Several scenarios have become much more clear since we published our initial 25-man roster projections for the Oklahoma City Dodgers just under a week ago, especially the prospective components of the pitching staff. The position… More
Heading into the weekend, skipper Dave Roberts insisted that the battle for the final two spots in the Dodgers‘ starting rotation remained open to four pitchers — Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood and Scott Kazmir. However, after Kazmir’s attempt to gain leverage in the race by facing the Rangers on Sunday, it’s probably safe to assume the competition has been narrowed to three.
Up until a few years ago, the catching talent over the entirety of the Dodgers‘ farm system may have been considered downright barren. However, after acquiring Austin Barnes via trade in December of 2014, and selecting the highly regarded Will Smith in the first round of the 2016 draft, the organization took a big step towards being adequately stocked. Yet the catcher who could have perhaps the highest ceiling in the whole system, Keibert Ruiz, is still flying under the radar in terms of his reputation among the fan base.
The Dodgers looked nice and ready for Opening Day yesterday in their game against the Texas Rangers. Clayton Kershaw went for his longest outing yet, and was dominant — he struck out 11 of the 21 batters he faced in 92 pitches, allowing two hits and one walk. The prime time slot for the game last night showed MLB that its best pitcher he’s ready to go.
Not long after the 25-man big league roster is submitted the morning of April 3, the entire management crew of the Dodgers will find itself spinning its wheels drawing up a prospective draft for the Triple-A Oklahoma City squad. Opening Day for OKC falls on Thursday, April 6 at home, so there’s basically just a few days to decide which players remain on the upper fringes of the farm and which players head for the plains of Double-A Tulsa.
On Tuesday, just moments after we began a pessimistic discussion about the state of the Dodgers prospective rotation, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu took the bump against the Brewers and fired four solid innings of one-hit, shutout ball, making a clear argument for himself to be considered among the starting pitching crew when Opening Day rolls around on April 3.
For many fans of the Dodgers, it’s beginning to become an annual occurrence — overwhelming optimism about a stacked rotation in the winter, eventually turning into genuine concern about the prospective starting pitching crew as Opening Day draws near. What was once a highly talented staff extending to the rafters at Triple-A Oklahoma City now has a few gray areas even at the big league level.
The countdown is on — just two weeks until the Dodgers open up the season against the San Diego Padres. Clayton Kershaw will be the starter that day, but on his last start he looked less than Kershaw-like. Kersh allowed three home runs, four runs total on six hits in five innings. He also had eight strikeouts and two walks.
While quite a number of spots on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster are presumably set in stone, the bullpen is still a complex gray area that’s loaded with plenty of question marks. Yet after the dust finally settles at the end of March, versatile righty Ross Stripling may have found a spot among the big league relief corps.
Even though there’s plenty of time left in spring training for the landscape of the big league outfield to change, it’s still not difficult to make an educated guess regarding the outfield crew at Oklahoma City, as the Dodgers‘ surplus of young talent has now created a very crowded locker room at even the Triple-A level.
Listening to the Dodgers radio broadcast yesterday, Rick Monday said something that piqued my interest. He said that he thought Chris Taylor might have a better chance making the 25-man roster because he was there, in camp, showing his hustle. Meanwhile, Enrique Hernandez was playing with the Team Puerto Rico, and not being seen or evaluated by the front office and coaching staff.