What Impact Will Sheldon Neuse Have on Dodgers in 2021?

neuse
(Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

While there’s no doubt that utilityman Sheldon Neuse will have some type of impact on the Los Angeles Dodgers organization this season, the biggest question surrounds at which level he will primarily contribute.

Along with pitching prospect Gus Varland, Neuse (pronounced “Noisy”) was snagged by the Dodgers in a trade that sent lefty reliever Adam Kolarek and outfielder Cody Thomas to the Oakland Athletics on Feb. 12.

Originally, Neuse was selected by the Washington Nationals in the second round of the 2016 MLB draft out of the University of Oklahoma. In 2017, along with pitchers Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen, Neuse was sent to Oakland in exchange for relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.

The 26-year-old Neuse has logged 25 games at the big-league level, all coming with Oakland during the 2019 season. In 183 major league AB, he has a .246/.320/.404 slash line with six homers, nine doubles and 25 RBI. He appeared in 20 games at second base and five games at third base that same season.

Neuse spent the entirety of 2020 at Oakland’s major league alternate training site.

Over the course of his four-year minor league career, the six-foot, 230-lb. Texas native slashed .294/.354/.458 with 49 homers in 414 games, but struck out 442 times, which calculates to a 28.2 percent punchout rate. During his time in the majors in 2019, he struck out 34 percent of the time.

As far as his current roster status goes, he is part of the Los Angeles 40-man roster, and he has two option years left on his contract, affording the Dodgers a bit of flexibility with his usage in 2021.

Conceivably, in the bigger picture, we might want to keep in mind how Chris Taylor might be utilized on the field this season. Earlier this week, we heard skipper Dave Roberts say that he values Taylor’s versatility, and while Taylor will likely play every day, he will not be limited to one position.

Some fans believed that Taylor could have been a candidate to see the lion’s share of time at second base, but Roberts’ comments theoretically lead us to believe that lefty-hitting Gavin Lux is also part of the picture. And, while lefty-hitting utilityman Zach McKinstry could see added time this season, Neuse could have the edge if paired with Lux at the keystone because he hits from the right side.

Nevertheless, Neuse will certainly need to prove his worth during the upcoming Cactus League schedule, particularly with his offensive game.

In a Zoom conference on Saturday, Neuse fielded a handful of questions from reporters, specifically about some of his tendencies on the field and his value as a utilityman.

“Grew up playing shortstop, played third when I got into professional baseball,” Neuse said. “Made my major league debut at second base and played a little first base here and there. So, honestly, anywhere in the infield I feel comfortable.”

While there was one comparison made to Neuse with former Oakland second baseman Max Muncy and his rise to fame with the Dodgers, Neuse hinted that he hasn’t yet been approached about any prospective adjustments to his swing or launch angle, being that he’s been in camp for just a week.

As far as a 26-man roster spot goes, Neuse isn’t completely out of the picture, although some pundits feel that incumbents like McKinstry and Matt Beaty may have the upper hand on the final few spots.

Still, because Neuse is on the 40-man and has options, chances are that he’ll likely see time on the roster at some part of the season, even if it means starting his 2021 campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

42 thoughts on “What Impact Will Sheldon Neuse Have on Dodgers in 2021?

  1. Dodgers have Beaty and Rios penciled in as bench guys. Rios will get some at-bats as will Beaty. Not sure there is room on the roster for an additional guy. I like the idea of another right-handed bat. Although with Pollock, Taylor, Smith, Betts, Barnes, and Turner the Dodgers have the ability to play right-handed batters. Neuse may be another great Friedman pickup…or not. We shall see.

    Like

    1. I’m certain that Rios is assured of a spot on the opening day roster, but do we really know for sure that Beaty is? I happen to be a Beaty fan, but I’m definitely not certain that he’s a sure thing. Rios can play first and third (probably a bit better than can Beaty) and although Beaty can play a passable left field guys like Raley, Reks and McKinstry can probably play it better. I think Beaty is a very good pinch hitter but other factors could enter into the selection for that final roster spot.

