Andrew Toles, the kid from Georgia who wasn’t even on a baseball team in 2015, has become a welcome regular in the Dodgers’ starting lineup.
Luck has been in Toles’ favor this year as Andrew Friedman was already familiar with him, and injuries to Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson grooved a path for his arrival. Luck may have opened the door for him, but since his debut in early July, his talent – and hitting prowess have kept him in the lineup.
Toles has always had the talent in his pocket. He was a Tampa Bay Rays third round draft pick in 2012, and went on to be their minor league player of the year in 2013. He was on a fast track to The Show, but stumbled on issues from beyond the diamond. In 2014 he went missing for two months of the season and the Rays cut him in 2015.
So Toles went home to Georgia, got a gig in a supermarket and waited. I suppose he figured he’s got the juice, so it would only be a matter of time before the Pros came knocking. Believe it or not, they did.
Enter Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers. As the former GM for Tampa Bay, Friedman knew Toles as a player, and as a man with baggage from off the field. The Dodgers’ needs for a OF with a good bat made the decision, and I’m glad the Dodgers made this move.
Toles didn’t get any special favors and started at Single A ball. He quickly played his way up to AA by hitting .330 with 6 homers and – this is a nice one – 25 doubles. Just for good measure, he swiped 25 bases. The kid can play!
With Joc Pederson on the DL, Toles got the call up. He’s played 11 games and put up this line: .333, .400, .407, with an OPS of .807. I know it’s only 11 games, so I’m not carving his HOF bust, but I like what I see from Toles so far. In just 11 games, he’s got 9 hits, 2 doubles, and 6 stolen bases. I like that speed on the bases, and the Dodgers could use a couple of players who know what to do once they are on base.
All of that said, manager Dave Roberts is comfortable with Toles in center field, and so am I. He isn’t too acrobatic, or a wall-crasher, but he’s adequate with the leather. I would say he’s workmanlike out there.
Which brings up the elephant on the field. If Joc Pederson fails to find any hitting consistency over the next few weeks of the season, and Toles can keep the doubles coming, I’ll make the case for Toles to take Joc’s place.
I hope Andrew Toles is well on his way to ironing out whatever wrinkles were present in his personal life. He’s come along to the Dodgers at just the right time.