I can’t speak for all baseball fans out there, but I think I’m quite accurate in saying that most of them are welcoming the return of minor league baseball with open arms. Minor league play is important on so many different levels. Not only is it an economical venue for some folks who may not otherwise be able to attend an MLB game, but it is also critical for the development of younger players.
As crazy as the 2021 season has been so far for the Dodgers, one strange thing is that the fans don’t have much of an idea of what’s happening at the alternate training site. We have already seen a multitude of players recalled to the major league roster, but we never really know which players down there are performing well and which players are not. Being able to track the top veterans and prospects on the farm by their daily performances is certainly going to be enjoyable. It’s something we haven’t been able to do for well over a year now.
As the flagship club of the Los Angeles Dodgers farm, the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers are set to begin their season on Thursday on the road against the Round Rock Express.
As stated by the OKC website, “due to new Triple-A rules to accommodate health and safety protocols as well as the needs of the major league parent club, the roster has been expanded to a maximum of 33 players, although only 28 players will be active per game. Some members of the OKC roster will concurrently serve as part of the official Los Angeles Dodgers Taxi Squad. The OKC Dodgers’ preliminary roster will begin with 30 total players.”
No question, things will be a bit challenging for skipper Travis Barbary in the early portion of the season with the number of frequent flyers there have been lately to the big-league squad. Catcher Keibert Ruiz, for example, figured to see the bulk of the time behind the plate for OKC, but now that he has been recalled, it’s hard to say exactly where he’ll cement himself for the remainder of the season.
The team has announced that 23-year-old righty Josiah Gray will take the mound for the season opener, and there’s no question that he will be the headliner of the rotation for as long as he’s on the farm. In 2019, he was named the organization’s Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year. According to some outlets, he’s ranked as the top prospect in the Los Angeles system.
We put together a concise prospect profile of Gray as recently as late last summer.
As indicated on the OKC website, four other players are listed among the organization’s Top 30 prospects per Baseball America or MLB Pipeline: infielder Omar Estevez, outfielders DJ Peters and Zach Reks, and pitcher Edwin Uceta. Both Peters and Uceta have made their respective MLB debuts already this season.
Consequently, 15 players have previous MLB experience and seven appeared in the bigs in 2020 despite the pandemic-shortened season. Those seven players are newly acquired pitcher Phil Bickford, infielder Matt Davidson, pitcher Mike Kickham, pitcher James Pazos, infielder Rangel Ravelo, infielder Elliot Soto, and outfielder Steven Souza Jr.
According to the OKC website, there are nine players who are set to appear above Double-A for the first time in their careers—outfielder Drew Avans, pitcher Edward Cuello, catcher Hamlet Marte, pitcher Jordan Martinson, pitcher Ryan Moseley, pitcher Darien Nunez, pitcher Logan Salow, infielder Cristian Santana, pitcher Andrew Schwaab, and pitcher Cyrillo Watson.
First pitch for Thursday’s opener is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Pacific time.