Dodger Chatter: Batting .400

A few years ago I attempted to predict the Great Lakes Loons opening day roster. It proved to be a very difficult assignment as there are so many variables at play. First, it seems impossible to know which young players may have suffered spring training injuries, perhaps minor, or experienced other delays but it does mean they are not on the opening day 25-man roster as expected. A second variable is how quickly the Dodgers front office wants to move players along. I think it is a relatively safe bet that the current front office believes in moving players along as quickly as reasonable while taking extra precautions with pitchers, especially those who have rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. However, trying to guess how they might assign players is tricky at best.

To make the proverbial long story short, I hit a whopping .400 getting 10 of 25 correct. Not to be outdone I tried again a couple of years ago and used a new method. I put all the possible names on a wall board in the basement, closed my eyes and threw darts. My new approach was no more successful than my first attempt.

Although a third try is probably folly, Mark posed some questions a few days ago, that at least made me look at the possibilities. My new approach is to simply construct the Loons 25-man opening day roster as I would like to see it done without any consideration to the needs of the other Dodger affiliates. I did take age into account. First, to Mark’s questions with my opinion only.

  • I expect Jeren Kendall to move on to the Rancho Cucamonga. He is 22 and hit much better towards the end of the season. He has to cut down on his strikeouts.
  • I also expect Gavin Lux to move on to the Quakes. He is only 20  but hit .336 in August. The Dodgers like their first-round selections to move on up quickly.
  • I have Brito penciled in with the Loons. He is young but Brendan Davis was assigned to the Loons at a similar age.
  • I believe Morgan Cooper will begin his season with the Loons but not on opening day. He is further removed from his TJ surgery than Walker Buehler was and had a good year in 2017 with the University of Texas but I think he may spend some time in extended spring training. I hope I am wrong.
  • Christian Santana will start with the Quakes. He is one of those surprises although AC honed in on him last season.
  • Connor Wong to the Quakes also. He is an Austin Barnes type. I think you are right about an alternate position. This from “While he’s strong for his size — charitably listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds — he’s small for a catcher and there’s some concern about whether he’ll be able to handle the workload of a long pro season. If not, he fits the utility profile because he’s capable of playing almost anywhere on the diamond.”

Catching is a big question for the Loons  if Wong starts with the Quakes. Stevie Berman – who is big time coaching material – deserves to advance as he would begin his third year with the Loons. I like 19-year-old Ramon Rodriguez as a possibility and wonder if Gersel Pitre might return to catching. Jair Camargo, at 18, will need time with the Raptors and Garrett Hope, in my opinion, should move up to Rancho Cucamonga for a longer stint this year.

There are many infield options and a number of the infielders are versatile. My five are:

  • Luis Paz (21) – first base
  • Moises Perez(20) – second base
  • Rylan Bannon (21) – third base
  • Ronny Brito (18) – shortstop
  • Brock Carpenter (22) – fifth infielder

The outfield is even more fun also with quite a few options.

  • Romer Cuadrado (20)
  • Mitch Hansen (21)
  • Donovan Casey (22)
  • Carlos Rincon (20)
  • Starling Heredia (19)

On opening day last year the Loons carried 13 pitchers. This might be back to the dart board but here goes. The first five are starters.

  • Logan Crouse (21) RHP
  • Imandi Abdullah (20) RHP
  • Melvin Jimenez (18) RHP
  • Kevin Malisheski (20) RHP
  • James Marinan (19) RHP
  • Justin Bruihl (20) LHP
  •  Marshall Kasowski (22) RHP
  • Wills Montgomerie (22) RHP
  • Colby Nealy (21) RHP
  • Evy Ruibal (22) RHP
  • Devin Hemmerich (22) RHP
  • Justin Hoyt (22) LHP
  • Dan Jagiello (22) RHP

The pitching staff is overly loaded with right-handers but I don’t think at the Class-A level that is a concern. As much as winning is a goal, the real goal is player development and advancement. Just as MLB teams have a 40-man roster, teams at the Class-A level have an expanded roster and can move players in and out through the 7-day DL, back to extended spring training, to another level and through other creative means to have a 25-man roster for each game.

This article has 24 Comments

  1. I really enjoy reading about the youngsters. Many thanks for the article. Having AC/DC on board is quite a bonus for all of us.

