GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The general manager, two of his special assistants, three club vice presidents and other assorted club officials turned out to watch a seven-year Dodgers Minor Leaguer pitch his first career inning of a game against another team.
That's the kind of commotion that transformed third baseman Pedro Baez has created this spring.
Baez retired Team Italy in order in his one inning of work, his first since wowing Sandy Koufax in a bullpen session earlier in the week. Team Italy's hitting coach is former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza.
Baez, who turns 25 next month, signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic and was considered the organization's best third-base prospect. But with a .247 average in six Minor League seasons, Baez was given the Kenley Jansen treatment and sent to the mound, as Jansen was after failing to hit as a catcher.
Baez showed Koufax a natural delivery, a fastball in the mid-90s and a curveball more advanced than many of his fellow Minor Leaguers who have been at this pitching thing for years. Koufax told other staff members he'd like to see Baez in a Major League exhibition game this spring.