      Doc said today that he was planning to start Peters in the first two spring games and complimented him again. He absolutely loves him and is just looking for a reason to give him a spot so if he has a good spring, he could possibly push Beaty down to OKC. He’s one guy who could actually cover all three outfield positions adequately.

      I’m really looking forward to seeing the competition among all those guys for that last spot or two and the guy who wins out won’t necessarily be the guy who is still here in August-September.

      Like

      1. Peter’s size is impressive and can cover all 3 outfield positions. He reportedly has a good arm and speed. Hopefully he shows he has cut down on the strikeouts. If he can do that and raise his OBP. I think he might make it. He has power to spare.

        Like

  2. I hate this time of the year, early spring training , when we have to talk about guys that have absolutely no chance of making the roster, and it continues on until near the end of spring training, talking about guys that get 2 hits against some double a pitcher then we never ever see them again. Neuse is a 26 year old career minor leaguer who has 0 chance. Please let the season begin.

    Like

    1. Admittedly, your comments might be very accurate Gordon and I’m not trying to start an argument with you, but would you mind joining me here in the Wayback Machine and letting me know what you were saying during Muncy’s first spring training with the team.

      Max was a year older when he was traded here and he turned out OK.

      Neuse’s 2019 season at AAA Las Vegas was really pretty good – .317/.389/.550/.939. I really hope he makes it here and turns out to be another MM. Then we could refer to him as The Big Noise. Odds of that happening? Not great, but not impossible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the new spelling Dennis. Muntzy somehow seems more powerful. Reminds me of a guy out here in the good ol’ days named Mad Man Muntz who used to sell cars and electronics on TV. He was quite a character and his commercials were always a little nuts.

        Not only are Max and Neuse from the same state, they went to high school in the same town, Keller, Tx.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I keep thinking that would be like winning the lottery twice………………………………and then I remember that people have done that.

        Like

    2. Good thing Gordon is not part of the decision making process for the Dodgers for we would not have enjoyed watching players such as Justin Turner, Max Muncy or Chris Taylor turn their careers around and blossom into the players they are today.

      Like

      1. It happens but there would be a hundred other 26 year olds, that will never be hitters, and we’ve never heard of them. And we have no room for one now.

        Like

  3. Jeff I agree. That is why I love Spring Training getting the opportunity to see the guys competing to get up to the MLB. Turner & Muncy had been cut loose. Taylor was almost a give away. I am sad I can’t watch Spring training games this year. I want to see Gray, Uceta, Pages, Neuse, Vargas and others that are a year or 3 away.

    Like

    1. Yeah, it’s a shame that you won’t be able to see the games over there. I’m going to miss my annual long weekend at Camelback also, but at least I’ll have all the spring games here in LA on tv. I don’t know if you have access to the MLB tv network where you are but they do show a bunch of spring games, including some Dodger games, so if that’s available to you keep an eye out for the days they show a Dodger game.

      By the way, Doc said today that Bauer will pitch on Monday. That should be interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Jeff, Game on MLB Channel today. I can catch some of the Spring games on MLB Channel. I really miss the Pre and Postgame shows though. You cannot buy them on MLB> Some teams sell their pre and post coverage but Time Warner does not.

        Like

  4. I don’t think anyone should be sold on Neuse. I am sure the Dodgers will give him the opportunity to earn a spot. But there are several guys that are competing for those couple of roster spots or at least be one of the first call-ups. I believe Rios is a lock but I am not sure Beaty is. Lots of people expect McKinstry to win a spot and I think he has a great shot at it. But he is not a lock either. I like Peters if he has cut down on the strikeouts as I have stated before. Peters is a true outfielder with speed, a good arm, and right-handed power.

    Like

    1. Right handed low average hitter with some power who spent some time with the White Sox 2016-18 and actually hit 20 homers or more in two of those years. He can also pitch.

      Doc actually said he had a chance to make the roster in an interview today, but I have my doubts.

      Some of the young Dodger pitchers looked really good to me today including Uceta, Santana and especially Michael Grove who looked really impressive.

