Dodgers Rookies like Joc Pedersen, Enrique Hernandez and Yimi Garcia were tremendous in 2015. Word from the Front Office consistently emphasizes young talent as the cornerstone of a successful franchise. Will Julio Urias or Jose De Leon make the cut, or another unknown? My predictions below.
Dodgers Rookies Regulars
Not much to say about this one. Corey Seager has been one of the top prospects in baseball since before he was drafted and his stock has only improved after a stellar September debut. He is the favorite for Rookie of the Year, and should be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. That said, don’t expect miracles. Rookies will always face adversity, and Seager will not be immune. How quickly he adjustswill determine whether he is a staple at the top of the order in 2016 or a regular at the bottom. Either way, the future is bright for the Dodgers so long as Seager is in it.
The Dodgers acquired Jose Peraza from the Braves last season. His speed, defensive versatility and contact skills mean he is ready for the MLB. If the Dodgers choose to let Kendrick go (And I think they should) Enrique Hernandez and Peraza will battle for the second base job while the loser takes on a super-utility role.
Sep 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Jose Peraza against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Right now, the only Dodgers starters are Clayton Kershaw, Brett Andersen and Alex Wood. Hyun Jin Ryu SHOULD be ready for opening day, but McCarthy will most definitely not, and whether the Dodgers add another starter is still to be seen. Right now, their fifth is Zach Lee. The Dodgers 2010 first round draft pick has largely disappointed, but has more upside than any other Dodger Rookie ready to start today. Whether he sticks, is a different question entirely.
Josh Ravin will start in the bullpen from opening day. His 98mph fastball has natural sinking action and generates lots of groundballs. His slider keeps batters off balance and at 85mph is nearly unhittable, generating strikeouts and popups. Mixing up these two A+ pitches on their own should make him effective enough, but if he can consistently use his changeup he will be a dominant force and could be the setup guy for the next few years.
The Ups and the Downs
Austin Barnes will require a little bit more creativity for the Dodgers to get him into the lineup, and he will likely start and spend much of the season in AAA-Oklahoma City. The young catcher for the Dodgers offers depth at a position where it is necessary, and can be used in the infield as well. If the Dodgers face a few injuries, his baby-face will get playing time, but expect him to be an immediate September call-up if that does not happen.
Sep 9, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Scott Schebler (30) runs the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Schebler IS Andre Ethier. There is no shame in this. Andre was a reliable and productive force for years before his current contract situation became a problem. So long as the Dodgers don’t decide to pay Schebler $20 million next season, he will be well worth the rookie contract. That said, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford are two left-handed bats that stand in his way so unless the Dodgers are willing to cut Crawford, I find it unlikely that Schebler will see time before September.
Ronald Torreyes is an infielder who can play Third, Short and Second. Unfortunately, he’s a right handed bat and ahead of him are a stable of versatile right-handed infielders including Justin Turner, Enrique Hernandez, Jose Peraza and Austin Barnes. Barring several injuries, he will not arrive until September, but when he is expect a consistent if not spectacular contact bat and glove who is as average as vanilla ice cream.
Lisalverto Bonilla was one of several players the Dodgers acquired who are coming off of Tommy John surgery. He should be available at the start of the season and could begin with the club. Since the Dodgers will sign at least one more starter he will be relegated to AAA to begin the year. If there are injuries or if he performs exceptionally, he could see time before September, but there are too many other players who will get the call ahead of him for that to be expected.
And the same could be said for Jose De Leon, the Dodgers prospect who made the most growth and advancement in 2015. The Dodgers could bring him up to bolster the bullpen early in the season, but they want him to develop into a Major League starter, so they will let him continue to develop in the Minor Leagues in 2016. But the kid is simply too good to be left there, so come September, they’ll bring him up to help bolster the bullpen down the stretch.
The last two names for Dodgers Rookies in 2016 are Jharel Cotton and Chris Andersen. Currently starters, neither project to be particularly talented at the major league level… ever. Considering that the Dodgers already have De Leon and Lee in the near future, Urias probably in 2017 and Walker Buehler down the road, this front office can and should abandon these kid’s dreams of starting in the show. They will start the year in AAA-Oklahoma City as relievers where they got a tryout last year. If they perform well, they will get a chance to show off for the Dodgers in September, and hopefully battle for a spot on the roster in 2017.
Yes yes yes, I left Julia Urias off this list of Dodgers Rookies. The dude is easily the #1 prospect in the Dodgers organization and projects to be a #1 or #2 starter in the MLB for years when he arrives. But the kid is just that, a kid. He is 19 years old and hasn’t even pitched 100 innings yet in any single season. Expect the Dodgers to be patient with this kid. I see no way in which he arrives in 2016, which he likely spends in Texas accumulating 150+ strikeouts in 120 or so innings. In 2017 they can bring him to Spring Training, let him spend most of the year in Oklahoma City and bring him up in September after throwing 150 or so innings and come 2018, they’ll have a young stud ready to actually pitch an entire season of baseball.