Oklahoma City Dodgers 25-Man Roster Projections: March 2017 Edition

Not long after the 25-man big league roster is submitted the morning of April 3, the entire management crew of the Dodgers will find itself spinning its wheels drawing up a prospective draft for the Triple-A Oklahoma City squad. Opening Day for OKC falls on Thursday, April 6 at home, so there’s basically just a few days to decide which players remain on the upper fringes of the farm and which players head for the plains of Double-A Tulsa.

The amount of talent contained within Oklahoma City’s 2017 roster can simply be described as “overwhelming.” Even the OKC bullpen, which was stretched a bit thin heading into last year’s Pacific Coast League Championship against El Paso, is stocked with a number of arms that even a group of other major league clubs would envy.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that a number of our projections are based on a few players opening the season on the major league disabled list. In addition, several determinations may also come down to the wire due to a handful of roster battles, most specifically competition in the big league bullpen as well as a few utility roles.

Beginning with the outfield, and assuming that Andrew Toles replaces the injured Andre Ethier on the Los Angeles Opening Day roster, the OKC crew quite possibly could consist of Alex Verdugo, Trayce Thompson, Brett Eibner, O’Koyea Dickson and Tyler Holt. As far as who starts and who doesn’t, your guess is as good as ours, as at least three of the names shown are certainly considered to be MLB-ready by many standards.Depending on how the roster in constructed, though, there may not even be room for Henry Ramos, who could conceivably begin his campaign on the shelf because of a groin injury, or super-utility man Stetson Allie, who can capably man all the corner spots in the infield and the outfield. Consequently, when considering that management likes to keep players such as Rob Segedin and Cody Bellinger well-versed in the outfield, there’s really not much room for maneuvering. And that’s not even mentioning Scott Van Slyke, Enrique Hernandez or Chris Taylor, if for some reason one or two are left off the big league 25-man roster.

Moving along to the infield, the primary core will consist of Segedin at the hot corner, Taylor/Hernandez at short, Willie Calhoun at the keystone, and Bellinger at first base. Charlie Culberson and Darnell Sweeney should competently handle all the utility roles. Leftover players on our list include the likes of Ike Davis and Drew Maggi, who may eventually opt for free agency or even accept an assignment with the Drillers. Either way, the high number of these fringe players who may not even make the Triple-A roster absolutely speaks volumes about the overall depth of the entire organization.

At catcher, Kyle Farmer is likely to handle the primary duties, while journeyman Bobby Wilson will presumably stick around to mentor Farmer and be the first to get the big league call in case of injury. Because of the crowded bench, we couldn’t find room for Jack Murphy, who may even have a hard time being squeezed in at Tulsa due to the presences of Paul Hoenecke and Wynston Sawyer. In any event, it’s good to finally see the system stocked full of so many receivers who can adequately handle the duties behind the dish.

Looking at the starting rotation, our guess is that lefty Alex Wood still finds a way to nail down a spot on the big league squad, and that Ross Stripling find a place in the Los Angeles bullpen. That leaves Brock Stewart, Trevor Oaks, Josh Sborz, Fabio Castillo and Andrew Thurman as the OKC starting five. As there’s a good chance Stewart won’t be ready for Opening Day, Oaks may get the honors to throw in the first game against Iowa, while either Madison Younginer or Patrick Schuster, both starting pitchers in their early minor league days, could be used in a pinch until Stewart is stretched out and ready to go.

As far as the bullpen goes, based on our current major league projections, the Oklahoma City staff will consist of Jacob Rhame, Adam Liberatore, Josh Fields, Steve Geltz, Josh Ravin, Joe Broussard and Ralston Cash. Because of the huge amount of depth, we have Kyle Grana, Layne Somsen and Edward Paredes all listed on the bubble and potentially destined for Tulsa.

In the end, depending on which types of matchups the management crew has a desire to see, there’s no question that OKC skipper Bill Haselman will have his hands full when constructing his lineups throughout the upcoming campaign. Undoubtedly, fans of the Dodgers everywhere have tons of reasons to be excited in 2017, as the amount of promise that the organization has at all levels is enormous.

2017 Oklahoma City Dodgers Projected Roster

Outfielders (5) — Trayce Thompson, O’Koyea Dickson, Brett Eibner, Alex Verdugo and Tyler Holt

Infielders (6) — Rob Segedin, Chris Taylor, Willie Calhoun, Cody Bellinger, Charlie Culberson and Darnell Sweeney

Catchers (2) — Kyle Farmer and Bobby Wilson

Starting Pitchers (5) — Brock Stewart, Trevor Oaks, Josh Sborz, Fabio Castillo and Andrew Thurman

Bullpen (7) — Jacob Rhame, Adam Liberatore, Josh Fields, Steve Geltz, Josh Ravin, Joe Broussard and Ralston Cash

Bubble (10) — Madison Younginer, Patrick Schuster, Kyle Grana, Edward Paredes, Layne Somsen, Ike Davis, Henry Ramos, Jack Murphy, Stetson Allie and Drew Maggi

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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Dodgers Starting Rotation: How Can Alex Wood Secure a 25-Man Roster Spot?

