Daily Distractions: April Dodger Pride award winners include a couple top prospects.

Corey Seager

Shortstop Corey Seager had a strong month of April at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (Staff photo)

The end of the month is always a good time to check in on the Dodgers’ farm system, because a good month comes with an award.

The Dodger Pride Awards were created in 2008 by GM Ned Colletti to reward one pitcher and one position player at each level of the system “who play the game with a hustling, smart, aggressive style.” The players and staff on each respective club vote for the monthly awards.

Your April winners:

Albuquerque (AAA)

Pitcher: Henry Sosa posted a 1-0 record with a 2.61 ERA (9 ER/31.0 IP) in April, striking out 21 batters against seven walks in five starts. The right-hander held opposing batters to a .233 batting average (27-for-116), while allowing only one home run in the month. The 12-year professional, who made 10 starts for the Houston Astros in 2011, was signed by the Dodgers as a free agent on December 13, 2013.

Player: Joc Pederson finished April among the Pacific Coast League leaders in several offensive categories including batting average (.398, 2nd), runs (22, T-3rd), hits (39, 1st), home runs (6, T-3rd), and stolen bases (9, T-2nd). On the year, the left-handed hitting outfielder is batting .368 (50-for-136) with 11 home runs and 22 RBI, including a .418 batting average (38-for-91) against right-handed pitching. Through 36 games this season, Pederson has also tallied 15 multi-hit games, including six performances with three or more hits. He entered 2014 as the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America.  

Chattanooga (AA)

Pitcher: Tyson Brummett went 2-1 and allowed only one run in 23.0 innings spanning four April starts, leading the Southern League in ERA (0.39) and ranking sixth in opponents’ batting average (.181). On the season, the former UCLA pitcher is 3-3 with a 0.83 ERA (4 ER/43.1 IP) and has allowed one run or less in six of his seven starts for the Lookouts. With runners in scoring position this season, the right-hander has allowed only four hits (4-for-36), good for a .111 batting average. Brummett signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on February 20, 2014, after being drafted by the Phillies in the seventh round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Player: Scott Schebler drove in 16 runs (T-7th, Southern League) and clubbed five homers (T-2nd, Southern League) in 25 April games. The Iowa native had a .258 batting average with six homers, four triples and 21 RBI, and has excelled in clutch situations, batting .300 (9-for-30) with runners in scoring position. The 23-year-old, a 26th-round draft pick in 2010, was the Dodgers’ 2013 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year after batting .296 in 125 games for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last season.

Rancho Cucamonga (High-A)

Pitcher: Matt Shelton went 1-1 in April with a 1.76 ERA (3 ER/15.1 IP) in eight appearances for the Quakes, limiting opponents to a .228 batting average (13-for-57) and pitching scoreless relief in seven of his eight outings. The Texas native struck out 14 batters and walked only one in April before being promoted to Chattanooga on May 1. The 25-year-old was selected in the 24th round of the 2011 draft.

Player: Corey Seager batted .294 (25-for-85) in April with 10 extra-base hits, while tallying 13 RBI in 20 games. The 20-year-old has raised his average to .333 (40-for-120) with two homers, 11 doubles, two triples and 15 RBI, batting .429 (15-for-35) with a .512 on-base percentage in nine May games. Seager entered 2014 as the Dodgers’ second-best prospect according to Baseball America.

Great Lakes (Low-A)

Pitcher: Michael Johnson posted a 1-1 record with a 1.35 ERA (2 ER/13.1 IP) and a save in eight April appearances. The right-handed reliever limited opposing hitters to a .200 batting average (10-for-50) with 19 strikeouts and five walks. On the season, the Massachusetts native has a 1.47 ERA (3 ER/18.1 IP) and 22 strikeouts in 11 appearances for the Loons. The 23-year-old, a 14th-round pick in the 2013 draft, led the Ivy League with seven wins as a senior at Dartmouth College in 2012.

PlayerJoey Curletta had a terrific April, finishing among the Midwest League leaders in batting average (.368, 2nd), runs (18, T-3rd), hits (39, 1st), doubles (9, T-3rd) and RBI (15, T-6th) in 25 games for Great Lakes. Overall, Curletta has posted a .356 batting average (52-for-146) in 35 games, second among Midwest League hitters, and has seven three-hit performances for Great Lakes. The Arizona native was selected by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.

Some bullet points for a Frog Jumping Day:

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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers’ pitching depth could be worse.

Ted Lilly

Ted Lilly makes his 2013 debut today against the New York Mets. (Getty Images)

When Ted Lilly starts tonight, the Dodgers will have used eight starters in their first 20 games of the season. SI recaps how the Dodgers got there.

The eight-starter experiment was basically a big game of “what if”: What if Chad Billingsley‘s elbow doesn’t hold up? What if Ted Lilly isn’t the same pitcher he was pre-surgery? What if the best pitcher in Korea can be one of the best pitchers in the United States? What if he can’t?

Here’s another “what if”: What if the Dodgers hadn’t gone out and acquired Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and entered this season with the same collection of starters they had a year ago?

Now you’re looking at Nathan Eovaldi stepping into the fifth starter’s job to replace Billingsley. Oh, wait. Eovaldi hasn’t pitched since spring training because of a shoulder issue. He’s on the 60-day disabled list (currently the Miami Marlins’ problem). Come on down, Stephen Fife.

