The Dodgers continue to make dreams come true.
Los Angeles purchased the contract of Triple-A Oklahoma City outfielder Andrew Toles on Friday, and immediately inserted him into the starting lineup in centerfield against San Diego.
The Dodgers haver the most players on the disabled list in the Major Leagues this season so needless to say, they were in need of some reinforcements just three days before the All-Star Break on Friday.
The team opted for speed and outfield depth after they designated Will Venable for assignment on Thursday to make room for the return of Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 40-man roster.
In a contrasting move, Luis Avilan was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday so that right-handed pitcher Carlos Frias could be called up.
Frias threw four innings of scoreless relief in his 2016 season debut in the Dodgers 6-0 loss on Thursday, so with the relief pitcher already burned, the boys in blue made another move, optioning Frias on Friday in order to purchase the contract of Toles.
Toles' story is one of redemption, struggle, patience, despair and now, triumph.
The 24-year-old outfielder was once a top prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization and was named the 2013 Player of the Year where he was selected in the third round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
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Toles has a troubled past and was reportedly kicked off the University of Tennessee baseball team for disciplinary reasons before transferring to Chipola Junior College in Florida.
Toles checkered past followed him to Tampa Bay where he was released by the Rays before the 2015 season. Unable to find a team to join, Toles was out of the game completely, believing that his baseball career was over.
"I worked at a grocery store for two weeks," Toles told the media. "I was just sitting at home waiting for phone calls."
It was while working in the Kroger grocery store in Georgia bagging items for customers that Toles toiled with the idea of returning to the sport he loved. He began working out again and watching videos of his swing. Before long, Toles got the call he was waiting for.
Toles was given a second chance by Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman who was aware of Toles in his days as the General Manager for the Rays.
Friedman offered Toles a second chance with the Dodgers before the 2016 season, but told Toles that he would have to earn his way back, starting at the bottom of the ladder.
So Toles took the opportunity and ran with it. After starting the season at Single-A Rancho Cucamonaga, the Georgia native skyrocketed up the minor league ladder, hitting .330 with 52 runs, 99 hits, 23 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 37 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 73 games between Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A.
His new manager, Dave Roberts, is also happy the Dodgers gave the speedster a second chance.
"I don't know the whole story, but I know that [Friedman] is fond of him as a person, as a player," Roberts told reporters before the game on Friday. "With what he went through in the past, it's a great story to see him here in the big leagues. I know that we're excited to have him. He's dynamic. He can run, he can defend, he can hit, so it will be fun to throw him out there and see what he can do."
On Thursday night, Toles got yet another call that would change his life, as Friedman, the man who originally drafted him at 20-years-old, was making his Major League dreams come true.
"There is a little more pressure not to mess it up, basically," Toles told the media when asked about his move to the big leagues. "But besides that I'm just going to play baseball."
Toles' tale has been on a whirlwind as he had to wake up at 6:00AM on Friday to hop on a flight to Los Angeles in time to see his name in the starting lineup in centerfield for Friday's game against San Diego.
"I'm pretty tired," he said. "It's a new situation and I feel like I can flourish, I'm just excited to play."