Dodgers add Jharel Cotton and Ross Stripling to 40-man roster.

The Dodgers added pitchers Jharel Cotton and Ross Stripling to their 40-man roster on Friday, the deadline to protect eligible minor-league players from the Rule 5 draft.

Had they not been added, Cotton and Stripling could have been selected by another team in the annual Rule 5 draft, which is Dec. 10 this year.

There are now 39 players on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.

Cotton, who turns 24 in January, saw time at four different levels in 2015. He was 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA for Double-A Tulsa before earning a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City in August, where he made five relief appearances and allowed four runs.

In four Arizona Fall League starts for the Glendale Desert Dogs, Cotton pitched 10 ⅔ innings with a 3.38 ERA.

Stripling had Tommy John surgery in April 2014 and didn’t return to the mound until June 14. He went on to make 13 starts for Double-A Tulsa, posting a 3.38 ERA in 67 ⅓ innings.

Neither pitcher is expected to play Winter baseball.

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Ross Stripling throws four scoreless innings in return to mound.

We won’t update every increment of Ross Stripling’s progress from Tommy John surgery here, but today was a big day. Once a top-10 prospect in the Dodgers’ system, the 25-year-old right hander pitched his first competitive game since 2013 on Sunday for Single-A Great Lakes.

Stripling threw four scoreless innings in the Loons’ 3-2 win over Quad Cities. He walked two of the first four hitters he faced and allowed a single, but got out of the first inning without allowing a run by virtue of a double-play flyout.

Over the next three innings, only one runner reached base against Stripling, on a fielding error. His ERA remained a perfect 0.00.

The average age of Midwest League hitters is around 22, so a healthy Stripling figured to have success today. The news today is that he’s healthy — great news for the 2012 fifth-round draft pick.

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Ross Stripling will start Saturday for Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate.

Ross StriplingRemember Ross Stripling?

The right-handed pitcher was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dodgers a short three years ago. He rose the prospect ranks (see here, here and here) and was invited to spring training in 2014, where he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.

Stripling will make his first start since the surgery this Saturday for Single-A Great Lakes, a road game at Quad Cities. He is ultimately expected to report to Double-A Tulsa.

The typical recovery period for Tommy John patients to return to game action is 12-18 months (for pitchers, at least). It’s been 14 months since Stripling had his surgery.

Stripling, 25, had a 2.78 earned-run average in 21 games (16 starts) for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate (then the Chattanooga Lookouts) in 2013.

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Update: 27 Dodgers prospects will participate in winter development camp.

Jarret Martin

Twenty-seven prospects will invade Dodger Stadium this week for the club’s annual winter development camp. (Associated Press photo)

Eighteen-year-old pitching prospect Julio Urias, who was invited to his first major league spring training last week, will take part in the Dodgers’ winter development camp for prospects this week at Dodger Stadium.

Urias is one of 27 prospects who will take part in this year’s camp, up from 15 a year ago. Earlier today we posted a partial list of four prospects who will take part in the eighth annual camp (Grant Holmes, Jose De Leon, Cody Bellinger, Ryan Scott).

The other 23 participants include pitcher Zach Lee, who also took part in last year’s camp and spent all season at Triple-A. Pitchers Carlos Frias and Daniel Coulombe, who earned their first major league call-ups last September, have also been invited. Another pitcher of note is Ross Stripling, who underwent Tommy John surgery in spring training of last year.

Catcher Austin Barnes, who was acquired in the trade that sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to the Miami Marlins, will take part in the camp. So will outfielders Scott Schebler and Darnell Sweeney, who will be in the Dodgers’ major league spring training camp.

Urias isn’t even the youngest invitee. That would be Michael Medina, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic who is 12 days younger than Urias. He finished last season with the Rookie-league AZL Dodgers.

Shortstop prospect Corey Seager, 20, was invited to spring training but was not invited to the camp.

Here’s the full list, via
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Daily Distractions: MLB clarifies its ‘transfer rule,’ but 7.13 is still baffling to Dodgers catcher.

Major League Baseball gave its players roughly one month to adjust to a new, literal interpretation of its “transfer rule.” Catch the ball, transfer the ball from glove to hand, make sure each of these steps is deliberate enough to be discerned on video review, and you’re good. That sounds simple. In practice, the rule demanded that fielders break a lifetime’s worth of hard-worn habits. Hanley Ramirez got burned on the call once this season, when he lost his grip on the ball after recording what looked like a forceout at second base. The umpire on scene ruled Ramirez didn’t make a catch in the first place.

Friday morning, the league officially changed its mind.

Beginning tonight, MLB announced that umpires will enforce the transfer rule according to a new standard — that is, the old standard. According to a league release, a catch or valid forceout/tag has occurred:

…if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it to be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

It was too late for Ramirez, but it was nice to see the league act quickly. That said, there’s still at least one rule that the Dodgers would like to see clarified. Ramirez was involved in this one, too.

From my game story last night, in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

With Hanley Ramirez on third base and (Adrian) Gonzalez on first, (Yasiel) Puig hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. Asche fielded the ball deep in the third-base hole and threw to home plate, where Ramirez was out by several feet.

Or was he?

Mattingly popped out of the third-base dugout, asking for help. He demonstrated to the home-plate umpire, Mike DiMuro, what he saw from Philadelphia’s Ruiz: A catcher with both feet planted in front of home plate as Ramirez was bearing down.

According to the rule, which was ratified by MLB and the Players’ Association in spring training, “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.”

The problem for Mattingly was that Asche delivered a perfect strike to Ruiz in plenty of time to retire Ramirez. Hunter Wendelstedt initiated a crew chief’s review and baseball’s two new rules for 2014 suddenly collided, an instant replay being used to determine whether a catcher illegally blocked home plate.

Three minutes and 18 seconds later, the call stood. Ramirez was out.

Just before the next inning, I saw Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz in the dugout demonstrating how to block home plate to pitcher Josh Beckett. After the game, Federowicz was still upset and confused by the sequence of events.

“I honestly thought that call was going to be overturned,” he said. “The only thing in their favor is that (Ruiz) got that ball in plenty of time. He probably got it a good 10 feet before the play. That’s what the final decision was probably on. My whole thing is, why have the rule saying you can’t block the plate without the ball, and he blocks the plate without the ball?”

Here’s a still image, taken from the video of the play, that shows where Ruiz was stationed when he caught the ball (unfortunately I couldn’t grab an image just before Ruiz made the catch):

Hanley  Ramirez

Whether Ruiz is illegally blocking Ramirez’s path to home plate represents a judgment call, too. Could Ruiz be more out of the way of the baseline? Of course. But, as noted at the time, Asche made an accurate throw. If Ruiz plants his mitt in the baseline and his body in foul territory to receive the throw, and Ramirez (who left on contact) sprints home at full speed and slides inside the baseline, Ruiz is in jeopardy of not being able to make the tag.

Maybe Wendelstedt factored this into his judgment. Rule 7.13 goes on to state that “it shall not be considered a violation of this rule if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner.”

Watching the sequence in real time, Federowicz felt that Ruiz didn’t need to lay his right leg in the basepath in order to make the catch. Therefore, Ramirez should have been ruled safe.

“Hanley has nowhere to slide and he’s still out? I guess Hanley’s allowed to hit him in that situation,” Federowicz said. “But again, they scare all these runners from being able to do that. Nobody really knows the correct rule right now.”

Some bullet points for Arbor Day:
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