While we typically take a concise look at a handful of standout Dodgers prospects on a weekly basis, we very rarely check the progress of one of the affiliate squads as a whole. Yet, as it’s a bit difficult to size up the growth of the Triple-A Oklahoma City club with all the very frequent roster fluctuation, we thought it be interesting to check on the team just past the quarter-way mark of the regular season.
Victories are always great in the world of the Pacific Coast League, but they’re definitely secondary. It’s much more important for a young prospect to get regular plate appearances specifically against lefties or righties, work on dropping down sacrifice bunts with a runner on first, or perfecting difficult outfielding routes, than it is to sweep a divisional rival in a three-game set. Still, based on the team effort displayed by the OKC crew perennially, there’s no doubt that winning is indeed still an important goal.
After finishing 19 games over .500 last season and capturing the American Northern divisional crown, manager Bill Haselman‘s crew currently finds itself at a 25-18 record, just one full game behind Colorado Springs for the divisional lead. We already mentioned on Tuesday that newcomer Max Muncy was among the team leaders in batting average at a .338 clip. Muncy’s currently trailing only Drew Maggi, who’s hitting a sizzling .353. As far as long balls go, righty slugger O’Koyea Dickson leads Oklahoma City with nine, followed by second baseman Willie Calhoun with eight, and veteran catcher Bobby Wilson with seven. Dickson also leads the club with 31 RBI, and is third on the squad with 38 base hits, just behind Alex Verdugo with 43 and Calhoun with 45.
After the release of 28-year-old Tyler Holt earlier in the week, the outfield has settled in to a rolling platoon of Dickson, Verdugo, Trayce Thompson and Scott Van Slyke. Thompson has been cold all year, and SVS hopes to rediscover his stroke with regular playing time after an extremely slow start in the majors at the beginning of the season.
Outside of Calhoun and veteran first baseman Ike Davis, the infield features a plethora of versatility. The combination of Maggi, Muncy, Charlie Culberson, Darnell Sweeney can play all over the yard, including most of the outfield spots, giving both Dickson and Van Slyke a chance to slide in and play first base on occasion. After Jack Murphy was placed on the 7-day disabled list on Tuesday, Wilson and Kyle Farmer are currently handling the duties in the catching department, with Farmer also having the ability to provide cover at the hot corner, if needed.
As far as starting pitching goes, the primary rotation has consisted of Wilmer Font, Jair Jurrjens, Justin Masterson and Trevor Oaks, with the fifth spot being filled by either a floater, a reliever, or someone on a rehab assignment. 20-year-old southpaw Julio Urias will soon slide into the crew somewhere, and righty Brock Stewart may also fill a spot sometime after completing a relatively lengthy rehabilitative program. Jurrjens and Masterson both lead the team with four wins apiece, while Masterson tops all the starters with a 2.66 ERA. Font leads the club with 73 total strikeouts over an even 47 innings of work.
Brandon Morrow, Patrick Schuster, Layne Somsen, Jacob Rhame, Madison Younginer and Steve Geltz have been getting the brunt of work in the bullpen, although both Rhame and Geltz have been recently sent to the 7-day disabled list. Hard-throwing righty Joe Broussard has already made eight relief appearances since being promoted from Double-A Tulsa, and has posted a 2.08 ERA with 18 strikeouts over an even 13 innings of work. Somsen leads the relief corps with a 0.84 ERA in 12 appearances, while Morrow holds the team lead in saves with six.
All in all, it’s been business as usual for the OKC Dodgers, despite the very high number of players being jettisoned to and from the big league squad. With some consistent starting pitching and timely hitting from their All-PCL type of lineup, they’ll almsot certainly catch Colorado Springs in the very near weeks ahead.
And in the realm of things ranked relatively unimportant, the number that Urías chooses to wear during his upcoming starts will probably make headlines, as Dickson currently sports No. 7, the number worn by Urías at the big league level.
Please be sure to check back frequently for all of our regular minor league updates. In addition to composing our weekly prospect reports, we’ll also try to provide a similar type of team report for all of the Dodgers’ affiliates as the 2017 regular-season campaigns progress.
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Urias chose to wear No. 19—he will make the start against New Orleans on Saturday 5/27.