Dodgers prospects, non-roster invitees show up in spring training blowout vs Padres

Feb 22, 2024; Peoria, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Kevin Padlo (44) celebrates with
Feb 22, 2024; Peoria, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Kevin Padlo (44) celebrates with / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you were expecting fireworks at during the Los Angeles Dodgers' first spring training game against the San Diego Padres, breaking the months-long no-baseball drought, you wouldn't have been disappointed by Thursday's matchup.

The Dodgers came in hot with an eight-run top of the first, which first featured two ground-rule doubles from Teoscar Hernández and non-roster invitee Chris Owings, which sent Padres ace Joe Musgrove back to the dugout without retiring a single batter.

Then, a cascading failure of Padres pitching culminated in a Kevin Padlo (another NRI) home run that gave the Dodgers an astounding lead.

The lineup only featured a few names that non-die-hards would recognize — Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, James Outman, Teoscar Hernández, backup catcher Austin Barnes, and Gavin Lux. They were followed in the initial lineup by and handful of prospects and NRIs, then subbed out for more later in the game.

The final score, 14-1 in favor of the Dodgers, was in large part thanks to those prospects and NRIs. The aforementioned big leaguers recorded four hits among them, but the only run-scoring hit came from Hernández's two-run double. The other 12 runs were thanks to the team's hopefuls.

Dodgers prospects, non-roster invitees come up big in first Cactus League game against Padres

After the thrilling first inning, the Dodgers quieted down significantly until the sixth, when Travis Swaggerty and Drew Avans singled to drive in one run apiece, then Jose Ramos and Kody Hoese both doubled for four more runs between them. The Padres' bats were almost completely silent apart from a Jake Cronenworth home run in the fourth to represent San Diego's solitary run. All told, the Padres got only seven hits down to the Dodgers' 12. LA was also helped along by a consistent failure in Padres' pitching; their staff gave up nine walks to Dodgers hitters.

The Dodgers sent out seven pitchers after starter Gavin Stone, who pitched a spotless first inning with a strikeout before Michael Grove took over. Stephen Gonsalves, an NRI who hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2021, notably came up in the sixth to give up one hit and a walk while striking out three.

With the majority of the Dodgers' biggest stars — Freddie Freeman, Shohei Ohtani, Will Smith, Max Muncy — yet to make their spring debuts this season, this blowout win belongs to the prospects and NRIs, some of whom are fighting for a tiny handful of bench or bullpen spots around the Dodgers' superstars.

Even though only one game is in the books, this bodes well for the team as they approach the regular season and the rest of their 26 spring training games.