A baseball team’s ability to succeed during the season not only lies in its talent on the big league roster but also in its depth.
Year after year the Dodgers prove this concept by filtering in players from Triple-A on a regular basis. With spring training being the best place to assess that depth, here is a list of four players you should be looking at this spring.
Buehler was a no-brainer to be at the top of this list. He is the Dodgers’ top prospect and rightfully so. Buehler features a fastball that touches triple digits and one of the sharpest curveballs in the game. Buehler is a strikeout machine and is not far off from being a full-time major leaguer.
The reason I have Walker Buehler listed in the depth article is as follows:
At the end of last season, Buehler was used as a relief pitcher. The Dodgers wanted to use him in the big leagues and get him exposure to major league batting. They did that, and the result was not pretty. Buehler had an ERA of 7.71, and he almost gave up one run for every inning he pitched. But, lucky for Buehler, that result should have no bearing on this season. Buehler will start in the minors to get stretched out as a starter again, and until he gets called up, he is considered depth in my book.
Matt Beaty should honestly be a household name at this point. Last season he became the first Tulsa Driller to ever win the batting title, he won Double-A Player of the Year and broke into the Dodgers’ top 30 prospects. At 24 years old, Matt will probably start the season in Triple-A and should not be far away from making his debut.
At this point you may be asking yourself what does, Matt Beaty have to do with spring training? Well, I’ll tell you.
With a strong spring, Beaty can easily catapult himself to the fringe of a bench role with the big league club. His ability to make positive contact and ability to avoid strikeouts make him an intriguing candidate to be a go-to pinch hitter and spring training can provide hm with the platform to do so.
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I know what you are thinking: who? Zach Neal was signed by the Dodgers as a minor league free agent early in this offseason. Neal is a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher who has spent his entire career up to this point with the Oakland A’s (mostly in the minors).
Neal has an above average ability to force groundballs and is especially good against right-handed batters. In a division with right-handed hitters like Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen and Nolan Arenado, having a right-handed specialist may come in handy down the stretch.
If Zach Neal can prove he is better than his statistics show from his previous stints in the majors, there is no reason to think he will not be utilized this season. But, as with all the people on this list, he will need to prove it during spring games.
Part of me wants to put Locastro on the roster as the 25th man, and the other part of me says he is still not ready. Locastro, stole his way onto the major league roster last year (seriously, he was called up to steal bases) and he was successful in his limited role.
Tim would need to have an incredible spring to crack the roster right out of the gate, but regardless he would be the next man up if needed. I think Tim is the perfect example of someone to watch closely as he is knocking on the door of big leagues.
Last year in Triple-A, Locastro hit an impressive .388 in just over 100 at-bats. His ability to steal bases and beat out base hit should go a long way in his ability to make the roster at any point in the season.
The list of players in similar situations goes on for days. Spring training will be the place for all of those guys to showcase themselves and vie for a spot on the big league roster. But, even if they do not make it, these players will all serve as crucial depth to a team looking to make another deep run in the playoffs.