After Fife, you’re looking at Allen Webster (who made his first major league start three days ago), Rubby De La Rosa (9.31 ERA for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate), Fernando Nieve, John Ely and perhaps Sandy Koufax as the next in line to start a game for the Dodgers.

You can thank your lucky Guggenheims that isn’t the case.

Some more bullet points for a Wednesday morning:
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When will Clayton Kershaw make his next start?

Clayton Kershaw is tentatively scheduled to start Wednesday on regular rest in the Dodgers’ regular-season finale against the Giants, but nobody truly knows when he’ll pitch next.

Will it be this season? Next season? In the regular season? In the playoffs?

Truth is, nobody knows, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wasn’t even in the mood for giving hints Saturday afternoon.

“We haven’t really crossed that bridge yet,” Mattingly said. “I hope it’s not a decision at all. I hope he’s needed to pitch.”

There’s only three scenarios under which it’s not a decision:

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John Ely, Joc Pederson win Branch Rickey Awards.

The Dodgers chose right-handed pitcher John Ely and outfielder Joc Pederson as the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively.

They join a list of past winners that includes Pedro Martinez, Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Paul Konerko, Chin-lung Hu, Joe Thurston and Billy Ashley.

“It was a good season,” said Ely, who learned he won the award two days ago. “The accolades and all, they’re great. I’m just honestly happy to have put together the year that I did. The awards aside…this is where I want to be. That’s what I’m happy about, that (my season at Triple-A) was able to get me here.”

Both Ely and Pederson will be honored in an on-field pregame ceremony prior to tomorrow’s 7:10 p.m. Dodger game against the Colorado Rockies.

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Clayton Kershaw is still battling a sore hip.

Clayton Kershaw is the Dodgers’ scheduled starter Sunday. That hasn’t changed –yet — though the left-hander is not 100 percent healthy seven days after receiving a cortisone shot in his right hip.

“He’s kind of in that same mode we were in last week with his start” on Sunday in San Francisco, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He was two days away, he wasn’t great, then the next thing you know it was time to pitch and he was ready. That’s kind of where we’re at with him right now. We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.”

For now, Kershaw is not expected to get another cortisone shot, Mattingly said.

The manager declined to speculate who would take Kershaw’s spot if he can’t pitch, but Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year John Ely would be the favorite on paper.

Rough debut for John Ely: Two innings, three earned runs, loss.

John Ely entered the 10th inning Tuesday with all the confidence that comes with winning the Pacific Coast League’s triple crown of pitching.

After taking the loss in the Dodgers’ 6-3 defeat to the San Diego Padres, Ely said, “hopefully I get a chance to do it again.”

The 26-year-old right-hander who once spawned something called “Elymania” has a 13.50 earned-run average one game into his 2012 season. He allowed a leadoff single to Yonder Alonso and got burned on a bunt single by Everth Cabrera; both runners advanced a base when Dodgers third baseman Luis Cruz’s throw to first hit Cabrera in the back and trickled into right field.

Alexi Amarista grounded out and Ely intentionally walked Will Venable to load the bases for Logan Forsythe. Ely got ahead 1-2 but left a fastball over the plate and Forsythe lined a two-RBI single into center field.

“It’s one of those things — call it a bad break, call it whatever you want — I’ve still got to make pitches after that,” Ely said. “I kept one, one or two, up in the zone. Big league hitters will make you pay for that.”

Chase Headley, named the NL’s player of the month for August earlier in the day, added an insurance run on an RBI single that scored Venable.
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John Ely had a chip on his shoulder during big 2012 season.

The first seven starts of John Ely‘s major-league career were pretty good in 2010. He had a good 2009 season in Double-A, which is probably why the Dodgers were happy to obtain him as a player to be named later in the deal that sent Juan Pierre to the Chicago White Sox.

Otherwise, there wasn’t much on Ely’s resume that would have predicted his 2012 numbers for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. When he was added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and recalled to Los Angeles on Saturday, Ely was line for the Pacific Coast League’s pitching triple crown: 14-7, a 3.20 ERA and 165 strikeouts (the 14 wins are tied for the league lead).

“Coming into the year, if you had told me I’d have put up those numbers, I don’t know if I’d believe you,” Ely said. “I know I’m capable of it. I just wanted to be consistent. I didn’t imagine it would lead to the year I did have. But here we are. I’m ecstatic about the way things have been going.”

Maybe Ely’s secret weapon was more powerful than even he could have thought.

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Ely, Federowicz, Guerra get the call.

The Dodgers recalled catcher Tim Federowicz and pitcher Javy Guerra from Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday, as expected. They will be joined in Los Angeles by pitcher John Ely, who was added to the 40-man roster.

Ely wasn’t specifically mentioned as a possibility by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Friday, but his addition comes as no surprise. Other than Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, Dodger starters had a 4.95 ERA in August. Ely was named the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year after going 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA and 165 strikeouts, leading the league in all three categories.

The 26-year-old right-hander finished the campaign on a six-game winning streak, going 6-0 with a 2.47 ERA (15 ER/54.2 IP) in his last eight starts dating to July 23. The Illinois native made his big league debut in 2010 and is 4-11 with a 5.35 ERA in 23 Major League games (19 starts).

To make room for Ely on the 40-man, Alfredo Silverio was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Silverio had been on the 15-day disabled list but was not expected to play this season after sustaining back, shoulder, neck and elbow injuries, plus a concussion, in a car crash in January.

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