It’s not very often you hear about a youngster in the Dodgers system who straightaway has the talent to succeed in the back-end of a minor league bullpen. More times than not, the Los Angeles management crew breeds most of its young arms as starters, then eventually converts them to relievers when a suitable door opens. However, there is one certain prospect in the organization, righty reliever Zach Pop, who may have the natural talent to climb the organizational ladder through the relief corps.
The 2017 season saw a handful of top prospects in the Dodgers organization merit promotions to the majors, most specifically when the player roster expanded in early September. Names such as Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo and Kyle Farmer were the headliners, and deservedly earned opportunities to showcase their skills in front of the big league management crew and millions of fans. However, there’s one particular prospect, utility man Tim Locastro, who may have a better shot at making the upcoming 25-man major league roster more than any of the other youngsters.
As most Triple-A rosters normally don’t start taking shape until later in the spring when the big league squads become firm, it’s probably a bit too early to take a stab at guessing Oklahoma City‘s 2018 Opening Day starting pitching rotation. However, with the departure of veterans Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir last weekend, the major league rotation is developing earlier than usual, giving us at least some kind of idea as to how most of the system’s starting pitchers fit onto the organizational ladder.
While the Dodgers left the 2017 Winter Meetings with only a consolation prize of a mid-level infield prospect, many fans have taken to social media to express their respective concerns heading into 2018, especially in the area of the bullpen. It took several years for the team to finally find a competent setup man in Brandon Morrow, yet the veteran righty was able to walk away from Los Angeles and land a lucrative deal with the Cubs for the next several seasons. Andrew Friedman and his troops seem fairly confident in the internal relief options heading into 2018 spring training, but questions loom as to whether the impending bullpen will be talented enough to help guide the squad into next season’s playoff picture.
As strong and as deep as the Dodgers‘ farm system is considered, there are a few spots, however, which may be little light on talent. Second base sticks out the most, but the system also lacks a solid third baseman who has both a capable bat and an impressive glove. Sure, there are guys like Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, Rob Segedin and the ever-versatile Kyle Farmer, but the absence of outstanding defensive ability may be the biggest factor in keeping players like these from thriving at the big league level.
For those of you who check out our content daily, you’ll know that we do our best to drift down to the Dodgers‘ farm occasionally and provide coverage of one of the most elite systems in minor league baseball. A few weeks ago, we took a look at the historic starting pitching rotation of the 2017 Double-A Tulsa Drillers. Today, we dip down one more level and reflect on the high-powered, Single-A Rancho Cucamonga offense from this past season.
Very rarely is an entire Double-A starting pitching rotation filled with players who have the potential of landing in the big leagues. Yet, the 2017 Tulsa Drillers had that type of talent and much, much more. After the promotion of several key members to Triple-A Oklahoma City, the organization brought in another handful of starters from High-A Rancho Cucamonga—a group who unbelievably may have had more talent than the original starting crew.
While there aren’t an overwhelming number of trade rumors surrounding the Dodgers as this winter’s hot stove approaches, there has been a bit of conjecture regarding catcher Yasmani Grandal and whether or not he’ll last the entire season in Los Angeles.
While many fans identify baseball’s Winter Meetings as a hotbed for trades and potential free agent signings, few realize that the event also features the annual Rule 5 Draft, which is held on the final day of the gathering.