One of the biggest questions for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the 2023 season is the core structure of the outfield. Because we all know that front office boss Andrew Friedman and field skipper Dave Roberts prefer to have plenty of moving pieces, there could be more uncertainty heading into this season than usual as far as the regular playing time goes.
I put together a story last weekend throwing around a few lineup ideas, with the primary lineup having three righty-hitting outfielders. While there’s a good chance that all three of those players could appear simultaneously — especially against lefty pitching — we all know how Roberts feels about mixing it up with lefty batters against right-handed pitchers.
Chris Taylor: Everyday Starter or Super-Utilityman?
The fact that Chris Taylor is one of the streakiest hitters the team has seen in recent years could affect how often he plays regularly. And, although Trayce Thompson deserves all the credit in the world for what he accomplished last year, there are no guarantees about his production in 2023. The same can be said about lefty-hitting non-roster invitee Jason Heyward, who hasn’t hit over .215 for a full season in over two years.
These uncertainties leave Mookie Betts as the only lock for regular playing time, as this year’s Cactus League play could be among the most competitive ever for Opening Day roster spots.
Enter James Outman
We’ve been talking a lot lately about how a group of prospects — both pitchers and position players — will be given a shot at some significant playing time this year, with lefty-hitting outfielder James Outman among those candidates.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Outman made his MLB debut last year when the outfield crew got hammered with injuries. He appeared in four games, going 6-for-13 with two doubles and a homer while showing he could handle defensive duties in both left and right field. Because he had options, he was moved back to the minors when the team became healthy — plus, he was pushed back further on the depth chart when the club dealt for Joey Gallo not long before the summer trade deadline.
The crazy thing was that after Outman’s demotion, he hit better than he did all season in the minors, performing the nearly impossible task of hitting for two cycles. He earned the Pacific Coast League’s Player of the Week in late August and finished the year as a MiLB.com organizational All-Star. For the entire season, he slashed .294/.392/.585 with 31 doubles, 31 homers, 106 RBI and a .978 OPS in 125 games across Double-A and Triple-A.
At 25 years old, Outman’s days as a prospect are numbered, but since he has shown he is a solid option with the bat and the glove, he might be given first dibs at a MLB outfield spot this season. For OKC last year, he was steady on defense, having appeared in 44 games in right field, six games in center, and three games in left. Before his promotion to Triple-A, he was Tulsa’s regular center fielder with 44 starts there.
For what it’s worth, Steamer has Outman hitting .237/.313/..445 with 15 bombs and 46 RBI ovr 92 games during the 2023 campaign.
A lot of what happens could depend on the way Heyward performs during Cactus League, but we could conceivably see Outman on the Opening Day roster with Heyward in a position to potentially emerge as this year’s version of Kevin Pillar later in the season.
15 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: What Lies Ahead for James Outman?”
If your going with a youth movement then EMBRACE IT! Play Outman. This team will make the playoffs. As soon as possible bring up Stone.
As far as I’m concerned, barring any further trades, the center field job should be Outman’s to lose this spring. Steamer’s projections, if extended over a full season, come out to 26 homers and 80 RBI. I would take that from my center fielder any time.
With all the talk about adding another outfielder, I’m a little surprised that there hasn’t been any mention of bringing Pillar back. They certainly seemed to be happy enough with him last year. He’s probably got as much chance to contribute as Heyward or Zimmer, or Duggar. On the other hand, he may be hoping for an MLB contract from someone.
I’m good with giving outman CF, with Thompson mixing in, if it’s not working by mid season, make a trade that fills the hole. I am rooting for outman, he looks like he has the possibility of making a solid impact on the team, especially if his defense is respectable.
How Outman, and Lux perform this year is going to have a big impact on the success of the Dodgers this season. Hope Tmax is right.
I agree that given the current makeup of the roster that Outman should be plugged in and given the opportunity. He is a decent OF with power and runs well. I’m not convinced that Thompson is any more than a 4th OF. He was a pleasant surprise last year but has a very high K rate as does Taylor and for that matter so does Outman. But Outman has shown steady improvement and deserves a chance. I doubt any of the other minor league signees would be better.
All of the preseason polls say the Dodgers make the playoffs. That is great for a year you bring up new players and drop your yearly salary outlay substantially. I think Vargas will make contact and Lux will also. I wonder if they give Busch a shot or trade him?
I thought Busch would get considerable at bats at DH until they signed Martinez. They say he is more athletic than he first appears and could play some LF.
I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it yet but FanGraphs has up their annual review of top LAD prospects, covering the farm system from top to bottom.
For some time they have been critical of the top position prospects but are more positive toward pitchers. At the end of the article they have more favorable view of the Dodgers farm system as a whole. Keep in mind it is the product of only one staff writer.
Did you notice #7 on the list?
Josue DePaula, a 17 year old outfielder. That one came out of nowhere.
He sure has a nice swing in the video I’ve seen of him. I’ve already seen people compare him to Yordan Alvarez. Now we just need to make sure that Andrew doesn’t trade him for a semi-washed up relief pitcher.
As far as Bauer is concerned I think a lot of males especially older one are tone deaf to how upset women are about sexual harassment and battery.
Baseball clubs do not want to upset half of their potential fan base.
The Padres categorically stated they will not sign him. Good got them!
Would send a hell of a message if no team signed Bauer when he is released. Owners mothers, wives, and daughters will have a lot to say about a team bringing Bauer on board.
Thanks interesting read on the prospects. Especially Busch being second. Too bad he isn’t better defensively.
Looking forward to this season. Everyone always talks about the vaunted farm system, now they will have to put their money where there mouth is. No better time than now. We have a lot of highly rated prospects that should be given a chance or discarded. We need 2 infielders and 2 outfielders and have prospects to fill them. They need to prove they belong or not. What can go wrong? They succeed and we only have 2 problems or they fail and we still have 4 problems. No downside.
I want to watch good fundamental baseball. But I admit I am in my 70’s and what I like to watch may be very different from others. I know from my years of being a fan of baseball that the best team does not always win the WS. Injuries, momentum. just plain luck or a bad call can lose a hard fought series. I look forward to watching some new Dodgers attempt to make their way. For me a season is not lost if they do not dominate or win the WS. I simply want to be entertained. Not playing team baseball makes me nuts. Striking out with RISP and less than two outs is a major mistake in my opinion. Play team baseball move the man sacrifice for your team. It is one of the reasons I have an issue with Roberts he apparently does not make that team ball philosophy a rule as his players continue to strike out and not attempt to move the man in the playoffs. The playoffs is where you are playing a team at parity. All of the team baseball moves that allow a team to eke out a run are the difference between winning and losing a playoff. During the year the Dodgers were overwhelmingly a more talented team. Its when you are at parity that a manager’s move and the philosophy he has ingrained all year payoff in squeaking out wins. I am very energized to watch this team. I hope we see Stone and Miller play this year. I hope to see Vargas. Outman and the new SS, Lux, blow peoples minds by the end of the year. We shall see. Wow my daughter lives in Santa Cruz what a mess. Stay safe everyone.
I hope your daughter is doing okay tmax, good luck to her.