Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Dalton Rushing

While the Los Angeles Dodgers have had one of the league’s best overall farm systems for decades, their stronghold on blue-chip pitchers and catchers has been among baseball’s elite. There always seems to be at least a handful of pitchers and several catchers ranked in MLB’s Top 100, and there isn’t anything right now that suggests the trend will stop anytime soon.

Catcher is often one of those spots that’s highly challenging to draft and develop, but the Dodgers have done amazing job over the last several seasons with players like Will Smith, Hunter Feduccia, Carson Taylor, departed names like Keibert Ruiz and Connor Wong, and most recently, Diego Cartaya, who sits atop the organization’s overall prospect list.

Despite all this talent, Los Angeles selected another blue-chip backstop in Dalton Rushing in the 2022 draft. Although he has some significant work to do on defense, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder has already shown that he has the potential to be a juggernaut at the plate.

Louisville Catchers Galore

The irony with the 21-year-old lefty-hitting Rushing is that he attended the University of Louisville for three seasons before turning pro, the same school that produced Smith. Although Smith was about five years ahead of Rushing, they both had time to work together and chat during Rushing’s time as a Cardinal.

“Yeah, we’d spoken a few times before and I’d worked with him a little bit,” Rushing told Baseball America of his relationship with Smith. “Obviously, he knows everything. He’s one of the best catchers in baseball right now. Learning from a guy like him was something I really took pride in, and I was able to grow as a player going into my junior year.”

Last season, Rushing got his feet wet in the Arizona Rookie League for a few games, but he was quickly ushered to Low-A rancho Cucamonga, where he hit an insane .424/.539/.778 with 19 extra-base hits and an even more impressive 21 walks in just 128 plate appearances. At the end of the year, he was promoted to High-A Great Lakes just in time to join the team for the playoffs.

“We think he’s an extremely talented player,” said Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino upon drafting Rushing. “We love his strength; we love his athleticism. We thought he could hit with power and not chase outside the zone. We’re excited to get a left-hitting catcher with power.”

Looking Ahead to 2023

With Rushing’s perfect build for a backstop, the Dodgers remain committed to developing the Memphis native at catcher, although he spent some time as a first baseman at Louisville. While his arm strength and release are decent, he still needs to develop his ball handling skills, which he thinks will come by getting to know his fellow battery mates better.

“Creating bonds with my pitchers [is the key],” Rushing added in the Baseball America interview. “I’m not worried about my throwing. My biggest thing is I want to create a relationship with every single arm that’s coming out of the bullpen [and] every arm stepping on the bump to start the game. I think that’s what really sticks out as a catcher. That’s what separates good from the great — being able to work with every single guy and knowing how to talk to them.”

Although they’re both nearly the same age, Cartaya is currently light years ahead of Rushing on the MLB depth chart. While there’s a good chance Rushing starts his 2023 in High-A ball, there might be chance he earns his way to Double-A Tulsa by the end of the season, particularly if he shows more maturity on the defensive side of things.

Dodgers Prospect Watch: What Lies Ahead for James Outman?

One of the biggest questions for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the 2023 season is the core structure of the outfield. Because we all know that front office boss Andrew Friedman and field skipper Dave Roberts prefer to have plenty of moving pieces, there could be more uncertainty heading into this season than usual as far as the regular playing time goes.

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Merry Christmas from Think Blue Planning Committee

Happy Holidays to our loyal readers!

I should start by saying that I didn’t expect to be writing after the 2022 season. Nothing because of what happened with the Dodgers over the course of the year, but rather my own personal schedule and priorities. Writing full time professionally during the last two years has left me with little mental energy for creating content in my spare time, even if it’s about my favorite sport and team.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: James Outman Still Shining at Triple-A Oklahoma City

As fast as the James Outman craze captured the hearts of Dodgers fans in early August, it quickly drifted into the sunset once some of the club’s more experienced players began getting healthy.

While you could probably say that Chris Taylor’s return had a direct impact on Outman’s demotion, the acquisition of the lefty-hitting Joey Gallo almost ensured that Outman probably won’t be recalled for the remainder of 2022.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Michael Busch Still Producing at Triple-A Oklahoma City

Until recently, the last week of August was a time when we’d anticipate a handful of prospects joining the major league team to get their feet wet and see how they react to playing at the highest possible level.

However, with the most recent roster rule changes, teams only expand to 28 players on September 1 through the end of the regular season, limiting teams significantly on their additions over previous seasons.

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2022 MLB Draft: Dodgers Announce Day 2 Selections

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced their eight selections from the second day of the 2022 Draft on Monday afternoon, picking University of Central Florida shortstop Alex Freeland (third round, 105th pick), Virginia Tech outfielder Nick Biddison (fourth round, 135th pick), Arizona State University infielder Sean McLain (fifth round, 165th pick), P27 Academy shortstop Logan Wagner (sixth round, 195th pick), St. Mary’s College infielder Christopher Campos (seventh round, 225th pick), Louisiana Tech second baseman Taylor Young (eighth round, 255th pick), University of Virginia left-handed pitcher Brandon Neeck (ninth round, 285th pick), and Westmount College catcher Simon Reid (tenth round, 315th pick).

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Michael Busch Emerging at Triple-A Oklahoma City

While some players in the Dodgers system like Diego Cartaya, Miguel Vargas and Bobby Miller have been stealing the latest prospect spotlight for the upcoming Futures Game, Michael Busch has been chugging along in the shadows, climbing his way to the top of the prospect totem pole.

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Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller and Miguel Vargas Selected to Participate in MLB Futures Game

Three of the organization’s highest-ranking prospects will be making their Dodger Stadium debuts much sooner than anticipated.

Although Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller and Miguel Vargas won’t be competing at the major league level, they’ll be representing the Dodgers in the MLB Futures Game on July 16 as part of this year’s All-Star extravaganza.

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