  2. Is there any chance Rios can play third? He is blocked by Bellinger. He looks pretty good at the plate to me. He has dug out some nice low throws to first. I know he has played some at third. What do you think Mark and AC/DC?

    I just think we have some young guys knocking on the door. The catching position looks strong. Sorry Bum, but Joc does not look as good as Toles or Verdugo. Joc has looked better this Spring. He needs a new team.

    Utley certainly looked better yesterday. He will be on the team. I just think Farmer and Smith will both be at AAA this Spring, unless something happens to Grandal. I think both are major league ready. There is going to be some sweating and talking to these young players when they are sent down. If competition makes you better we will have a great team.

    1. Al,

      Of course, there is a “chance” Rios could play 3B, but he would be a huge defensived liability unless Pilates or Yoga could work a miracle.

      1. Rios was the 3b for a while, until they realized he’s basically Pedro Guerrero out there.

        But his bat is big time, so I hope he gets sent to Tampa as part of our eventual Chris Archer deal. He can DH there and put up some amazing numbers

      2. Rios was working out at 3rd with Doc and several other coaches on the practice field before the game today.

        1. Some players are not good fielders because they have an iron glove. Remember Delwyn Young? That was most of his problem. Some players are not good fielders because they don’t have good lateral movement. Willie Calhoun and Edwin Rios are in that category. I hope I am wrong and that he can play 3B, because there is an organization need there.

          It would just surprise me greatly if he ever rose any higher than “below average” as a 3B. I hope I am wrong because I think he can hit. He doesn’t have elite bat speed like Willie Calhoun but he should be a solid hitter and he can play an average 1B. I am a fan of Edwin.

    2. Al,
      I agree with Mark. There is very little chance that Rios can be an everyday ML 3B. He does have a good arm which is why 3B was an opportunity. But his feet and overall defensive limitations are just not adequate for ML 3B. His one spot is 1B/DH.
      Matt Beaty is in the same situation, except he is a better overall athlete and I think will get more of a chance in the OF this year. He is not in the Toles or Verdugo level, but he is a solid ballplayer with a good bat to ball ability and he could draw some interest. Just like Scott Barlow today with the Royals, I hope Matt will get his chance even if it is with another team.
      Just like DC said in an earlier post, these minor leaguers are like family and one is not more important than the other. I have grown an affinity to some more than others, but they are all like family to me, and I want them all to succeed. In order to do that, some will have to be traded for them to get that chance. I still like to follow the original Dodger draft picks until they are out of baseball. You can see by DC’s proposed Great Lakes 25 man, that there are a lot of ballplayers that will be followed extensively this year. I will be adding some potential Great Lakes alternatives later, but it is obvious that not all will become Dodgers, and most will not make it to the ML. From the year 1997 through 2001 the Phillies drafted 216 players. Of the 216 players, 26 players made it to the ML. And many, like my son, did not play very much at the ML level, but they did make it. That is why picking these teams as DC has done is more fun than projection. Last year 74 players played at some point with the Great Lakes Loons.
      All of that preface is to say that players like Rios and Beaty are great to have in the organization even if they do not have a clear path to the Dodgers. Some team will look at their offensive skills and want them in their organization. The Dodgers can maybe package a couple to get that middle infielder they need. There are other uses for players other than to make the Dodgers roster. Players we have lost in the last few years…Zach Lee, JDL, Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes, Jacob Rhame, Philip Pfeifer, Caleb Dirks, Grant Dayton, Chase De Jong, Trevor Oaks,Scott Barlow, and I could certainly include others. How many of them would potentially be on the 2018 Dodgers 25 man. There are some that could be, but the Dodgers have other prospects that are at the very least equal to all of those players. The Dodgers also have Rich Hill, Scott Alexander, Jake Peter, and Drew Jackson from some of those transactions.
      I first started conversing with DC during the 2016 Great Lakes season. As most on here know, Caleb Ferguson is one of my favorites, and he was a member of that team, and we discussed Caleb a lot. It is fun to watch these players from their first shot at full season ball and latch onto some and follow. Some will get no further, but some will make it all the way.

