For as much as the big league club has been struggling with its offense so far this season, the Oklahoma City Dodgers have been making up for it with their own bats. The Triple-A crew is off to fine 5-1 record as a team, as they’re hitting a combined .306/.377/.447 through the first six games of the young campaign. Although the 19-run output against Round Rock earlier this week represents a big chunk of their production, they still have put 40 runs on the board so far, which translates to 6.67 runs scored per game—a very impressive number any way you look at it.
There’s no question that the Dodgers‘ big league, 25-man roster is structured to handle a short-term absence from just about any player on the squad. The team has relief pitchers who can start, starters who can relieve, outfielders who can play the infield, and even a utility man who can handle the catching duties. However, if another type of unfortunate, long-term injury occurs at any point during the season, the club may find themselves forced to dip into the minor league depths for added cover.
For those of you who are regular readers of this site, you know that we spend a lot of time covering the Dodgers‘ minor league affiliates, especially the Double-A Tulsa Drillers. And for those of you who tuned in frequently over the winter months, you know that we gave a lot of air time time to 21-year-old righty pitching prospect, Dennis Santana.
For those fans who watched Monday night’s contest against Arizona to the bitter end, they saw a little bit of everything from the Dodgers—sketchy starting pitching, some stellar relief pitching, some timely hitting, and another unimpressive appearance from one of the best closer in baseball.
With all the recent emphasis on the prospective Dodgers big league roster, I thought it would be worth investing a few minutes to start laying out some names to get an idea of what the Opening Day Triple-A squad might look like at Oklahoma City.
If you’re a regular visitor to this site and have the feeling that we talk about catching prospect Keibert Ruiz quite frequently, you would indeed be correct. At 19 years of age, the native of Venezuela earned his first trip to the Dodgers‘ big league spring camp this year, and it’s probably safe to say that he’s one of the Top 5 backstops in the entire organization.
Unlike several of his predecessors, Dodgers‘ boss Andrew Friedman is developing a reputation for giving his younger players opportunities to show their value on the highest stages. This spring, for example, the Los Angeles management crew invited a whopping 22 players who were not on the 40-man to take part in major league workouts at Camelback Ranch, elevating the number of participants on the big league side of camp to well over 60 players.
This year feels slightly different in one area for the Dodgers. In the last couple years, the Dodgers have had an excess of starting pitchers. Not necessarily pitchers that were top-of-the-line, but pitchers they thought maybe could help them throughout the year. They knew they had issues, and they were just hoping for the best. But this year there doesn’t seem to be a true excess of pitching waiting in the wings to step up if one or two pitchers happen to go down.
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.
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.