I am going to go out on a limb and make a few predictions as to what could or might happen during Spring Training. Pitchers and Catchers are just hours away from reporting, so I am going to throw out a few things to look for.
- Watch Kiebert Ruiz. You are going to be amazed at how good of a catcher he is and expecially his footwork behind the plate, but his calling cared will be his bat. Before 2018 is over, he may be in the TOP 5 of all MLB Prospects. Barring a trade or injury to Grandal or Barnes, he will not get a callup until September. He is on track to be the 2019 Rookie of the Year!
- Watch Walker Buehler. Walker reminds me of Zack Greinke. As an 18 year-old rookie in the minors, Greinke pitched 11 innings and then jumped to 140 innings as a 19 year-old. At 21, Zack was up to the majors to stay and put up a 5.80 ERA as he was pounded pretty good. Zack started as a high-schooler, who also had anxiety issues that were later controlled with medication. Walker is from the collegete ranks, has had TJ surgery and is more mature at 23. His body is more mature than was Julio Urias. If he pitches well in Spring Training, I can see him making the rotation. Of course, he has to do that. If he doesn’t, it’s back to OKC. I could see him pitching every fifth day until August and then going to the pen with Julio Urias taking his spot in the rotation at that juncture.
- Watch Matt Kemp. He is the key to everything because of $43 million reasons I don’t have time to list. They say he’s the worst OF in baseball. Watch what the fat Matt kemp did last year:
I believe that a skinny, motivated Kemp can play at a level that is at least league average… probably better…. and his bat could be a nice substitute for Giancarlo Stanton. Watch Kemp – I think it will be obvious what will happen after a few games. Maybe he doesn’t have it anymore. That is a possibility… but that’s why they play the game. I think he does, and I think he will surprise a lot of fans. He could be the Dodgers secret weapon.
- Watch Scott Alexander. This time last year, Dodger fans ridiculed the signing of “old-has been” Brandon Morrow, who is currently the Cubs closer. Who is the set-up guy this year? The Dodgers didn’t have one at this time last year, either. Scott Alexander is just figuring out how to pitch and I think he will be a “lockdown reliever” for the Dodgers. With the Dodgers infield defense, he could be devestating… possibly a sub 2.00 ERA!
- Watch Yasiel Puig. This could be great… or it could be bad. After bouncing back from a AAA demotion in 2016, Yasiel was the best defensive RF’er in baseball and blasted 28 home runs. His talent level is not even being pushed yet. He could be so much better if he played up to his talent… THIS year, but then his agents took the extraordinary action of firing him. Something happened and it ain’t good! Some writers know but they aren’t saying. It is said that it is unlikely the Dodgers will take action. The team knows what happened. Writers know what happened. No one is saying, but this is all very troubling. Agents aren’t in the practice of turning down money. Keep your eyes and ears open – I don’t think we have heard the last of this. It’s going to get “leaked”.
- Watch Brock Stewart. I am of the opinion that Brock will struggle as a starter. While it is admittedly a small sampling, in 2106, Brock Stewart had a 6.38 ERA as a starter and a 2.25 ERA as a reliever. He was primarily a starter in 2016. In 2017, he pitched more as a reliever and put up a 2.18 ERA out of the pen, while delivering a 5.27 ERA as a starter. The stats say he is a reliver – you can’t argue with that. The “eye test” aligns with the stats. The Dodgers need to convice Brock he is a lockdown reliever and he will be. His stuff is filty out of the pen.
- Watch Yimi Garcia, Tom Koehler, Henry Owens, Dylan Baker and Wilmer Font. One or two could end up making the team and be very, very good. I have no clue who that might be, but there is potential greatness here.
Of course, everyone will be watching the LF competition, but my guess is that Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp are the primary leftfielders. Toles and Verdugo will likely go to AAA, unless Toles just tears up the Cactus League. The Dodgers will make every attemp to keep or trade Trayce Thompson since he is out of options, as it Wilmer Font.
There will be a surprise ot two and an injury or two – there always is! Many players are drving to Arizona as we speak. It’s almost time for Dodger Baseball.
Don’t be surprised if JD Martinez signs with Arizona.
Chase Utley is a done deal!