Will Corey Copping get a call to climb the hill at Dodger Stadium during the 2018 season? Now 24, the 6’1”/175-pound right-hander was selected by the Dodgers in the 31st round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He was one of the first young Dodger pitchers to benefit from the Driveline Program.
Copping said his fastball was clocked between 86 and 88 mph at the end of Spring Training 2016. After 10 weeks of Driveline following Spring Training, he was regularly touching 92 to 94 mph.
After a brief stop with the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League in June of 2016 he bypassed the Great Lakes Loons and made 16 relief appearances with the High A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League.
During the 2017 season Copping made 49 appearances with the Tulsa Drillers of the AA Texas League leading the league in appearances. He collected 18 saves while posting a 3.57 ERA along with 60 strikeouts. He gave up only 48 hits in 68 innings pitched.
Copping was selected as the Texas League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 14-20 and also selected as a Mid-season All-star.
Will Donovan Solano be this year’s Charlie Culberson? He was signed to a minor league contract by the Dodgers in January with an invitation to spring training and has made the most of that opportunity.
Solano, born in Barranquilla, Colombia, fits the Dodgers profile of a valuable utility player. In 370 MLB games, mostly with Miami, he hit .257 and in 2012 was named to the Baseball America Major League All-rookie Team.
In 560 games at the Triple-A level he hit .289 while in his minor league career he has played 441 games as a shortstop, 279 as a second baseman and 282 at third base. In 2013 he was named to the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Team from the Marlins
So far in Spring Training 2018 Solano has appeared in 13 games posting a .333 batting average with six runs batted in.
Will 19-year-old catcher Ramon Rodriguez follow in the footsteps of Kyle Farmer, Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz and Connor Wong?
Rodriguez was selected by the Dodgers in the 30th round of the 2016 June Draft out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He had one at bat in 2016 but in 2017 played in 32 games as an 18-year-old, 17 of them with the Ogden Raptors. He hit a solid .276 with 13 runs batted in. Six of his 16 hits were for extra bases including two home runs. He threw out 41% of would-be base stealers.
Will first-round selections, Gavin Lux (2106) and Jeren Kendall (2107) look more like first-round players in 2018?
Lux struggled for a good part of the 2017 season at the plate with the Loons but caught fire in August posting a slash line of .336/.388/.467 over 26 games. On the season he stole 27 bases and drew 56 walks. He seemed more comfortable at second base than at shortstop.
Kendall did not start his season until the third week in July so perhaps that helps account for his sub-par season. He struck out 23% of the time with the Loons. Kendall was considered to have been a steal for the Dodgers in the 2017 draft – selected No. 23 overall – after having been ranked in the top five through most of the 2017 college season. He was considered to be the best college athlete available in the draft. His strikeout rate mostly caused him to fall towards the bottom of the first round in the draft and become available to the Dodgers.
According to Baseball America the Dodgers have released 21-year-old first baseman Luis Paz? The native of Marilla, Brazil led the Pioneer League in 2017 with 63 runs batted in and placed third in home runs with 18. In 39 games with the Great Lakes Loons he did struggle at the plate but perhaps he is a bit young to jettison so soon. Twenty-two-year- old right-hander William Soto was also released.
Is Jairo Pacheco the youngest coach in minor league baseball? The 21-year-old left hander was released by the Dodgers in January and signed as a coach with the Arizona League Dodgers.
Will 21-year-old Caleb Ferguson return to his earlier free pass routine? Now that is not to say there was anything wrong with his 2017 season. He led the hitter friendly California League in ERA (2.87), ranked second in opponent average (.246) and third in strikeouts (140 in 122 1/3 innings). He walked 55 whereas he walked but five in 66 innings during the 2016 season.
Will outfielders Zach Reks and Luke Raley continue their quick ascent through the minor league system? Both players were drafted by the Dodgers during the 2017 First-Year Player Draft., Raley in the seventh round and Reks in the 10th round. Hopefully they will make it all the way to Tulsa during the 208 season as Raley is 23 and Reks 24.
Will Errol Robinson make a permanent move to second base?
Will Michael Ahmed get noticed?
Thirty-two-year old Colt Hynes was released by the Oklahoma City Dodgers in February and was signed by the Dodgers to be their Minor League Rehabilitation Coordinator.
The Dodgers draft very late in the first round of the 2018 June Draft, maybe 30 overall. Could it be that they are already looking at Ethan Hankins, a possible first or second overall selection who has experienced a shoulder issue.
Photo credit: Matthew Christensen, Tulsa Drillers