On Tuesday, just moments after we began a pessimistic discussion about the state of the Dodgers prospective rotation, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu took the bump against the Brewers and fired four solid innings of one-hit, shutout ball, making a clear argument for himself to be considered among the starting pitching crew when Opening Day rolls around on April 3.

This is fantastic news for Ryu, who fell off the radar the past two seasons due to his problematic shoulder. After missing all of 2015 recovering from surgery, he was initially scheduled to return during 2016 spring camp, but his shoulder never mended properly. Following numerous unsuccessful throwing programs, he finally began to throw hard late last summer and surprisingly made a big league start against the Padres on July 7, when he surrendered six runs on eight hits and two walks in 4-2/3 innings pitched.

Elbow soreness not long after his return to the mound ultimately led to an arthroscopic debridement procedure, which would eventually shut him down for the remainder of the 2016 season.

Notwithstanding, during 2017 Cactus League play, the 29-year-old native of South Korea has thrown nine full innings over three appearances, surrendering only five hits and one earned run while striking out a total of eight opposing batters. Many pundits believe that if Ryu remains healthy over the next 10 days, he’s a lock to secure a starting rotation spot, supplanting fellow southpaw Alex Wood, who could be destined for Triple-A Oklahoma City to remain on call in case of a big league injury.

At the beginning of spring training in 2016, Wood was right on the fringe of the starting rotation, often being discussed as the headliner at OKC, up until the point it was deemed that Ryu would remain on the shelf, and when team officials announced that Brett Anderson required surgery on his back to repair a damaged disc. Starting the 2016 season as the Dodgers’ No. 4 starter, Wood would go on to make 10 mediocre starts through May, before he was forced to the disabled list to rest his elbow for a month because of an apparent posterior impingement. Ultimately, he underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his elbow and missed an additional eight weeks. Although it appeared as if his season was finished, the 26-year-old Charlotte native persevered through rehab and went on to make four impressive relief appearances of shutout ball down the stretch of the regular season, eventually earning a spot on the NLCS roster against the Cubs in October.

If he’s 100 percent healthy and his mechanics are in tune, there’s no question that he’s among the best five in the Dodgers’ organization. However, injuries have been Wood’s downfall in his two years with Los Angeles after he made an impressive 30 or more starts during his first three years with the Braves.

So far this spring, Wood appears to be in good health, having pitched in a total of four contests, two of which were starts. Over 11-1/3 innings, he has surrendered four earned runs on nine hits, alongside two walks and 11 strikeouts.

If Ryu stays on his current pace and indeed earns a spot in the Dodgers’ starting five, it seemingly vaults Wood into a competition with veteran righty Brandon McCarthy for the final spot in the rotation. McCarthy has also had his own fare share of struggles in his quest of battling back from Tommy John surgery in 2015.

Yet because Wood has plenty of options remaining on his contract, he may be the odd man out. Since he has already proven himself to throw effectively in relief, though, Wood could be an option in the bullpen, especially if the Dodgers decide to begin the season with an eight-man relief corps. But keeping in mind the injury pedigrees of Rich Hill, Ryu and McCarthy, it may make more sense to have Wood stretched out as a starter, waiting for the phone to ring at Oklahoma City when a need arises on the big league roster.

As far as controlling his own destiny, it probably matters little. Just where exactly he fits into the Dodgers’ puzzle probably depends only slightly on how well he throws through the remainder of the spring, but more importantly, how the pitching staff shapes up as a whole on the injury front over the next 10 days.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

All of a Sudden, the Dodgers Starting Rotation Doesn’t Seem So Deep

For many fans of the Dodgers, it’s beginning to become an annual occurrence — overwhelming optimism about a stacked rotation in the winter, eventually turning into genuine concern about the prospective starting pitching crew as Opening Day draws near. What was once a highly talented staff extending to the rafters at Triple-A Oklahoma City now has a few gray areas even at the big league level.

But there’s no reason to panic just yet. There may be enough arms to go around and provide adequate cover, even if youngsters Julio Urias and Ross Stripling aren’t yet stretched out properly to make a possible emergency start or two, if the need should arise.

The good news is that resident ace Clayton Kershaw appears to be fully healthy and throwing well. And Kenta Maeda, who supposedly took a substantial pay cut because of medical issues when signing two winters ago, is poised to once again be a rotation stalwart and exceed the 30-start mark. What’s more, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu may have finally found his mojo, boxing up his injury history and burying it in the past. Then there’s this 23-year-old sinkerball prospect named Trevor Oaks who impresses pundits with each appearance he makes, while continuing to climb the organizational ladder at a very rapid pace.

