Just in case you’ve missed a few of our recent columns, last week Andy took a look at the potential fallout if Corey Seager wasn’t ready for the season opener, while I shed some light on the Dodgers‘ overall bench picture a few days prior. Consequently, after digging a little deeper into the positional depth, I thought today would be a good opportunity to take a glance at how the middle infielders line up from an organizational perspective.
It wasn’t that long ago when there wasn’t much depth at all while considering the most valuable middle infielders in the system. Even worse was the talent at third base, but that’s a topic for another time. Regardless, the organization has plenty of talent at the moment, from a versatile big league group the whole way down to the lower levels of the minors.
Barring injury, the major league infield is already set, with Seager and Logan Forsythe poised to be the regulars up the middle. Within the roster are a ton of cover options, should anyone need a day off, or if Forsythe falls to deeply into a slumber against right-handed pitching, like his career numbers suggest.
Veteran Chase Utley gives the team a left-handed hitting option at the keystone, despite his fading offensive stats. And super-utility man Enrique Hernandez can play all over the diamond; however, his plate appearances are often carefully monitored against righty pitching because of his own gloomy success rate. Chris Taylor, having the ability to handle second, third or shortstop in a pinch, may be the team’s best offensive option as far as cover goes, yet from the sound of things, the club would like nothing more for him to establish his presence in center field.
Because of Utley’s presence on the 25-man and the team deciding to carry eight relievers, there’s only room for four bench players, which makes Hernandez one of the critical pieces of the roster, at least from a defensive standpoint. In emergency situations, though, Forsythe can play any of the four infield spots, as can Justin Turner.
Dropping down to the Triple-A level, there are middle infield options galore, which is a relatively new luxury for Oklahoma City. Right-handed hitting Tim Locastro and lefty hitting Jake Peter appear to be atop the totem pole at the moment. Locastro has one of the better gloves in the system at short and second, while also having the ability to handle left or center field. Peter is rumored to be capable of handling all three outfield spots and all the infield spots except pitcher and catcher. Between those two players, the big league squad should be in good hands if the need for secondary depth arises.
Beyond Locastro and Peter, there will be quite the battle for the remaining middle infield roster spots at OKC, considering how deep the club has become. Max Muncy is by all means major league ready, but may see most of his action at the hot corner, just to keep him on the field. Furthermore, there’s a whole slew of players under Muncy. Players like Drew Jackson and Donovan Solano were non-roster invitees to 2018 big league spring training and aren’t too far off the pace. Guys like Errol Robinson and Angelo Mora are also believed to be suitable Triple-A options despite the huge crowd. On top of that, Omar Estevez will be shining on the Double-A stage, with the left-handed hitting Gavin Lux not far behind at the High-A level. And it’s probably important to bear in mind that the majority of these players are being groomed to handle both second base and shortstop, while some are even drifting into the corner infield spots as well as the outfield.
With all these available middle infielders, and the Triple-A and Double-A rosters being crunched for the early part of the year, there’s certainly a surplus of resources for the club to utilize at the summer trade deadlines should they so choose. Either way, 2018 will see a bit of restructuring in the system’s infield department, as a few of these youngsters who have been touted the past few years will likely be given a chance to climb to the higher levels of the organizational ladder.