Dodgers leave prospect Jordan Sheffield off 40-man roster
The Dodgers set their 40-man roster on November 20. They added three prospects but chose to leave off 24-year-old pitching prospect Jordan Sheffield.
A year ago, he was representing the Dodgers at the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game. Now, he’s eligible to be taken from the team in the Rule 5 Draft in December.
Sheffield, the brother of Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Justus Sheffield, the prospect certainly has the pedigree in name and in his baseball past.
Since he started pitching professionally, he’s been in the LA’s farm system for four seasons. After starting 2019 in High-A with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Sheffield made it up to Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers for the first time in his career. Sheffield, a right-handed reliever out of Vanderbilt, did well for the Quakes this season, posting a 2.60 ERA across 15 games he pitched in. He went seven for eight in save chances with 26 strikeouts in 17.1 innings.
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Based on those numbers, it’s tough to see why LA could have let him go unprotected, but he did have 11 walks in those 15 games, something that would not translate well at the higher levels.
That proved to be the case in his stint with the Drillers. In Double-A, Sheffield pitched 37.2 innings in 34 games with a 3.58 ERA, striking out 48 while walking a hefty 32 batters. Limiting walks certainly seems to be a skill other wild pitchers have learned, but Sheffield has struggled to do so over his career in the minor leagues.
He began as a starting pitcher, and still has made starts in every season as a minor leaguer, but those numbers are waning. After having made 24 starts in 2017 and 17 in 2018, Sheffield made just two starts in 2019. He’s more of a closer/reliever now, and he certainly has the stuff to do so as he can get up into the high-90s with his fastball.
LA could look for relief help from internal sources, and they have for the last few years now dating back to Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen. But with Sheffield, maybe the walks were too problematic for a player that will turn 25 years old in June.
If Sheffield sticks in LA despite going unprotected, he is likely to continue to hone his craft in the minor leagues for another season, but if he can find a way to limit the walks, he could be called up as soon as September 2020.