The bad news is that Brock Stewart, who was presumably in the competition for a rotation spot early in spring training, is still shut down with shoulder soreness and will likely need to re-establish his arm strength from square one. Scott Kazmir has apparently lost a ton of velocity and has been relegated to bullpen sessions to work on his mechanics. And just yesterday, Brandon McCarthy, who conceivably lines up as the No. 4 starter in the current projected rotation, has requested to appear in a minor league game in his next turn to facilitate his chances of getting through five full innings of work.

In addition to McCarthy’s previous health woes, because of his own injury history, veteran lefty Rich Hill hasn’t made more than 20 appearances in a season since he was a middle reliever with the Indians in 2013. The same can be said lately for southpaw Alex Wood, who only made 14 starts last year after logging 20 or more per season in his first three big league campaigns with the Braves. One can hope for good fortune, but the chances for several instances of impairment to occur between the three over the next seven months could be relatively high.

As it stands now, barring injury, the Dodgers are likely to run out Kersh, Maeda, Hill, McCarthy and Wood, in that order. If one of those five is unable to go, Ryu probably gets the early nod, otherwise staying back at Glendale or starting the year on a shortened minor league assignment. Subsequently, if there is any further sign of poor health, the team probably will begin to stretch out Urías and Stripling, or even temporarily bump Oaks into the 40-man to make a spot start. Indications were that Urías would begin the year in extended spring training, but surely such a plan would be deviated if there was indeed a pressing need. All that being said, and as negative as it sounds, it’s still very much manageable.

In the meantime, fans of the Dodgers everywhere, in addition to the Los Angeles management crew and training staff, will keep their fingers crossed in hopes of the club maintaining good health through the remainder of the Cactus League schedule.

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In other injury news, an MRI administered on Monday showed a mild disc herniation for veteran outfielder Andre Ethier. After being given an epidural, Ethier will be shut down for a period of 7-10 days. Manager Dave Roberts didn’t want to close the door on Ethier making the Opening Day roster, but indicated that “It’s going to be tough.”

Ethier’s absence would presumably create a roster opportunity for Andrew Toles, who could conceivably slide into a platoon scenario in left field with the right-handed hitting Franklin Gutierrez.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

Dodgers Bullpen: Ross Stripling’s 25-Man Roster Chances Are Improving

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(Mandatory Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

While quite a number of spots on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster are presumably set in stone, the bullpen is still a complex gray area that’s loaded with plenty of question marks. Yet after the dust finally settles at the end of March, versatile righty Ross Stripling may have found a spot among the big league relief corps.

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Dodgers Roster: Putting Together an Outfield at Oklahoma City

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Even though there’s plenty of time left in spring training for the landscape of the big league outfield to change, it’s still not difficult to make an educated guess regarding the outfield crew at Oklahoma City, as the Dodgers‘ surplus of young talent has now created a very crowded locker room at even the Triple-A level.

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Dodgers Injury Notes: Corey Seager, Andre Ethier, Pedro Baez & More

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

While last week’s injury report brought on a bit of concern from many fans of the Dodgers, the outlook for this week is much better, as the two-week mark before the season opener is quickly approaching and the projected 25-man roster becomes a bit more defined.

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Dodgers Roster: Is an 8-Man Bullpen the Best Route to Success?

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(Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

As many media outlets of the Dodgers have already ventured some sort of guess regarding the Opening Day 25-man roster, most are in agreement that there’s a good chance the club elects to carry a traditional seven-man bullpen to begin the season. But although there haven’t been many hints by management in terms of a preferred direction, an eight-man relief corps is certainly still in the realm of possibility.

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How Does Dodgers’ Starting Rotation Stack Up to Others Around Baseball?

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(Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As a whole, quite a few factors will determine how the starting rotation of the Dodgers compares to those of others around baseball as the 2017 campaign progresses. First and foremost, good health is particularly critical, while overall stamina and endurance will also play key roles in the team’s prosperity. The presence of resident ace Clayton Kershaw probably warrants a Top 20 MLB ranking in itself, yet without the luxury of a true No. 2 starter, the Dodgers slide somewhere right in the middle of the Top 10, at least in the eyes of most informed fans.

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Dodgers Starting Rotation: Progressions, More Predictions & Other Random Notes

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(Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

With the arrival of Opening Day now hovering right around the three week mark, much of the fan focus has steadied on the prospective starting rotation of the Dodgers, as each passing day seemingly has one small happening or event which somehow affects the future makeup of the pitching staff.

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Dodgers Prospects: A Closer Look at Will Smith

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(MiLB.com Photo)

As spring training games for minor league affiliates of the Dodgers are slated to begin on Monday, we thought it would be an opportune time to scatter in a few more profiles of some of the best prospects on the organization’s farm. Today, we turn our attention to 21-year-old Will Smith, who many pundits believe to have the highest ceiling of all the catchers in the entire system.

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