Furcal found out immediately how fans felt about his being chosen to play in the game. He was the first Dodger introduced on the July 13 game, and the ovation was loud and long enough for him to doff his cap three times.

 

Those were well-deserved, as Furcal is one of baseball’s hottest players. In the 15 games before the All-Star break, Furcal hit a Major League-best .444 (28-for-63) and scored 21 runs. He kept it going after the break, getting three hits on July 19, the date when he gained enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. He led the NL with a .338 average after that game.

 

“I enjoyed sharing it with my sons, especially Raffy Jr.,” said Furcal. “He’s really into baseball. He even wanted to go catch fly balls during the Home Run Derby.”

Furcal en Fuego

Is there any big leaguer hotter than Rafael Furcal?

 

Simply stated — no.

 

Furcal was named Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week for the period of June 21-27. Furcal led the Majors with a .538 (14-for-26) batting average, nine runs scored and 24 total bases in six games. The Dodgers were 5-1 in those six games. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, considering what the 32-year-old Dodger shortstop has been through.

 

Furcal returned from the bereavement list on June 23 after a six-day absence from the team. His father passed awayon June 20 from pneumonia and complications from injuries suffered from being kicked by a horse on the family’s farm.

 

In Furcal’s first game back, a 2-1 loss to the Angels, he struggled in the field, making two errors, and went 0-for-4 at the plate. Since that game, Furcal has been baseball’s hottest hitter. In the 11-game span between June 24 and July 5, Furcal was 22-for-47, batting .468 with three home runs and 12 RBI. He also scored 16 runs and stole three bases.

 

Within that span was a string of seven consecutive multiple-hit games. The multiple-hit streak was the longest by a Dodger player since Tommy Davis had seven consecutive multi-hit games in 1962. The only other player to do it since the team moved to Los Angeles was Duke Snider, who had eight such games in a row in 1959.

 

Furcal reflected on his hot streak and his father recently.

 

“I’ve been feeling pretty good the whole year, it’s just I got hurt for a month and then I lost my father. It took a little bit more concentration for me,” said Furcal. “I know he loved baseball. He wanted me to keep playing hard the way I do it every time, and as soon as I get to the field, I started to forget the hurt.”

Furcal raised his batting average 40 points from June 24 to July 4, where it peaked at .338.

Guest Broadcaster

There are those who dream they can play on the field at Dodger Stadium and then there are those with other Dodger-related dreams.

 

Raul Ruiz lived his. By being a member of one of the Dodgers’ free fan clubs and winning the “Want to Broadcast a Dodger Game?” contest, Ruiz called an inning of a Dodger game earlier this season.

 

“I saw a broadcast promotion and I was like, ‘Sure, why not? What are the chances?’” said Ruiz. “Next thing I got the phone call.”

 

Ruiz got to broadcast at the same time as Hall of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín in the same press box.

 

“I’m trying to fill the shoes of Fernando, Vinny, Pepe and Jaime, Rick, Charley. It’s just a dream come true,” said Ruiz.

 

This was the first of six entry periods for the contest. Each winner receives tickets to that day’s game and gets to call an inning. Those broadcasts are then put up for a vote on each of the four fan club pages on Dodgers.com with there ultimately being a grand-prize winner.  The winner will be determined from a finalist round in September and they will receive four Field Level tickets to a game and make a guest appearance on DodgerTalk with Ken Levine and Josh Suchon.

 

Ruiz, a little nervous, said he felt like calling a game was over his head. But it was also something beyond his imagination.

 

“It’s pretty much a dream come true right now,” he said.

Fernando Saves His Best for the Yankees in 1981 World Series

The situation looked dire on Oct. 23, 1981. The Dodgers trailed the World Series 2-0 to their rivals, the New York Yankees. For Game 3 the venue had shifted to Dodger Stadium, and on the hill was Fernando Valenzuela, the rookie sensation who with the flip of his screwball, created the phenomenon called Fernandomania.

 

But for the first three innings he hardly resembled the 20-year-old wunderkind who almost magically won his first eight starts and would go on to be named that year’s NL Cy Young winner. The Yankees scored four runs in the first three innings to take a 4-3 lead, and it looked like Valenzuela might be headed for an early shower.

 

Then almost as quickly as you could say, “El Toro” (Valenzuela’s nickname), the left-hander found his rhythm and became his dominant self. He allowed just three hits the rest of the way and the Dodgers came back to take the lead. When Valenzuela got Lou Piniella to flail away at his final pitch, the momentum had clearly shifted to the Dodgers, who would then rip off three more straight victories to take the World Series in the 11th time these two teams met.

 

In the euphoria that was Dodger Stadium that day, Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully summed it up best when he said, “This was not the best Fernando game. It was his finest.”

 

Valenzuela recalls that game quite clearly.

 

“It wasn’t a dominant game,” said Valenzuela. “It was a tough game. I had to work hard. Playing against the Yankees at their best was difficult. It was a battle to win that game, but I had the confidence that I would regain my form and try to come out ahead and win.”

Dodgers Inducted Into Latino Baseball Hall of Fame

The brand-new Latino Baseball Hall of Fame will honor 25 baseball greats on May 29, three of which have proudly represented the Dodgers.

 

Legendary Dodger Hall of Fame Spanish-language Broadcaster Jaime Jarrín, former Dodger pitcher and current international scout Camilo Pascual and former President and Owner of the Dodgers Peter O’Malley will all be inducted into the Hall, located in the Dominican Republic.

 

O’Malley’s induction is unique as he is the only non-Latin member of the inaugural class. He is receiving the Tommy Lasorda Award, named after the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame manager and given to “outstanding non-Latino personalities.”

 

The Ecuadorian-born Jarrín, who is in his 52nd season calling Dodger games, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

 

Pascual, a seven-time All-Star from Cuba, pitched 18 seasons in the big leagues, including a stay with the Dodgers in 1970.  He went 174-170, striking out 2,167 batters.

 

The Dodger trio is being inducted alongside baseball legends Roberto Clemente, Rod Carew, Juan Maricial, Luis Aparicio and Orlando Cepeda.

 

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