Scott Van Slyke
Scott Tyler Van Slyke
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 195 lb.
- High School John Burroughs School
- Debut May 9, 2012
- Final Game July 6, 2017
- Born July 24, 1986 in St. Louis, MO USA
Scott was signed by scout Mitch Webster, but it took him some time to emerge as a potential major leaguer. He hit .282/.330/.424 in 24 games in 2005 for the GCL Dodgers in 2005, a good start, but in 2006, he batted .256/.320/.353 in 45 games for the Ogden Raptors. The next year, 2007, his batting line was .254/.310/.328 in 104 contests for the Great Lakes Loons. He then spent the next two years in A ball, hitting .232 between two teams in 2008 and .294 for the Inland Empire 66ers in 2009, although he did get a three-game look-see in AAA with the Albuquerque Isotopes. At age 22, his career was not really taking off.
Continuing in the Dodgers' chain, he was at three different levels in 2010, starting at Inland Empire where he hit .307 in 48 games, in what was his fourth year at the level; he finally got an extended look at a higher classification with 65 games with the AA Chattanooga Lookouts, but hit only .235 and also logged 12 games at AAA. He was starting to look like a typical organizational soldier, i.e. a player who holds his own in the minor leagues and helps out at various levels, but who does not figure in the major league team's plans. What changed that was an outstanding year with Chattanooga in 2011 that reignited his standing as a prospect: he batted .348/.427/.595 in 130 games, slugging 45 doubles and 20 homers, scoring 81 runs and driving in 92. He then continued to hit well with Albuquerque in 2012, where he .327 with 34 doubles and 18 homers in 95 games while also spending time in the majors.
Van Slyke was called up to Los Angeles on May 9, 2012 when Juan Rivera went on the disabled list with a leg injury. He debuted with a pinch-hit run-scoring single against the San Francisco Giants' Travis Blackley that same day. He hit his first major league homer against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 20th, a three-run shot off reliever Mark Rzepczynski that gave the Dodgers a 6-5 victory, with his father proudly watching in the stands at Dodger Stadium. He played 27 games in the big leagues that first season, going 9 for 54 (.167) but did hit another homer and a pair of doubles. He got more of an opportunity to play in 2013, because of injuries to other outfielders, and ended up with 129 at-bats over 53 games. he hit only .240, but displayed good power, with 8 doubles and 7 homers, and drove in 19 runs. Coupled with the 20 walks he drew, his OPS+ was a very solid 127. He made a couple of appearances in the postseason, but both times as a defensive substitute without an opportunity to bat. When whe was not in L.A., he continued to be a hitting machine in AAA, batting .348/.479/.627 in 61 games for Albuquerque. That line included 17 doubles and 12 homers in only 204 at-bats.
Van Slyke was the opening day starter in left field for the Dodgers in 2014 in their special two-game series in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23, alongside Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig. Two other outfielders who were normally ahead of him on the depth chart, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp, both stayed back in the U.S. because of nagging injuries. He came within a whisker of hitting the first-ever major league homer in Australia when in his first at-bat, he hit a huge drive against Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but a strong wind kept the ball from going out, and it hit the left-centerfield fence for a double. He did hit the historic homer a couple of innings later, driving a Miley pitch down the right-field line, just inside the foul pole, for a two-run shot. It was not only the first homer hit in Australia, but the first hit anywhere in the southern hemisphere.
Overall, he played six years in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won their division during five of the six years, finishing second the other year. Scott was a backup outfielder / first baseman, also prepared to serve as the team's "emergency catcher" if necessary. In his best season, 2014, he posted a batting line of .297/.386/.524, also showing his defensive prowess by appearing in center field 21 times that year (out of the 98 games he was in). Scott appeared in the post-season in 2013 and 2014. As his hitting started to fade, he spent some time in the minor league organizations of the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins, as well as playing three games in South Korea. In total, he had 869 major league plate appearances with an OPS+ of 107.