With the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline almost at the two-week mark, much of the recent chatter in the Dodgers‘ camp has been about potentially acquiring help for the bullpen. Plenty of prospective additions have been tossed around the baseball blogosphere thus far, however, if the availability of some of the better relievers eventually dissipates, there may be a few options that the club could decide to utilize from within. And while much of the speculation has suggested the need for a left-handed pitcher, it just might be one of the righty kids on the farm who makes the biggest difference in the end.
The last time we checked on the progress of Dodgers‘ pitching prospect Walker Buehler, the young righty was coming off a successful return to the bump, having contributed to the postseason success of Low-A Great Lakes after missing more than a year recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Now that the regular season is quickly approaching its third week, we’re finding out a bit more on a daily basis about why a handful of players in the Dodgers‘ system mysteriously disappeared from their normal roster statuses during the early phases of the 2017 campaign.
The countdown is on — just two weeks until the Dodgers open up the season against the San Diego Padres. Clayton Kershaw will be the starter that day, but on his last start he looked less than Kershaw-like. Kersh allowed three home runs, four runs total on six hits in five innings. He also had eight strikeouts and two walks.
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For those who are very familiar with the farm system of the Dodgers, they’ll know that there are three different tiers when categorizing the levels of starting pitching talent throughout the organization. The top tier, consisting of young, MLB-ready premium throwers like Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, sets the standard across baseball. The intermediate tier features names like Trevor Oaks, Chase De Jong, Carlos Frias and Scott Barlow — all pitchers considered to be right on the fringe, but could probably assume No. 5 big league spots for almost any team in the league. Then there’s the third tier, which is made up of future stars like Yadier Alvarez, Mitchell White, Josh Sborz, Imani Abdullah and Andrew Sopko. This lower tier puts an exclamation point on how strong and incredibly deep the Dodgers’ minor league system has actually become.