Dodgers Lineups: Looking at One Possible Batting Order at Triple-A Oklahoma City

Cactus League play is is full session, and all the attention is on the performance of the big league Dodgers. But while there are indeed quite a bit of farmhands suiting up on the major league side of camp, the official reporting date for the minor league affiliates isn’t until March 7.

As for the Triple-A group in 2018, the fellas at Oklahoma City will undoubtedly possess some of the best player talent in the Pacific Coast League, if the big league crew stays relatively healthy for most of the campaign.

With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to step away from the big league grind just a moment to have a look at some of the talent on the OKC roster. This much depth will undeniably pose a challenge for skipper Bill Haselman and his crew when conjuring a daily lineup rotation. There’s a handful of consequences that will dictate at which level of the organization some of the players begin their respective campaigns, but here’s one lineup that could garner a fair amount of credibility:

  1. Alex Verdugo—CF
  2. Tim Locastro—SS
  3. Rob Segedin—3B
  4. Edwin Rios—1B
  5. Henry Ramos—RF
  6. Matt Beaty—LF
  7. Kyle Farmer—C
  8. Jake Peter—2B
  9. Brock Stewart—P

There are unquestionably a fair amount of notes surrounding this particular lineup. First, Walker Buehler could very well be the Opening Day pitcher at OKC, but many believe he’ll be on an innings limit, and the thought of that led us to giving the nod to Stewart. Consequently, there’s a good chance Will Smith begins the year at Oklahoma City, and he’ll probably garner plenty of time behind the dish. Yet with all the infield talent available, it’s going to be hard to squeeze Kyle Farmer into any action at the hot corner.

Speaking of infield versatility, we have Max Muncy pegged as the super-utility guy, as fringe players like Tim Locastro and Jake Peter will need as many looks as they can possibly get from the scouting directors. Our early 25-man roster projections had both of these players in the running for big league roster spots, but the venerable Chase Utley spoiled the chances of that happening, at least at the beginning of the year.

The outfield is overloaded with talent. Again, because of all the infield depth, we bumped Matt Beaty into left field, in turn likely stealing playing time away from Jacob Scavuzzo or Travis Taijeron. And there’s no telling where Andrew Toles ends up to begin the campaign—many pundits see the chances of him making the Opening Day big league roster right around 50/50, so long as Matt Kemp is still in the picture. Plus, with Trayce Thompson out of options, he’ll need to clear waivers in order to return to OKC—if he isn’t retained by the major league Dodgers.

Just taking a step back and looking at both the big league and Triple-A potential lineups creates a huge level of excitement for fans of the Dodgers everywhere. The amount of promise that the organization has at both levels is absolutely immense.

And that’s not even mentioning anything about the pitching staff or all the talent at Double-A Tulsa.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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Dodgers 25-Man Roster: Putting Together a Functioning Outfield

The 2018 Cactus League schedule hasn’t even started yet and already I’ve changed my mind at least twice about which players will make up the Dodgers‘ 2018 Opening Day roster.

Admittedly, when the big trade with the Braves went down not long before Christmas, I was thinking to myself that there was no way Matt Kemp would make the Los Angeles 25-man roster. As a matter of fact, just a few days after the deal, I wrote a story about how Rob Segedin would make a better choice than Kemp. At the time, the general consensus was that Kemp would be immediately flipped to another club, even if the return was minimal for the Dodgers.

Yet, as the winter progressed, Kemp seemed to be settling in. Several of his teammates, most specifically Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, were campaigning in some shape or form for him to stay. Kemp was working hard, as made evident by his weight loss and physical condition. For all intents and purposes, he was busting his tail to earn a spot on the team.

Defense aside, the guy can still hit. He tallied 19 long balls last year, despite an injury riddled campaign. And if we drift back to the 2016 season when he was healthy, the Oklahoma native blasted 39 doubles, 35 homers and 108 RBI. On top of that, he’s been notoriously successful against southpaw pitching throughout his career, having logged a lifetime .319/.380/.542 slash line. And, he still has somewhat of a decent arm, although it’s a far cry from the throwing ability he had several years back when he was right up there with some of the best guns in the game.

So if the Dodgers were going to pay him more than $20 million anyway, why not give him a chance? Besides, if he were able to produce, there are several other players in the picture who have options to create some space. In my mind, it made sense from a couple different perspectives.

Not long after players reported to Camelback for spring camp, my dangerous mind got to thinking again. I’m now thinking a Kemp inclusion would clearly disrupt the foundation of the squad which journeyed to Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a huge Kemp fan, and I also believe that team chemistry is one of those things which is built over the full course of a season. But the more I put together prospective lineups for the upcoming year, the more I’m convinced Kemp’s presence would throw the club’s functionality out of whack—and that’s not even taking into consideration is supposed attitude adjustment.