      1. Caleb is one of my favorites also. A 38th round selection in 2014 coming off TJ surgery. I first profiled him on January 20, 2015. With the Loons it was news if he walked a hitter.

        Kevin Malisheski was a 38th round selection is 2016. He has been slowed a bit by injury and not made it past the AZL Dodgers yet. I think he is a sleeper and want to see him start with the Loons this year.

        Great point AC – more fun than actual projection.

  3. The writers are slowly coming around to my point of view. Today Houston Mitchell said this:

    But the season doesn’t start today, it starts March 29. The next 20 days will determine who makes the team, butdon’t be surprised if Matt Kemp is the opening day left fielder.

    … been trying to tell ya’!

    1. If left field winds up being a platoon then Kemp would be good to have from the right side. But with 68% of pitches being thrown from righties (or something like that), Kike’ would be a better choice for the 32% of righty at bats off lefty pitches.
      The question I have is, is Kemp’s defense good enough to have him defend more than 50% of games? I don’t think so, and therefore I think the Dodgers might find a trade partner if they pay $19M of his $24M annual contract for the next two years.

      1. Matt Kemp has a career OPS against LH pitching of .921.

        Kike Hernandez has a career OPS against LH pitching of .883.

        How does that make any sense?

        If you are judging Kemp’s defense from the last two years, you are forgetting he is 40 pounds lighter. I have seen nothing that leads me to believe he can’t play at least and average LF.

        Matt Kemp is not going to platoon. He might sit a day a week. He’s not being traded. He’s on this team and he’s the #5 hitter…. until he plays himself off the team.

        You are just trying to manipulate things so Joc can be on the team. I don’t think anyone can save Joc. He’s gone.

        1. Opening Day, I’m going with Kike He’s had more success off of Madbum than anyone on the Dodgers. Kemp’s numbers are terrible against him.

      2. I am more concerned with defense up the middle than with the corners. The Dodgers are blessed with 3 out of the 4 corner players also being outstanding defensively (Belly, JT, and Yasiel). If Kemp is the lone defensive liability I can live with that. Alex Gordon is a GG LF and I would not trade Kemp straight up for Gordon. Nobody is going to consider Kyle Schwarber, Ryan Braun, or Khris Davis as outstanding (or even good) defensive LF’ers. Like Kemp, those guys are LF regulars because of their bats. Kemp will make the team (or not) based on his bat and attitude…not his defense. Going into today’s game, Kemp is batting .333/.391/.857/1.248. 3 HR and 6 RBI. He was 1-2 today. First time this spring he has played in back to back games.
        Other LF candidates:
        Andrew Toles – .350/.348/.750/1.098…2 HR and 7 RBI…(1-1 so far today)
        Alex Verdugo – .381/.409/.810/1.219…2 HR and 5 RBI
        Joc Pederson – .160/.192/.240/.432…0 HR and 1 RBI…(0-3 so far today)
        It should also be noted that of the four, Joc has also had the most PA of the 4.
        I think Kemp could be the regular LF, and the next three weeks will determine if he should. He could play 120-130 games per year. I would select Toles to be the secondary LF, but someone who could also play for CT3 and Puig when they need rest, to get more games and AB. Verdugo would best be served if he goes back to OKC and knocks down the door to come back.

        1. AC

          I bet you really enjoyed Wood’s performance, last night.

          He not only pitched well, he pitched with conviction, last night!

          1. MJ,
            Wood is becoming a pitcher. He is more confident than he has been at anytime in his career. He truly believes he belongs as a top of the rotation pitcher with the reigning NL Champs. If he has a good year, he will be a prime candidate for an extension. Kershaw/Wood/Hill is comparable to Scherzer/Strasberg/Gio, and better than Lester/Darvish/Hendricks. I am sure Nats and Cubs fans will differ, but we all suffer from homerism.

    2. Pedro and Heyman conclude the same thing, but they don’t condition it on performance. They attribute it to a complete lack of a market for a negligible player.

      MJ has called it. There’s just no interest in Kemp.

      1. Seems strange that they can’t even get 33 cents on the dollar for a slim downed Kemp. I would pay $8 million for Kemp before I would Cargo.

  4. I think the disadvantage of platoons is that a hitter might only see the starter two times and his third PA would probably be against the same side pitcher. If he is pinched hit for at that point it always seems like the next time his spot is up, a clutch hit is needed and the righty/lefty, lefty/righty advantage is lost.

