Still just 17-years-old, the Dodgers’ newest and youngest farm-hand catcher crouched behind the plate, readying himself to receive his first American professional baseball pitch.
At 6’5, the Curacaoan product looked odd behind the plate. He was a tower compacted into a ball and his arm was far better than the average backstop but, at the time, it was what he was scouted to do and Kenley Jansen was in Ogden, Utah to do it.
The Raptors were the then-teenage catcher turned superstar closer’s home in 2005 through the mid-point of the 2007 season. He developed power there and in 2005, amongst the other newest players to professional baseball, he hit almost .300.
Jansen’s story is well known. The Raptors were one of the few teams to see him behind the plate but the moral for their side of the story is one of beginnings, not endings. Jansen’s story began at Lindquist Field. He joined many other players in their journey to the big leagues and he became another brick in a large and always developing wall that is the Raptors organization.
More from Dodgers Way
- Are the Dodgers really prepared to hand Shohei Ohtani a blank check?
- Dodgers fans shouldn’t dismiss interest in Dansby Swanson for this reason
- Giants laughably sign pitcher that Dodgers absolutely own
- Dave Roberts’ quote about Padres in NLDS should motivate Dodgers
- Dodgers might find their next Tyler Anderson with this free agent target
On June 14th the 2019 section of Ogden wall was started. A fresh batch of players arrived at baseball’s lowest level of the minors to write the beginning pages of what they hope to be long books. However, each page in their books are of individual triumph, for Ogden, the start of the season is a matter of team accomplishment and through the first two games of the young Rookie Level season, the Raptors look really good.
Opening night was this past Thursday and the Raptor’s roster, which features not one top-30 prospect, would see their first test of the season against the Grand Junction Rockies.
2016 38th round pick, Kevin Malisheski got the start for Ogden although this appearance would be his fourth of the year in affiliated ball having already made two appearances with Rancho Cucamonga and one with the Great Lakes Loons.
Those games came with some varied success. Malisheski’s one appearance in Low-A came out of the bullpen for a one-hit four-inning relief appearance and his two appearances in Rancho were not as successful as they came together to produce five earned runs in four innings.
With the Raptors, however, Malisheski found his best stuff going six innings while allowing just two base runners (one double and one single) and striking out four. He was a huge part of the team’s 12-0 opening day victory but starting first baseman Justin Yurchak was the story of that night and the next.
Yurchak was selected by the White Sox in the 12th round of the 2017 draft out of SUNY Binghamton and profiled as a solid contact bat that swung from the left side. Yurchak played his freshman year of college at Wake Forest before transferring to Binghamton in 2016.
This past November, the White Sox sent Yurchak to the Dodgers’ system in a trade that saw Triple-A farm-hand Manny Banuelos go to Chicago.
While contact has been his main profile attribute, power was the story in the first game of the season with the Raptors. Of the teams 12 runs scored on opening night, Yurchak knocked in five of them with the aid of a 4-4 night at the plate with a two double and two-homer night.
Yurchak also went to 2-4 in the second game of the season with a single and a two-run home run helping his team to a nail-biting 12-11 victory.
Yurchak is not currently in the Dodgers’ top-30 prospects but early signs of success and the fact that a few players should be graduating out of the ranks could open up room for his rise into the system.
With Yurchak’s bat and a bunch of players behind him that want to prove themselves, the Raptors have a roster of go-getters in 2019. They quickly proved it with 24 runs scored in the first two games of the year and a 2-0 record. For Yurchak and for others, the beginnings of their books are being written beautifully.