The Los Angeles Dodgers trotted out an awful lot of Triple-A stars in 2022, and very few of them worked out the way Andrew Friedman and Co. intended.
Clearly, there was a reason they were in that position in the first place, though. Their elevation came because their minor-league indicators hinted they were ready. The Dodgers believed in these players — and, if they’re made available in trade, you’ll find out the rest of the league does, too.
If LA’s looking to move on from this trio, they had better make sure they’re not cutting bait at the wrong time for convenience’s sake.
The Dodgers’ farm system appears to be at a bit of a crossroads at the moment. Capped by Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray for so long, Diego Cartaya’s contingent and the 2020-21 draftees are now rocketing up the board.
Has the system “thinned out”? Well, not so much; according to Baseball America, the Dodgers are still superior to nearly every club in terms of netting top-100 prospects. Last year was not a banner campaign for most of their upper-minors names, though.
2019 first-rounder Kody Hoese struggled again, never finding his footing with Double-A Tulsa and still searching for his power stroke. DJ Peters, once thought of as a top-20 prospect and potential fourth outfielder, somehow lost his roster spot and wound up on the Texas Rangers in the blink of an eye, where all former Dodgers go to … OK, fine, “die” is a little harsh, but …
Of course, the list of high-level disappointments might be topped by these three players, who still haven’t been able to survive the chasm between Triple-A pitching and big-league arms. We wouldn’t give up on them yet, but there are definitely some teams hoping the Dodgers do.
These 3 Dodgers could be “buy low” trade steals for someone else.
3. Zach McKinstry
After the 2020 season, Zach McKinstry was ranked by MLB Pipeline as a top-20 utility option for a Dodgers team that ended up with outfield openings earlier in the season than they surely planned to.
The versatile speedster made the Opening Day roster and played a good deal of left field in April before being sidelined with a right oblique issue for six weeks, just after getting acclimated.
Ultimately, McKinstry saw his role wane as the season dragged on, but he parlayed his first “full” season into 158 at-bats, a .215 average, seven bombs, a 77 OPS+, and -0.8 WAR, a stunning amount subtracted for such a small sample size.
McKinstry would’ve had a clearer path to playing in 2022 if he’d succeeded, of course, but also if Los Angeles had opted not to re-sign Chris Taylor — who is, of course, back on a four-year, $60 million. With pop, speed and versatility, there’s still a decent chance McKinstry turns into a sort of “Taylor Lite” from the left side of the plate, as he split reps during his debut season at right field, left field, second base and third base almost equally.
Theoretically, he also plays shortstop, but we haven’t seen it at the big-league level yet.
McKinstry’s one season shouldn’t be held against him, and his developing raw power, lateral quickness and arm strength at multiple positions would be valued by any MLB team for their 26th man role — if not more once he gets a real shot without his oblique taking him down a peg. The Dodgers should take great care not to inexplicably lose him like they did Peters ahead of schedule.