The Albuquerque Isotopes' season is nearly complete and many of the players are already beginning to look to next year. For some of the veteran power hitters on the team, their gaze may fall a little further away.
Japan and South Korea are two appealing options for older minor-league players. Both of their professional leagues routinely sign so-called "Quad-A" American players, in particular looking for corner bats with power.
Isotopes first basemen-outfielders Brock Peterson, 30, and Clint Robinson, 29, are two potential candidates to head to Asia next season. Neither player knows if any Japanese or Korean teams currently have interest but both are keeping their options open.
"I'm leaving open every door I can but there's only so many spots over there," Peterson said. "The selection process is a little different so you never know who they're going to pick. So I don't really get my hopes up, just hope they come calling."
Peterson previously said he had spoken to at least one foreign team last offseason but he ended up signing a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals. He was traded to the Dodgers organization in July and assigned to the Isotopes, for whom he has hit .364/.442/.622 with seven home runs in 41 games.
Robinson has hit .306/.397/.520 with 16 home runs and 69 RBI in 107 games with Albuquerque. He has been one of the Isotopes' most consistent performers.
"I'm pretty much the same way, you don't want to close any doors," Robinson said. "It's no secret that there's good money over there for guys who are fringe Major Leaguers. If the opportunity were to come where it's an opportunity to make some money, this is our job and we're in it to make as much money as we can while we can, baseball doesn't last forever. If that opportunity comes along we're definitely looking for it."
Robinson also had a brief nine-game run with the Dodgers earlier this season, just his second career stint in the Majors. Peterson made his Major League debut last year with the St. Louis Cardinals, but both players said they are realistic about their chances of ever sticking around long enough in the big leagues to make a seven-figure salary.
"Chasing the dream of making it to the big leagues, I mean we've chased it and we made it, now dream time is over," Robinson said. "Now it's about being a professional baseball player and getting paid to play the game, whether you're in the Major Leagues or Japan. We made it to the pinnacle, now it's about taking care of families and our livelihood."
"I've been out of baseball twice, so I think once you're out you kind of realize this opportunity isn't here forever and so you might as well just stick with it as long as you can," Peterson said. "At least for me personally. I know some guys with families and other things going on, they have to make a switch in their life. For me, I'll play as long as they'll let me play."
Patterson to the 'pen
After making 20 starts this season, right-hander Red Patterson (4-8, 5.91 ERA) has found himself in the bullpen. It's a role he will continue to have until the year is over.
"As of right now we're just planning on having finish up in the bullpen," manager Damon Berryhill said. "He's had a lot of innings (112.2) this year."
Garcia finishing strong
Right-hander Yimi Garcia (4-2, 3.07, 3 saves, 63 Ks in 55.2 innings) has been the Isotopes' most consistent reliever. He has two of those saves and a 2.13 ERA in his last 10 appearances.
"Yimi has got good life to the fastball," Berryhill said. "He's able to spot up his fastball down and away. His slider is starting to come (along)."
Garcia is on the Dodgers' 40-man roster. He figures to be a strong candidate for a September call-up.