ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the span of 15 months, Brian Cavazos-Galvez has gone from having his face on Albuquerque billboards to looking for a new job.
Cavazos-Galvez, an Albuquerque native who played baseball at Manzano High, New Mexico Junior College and the University of New Mexico, was released from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization July 31.
It was a surprising fall for Cavazos-Galvez, who was the face of the Albuquerque Isotopes on billboards promoting them as “Your Hometown Team” in 2013.
“He has some things in his game that he can probably improve,” Dodgers vice president of player development De Jon Watson said Wednesday.
“Plate discipline was one area that we tried to address with him; consistency with his offensive approach and improve his overall defensive game. But he played hard and he’s a good kid. He worked his tail off. He just got caught up in a numbers game with us.”
A 12th-round draft pick in 2009 by the Dodgers, Cavazos-Galvez opened this season with the Isotopes, but played just five games (all on the road) before being sent back to Double-A Chattanooga.
Cavazos-Galvez hit just .227 with two home runs, 20 RBIs and an OPS of .591 in Chattanooga this season, but was successful in his limited opportunities with Albuquerque.
After playing in 64 games with the Lookouts, the 27-year-old outfielder returned to Triple-A on June 26. He hit .313 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 23 games with the ‘Topes. Included were a June 27 walk-off home run in Game 1 of a doubleheader and sacrifice fly to drive in the eventual winning run in Game 2.
“I actually felt really good about this season, to be honest,” he said. “I was able to work on a lot of stuff that I needed to work on, and I finally felt like I was getting back to where I was in 2012 when I had a really good year.
“I’d be down now, but you just never know. I didn’t have the best numbers in the world but I didn’t have the worst either. There’s been better players than me who have been released. I’ve seen players just as good as me or better than me who never even got drafted. You can’t control it. You can do everything the right way and it just doesn’t happen. I’m thankful that I had a job and was able to play.”
Cavazos-Galvez made his debut for the Isotopes in 2012, hitting .354 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and an on-base plus slugging of .944 in 57 games with Albuquerque.
“I’m thankful that I had that opportunity,” Cavazos-Galvez said. “Especially being in able to play in Albuquerque, those are times that I’ll never forget.”
Despite that performance with his hometown team, Cavazos-Galvez spent all of the 2013 season in Double-A.
“I knew my playing time was getting lower and lower because of the inner workings that go on where certain guys have to play,” he said. “I really wasn’t surprised at all. I understand the process.”
What was surprising was the timing of his release. Cavazos-Galvez went 8-for-19 (.421) with five runs, one homer and five RBIs in 10 games from July 4- 12. But those would be the last games Cavazos-Galvez would play. He went on the disabled list July 17 with lower back tightness before being cut.
“We don’t really talk about why we released a guy,” Watson said. “That’s something we keep inside the organization.”
It was Isotopes manager Damon Berryhill’s duty to deliver the bad news to the ex-Lobo, which Cavazos-Galvez called “ironic” and “fitting.”
Berryhill was the first manager Cavazos-Galvez had as professional baseball player. In 2009, his debut season, Cavazos-Galvez hit .322, with 18 homers and 63 RBIs in 71 games under Berryhill at Rookie League Ogden and was named Pioneer League MVP.
After being released, Cavazos-Galvez passed on an opportunity to play with an independent league team. Instead he is back in Albuquerque, working out in preparation for winter ball in the Dominican Republic – which begins in October – and resuming his quest for an opportunity in pro baseball. He said he wants to work on retaining the mechanics he had used in those last 10 games with the Isotopes.
“It’s a hard time of the year, because there’s only a short time left in the season,” he said. “I’d rather wait a month and a half and play in the Dominican instead of rushing into a decision that might not be the best decision down the road.”
According to Watson, it’s not out of the question that Cavazos-Galvez could return to the Dodgers organization.
“You never know. You’re always looking for players,” Watson said. “They make changes, they get better, you can never say no. You never know how this game is going to work out. You’re always looking for the best players for the organization, and why not Brian?”
And if another chance doesn’t arise with LA or another team, Cavazos-Galvez, who has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UNM, will have options.
“I’m lucky enough to be one of the few players in minor league baseball who has a degree,” Cavazos-Galvez said. “There’s a lot of good stuff that could be potentially coming my way in terms of baseball or after baseball so I’m just excited to take it in stride.”