Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ravin Starts Off 2009 on the Right Foot

Josh Ravin had a horrendous season in 2008. A season which caused his prospect status to drop precipitously, to the point where he is no longer even considered to be a prospect by some.

However, in what may be a sign that he has put his nightmare 2008 season behind him, Ravin went out and performed admirably in his debut performance for the Dayton Dragons. On April 10th, Ravin took the mound against the Great Lakes Loons. He pitched 6.0 strong innings in which he gave up 3 hits, issued only 1 walk, struck out 3 hitters, and gave up 0 runs. In addition to the impressive control, Ravin also flashed strong groundball tendencies, as evidenced by his 10/3 GB/FB ratio. The most obvious thing that jumps out about his performance is the lack of walks. His control is what has plagued him thus far in his professional career, so this is very positive outing for him.

In addition, Ravin managed this feat against a stellar opponent. The Great Lakes Loons are an affiliate of the Dodgers and their 2009 roster contains 11 of the top 30 Dodger prospects. And, as you can see from the game photo of Ravin, he still has strong mechanics. He exhibits good balance, strong arm and ball position, and a good stride and drive off the rubber. It's obviously just one start, but every journey begins with a single step. Let's hope Ravin has taken the first step on the road back to blue chip prospect status.

Here is how Marc Katz of the Dayton Daily News wrote it up.

Dragons' Ravin drains Great Lakes

Pitches six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk; gets help in four-run fifth.

By Marc Katz
Staff Writer
1:40 AM Saturday, April 11, 2009

DAYTON — Worried they might lose their low Class A team in Midland, Mich., to another organization, the Dodgers stacked Great Lakes with a third of their best prospects and told the Loons to go out and win.

On opening night Thursday, April 9, they clobbered the Dragons.

One night later, Josh Ravin shut the Loons down with a few “deep breaths.”

Ravin, a self-described “disaster” last summer, went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk while his teammates backed him with a four-run fifth on the way to a 6-1 victory Friday at chilly Fifth Third Field.

When Devaris Gordon led off with a bloop single to left, then stole second, Ravin was in trouble at the top of the game. Only Ravin nailed Gordon at second, stabbing a hard grounder and catching the runner too far off the bag. Catcher Jordan Wideman recorded the second out on a steal attempt and Jaime Pedroza struck out.

Ravin was on his way.

“I took some deep breaths,” Ravin said. “You can’t let those things (bloop hits, etc.) bother you. Breathing like that slows the game down.”

Great Lakes spent two losing seasons with the Dodgers, who promised a more promising lineup if the Loons would re-sign for two more years. It happened, and 11 of the organization’s Top 30 prospects — even eight who played at a higher level last season — were shipped to Midland. Thursday, the Loons busted Dayton 14-3.

“It’s a different day,” Dragons manager Todd Benzinger said. “You make your mark against players better than you if you want to be a prospect, too.”

Four Dragons collected two hits, including center fielder Dave Sappelt for the second straight night.

The Dragons and Loons finish the series tonight with 2008’s National High School Player of the Year Ethan Martin making his pro debut for Great Lakes.


  1. nice good to see that, surprising he didnt k more though

  2. Smitty,

    Yeah, more Ks would've been ideal. I haven't heard what kind of velocity he had in the game. It's possible that he was at less than peak velocity because he's still building arm strength or perhaps he made the conscious choice to dial it down to improve his control. Or, maybe the lower strikeout rate was simply a function of the quality of competition.

    Regardless of the reason, I think the most important thing for Ravin right now is to get control of his pitches. And, at least for one start, he was able to do so. Even if he has to focus less on strikeouts, he can still be an effective pitcher.

    The determining factors in pitching are walk rate, strikeout rate, and ground ball rate. A lower walk rate reduces the number of runners who reach via the free pass. A higher strikeout rate limits the number of balls in play, which reduces the number of runners that reach via base hits. And, finally, a higher ground ball rate reduces the number of fly balls, which reduces the number of homeruns.

    If a pitcher can do two of those three well, then he's likely to be a successful big league pitcher. If he can do all three well, then he'll be an elite pitcher.

    So, even if it came at the expense of strikeouts, if Ravin needs to dial down the strikeouts to improve his walk rate and potentially his groundball rate, then it could be rather beneficial.

    But, at this point, I just hope he builds on his strong first start and puts together a string of strong performances.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!!!


  3. so lark, we just acquired Drew Sutton. does he make the top 25? If so where would he fall?

  4. Hey Smitty,

    I'd be lying if I said I knew much about Sutton. I'll probably take a closer look and write something up about him. At that point, I'll have a better idea of where he might fit in the prospect rankings. I believe he was ranked 8th in the Astro farm system, but the Astros have the worst farm system in baseball, so that's not as impressive as it sounds.

    As for first impressions, it looks like Sutton has good control the strikezone, which you can never have enough of in the farm system. He had a very good 2008 season in which his performance level surpassed anything he had done before. However, he was repeating double-A and was a bit old for the level (25). So, there are a few red flags.

    At this point, if Sutton can produce at the level he did in 2008, then he could be a starter at the MLB level. More likely, he'll be a utility infielder type.

    Those are my initial impressions of Sutton, so they could change after I go more in depth, but for now he seems like pretty good value for Jeff Keppinger.

    Thanks for the comment!


  5. On the downside, Ravin wasn't as sharp tonight, so it's a step backwards for him. The control just wasn't quite there tonight. It didn't seem as bad as it was last year, but he walked 3 and hit a batter in 4.0 innings.

    I listened to some of the game and it sounded like he was struggling with his curveball. He had trouble getting it in the strike zone, so hitters were laying off it. And, of course, since he couldn't get the breaking ball in the strike zone consistently, hitters were sitting on the fastball. Even so, it wasn't a total loss, because he did have a couple of quick, efficient innings.

    Hopefully, he bounces back in his next start. I'll be very interested to see if he is showing improvement or if he just got a bit lucky in his first start.