(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
When the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 25-man roster became official on Sunday morning, everybody connected to different levels of the farm system began scrambling to assemble the building blocks to each of their respective squads.
With the big league starting rotation finally set, scouting directors, managers and coaches at Oklahoma City are sifting through all the remaining uninjured players, and will indeed announce their own 25-man roster, including a starting pitching rotation, sometime before Opening Day on April 7.
We initially began discussing ideas about the potential rotation at OKC before Christmas, then eventually put together a second draft in late February. Between now and then, the two biggest surprises were the high number of pitchers in the organization who became injured, and righty Ross Stripling showing up to spring training in the best pitching condition of his life.
When compiling the second draft, we did not anticipate Stripling reaching his current peak so quickly after tearing his UCL and having Tommy John surgery in 2014. Seeing that the prospective rotation was tremendously crowded at the time, we actually projected him beginning the 2016 season at Double-A Tulsa.
Regardless, everyone here at TPBC is extremely happy for Ross, and wish him nothing but the best moving forward. We’d also like to take one final opportunity to thank him for taking time out of his busy spring schedule to sit through a fan-driven question and answer session with us a few weeks back.
According to our projections in February, our likely starting rotation at that time was Brandon Beachy, Mike Bolsinger, Zach Lee, José De León and Julio Urias. Outside of Bolsinger still fighting an oblique strain and the organization deciding to “strategically” hold De León back, we weren’t too far off.
Because of the lack of more than one dominant breaking pitch, we always felt that Carlos Frias is better suited for the bullpen; however, he did indeed make it to the final round of the “fifth starter sweepstakes” and, per multiple sources, will begin the season as a starter at OKC.
When Jharel Cotton was given an opportunity to relieve late last season while the Triple-A bullpen was very thin, we stuck with that trend and projected him beginning 2016 as a reliever. But after seeing his nasty repertoire of breaking pitches firsthand against big league bats, we decided he profiles much better as a starter. The Dodgers’ scouts tend to agree with us.
Although Cuban rookie Yaisel Sierra may be used as a starter down the road, scouts are guessing that he potentially could contribute as a middle reliever at the big league level very soon. Due to the bullpen being particularly crowded at Oklahoma City, we’re guessing that Sierra begins the year in the relief corps at Tulsa.
And being that Bolsinger, Hyun-jin Ryu, Frankie Montas, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson will need rehab starts at the minor league levels at some juncture, the OKC roster will certainly be accommodating to them as well.
All that being said, our final projections for the starting rotation at OKC consists of Beachy, Lee, Urias, Cotton and Frias.
Oklahoma City will begin the regular season at Nashville on Thursday, April 7, while the home opener is set against the same Sounds squad on Friday, April 15.