Dodgers Spring Training Notes: Gavin Lux, Clayton Kershaw, Zach McKinstry, and More

We are now four weeks away from Opening Day, which this year will be Thursday, April 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers will start their quest to repeat as Champions against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

So far in this young Spring Training schedule the Dodgers have played four games, and have a record of 2-0-2. Every regular position player has seen some time so far, and the majority of pitchers have also seen some action.

This season has been seen as a make-or-break type season for Gavin Lux. The team and fans alike had hoped that he would contribute more to the team in the past two seasons, but that had not come to fruition.

However, coming into camp this season, second base is seen as Lux’s to lose. So far, Gavin has impressed. Manager Dave Roberts, who has said that mechanically, Lux is in “a considerably better place than he was at this year last time.” Roberts also stated that “I see him getting a good runway regularly. What that means I think there’s room for conversation. But him against a lefty, I don’t think we’re too concerned about that.”

Lux is 2-for-3 so far this spring in three plate appearances with an RBI. He seems to be attacking pitching and looks much more comfortable at the plate.

On the pitching side of things, Clayton Kershaw is the only regular starting pitcher yet to appear in a Cactus League game. He is slated to start in Friday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. Kershaw threw a bullpen on Tuesday and could also perhaps just throw another bullpen on Friday. If in the game, he will throw for two innings.

Jimmy Nelson will start Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, followed at some point by Blake Treinen, Ryan Pepiot, Victor Gonzalez, Josiah Gray, and Edwin Uceta. Trevor Bauer will pitch again on Saturday.

Some young arms have impressed in camp so far. In Wednesday’s game, both Bobby Miller and Landon Knack showcased their stuff. Miller, the Dodgers’ number seven prospect, needed only six pitches to get though his inning. He was a little wild, hitting a batter, but got a ground-ball double play immediately to get himself out of trouble. Knack looked sharp to start, but ended up surrendering a two-run homer. Still, this is his first professional action after having been drafted by the Dodgers in 2020.

Zach McKinstry is still playing all over the field, and is starting again in tonight’s game. The Dodgers are definitely putting him into multiple scenarios to get him used to what his season probably will be.

Thursday’s lineup vs. Cubs:

James Outman is another who has impressed in camp. He made a fantastic diving catch in centerfield in Wednesday’s game and has looked pretty solid at the plate so far.

Once again the Dodgers have incredible depth, and it’s going to be fun watching these guys battle it out to see who will make the roster at the end of camp.

Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keeping an Eye on Edwin Uceta

As a follower of the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most exciting aspects of Cactus League play has always been watching the system’s top prospects compete, particularly the pitchers. The 2021 opener was especially interesting because we saw three of the organization’s most talented young arms in Michael Grove, Andre Jackson, and Edwin Uceta.

Grove, 24, is certainly the headliner of the trio, as he was a prized blue-chipper who was selected by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2018 MLB draft out of West Virginia. Jackson, also 24, lasted a bit longer in the 2017 draft, having been chosen by the Dodgers in the 12th round. The 23-year-old Uceta, on the other hand, was signed as an international free agent back in 2016 and has flown somewhat under the radar ever since.

Uceta was signed out of the Dominican Republic when he was just 16 years old in 2016, at which point he was quickly assigned to the Dominican Summer League. He finally arrived stateside for the first time in 2017, starting 14 games for Low-A Ogden in the Pioneer League, while posting a 6.59 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 14 walks over an even 56 innings.

2018 saw much better results for the lanky, 155-lb., 6-foot righty. Over 25 combined starts between Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho, he tallied a 5-6 record with a 3.89 ERA and 131 punchouts over 120-1/3 innings. Despite the mediocre numbers, scouts liked what they saw in the youngster so much that he made the Top 30 Prospect List of several different major outlets.

He posted superb numbers in 2019, going 11-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 24 starts and 123-1/3 innings of work (including two key playoff starts for Double-A Tulsa), opening the eyes of farm directors and garnering an invite to the big-league side of 2020 spring training.

According to Evan Petzold of milb.com, Uceta worked at a gas station in Villa Los Almacigos during his early teen years. The young Uceta eventually made a deal with the owner of the gas station. In exchange for his work, the owner paid for Uceta to go to school.

As a boy who often did not have food on this kitchen table, Uceta accepted the seven-hour-per-day job. He went to school like a normal child, until his uncle Mario Alberto encouraged him to pick up a baseball and pitch during his mid-teen years.

Now, he’s set to begin his 2021 campaign as one of the Dodgers’ most talented pitching prospects.

“I just feel so proud,” Uceta told Petzold during his time at Great Lakes. “I’ve been working really hard and making adjustments. It’s a new opportunity, and I have to keep getting better every day. Everybody can’t always stay on the prospect list, I have to keep doing it.”

