Dodgers: 3 unexpected standouts from LAD’s first spring games
By Adam Weinrib
Any Los Angeles Dodgers fan who hasn’t been utterly glued to the television or computer screen since spring training games commenced this weekend has to explain themselves.
But for those of you who may have had something come between you and unlimited consumption of Dodgers action, we’re here to help.
Because the team that has seemingly produced an endless assembly line of studs has unleashed a few more interesting characters on us after the first weekend of baseball.
And no, Trevor Bauer doesn’t count. Though he looked pretty worth the money.
Is it unfair to other teams that Los Angeles has cornered the market on faceless studs who can roll out of bed and hit .300 with 15-20 homers? What about lanky pitchers who emerge from the dark bullpen and immediately reveal they have the swing-and-miss stuff of a 28-year-old All-Star?
No, it’s actually perfectly fair. It’s fair to be better than all of your opponents. It’s great, actually.
These three new Dodgers have taken the first step towards making an impact in 2021 — they’ve captured our attention.
Will they become key 40-man pieces shuttled back and forth throughout the season? Will they emerge as in-house replacements for departed players, both this offseason and next? Who knows. For now, though, we’ve got our eyes on these three helium-packed risers.
These 3 Dodgers have performed especially well at spring training thus far.
3. Michael Grove
Were you aware of Grove, the Dodgers’ 18th-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, before this weekend’s action?
If you’ve tracked him in the past, you know that his rocky results haven’t matched his pedigree so far.
Selected in the second round out of West Virginia in 2018, Grove’s 2019 season at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga was an eyesore. He posted an erratic 1.55 WHIP, walking 19 men in 51.2 innings pitched alongside a 6.10 ERA. On the flip side, though, his 73 whiffs in such a limited timeframe left plenty of room for optimism.
Great stuff, unsightly .293 batting average against, and not much of a leg to stand on entering the unfortunately-timed 2020 shutdown.
Well, cut to ’21, and Grove is the man Dave Roberts went to in order to save the team’s first spring game of the year. He preserved a 2-1 win against the Oakland A’s with the type of effortlessly great 1-2-3, two-strikeout inning that early-March dreams are made of.
Perhaps I’m the idiot, but … how was this guy bad at any level in ’19?
Behind more polished collegiate arms like Bobby Miller and Clayton Beeter on the pecking order, we weren’t expecting to see anything spectacular out of Grove in 2021.
But with swing-and-miss stuff like this — and Roberts’ clear “trust” in a veritable high-leverage situation early on — it looks like Los Angeles has another create-a-player to deploy in the late innings sometime soon.