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.
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.
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.
While many fans of the Dodgers have recently been mulling over the numerous roster transactions and watching the Boys in Blue hover around the .500 mark, it’s been business as usual down on the farm, where a handful of blue chippers are on the rise across several different levels of the organization.
Looking across the entire length of the Dodgers‘ farm system, it’s very difficult to find a consistently effective reliever, especially one at the lower levels of the organization. In spite of that, one golden arm which is already beginning to pay dividends is that of Shea Spitzbarth. During 2017 spring training, the 22-year-old native of Staten Island raised many eyebrows with his fine performances over the course of Cactus League play. So far during the regular season, the young righty has already amassed five saves for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga while posting a 0.96 ERA with 14 strikeouts over 9-1/3 innings of work.