Youth Shines Bright for Dodgers This Spring


The kids have put on quite the show in the first four Spring Training games for the Dodgers in Arizona. Spring story lines written about Joc Pederson’s ability to transition to the majors offensively and Alex Guerrero‘s goal of finding a place on the Opening Day roster have segued into offensively dynamic recaps after both Joc and Alex have impressed in their Cactus League play thus far.

Joc Pederson, who will certainly open the season as the Dodgers starting center fielder in my opinion, has started off scorching hot this Spring. The Dodgers lost the Cactus League opener on Wednesday to the White Sox, but the young outfielder collected two hits and a run which immediately silenced anyone questioning his less than impressive cup of coffee last September which left fans wondering whether Joc could hit at the major league level. He can.

Mar 4, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe (right) jokes with outfielder Joc Pederson during player introductions against the Chicago White Sox during a spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers beat the White Sox on Thursday, and Pederson helped the cause with another hit and another run. During split squad work on Friday, Pederson continued to make waves while picking up another two hits and 2 runs. Pederson is now hitting .714 this Spring with 5 hits. Not too shabby.

Pederson knows that his hot streak doesn’t necessarily guarantee a starting role for 2015.

"“That’s out of my control,” Pederson said. “I like to focus on the process and the stuff I can control. Whatever happens is going to happen, but all I can do is prepare myself best to be able to perform and help the team win.”"

Even though Joc’s blazing hot start to Spring Training may not come close to Yasiel Puig‘s epic Spring Training of 2013 when he hit .517 with 30 hits over 27 games, Joc’s looking really good nonetheless. It makes me start to miss Matt Kemp a little less.

Guerrero is not exactly the youngest at 28, but he has really made an impression over the first three games he has played in so far this Spring. The Dodgers have to find a spot for Alex Guerrero, because he does not want to take a minor league assignment. While some have questioned Guerrero’s ability to play defense, his Spring start has been equally as impressive as Joc. Guerrero also had two hits during the first game of Spring Training while playing third base, and he had another hit and a run on Thursday. Against Seattle on Friday, Guerrero played third base again and picked up yet another 2 runs including a two-run homerun bringing his average up to .714 going tit for tat with Pederson.

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Guerrero played third base twice in three days (he was the designated hitter in Thursday’s game). He will play left field in reserve on Saturday. I already wrote about how Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have been impressed with Guerrero’s defense so far at third base. So far, Alex is making quite the case to land on the team as a utility infielder and perhaps even an eventual replacement of Juan Uribe at third base. Don’t get me wrong, no one can replace Uribe at the hot corner, but the Dodgers don’t have anyone in the pipeline for third since they plan on sticking with Corey Seager at shortstop.

"“[A fast start] is very important. There is a very short window to make the team,” Guerrero said. “I’ve prepared a lot in the offseason, so I have to jump right in with a short time to prove myself. Mentally I’m confident, I’m relaxed, so that’s a difference too.”"

Pederson and Guerrero are not the only youth making strides for the Dodgers this Spring so far. O’Koyea Dickson, the 25-year old first baseman born in San Francisco, homered in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s opener, and he also had a RBI double on Thursday. Dickson showed off his power once again on Friday in the bottom of the seventh versus Seattle when he smashed his second homerun of the Spring. Kyle Jensen homered against Michael Ynoa on Thursday, and Scott Schebler hit a RBI double in the same game as well. Darnell Sweeney also hit a homerun against Milwaukee in the seventh inning on Friday.

Julio Urias took the mound for the Dodgers on Friday in his first Cactus League game since last Spring. The Dodgers clobbered the Brewers in Maryvale 10-1, and Dodger pitching combined to no-hit Milwaukee into the seventh inning. Julio Urias finally showed that he is human in his relief appearance. He walked three batters over 1 2/3 innings of work, but he also struck out two and picked off a runner.

Although the young players have been putting on an exciting show, A.J. Ellis had something to say about that when he hit a three-run homerun on Friday against Matt Garza. Even though the Spring is still young (it’s not even technically spring yet), quite a few Dodgers both new and old are making me very excited for 2015.