The Los Angeles Dodgers are usually vilified for using their resources to outspend teams to create rosters that win year in and year out.
The reality is that what the Dodgers have done in recent years was built far more seamlessly through the draft and player development.
Consider that during the 2020 MLB Playoffs, it was the Dodgers who led all teams in homegrown players with 14 on their roster who were developed by the organization.
Not only did they develop the most players, but they also imported the fewest from outside the organization (seven players).
2021 is looking like more of the same, as the free-agent losses of Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez means more opportunities for homegrown additions. One particular draft class has already provided the organization benefits, and it continues to be the “gift that keeps on giving.”
In the 2020 World Series, three 2016 draftees played or pitched for the Dodgers in some capacity: Will Smith (C), Dustin May (P), and Tony Gonsolin (P).
All three will continue to be key contributors in the Dodgers’ quest to repeat as World Series champs, but there are other 2016 draftees who are ready to step up as well.
Dodgers Class of 2016: Gavin Lux
Gavin Lux was the first pick for the Dodgers in the 2016 draft, and was looked upon as the Dodgers’ second basemen of the future in 2019.
Lux was effective enough in his 2019 debut he earned a roster spot for that year’s postseason, and hit a home run in his first playoff at-bat.
2020 was a different story, however. Lux never got going in the shortened season, and he found himself on the outside looking in as the Dodgers won their first World Series in 32 years.
Now in 2021, Lux will get a long look at second base, and it’s expected he could be a regular in the Dodgers lineup and will be given a chance to fulfill his promising talent.
Dodgers Class of 2016: Zach McKinstry
Get to know the name Zach McKinstry, because you might be hearing quite a lot about him in 2021.
A 33rd-round draft pick in 2016, McKinstry has proven to be another testament to the Dodgers’ developmental system.
McKinstry offers the Dodgers the kind of versatility that Hernnadez used to, and can play second, third, shortstop and the outfield. McKinstry will get a long look in spring training, with hopes that his bat will be just as useful as his glove.
If the 1,001st 2016 pick contributes this year, it will be another sign the Dodgers can grow — and not just buy — talent.
Dodgers Class of 2016: The Future
Mitchell White (P), DJ Peters (OF), and Luke Raley (OF) are 2016 draftees that are currently on the Dodgers active roster, but it’s likely Dodgers fans won’t see them until September — unless there are some injuries during the regular season and they get the call early.
Look for these three to contribute more down the line, but one never knows. Perhaps like the other 2016 draft class members, we may see them celebrating in October.