Uceta possesses a more traditional repertoire, utilizing a fastball, a curve, a changeup, and a slider. His fastball sits in the low nineties, sometimes topping out as high as 95 MPH. His curve and slider are average offerings, but most scouts feel his change is definitely his out pitch.

According to MLB Pipeline, “Uceta began to take off once the Dodgers got him to stop throwing across his body and take a more direct path to the plate. His improved delivery has allowed him to command his pitches better, a necessity because he’s not overpowering. With a slender 6-foot frame, he’ll have to prove he’s capable of handling a starter’s workload over a full season.”

Before the pandemic restrictions went into effect last year, Uceta threw three scoreless innings over two Cactus League appearances.

Uceta will certainly get his fair share of looks this spring. Obviously, his size is a huge concern, but his performance during 2021 Cactus League play should be a big indicator of what the Dodgers have in him moving forward.

Walker Buehler Set for First Spring Start; Trevor Bauer and Kenley Jansen Impress

The Los Angeles Dodgers have seemingly started 2021 Cactus League play where they left off last October, although it is only just the beginning of Spring Training. Dodger pitching has only allowed one run, and quite frankly, the farm system promises an exciting future for fans, as a handful of prospects are already starting to shine.

Walker Buehler is set to make his first Spring Training start Tuesday against the Giants. Buehler is likely to pitch around two innings, as both Mike Kickham and Trevor Bauer who pitched the past two games pitched only two innings.

After the starters exit, it is followed by pitchers usually pitching one inning. Monday, in a 10-0 Dodger win over the Rockies in just six innings, Trevor Bauer made his Dodger debut, pitching two scoreless innings. Kenley Jansen threw one inning as well, striking out two batters. Both pitchers looked quite impressive in their respective Cactus League debuts.

Other pitchers making appearances on Monday were Tony Gonsolin, Victor Gonzalez, and Blake Treinen who looked great as well. This particular crew is just a small sign of the tremendous depth the Dodger have.

The Dodgers offense exploded for 10 runs against their divisional foes. DJ Peters got the run-scoring party started with a two-run homer in the second inning. Also adding RBI were Andy Burns, Luke Raley, and Will Smith.

Gavin Lux also made his Spring Training debut, going 2-for-3 while adding one RBI. Lux started at second base as the Dodgers were without Chris Taylor. Skipper Dave Roberts mentioned Taylor woke up with a stiff neck.

The Dodgers are hopeful to get Taylor into action on Wednesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Most presumptive regular-season starters have got into games so far, with Zach McKinstry and Peters being the only players to appear in both games.

In Tuesday’s contest, Buehler will face San Francisco’s Logan Webb. Webb in 2020 went 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA.

In eight starts last year, Buehler posted a 3.44 ERA over eight starts. Although he was bothered by blister problems for a good portion of the season, he still managed to be effective. Buehler also was highly effective in the postseason.

It will be fun to see Buehler take the mound since last October, even if it is only for two innings.

First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. Pacific time.

Who Will Be the Dodgers’ Super Utility Man in 2021?

The Los Angeles Dodgers played their first Spring Training game of the season yesterday, winning 2-1 over the Oakland Athletics. As of Monday, we are just one month from the beginning of the regular season.

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Dodgers Defeat Athletics in 2021 Cactus League Opener

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(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Designated hitter Matt Davidson homered, and shortstop Corey Seager added an RBI single, propelling the Los Angeles Dodgers to a narrow 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the 2021 Cactus League opener for both teams.

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What Impact Will Sheldon Neuse Have on Dodgers in 2021?

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(Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

While there’s no doubt that utilityman Sheldon Neuse will have some type of impact on the Los Angeles Dodgers organization this season, the biggest question surrounds at which level he will primarily contribute.

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Thoughts on Prospective Starting Rotation, Other Spring Training Notes

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We are now just days away from the first spring training game. With the start of games, the Dodgers will show an incredible depth of pitching arms throughout Cactus League play.

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Is This the Golden Age of the Dodgers?

As February draws to a close and the Los Angeles Dodgers inch closer to meaningful games in 2021, fans of the team are in a beautiful sweet spot.

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How Ryan Noda Could Potentially Impact Dodgers Moving Forward

Ryan-Noda
(Image credit: Blue Jays from Away)

For those who may have missed it on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that they have acquired first baseman/outfielder Ryan Noda as the final player to be named in the Ross Stripling trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Dodger Tickets Reselling at Ridiculous Prices, Other Spring Training Notes

With Dodger baseball soon returning, tickets have gone at a rapid pace, even though it’s just spring training. Last Friday, Cactus League tickets for the Dodgers went on sale and sold out in under two hours. Since there are only a limited number of tickets, it explains how fans are in a hurry to get them.

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