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.
There haven’t been many hints by management surrounding the major league roster, but one thing we do know is that barring injury, veteran Franklin Gutierrez will indeed claim a spot on the 25-man crew, at least in a part-time capacity. And if Andre Ethier can overcome the effects of problematic back spasms over the next few weeks, two of the organization’s most dynamic talents — Andrew Toles and Trayce Thompson — may find themselves headlining the lineup card at OKC.
The amount of skill and flair on this season’s prospective OKC roster is borderline insane. After running out one potential starting outfield crew of Tolesy, Thompson and Alex Verdugo, a few other deserving players, most specifically Brett Eibner, O’Koyea Dickson, Tyler Holt and Henry Ramos, wait in the wings. In addition, when considering that management likes to keep players such as Rob Segedin and Cody Bellinger well-versed in the outfield, there’s really not much room for maneuvering. And that’s not even mentioning Scott Van Slyke, Enrique Hernandez or Chris Taylor, if for some reason they’re left off the big league 25-man roster.
Sure, there will be injuries at the major league level, and there will be plenty of occasions when a player at the Triple-A level gets a call to the bigs. Plus, there’s always the option of moving some overflow to Double-A Tulsa. But this kind of talent in the Dodgers’ system is unprecedented. We mention it every single year, yet if the club feels the urge to make a huge splash at this summer’s trade deadline, the resources are certainly in place to pull off a major blockbuster.
Regardless, there’s no question that skipper Bill Haselman will have his hands full when constructing his lineups this season. If facing a right-handed pitcher, he could go with Ramos, Toles and Verdugo, while countering with Dickson, Thompson and Eibner against southpaws. And still have capable players leftover. In spite of all that, though, the main philosophy of Triple-A ball is preparing players for the majors, so in the eyes of Dodgers’ management, it may be critical for certain players to improve or build upon their weaknesses, especially at the dish amidst unfavorable left vs. lefty or righty vs. righty matchups.
Like we’ve said in the past, these lineup combinations which Haselman will be rolling out will all have length, giving spectators a flavor of a batting order from a virtual PCL All-Star contest.
Undoubtedly, fans of the Dodgers everywhere have tons of reasons to be excited in 2017. The amount of promise that the organization has at all levels is absolutely massive.
Yet, in the greater scope of things, these are just a few mere words about the Triple-A outfield.
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