As baseball is gearing up for what should be a memorable 2017 season, Spring Training is right around the corner. The Dodgers have several prospects previously ranked on my pre-season top 50 who should get a fair amount of game time this Spring. This will be valuable time for several players who will be showcasing themselves for roles in 2017. A deep farm system, littered with several close to ready players, should make for a very competitive Spring Training.
Here we go, a look at who could earn themselves some time in the show this Spring:
- Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, #1 on my Dodger Top 50 – At 21 years old, Bellinger is a longshot to make the deep Dodger MLB roster right out of the gate. His defensive flexibility, coupled with his high upside bat, should earn him plenty of innings during Spring games. Bellinger is currently blocked by Adrian Gonzalez at 1B. The Dodgers will not place him on the roster to play back-up to Gonzalez. His only shot is to win the LF job outright over Andrew Toles, Andre Ethier and Trayce Thompson. If Bellingers absolutely rakes this Spring, the Dodgers will have to consider giving him the job. However, this is only possible if Thompson underperforms or starts the year on the DL with his back issues, Ethier shows he is not healthy from last seasons leg break AND Toles proves to be overmatched. With all that said, I doubt Bellinger will be in with the big club on Opening Day, but look for him to make an appearance by seasons end. Bellinger could offer late season stat contributions to all hitting stats.
- Walker Buehler, RHP, #5 on my Dodger Top 50 – Word around town says the Dodgers LOVE Buehler, even more then Jose De Leon (hence trading him). Buehler is coming off of TJ surgery, but has shown impressive “stuff” since his return to the mound. He is near his previous high of 96 MPH, while still showing his pinpoint command. Buehler likely won’t make any starts for the Dodgers this season due to his innings limit and the Dodgers 2,398 Starting Pitchers. It is possible and highly likely that he will see some MLB time this season in a relief role. Teams have been known to show their high end pitching prospects a “dip” in the show in a relief role, prior to giving them a spot in the rotation. Buehler could offer late season stat contributions to K’s, Holds and WHIP.
- Willie Calhoun, 2B, #6 on my Dodger Top 50 – As I stated before, DUDE CAN HIT. He will get a shot this Spring to showcase himself for not only the Dodgers, but other teams as well. Unfortunately for Willie, he’s blocked a 2B in LA by multiple players. I doubt the Dodgers would bring him up before September, unless it was for a starting role. The only way that will happen is if Forsythe goes down. The good thing for Calhoun fantasy owners, he could start for a few other teams by mid-season in a DH role at the very least. He will be an impact hitter in the MLB, mark my words. If given the chance, by mid-season Calhoun could be a solid OBP and power contributor to a fantasy team near you!
- Brock Stewart, RHP, #7 on my Dodger Top 50 – After an awful first two MLB starts, Stewart showed the ability to keep the ball on the ground and potential to be an innings eating workhorse. Stewart likely won’t begin the year in the Dodger rotation, but he could see between 7-12 starts over the course of the year. Stewart also could see some valuable innings in the bullpen. Overall, expect around 75 MLB innings from Stewart this year, with solid K numbers and chance to develop into a good source of QS, Holds and WHIP/ERA.
- Andrew Toles, OF, #10 on my Dodger Top 50 – Oh the curious case of Andrew Toles. Grocery bag boy a year ago, playoff performer at the 2016 seasons end. Toles could win the LF job outright if he shows the continued ability to hit lefties this spring. While its possible Toles hits at the top of the order, its more likely Forsythe hits #1, Seager/Turner hit #2. Toles will likely fit into the #7/8 spot in the order if he wins a starting gig. Even if Toles wins the starting job, he will likely sit against “tough” lefties, since we all know the Dodger brass loves platoons…a big ARGH from Dodger fantasy owners. All in all, Toles likely sees at least 400 AB’s over the season. He could be in line for 10 HR’s, 25 doubles, 5 triples and 20 SB’s, all to go with a solid AVG/OBP.
- Austin Barnes, C, #15 on my Dodger Top 50 – Mr. Barnes, Austin, OBP monster, eye of gold…Austin Barnes. Well, this guy seemingly has been around forever, finally, it appears he has won a job on an MLB roster. Barnes should be the back-up catcher throughout the year, unless something goes dramatically wrong for Grandal or Barnes himself. Barnes has yet to impress with his sample size MLB appearances. Look for him to get about 40 starts, giving him around 200 AB’s on the season. He will always be a solid OBP guy, with good doubles power. Barnes is also a sneaky source for maybe 10 SB’s and the possibility of gaining eligibility at other positions such as 3B and 2B.
- Josh Ravin – RHP – #21, Josh Sborz – RHP – #22 and Grant Dayton – LHP – #26 – The sole reason I have 3 non-closer relief pitchers in my top 30 is due to my strong belief they each contribute solid innings in the LA bullpen this season. If Ravin has a solid spring, he will make the Dodger bullpen. Ravin throws absolute gas and will be a high K guy in the bullpen. While he may walk a fair share, his strikeout ability showed keep his ERA in the high 2’s or low 3’s. Ravin could be a valuable K and Holds guy throughout the 2017 season. Dayton essentially has the #1 lefty role in the Dodger bullpen wrapped up. He will see plenty of late game opportunities and will be a valuable source of K’s and WHIP. Look for Dayton to earn around 20 holds and even get the opportunity for a few saves. Sborz is more of a mid to late season option for the Dodger bullpen. He likely won’t have much fantasy relevancy until the latter half of the season.
Other Dodgers who could earn MLB time with solid springs, but will likely not contribute a whole lot fantasy wise due to lack of playing time – RHP Trevor Oaks, RHP Chase De Jong, RHP Jacob Rhame, C/3B Kyle Farmer, RHP Yaisel Sierra and 3B/OF Rob Segedin.
As a Fantasy Baseball lover, I will be paying close attention to the Dodgers this Spring. Injuries and performance could play a large role in earning playing time for several young Dodgers.