  5. Starters – Melvin Jimenez (18)
    James Marinan (19)
    Riley Ottesen (23)
    Alfredo Tavarez (20)
    Logan Crouse (21)
    Marshall Kasowski (22)
    Kevin Malisheski (20)

    Relievers – Wills Montgomery (22)
    Devin Hemmerich (22)
    Zach Pop (21)
    Dan Jagiello (22)
    Evy Ruibal (22)
    Aneurys Zabala (21)
    Luis Pasen (23)

    Others to consider –
    Matt Jones (will be 25 – successful at Ogden) – Could be pushed to RC because of age.
    Confesor Inoa (22)
    Patrick Duester (24) – Another RC candidate because of age
    Miguel Urena (23) – Another RC candidate because of age
    Carlos Felix (22)
    Jasiel Alvino (21)
    Nathan Witt (22)

    I think that Imani Abdullah will start the year at RC. He had a fairly successful 2016 as an 18/19 year old at Great Lakes. I think he needs to be pushed this year to determine if he is a Top 30 prospect or not. I also thought that Morgan Cooper is an extended spring training candidate and then moves directly to RC. I do not think FAZ wants to take a chance with his arm in cold weather.

    I think Donovan Casey has a shot at skipping Great Lakes as DJ did last year and going straight to RC. I like four of the five that DC named;
    Romer Cuadrado (20)
    Carlos Rincon (20)
    Mitchell Hansen (21)
    Starling Heredia (19)
    I would include Tyler Adkison (22) replacing Casey.
    Others to consider (strongly)
    Shakir Albert – (21)
    Brayan Morales – (22) – The only CF of the group, even though Heredia would play there if Morales is not on the team.
    It is hard to argue about the starting infield that DC selected.
    Luis Paz (21) (1B)
    Moises Perez (20) (2B)
    Rylan Bannon (21) (3B)
    Ronny Brito (18) (SS)
    It is the 5th infielder that will need some consideration, besides Brock Carpenter.
    Connor Heady (23) SS
    Kevin Lachance (23) 2B – Potential utility as he is getting in some CF experience.
    Gersel Pitre (21) – Utility who can catch. He has caught more than any other position.
    Ramon Rodriguez (19)
    Garret Hope (24)
    I think Steve Berman (23) goes to RC to back up Connor Wong.
    I know I have selected more than 25, but just like FAZ I reserve the right to expeditiously utilize the 7 day DL. These are very fluid, and can change with the next waiver wire.

    1. I was just looking at the 25 that take the field on the season opener. I agree with many of others that you have on the reserve list.

      Matt Jones had some kind of surgery. Do you know what it was? I saw on a Twitter thread that he was ready to get to work. I don’t have Twitter but can find the tweets from others. I wondered why he didn’t pitch during the Raptors last few play-off games.

      I think Miguel Urena will go directly to RC so I didn’t include him. He is a five-year veteran now. Was very good last year.

      Zach Pop was certainly on my mind but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a while in extended ST. I don’t think he will be part of the short season this year, just delayed getting to GL.

      What are your thoughts on Morgan Cooper?

  6. A couple of notes from other camps:
    Zach Buchanan
    After his intersquad start this morning, Zack Greinke said he has a nagging fear that he doesn’t have it anymore. Velo has been down. But he also said he has that fear every year.

    11:27 AM – Mar 8, 2018
    “Greinke was above 90 in his first spring outing but has been only hitting the mid-80s in his last two starts, including an intrasquad game this morning. Nick Piecoro, who has followed Greinke for a long time, notes that Greinke has had to build up his velocity during spring training in the past as well. He wonders whether or not Greinke has dead arm, which is not an uncommon ailment for pitchers in March.”
    Based on the above, it appears that there is some true trepidation with the prospects of Greinke being a solid top of the rotation starter this year, much less four.
    Cargo re-signs with the Rockies. This is a good deal for the Rox. Cargo carried the Rockies from August on. I was hoping he would sign with the O’s. The O’s desperately need a LH hitting OF.

  7. Thanks you guys for your comments on Rios. Toles is looking good. I do not see how they can send him to AAA.

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