Checking In on the Rookies, Andre Ethier’s 2006 Debut

Checking In on the Rookies, Andre Ethier's 2006 Debut

Checking In on the Rookies, Andre Ethier’s 2006 Debut

Welcome To The Show: Part 5

In the most recent “Welcome To The Show” installment, I discussed the crossing paths of DJ Peters and Edwin Uceta. The two prospects come from very different backgrounds. Despite their differences, they eventually wound up on the same team in the minors. Last month they made their MLB debuts with the Dodgers only a week apart. Edwin Uceta was called up again for the series in Anaheim this past weekend. I’ll also talk about Andre Ethier’s 2006 debut for the Dodgers.

Edwin Uceta Fills The Gap

The storyline was the same for the Dodgers on Friday night. Struggle, strife, and yet another loss for a seemingly stacked team. What many overlooked was the performance of Edwin Uceta out of the bullpen on Friday. Down 9-1 with two outs, Uceta was called in to replace a struggling Joe Kelly who was unable to get out of the sixth inning after allowing four runs. After walking the first batter he faced, Uceta settled down and struck out Jared Walsh to end the inning.

With a bullpen in need of respite, Roberts gave Edwin Uceta the ball for the next two innings. When the night was over, the Dodgers had lost, but Uceta had been effective in relief. He was able to draw weak contact from some of the most dangerous Angels hitters. Perhaps more importantly, his longevity in the game allowed the rest of the bullpen the night off. He was optioned to the minors following the game on Friday, now with two big-league appearances under his belt. It’s only a matter of time before we see Uceta up with the Dodgers again.

DJ Peters Picks Up His First Hit

The Dodgers called up DJ Peters from AAA Oklahoma City on the same day they sent Uceta back down. Peters saw action in the final two games of the weekend series, coming off the bench on Saturday and starting on Sunday. He picked up his first major league hit in the seventh inning Saturday against the Angels on a bloop double. The hit landed just inside the foul line in shallow left, nearly caught by the Angels left fielder. The first major league hit for DJ Peters, nonetheless.

Upon returning to the dugout, the other Dodger players presented a pine tar-covered ball to him as the ball from his first hit, a classic baseball prank. The defaced and dismantled joke ball was quickly discarded. Moments later, they gave him the actual ball, now officially authenticated. Family and friends were in attendance. Another first for Peters in the early beginnings of his major league career.

Peters started in right field and drew a walk in three plate appearances on Sunday. He picked up a hit and two walks in his first ten plate appearances. As he gets more time in the majors, the adjustment to major league hitting will be something to watch. The Dodgers certainly hope Peters finds his footing quickly, as their offensive woes have continued into May. If Peters can contribute more with his bat, he could provide the spark the Dodgers need. 

A Look Back: Andre Ethier’s MLB Debut

Andre Ethier batted over .500 in high school, so he decided to try out at nearby Arizona State University. Despite success in high school, ASU told him he was not good enough to play Division I college baseball. After a year at a local junior college where he batted .468, the Oakland Athletics drafted him in the 37th round. He chose instead to enroll at ASU.  This time, he made the team.

Two years later, he was a Pac-10 All-Star, had a career batting average of .371, and was once again drafted by the Athletics. This time it was in the second round. Ethier signed with the Athletics on July 1st, 2003, and began his professional career in the Class A ball. 

In December of 2005, the Dodgers traded Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez to the Athletics for Andre Ethier. Five months later, Ethier was making his Major League debut. On May 2nd, 2006, the Dodgers were in Ethier’s home state of Arizona, taking on the Diamondbacks. Dozens of Ethier’s family and friends were in attendance in the crowd, and Ethier was starting in left field. In his five plate appearances, he hit a double and drew a walk. The very next night, he was back in left field, but this time at Dodger Stadium. In the ninth inning, he hit his first Major League home run. Two weeks later, Ethier went 5 for 5 and scored four runs. Andre Ethier had arrived.

Andre Ethier’s 2006 debut season proved him to be a fresh young talent. His bat was hot. It stayed hot. In 396 at-bats in the 2006 season, Ethier had a .308 batting average with eleven home runs and twenty doubles. Ethier went on to play twelve years with the Dodgers before he retired following the 2017 season. On May 2nd, 2006, Ethier took the field with the Dodgers for the first time. 4800 at-bats, 303 doubles, 162 home runs, and 1455 games later, and Andre Ethier is one of the most beloved players in modern Dodgers history.

To read more about Dodger debuts and others from around the league, click here.

Photo Credit: Rex Brown/WireImage


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