Notes: Meloan makes most of callup
Hard-throwing Dodgers prospect enjoying September stint
PHOENIX -- When Dodgers reliever Jonathan Meloan was struggling through his sophomore season at the University of Arizona, not even able to crack a college rotation, it seemed a long shot that three years later he would pitch in the Major Leagues.Meloan has done just that after regaining his confidence and pitching more to contact after a productive outing in an exhibition game against the D-backs' Triple-A club in the middle of 2004.
"I just started throwing with confidence because I threw against Triple-A guys and got them out regularly, and said if I could get those guys out, then I could definitely get college hitters out," Meloan said. "It was just a confidence issue."Meloan has had no such problems as a Dodgers prospect, going 10-5 with a 2.40 ERA to go with 236 strikeouts and 61 walks in 157 2/3 innings. That success led to his callup on Sept. 1, which he said has allowed him know what to expect from the big leagues going into the offseason. "If you don't ever get to see it, then you always wonder, what does it take, what's it like, do I have the ability?" Meloan said. "Even if you can get here and just have a little success and get that small taste of success, then you can build off that and try to carry it over to your next outings." Meloan has allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings (6.23 ERA) over three appearances with the Dodgers, but the power pitcher has found success by striking out five batters. He has focused on sticking to the same game plan that got him to this level in the first place, adding that other than everything being much nicer at this level, it's still baseball. Although Meloan said he didn't feel very nervous opening his Major League career, manager Grady Little saw some of the nerves associated with a young pitcher in his first few outings. "He's got good stuff, gotten himself into a couple jams and gotten himself out of a couple jams, but he's got good stuff and we feel like he's got a good future," Little said. "He's got to make sure he's breathing." Little chats with Kent: Little acknowledged that he has spoken to second baseman Jeff Kent regarding the veteran's recent comments criticizing the younger players on the team. The manager stood by his stance that Kent's comments were a result of frustration, but did not elaborate. "You guys can write what you want to write, say what you want to say on the radio," Little said. Broxton staying cautious: Jonathan Broxton planned to throw on the field before Saturday's game after taking Thursday and Friday off because his arm felt a little tender. Broxton, who has appeared in 80 games this season, has given up nine runs in nine September innings after compiling a 2.19 ERA in the first five months. After going 96 2/3 innings over 94 games without allowing a home run, Broxton has yielded six homers in his past 14 2/3 innings over 17 outings. Broxton said his arm feels more sore than hurt, so the club will proceed with caution with him the rest of the season. "I'm not going to try to rush back," Broxton said. "I don't want to get hurt in the last eight games of the season." Injury update: Infielder Ramon Martinez had an MRI on his hyperextended elbow Saturday and could only play in an emergency after suffering the injury fielding a ground ball Tuesday at Colorado. Martinez could return in the next few days. Little also said that shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has missed the past five games with lower back stiffness, will not be shut down for the season. Minor League awards: The Dodgers named shortstop Chin-Ling Hu their Minor League Player of the Year and James McDonald their Pitcher of the Year. Hu, the MVP of the Futures Game, hit .329 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 82 games at Double-A and .318 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 45 games at Triple-A. "It's exciting," Hu said. "I kept working hard. Last year I had a bad year. This year I tried to get back." McDonald went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) between advanced Class A and Double-A. Up next: The Dodgers finish their three-game series with the D-backs on Sunday at 1:40 p.m. PT at Chase Field, with Chad Billingsley (11-5, 3.15 ERA) squaring off against Edgar Gonzalez (8-2, 4.61).
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.