When the Dodgers announced their 2023 minor league coaching staffs, one of those names stood out and prompted this edition of the series, while the second player popped up when taking a look at how his tenure with the Dodgers came to an end a few seasons later.
Signed as a catcher out of the Dominican Republic on May 14, 2003, Herrera needed exactly nine years from that date to make his way to Los Angeles. Earning a bonus of $15,000, the 18-year-old Herrera spent three years at the Dodgers’ complex in the Dominican Republic before making his debut in the organization in 2006. Slashing .327/.424/.391/.815 for the Gulf Coast Dodgers, playing along with an 18-year-old Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen as a catcher, Herrera was named as a Gulf Coast All-Star for his 35 games at second base.
Splitting 2007 between Rookie League in Ogden, Single-A in Midland and High-A Inland Empire, Herrera remained with one of the three for the next two years before debuting with Double-A Chattanooga in 2010 at 25 years old. An OPS of .704 in 97 games at Double-A and .627 in 25 games for Triple-A Albuquerque kept Herrera in Double-A for 2011, but added experience at shortstop after playing center field, left field and third base in addition to second over his six years in the organization.
A line of .278/.370/.378/.749 for the Lookouts moved him to the Isotopes in 2012, while Herrera had extended his run of at least 30 stolen bases in a season that began back in 2009 with 43 steals for the 66ers and Loons. An offensive breakout in Albuquerque, with a final line of .341/.381/.520/.901 in 64 games between his call ups, led to Herrera being recalled for the first time on May 14, 2012.
With Juan Uribe headed to the disabled list, where Jerry Hairston Jr. already was and Mark Ellis would be five days later, Herrera was brought to Los Angeles while Trent Oeltjen was designated for assignment. Starting 43 games, with 14 at third base, nine at second base, nine in left field, nine in center and two in right field, Herrera went back down to Triple-A on July 16, came back up on Aug. 13, went back down on Aug. 22 and finally came back up on Sept. 12.
Coming up with his first career hit, an RBI double off the Padres Clayton Richard on May 16, Herrera later hit his only homer with the Dodgers on July 5 against Chris Young of the Mets. Through his first month in the majors, Herrera hit .305/.407/.391/.797 in 124 plate appearances, but that came with a .410 BABIP. Slashing .141/.179/.234/.414 with a .178 BABIP in the next 20 games sent Herrera back down.
In his last two stints in the majors for 2012, Herrera slashed .333/.455/.333/.788 (again with a .462 BABIP), but started just two games over the final month and a half (probably in part because of the Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Nick Punto trades), with the Dodgers finishing two games out of the second Wild Card spot.
Herrera’s run in 2012 included a RBI single off Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth to break a 3-3 tie on June 4, followed by a two-out, two-run double off Cliff Lee in the eighth inning to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead a day later. Herrera also kept the Dodgers alive in the Wild Card race with a RBI single off the glove of Marco Scutaro at second while facing Santiago Casilla in the bottom of the 9th on Oct. 1 with two games remaining in the regular season.
A full season of Punto coupled with the addition of Skip Schumaker in December left Herrera without a spot in 2013. Getting just eight plate appearances either as a pinch hitter or in left field during the season, Herrera came up in early May to replace an injured Hairston but went back down just days later for Scott Van Slyke. Replacing Alex Castellanos in late June, Herrera lasted a few weeks before Van Slyke took his spot again. The next time, Herrera came up for a few days in late July with Van Slyke sending him back to Triple-A for the final time.
Claimed off waivers by the Brewers in November, Herrera spent two seasons in Milwaukee’s organization with 417 plate appearances in 152 games between 2014 and 2015.
Returning to the Dodgers on a minor league deal for 2016, Herrera only lasted a few months in Triple-A Oklahoma City with a .218/.308/.238/.545 line in 28 games. Amazingly, once again it was May 14 when the Dodgers released Herrera, who signed with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars for the rest of 2016 and 2017. Moving to the Diablos Rojos del México for 2018, Herrera returned to the Dodgers again in 2019 as the bench coach for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
Elian is still with the organization, announced as a member of the Great Lakes Loons for 2023, his fourth consecutive season coaching in Midland, as he’s now at about 16 years with the Dodgers in some form.
From one player who spent more than a decade playing with the organization to one who lasted about 14 months, Barney landed in Los Angeles after seven with the Chicago Cubs.
The departures of Ellis, Punto, Hairston Jr. and Schumaker left the Dodgers without depth in the middle of their infield in 2014 (obviously a little funny given what I just wrote above), while Alex Guerrero’s first season in the organization was spent in Triple-A and recovering from Miguel Olivo’s ear biting incident. While Dee Strange-Gordon handled second base and Justin Turner arrived to begin his run with the organization, the Dodgers ran through Chone Figgins, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Miguel Rojas and Carlos Triunfel as reserve infielders for the first three months of the season.
Sending Jonathan Martinez to the Cubs for Barney, who had been designated for assignment by Chicago after hitting .230/.265/.328/.594 in 72 games, the Dodgers sent him to Triple-A Albuquerque for two weeks before activating him to the major league roster when Ramirez went to the injured list.
Starting six games down the stretch, Barney played in 22 games total while slashing .303/.467/.424/.891 across 45 plate appearances, though I truly don’t know that I can remember many moments other than he happened to be the player to record the out to clinch the 2014 NL West title.
With Ramirez leaving for Boston, and Gordon and Rojas sent to Miami, the Dodgers added Enrique Hernandez, Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins to the middle of the infield during the offseason, Guerrero’s role in the majors grew and Turner proved to be the Dodgers’ best offensive player in 2015.
Despite that, Barney was named to the Opening Day roster in 2015, with the Dodgers electing to go with an extra position player to open the year. However, he went 0-for-4 with one start at shortstop in his two games and was never called back up to the majors that year, hitting .277/.325/.355/.680 in 96 games while playing second, third and shortstop for Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers designated him for assignment on June 12 to make room for Ronald Torreyes (another name to add to the list for these posts) coming in from Toronto, and Barney was sent outright to the minors before ending up traded to the Blue Jays himself on Sept. 13 for Jack Murphy.