The biggest reason for this is the prospective lineups against left-handed pitching. The important thing to remember is that the Dodgers will be facing a southpaw starter about 33% of the time, as righty starters in the MLB roughly outnumber lefties at a two to one ratio. So with an opposing lefty on the bump, we presumably have Chris Taylor in center field—because Logan Forsythe is absolutely going to be in the lineup, being the southpaw killer he is. And despite his reverse-split tendencies last season, Yasiel Puig will start most of the time in right. This scenario still allows room for Kemp in left field, however, we need to make room for Enrique Hernandez.

According to some, Kemp is still a better offensive option than Hernandez, but if Kiké is going to be on the roster—and he will—he’s going to be in the lineup against a lefty starter. Sure, he could conceivably spell Corey Seager at short, but the times that Seager warrants a rest will be few and far between. The same can be said with Turner at third base, despite his own apparent reverse splits. Therefore, the most logical starting spot for Hernadez is left field. And there’s no way a roster spot battle comes down to Hernandez vs. Kemp—Hernandez is just too versatile in terms of positioning, plus he has a much better glove.

Furthermore, it would be almost impossible to carry both players, especially when considering Chase Utley‘s apparent limitations. Couple that with the probability that the club goes with an eight-man bullpen to begin the year, and the logical reasoning for keeping Kemp just isn’t there. And to have him solely as a right-handed bat of the bench doesn’t make sense at all.

Moreover, against righty pitching, there still isn’t much space for Kemp, mainly because one of Joc Pederson or Andrew Toles will be seeing the lion’s share of time in left field, so long as they are healthy and producing. And with Utley being around to spell Forsythe at second, Taylor stays put in center while Puig stays in right, as both have the ability to impressively handle right-handed pitching.

All that said, I’m going to set my preferred outfield with Puig, Taylor and Pederson as the primary contributors, in addition to having Hernandez in there as the specialist against lefty pitching and Tolesy filling the secondary role of providing cover in all three spots. If Toles is indeed ready to go, by no means does it make sense to carry Kemp over him, even if Toles has options on his contract. Toles can cover all three spots, he has a better arm, he’s quicker, has superior range, and may not be far behind Kemp’s ability to produce at the dish.

For what it’s worth, that’s the way I see it—at least until I change my mind again next week.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

Dodgers 2018 Roster: Where Exactly Does Wilmer Font Fit In?

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(Mandatory Credit: Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers)

With most of the core players returning from last season, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of speculation surroundinging the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster heading into Opening Day. However, there are several spots—most specifically, one outfield spot and a few utility spots on the pitching staff and the bench—which could conceivably be won or lost over the course of the 2018 Cactus League schedule.

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Dodgers Finally Make Chase Utley Deal Official

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(Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Although it took several days to finalize the entire deal, the Dodgers officially announced the signing of veteran Chase Utley on Saturday morning.

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Making Sense of the Tim Lincecum Rumors

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(Mandatory Credit: Matt York/AP)

In case you haven’t heard the most recent rumblings, the Dodgers had representatives in Seattle today to view a showcase of righty pitcher Tim Lincecum, who sat out all of the 2017 season after his attempted comeback in 2016 essentially failed.

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More Thoughts on Dodgers’ Prospective Opening Day Roster

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(Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports)

The moment that fans of the Dodgers have been waiting for all winter has finally arrived. Even though there normally isn’t much news surrounding the first reporting day, pitchers and catchers are indeed in the house.

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Digging Deeper into the Dodgers’ Minor League Bullpen Depth

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(Mandatory Credit: Jerry Espinoza)

In case you missed it earlier in the week, on Tuesday we put together a concise profile surrounding righty reliever Shea Spitzbarth, and offered up a bit of insight as to what may be in store for the 23-year old in 2018. Along those same lines, we thought it would be worth mentioning a few other pitchers who will likely provide quality relief on the farm this year, and briefly discuss how exactly they may fit into the landscape of the organization.

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Dodgers Prospects: Ranking the Top 4 Pure Hitters on the Farm

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

Continuing along the same lines as yesterday’s post, we thought it would be fun to put together another subjective-type of story during a time when the news surrounding the Dodgers is very quiet.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Shea Spitzbarth Still Rising

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Over the winter, the big league bullpen of the Dodgers has been one of the few areas of the roster which has been receiving a high amount of scrutiny. Aside from All-World closer Kenley Jansen, many of the roles are still undefined, as everyone will be jockeying for key spots during Cactus League play and the first few weeks of the regular season.

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Dodgers 2018 Spring Training: 5 Things to Watch Before Cactus League Play Begins

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

As the spring training reporting dates for players are drawing ever so near, there haven’t been a typically high number of story lines surrounding the Dodgers so far, outside of a few potentially tight positional battles at catcher and left field. Many people don’t expect much to happen during the time between the first squad workout on February 19 and the Cactus League opener against the White Sox on February 23, but we made a list of five things to look for during the early days of camp, which could impact the landscape of the squad come Opening Day.

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