After having already checked into the likely position players on the first iteration of the Oklahoma City Dodgers, let’s check out the pitchers.
SP Zach Lee
SP Joe Wieland
SP Chris Reed
SP Carlos Frias
You know, as Triple-A rotations go… that’s not too bad, is it? Lee’s stock has clearly fallen — he was Dustin’s No. 8 Dodger prospect — and I wouldn’t feel comfortable were he penciled into the big league rotation to start the season. But he’s also basically ready, and even if his ceiling probably isn’t what we once thought it would be, it still seems like he’s got a good chance to be a mid-rotation starter. His profile actually isn’t all that different from Wieland’s, in that they’re righties with a few decent pitches and no elite ones. When I looked into Wieland after he was acquired, I came away thinking that despite the fact he was the least interesting part of the Matt Kemp deal, he’s a nice enough depth piece.
On some teams, that pair might be in the rotation on Opening Day. For the Dodgers, they’re the sixth and seventh starters, guys you know you’ll need at some point, particularly with Brett Anderson around, but not guys you have to rely upon from day one. That’s not so bad. It’s a little different for Dustin’s boy Reed, who fell to No. 23 on the rankings, because I still don’t believe he’s a starting pitcher in the big leagues, even though he’s been that in the minors. If he starts a game for the Dodgers in 2015, things have gone so terribly wrong.
There’s at least some chance that Frias makes the bullpen in the majors, but more likely he’ll head back to Triple-A to join the rotation. Frias’ two starts for the 2014 Dodgers couldn’t have been more different; one was pretty good, and one was horrendously atrocious. I still see him as a reliever long-term, but there’s at least some evidence of hope that he could make it as a starter in the bigs. Like Lee and Wieland, you don’t want to count on him, but you’ll be happy he’s around when you need him.
As for the fifth starter, well, nothing could possibly matter less than who is the fifth starter for a minor league team. Patterson started 32 Triple-A games over the past two seasons and made one not-terrible emergency start in the big leagues, remaining in the organization after being DFA’d. Shelton, Dustin’s No. 91 prospect, was mostly a reliever in his first three years as a Dodger before starting 16 games for Double-A Chattanooga last year.
RP Jeremy Horst
RP Ben Rowen
RP Josh Ravin
RP David Huff
RP Ryan Buchter
RP Yimi Garcia
RP Pedro Baez
Your guess is as good as mine here, because clearly not all of these guys are opening the year in the Triple-A bullpen. (They’re also listed here in no particular order whatsoever.) You’d imagine that one or two will make the big league roster, with Rodriguez, Baez, and Santos perhaps the most likely. Maybe Erik Bedard will agree to come here if he doesn’t earn a big league job. Almost certainly, some of the more veteran guys here have an opt-out clause they might activate early in the season or even at the end of camp. I’ve listed 15 names here, and clearly a few will be injured or awful or just gone.
Brim and I both identified Rowen as a player of interest, and he seems to be one of the more likely candidates to stick in Oklahoma City, a guy worth watching who doesn’t seem to have much chance to make the big team out of camp. Coulombe and Liberatore both seem like slam-dunks, too, and probably Bolsinger, though he may yet get some starts. Let’s say that at least one, and probably two, of Rodriguez / Baez / Garcia is here as well, and right there you have six relievers. From there, toss in a more veteran guy like Huff or Horst, but really, you know how this works. Triple-A is full of phantom DL moves or “let’s pretend you’re on the Ogden roster even though they don’t actually play until June” games. Obviously, this is a part of the roster that will be ever-changing. At the least, there’s going to be a few guys who could help the big league bullpen when and if they’re needed.