The Dodgers sure took their sweet time on this, but eventually they added Jacob Amaya, Michael Grove, Eddys Leonard, James Outman, and Jorbit Vivas to the 40-man roster. They added those five players ahead of the deadline to set rosters, effectively to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.
Amaya was a guy the Dodgers always seemed to like. When he was drafted in the 11th round in 2017, they paid him overslot to get him, and Amaya rewarded them by turning in solid offensive performances as a true shortstop prospect, making it to high-A as a 20-year-old. However, after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled, 2021 was a disaster for him. In AA he hit .216/.303/.343/.645 on the year, and his plate discipline that was previously 147 walks to 170 strikeouts for his career cratered to 52 walks and 103 strikeouts.
He seemed to get exposed by advanced pitching, but the Dodgers sent him to the Arizona Fall League and he excelled there. Amaya smashed three homers and put up a 1.020 OPS, walking 13 times and striking out just 12. The Dodgers clearly believe in his ability, and he’s still just 22.
Grove seems like an odd choice to add to the 40-man at first glance. In his age-24 season in AA, he posted a 7.86 ERA in 71 innings, and in fact he has a 7.12 ERA in 122.2 innings as a professional. Sure, he’s missed a lot of bats (11.8 K/9), but he’s also issued a lot of walks (4.5 BB/9) and has been a veritable dinger machine (26 HR).
So why does it make sense? Well, Josh laid out the case late last month in an article he wrote about the mechanical adjustments he was undergoing and how they made him optimistic about his future. The Dodgers are all about player development and what a pitcher can do going forward rather than obsessing over past results, and it’s hard to argue against them betting on him.
Leonard made Dustin’s All-Prospect team for 2021, and he had this to say:
Leonard had perhaps the most surprising season in the Dodgers’ system. He had shown a glimmer of talent in the lower levels of the minors, but he busted out in a big way in 2021. If he continues to perform as well or nearly as well as he did in ’21, he could get a lot more notoriety as a prospect.
Marked as a shortstop, Leonard played equal amounts of second and third as well, all while posting a breakout .296/.390/.539/.929 line between two A-ball levels in his age-20 season. He pounded 22 homers and should be testing himself in advanced ball next year with a chance to really ascend.
Outman also made Dustin’s All-Prospect team with his breakout 2021, putting up a .266/.379/.490/.869 line with 18 homers in high-A and AA. A 7th-round pick in 2018, Outman only got to play one year in full-season ball prior to 2021 and didn’t impress, but now he seems like a real potential big leaguer.
His breakout only continued in the AFL, posting a .292/.425/.569/.994 line over 80 plate appearances, showcasing the entire power-speed-defense package that the front office probably sees. Outman appears to be at least a potential fourth outfielder type, which as we unfortunately found out this year, is very important.
Vivas was yet another player on Dustin’s All-Prospect team who also had a breakout 2021, and was featured in Josh’s Helium feature for rising prospects. Here’s what he had to say:
Vivas, ranked #19 over at MLB Pipeline, was signed out of Venezuela for the $300k maximum, and he showed a tremendous knack for barreling it up, posting the 4th-highest line drive % in the Low A West (25.2%) for Rancho Cucamonga. He kept this up after his promotion to Great Lakes, with the 13th highest line drive % in the High A Central (20.8%), despite being 2.4 years younger than average for the level. His wRC+ was also 3rd and 2nd for those levels, so he was definitely doing damage:
At a listed 5’10 and 171 lbs, Vivas doesn’t have a typical power-hitting profile, but a consistent ability to barrel like this can sometimes lead to an in-game power grade that exceeds his raw. In the field, Vivas split his time about evenly between 2B and 3B, but I think he’s more likely to stick at 2B in the future.
Vivas put up an impressive .312/.396/.496/.893 line across two A-ball levels in his age-20 season while basically playing a utility role. No shock that this would be intriguing to the Dodgers brass who seems to get off on having a plethora of options.
A couple weeks ago Dustin looked at the 40-man options and thought just Outman and Grove would be protected, though at the time he was operating under the assumption they had minimal spots open. Notable omissions from that piece in terms of not being added are Ryan Noda (acquired in the Ross Stripling trade) and Gus Varland (acquired in the Adam Kolarek trade), but nothing shocking.
Quite frankly, there’s not much to argue with in terms of the selections, as there weren’t glaring exclusions and those who were designated don’t project better than those added (plus they were older). Just hope that these five continue their rise up the system to be able to make an impact on the MLB level someday soon.