Unlike the three prospects I wrote about yesterday, there is a good chance and a good argument for Federowicz joining the Dodgers for the rest of the season.
Federowicz was taken out of the backup catcher position when the Dodgers swapped Aaron Harang for Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez, a 37-year-old backstop, has never been a great hitter. He has hit .275 just six times in his career that started in 1999.
Hernandez has come off the bench and started for AJ Ellis when the starter needs a break. In that time, his hitting line is .067/.176/.133. Against the New York Mets, Hernandez grounded into two double plays, squandering a rare 3-walk, one-hit appearance from Juan Uribe. Another ground ball would have been an easy double play if there was not already two outs.
Quite simply, Hernandez is not hitting. While it is a small sample size (17 PA), Hernandez's past doesn't engender much confidence that he can turn it around.
Federowicz had a good season in Class AAA, albeit playing in the hitter's haven of Albuquerque. He hit .294/.371/.461 in his first full season in Class AAA. Scouts have raved about his defense -- showing there is little left for Federowicz to prove in Albuquerque.
Federowicz has no chance of supplanting Ellis as the starter in Los Angeles. Ellis is a steady catcher who always has a high OBP, thanks to a good eye and the willingness to take walks (his walk-up music is even "Walk" by Foo Fighters).
There is an argument that Federowicz would benefit from playing every day, with other fringe players in Albuquerque on the 40-man roster like Alex Castellanos or Dee Gordon. Federowicz began the season as the backup and has spent limited time on the field. Between Albuquerque and Los Angeles, Federowicz has appeared in just 7 games and made just 26 plate appearances.
Federowicz was recalled to the Dodgers on April 17 and proceeded to make just two plate appearances before being optioned to Class AAA Albuquerque a week later on April 24.
In his 20 PA (again, an extremely small sample size) in Class AAA between his demotion and brief appearance in the major leagues, Federowicz has made the case he no longer has anything to learn from AAA pitchers. He has hit cartoon numbers -- .522/.632/.933 -- since his most recent demotion, according to Minor League Central.
There are a couple of reasons why the Dodgers may want to keep Hernandez. Hernandez has been catching South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu has started two games with Hernandez as the backstop. Hernandez has started each of Ryu's last two starts.
This could be coincidence, as Ryu started the first game of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on April 20 and a day game after a night game against the New York Mets on April 25.
Another reason is depth at the position. After Federowicz, there is not really a Dodgers farmhand ready to step up and fill in as a backup catcher. Jesus Flores is only getting regular time in AAA because of Federowicz bouncing up and down from Albuquerque to Los Angeles.
Gorman Erickson hasn't proven himself able to hit even Class AA pitchers regularly and is trying to prove himself in his second year in a row there. Behind that, there are even fringier prospects that would likely need to have a lot of breaks go their way to even sniff the major leagues.
Unless one of these are a reason why Hernandez is still on the roster, the Dodgers should eat the $3.2 million and designate Hernandez for assignment. Then they can bring up Federowicz and give him a taste of the big leagues while learning from Ellis -- and giving the Dodgers a chance to have production even on days when Ellis isn't in the lineup.
Matthew Reichbach is a freelance writer and lifelong follower of the Dodgers from their minor league affiliates to the major league club.
You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @3_2count.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Ramon Hernandez
- Tim Federowicz