      ZacMac got off to a good start. I love his bat control. It’s really nice to see a guy just try to put the bat on the ball instead of trying to hit every pitch out of the park.

      Like

      1. Yeah, I hear he challenged RVS to a duel at the batting cage at dawn tomorrow. Not sure which weapons will be used, pistols, swords or baseball bats.

        Every team needs to have an “old school” guy in the lineup. Especially when you have as many power-first guys as we do.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Every team should have players (especially starting pitchers) who can bunt, too. Particularly when there’s no DH in the NL. Bunting is becoming a lost art, even among position players.

        Like

  5. I wouldn’t mind a guy in the roster that was just trying to get on base, not worried about launch angle, and heaven forbid someone hit the opposite way against the shift. It might even be against the rules😀

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The one guy on the team I think could most benefit from bunting is Belli. They’re going to shift on him every single time and he has the speed to beat out tons of hits if he bunts once every game or two. I guess maybe a lot of teams would be happy to have him at first on a bunt considering the damage he could do by swinging away, but I’d still like to see him go for it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep telling you that you’re too young to take part here Keith. If you can’t show us a Social Security card I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.

      Remember when Wills used to give all the guys bunting lessons every spring? Not sure it made any difference. I hope our young draftee Jason Vogel is encouraged to learn bunting. He’s supposed to have blazing speed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The earliest games I can really remember we’re in 74 I loved the little cannon, Jimmy Wynn. And I vaguely remember watching a game before that when Bill Buckner was playing First base before Garvey arrived, I think.

    So I’m old, I’m just not ancient, like a few others around here, that will go nameless😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I proudly wear my title of “Ancient Artifact”.
      Did I ever tell you about the day that Abner and I wrote down the first rules of the game? We originally had the runners going clockwise, but that’s a story for a different day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Neuse is getting a chance as are Peters, Raley, Beaty, etc. Someone has to step up or end up on the options train. I remember Wills as I am another Ancient artifact. He had several swings to put the ball in play. Belli would be able to keep the infield shifts less radical. Last time I looked at the shifts for Belli and Muncy depending on how hard they could push the barrel at the ball it could be consistent doubles especially with Belli’s speed.
      It’s mind-boggling to see radical shifts with men on base and guys never bothering to push the ball against the shift. Be a team guy and get the ball in play and move the runner and probably get a hit especially with two strikes. Choke up and chop it if you have to!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha Tmax. Remember when our dads used to say “why, back in my day son…………..”. Now we’re the old guys saying the same thing. Agree with everything you just said, but maybe the game has passed us by. Or maybe we’re just smarter than the guys who are formulating strategy. Friedman needs to consult us or he’ll never win anything. Oh, wait a minute……………………………….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yep, we are the People your parents warned you about, just older…( credit to Jimmy Buffet, I am a Parrothead) The reason I think the Dodgers might want to think about drafting guys that can make contact is the MLB is experimenting with limiting shifts, pitchers stepping off the mound, etc. MLB reportedly is determined to put more offense back in the game. Which would make for a more enjoyable watching experience. But would change the dynamic from the Pederson model which is to walk or hit a home run. To more of a hit the damn ball every at-bat, walk, get on base and steal. Which is a lot more fun to watch. Perhaps Friedman is ahead of the game, he usually is, and that explains drafting Vogel, a young outfielder who makes contact and has blazing speed.

        Like

      3. I dabble in the stock market and follow a theory called contrarian investing. Simply stated, it’s buy when everyone is selling and sell when everyone is buying.

        I think we’re basically discussing doing the same thing here and Andrew is certainly the one (along with maybe the A’s and the Rays) who might do it first. When everyone wants to hit homers, draft a few singles hitters who spray the ball because the defenses are set up for power and pulling now. I’m all for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Finding guys that can make contact is the prime directive. Look at Kendall, an uber athlete that can’t hit the ball. I agree about Vogel reportedly he is a contact guy with speed and a good arm. McKinstry is a baller, a scrapper. I love Turner as he has led the league several times with his average after two strikes.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.