Roundup: Gavin Stone’s lessons learned, the lab is real, PECOTA’s loving projection, further prospect stuff, MLBPA & deferrals, more

Well, Spring Training is now underway, but there’s still plenty of time for Dodgers-related projections, prospects, and more before the season starts.


The Athletic: First and foremost, Andy McCullough has a book on Clayton Kershaw coming out, and this excerpt about the Dodgers drafting him makes me want to read it, even if it gave me a Frank McCourt jump scare at the end.

The dominos had toppled exactly as White desired. Only Detroit stood between Kershaw and the Dodgers. “If Andrew Miller wouldn’t have been there, Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t have been a Dodger,” former Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski recalled. But Miller was there, in part because Hochevar had not signed the year before.


Orange Country Register: Bill Plunkett writes about the cause of Gavin Stone‘s 2023 struggles, what he learned from them, and what he’s doing to address them.

Notably, he added two pitches last year in AAA.

The lack of success gave Stone no illusions about how much work he had to do.
“Failure sucks. So you do everything you can not to feel that feeling again,” Stone said. “That’s what this offseason was about, to not feel that again.”
The process really began for Stone in the second half of last season. He went back to Triple-A and added two pitches to his mix – a cutter and a two-seam fastball. The additions allowed him to get to different areas of the strike zone than he was with his four-seam fastball, slider and changeup.
“I think that really helps get people off my other stuff,” Stone said.
“Last year at the end of the year especially in Triple-A, those really helped a lot. Being able to hone in on those, get command of those this year will be huge.”

It’s also revealed that he had a blister that impacted his command and was tipping pitches.

A couple of other problems from his rookie season should be in Stone’s rear-view mirror. He was hampered by a blister on his right foot over the first half of the season, he said. The blister affected his command.
And Stone was guilty of tipping his pitches, allowing hitters to lay off his most effective pitch, his changeup.
“People could see when I wasn’t throwing the changeup, because my arm will just move to get to other pitches,” Stone said.
Correcting such subtleties took “a long time,” he said.
“Just because unconsciously, you change grips in your hand and the slightest little movement they can see,” he said. “So to be consistent with every pitch, and have the same look, it’s pretty hard. But it’s something you gotta do.”

I can basically look at stuff like this with hopium once, but it becomes a problem when the explanations for ineffectiveness start to become a trend, so here’s hoping for a better 2024 run.

Dodger Insider: The Dodgers lab is now real, folks.

“(The lab) is a collaborative effort to help target coaching and make players better and maximize their talents,” said Brandon Gomes, Dodger executive vice president and general manager. “The fact that we’re able to do this and do it at a high level, we’re really excited about it. We take pride in wanting to be trendsetters and at the forefront of the industry and taking on different initiatives or trying out ideas. And this will be another helpful step in doing that.”

“We want to at least strive to be at the cutting edge of what technology is — either has been introduced into baseball or what’s coming next,” said David Hill, director of the performance innovation laboratory. “So we’re constantly trying out new types of tech and making sure that we have available the things that are already well established and staying true to what we do well, but then also trying to push boundaries and keep moving forward.”


Baseball Prospectus: Ginny Searle looks at the Manuel Margot and Rayne Doncon trade with the Twins for Noah Miller (plus the subsequent signing of Enrique Hernandez), basically echoing at least my thoughts on it.

There’s little to conclusively argue for either Hernández or Margot’s 2024 outlook over the other’s, but the Dodgers must believe some combination of versatility, hardiness, and familiarity give Hernández the edge on their roster. For a team in this position, that’s enough to make the switch.

Baseball Prospectus: Searle also writes up the season preview for the Dodgers, breaking down PECOTA’s 102-win projection and projecting them to win 111 herself.

Really, what would it take for this team to fail to win 90 games? Pervasive injuries, natch, but how pervasive? The starting rotation goes 12 names deep without hitting upon a single guy projected for below-replacement level contribution. No one—not one single player—expected to step to the plate as a Dodger this year is in the red. That might not count for much come October, and these Dodgers might not be any more successful this summer than the teams that came before. But this is probably the most complete version of the club that has been assembled throughout this Dodgers dynasty, and that’s worth recognition.


FanGraphs: Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin have six Dodgers prospects in their Top 100. River Ryan is an eye-popper at #19, Dalton Rushing is #60, Diego Cartaya is #68, Thayron Liranzo is #72 (yes, that’s three catchers), Kyle Hurt is #86, and Joendry Vargas rounds things off at #92.

FanGraphs: Eduardo Quintero and Justin Wrobleski are mentioned within their picks to make next year’s Top 100, while Ronan Kopp and Alexander Albertus were mentioned by league sources.

Prospects Live: They have four Dodgers prospects in their Top 100. At #50 is Josue De Paula, #59 is Cartaya, #63 is Rushing, and #97 is Liranzo.

MLB Pipeline: They list their Top 30 Dodgers prospects, including naming the best tools in the system.

FanGraphs: Longenhagen lists his Top 49 Dodgers prospects, including blurbs on all of them, and a whopping 39 prospects of note.

The Athletic: Keith Law names his Top 20 prospects for the Dodgers, with 12 others being listed as well.

Baseball America: Among their 22 prospects to watch this year who were in the DSL last year are Samuel Sanchez, Joendry, and Christian Zazueta from the Dodgers.

Samuel Sanchez, RHP, Dodgers
Sanchez didn’t throw much during the regular season, but scouts who saw him believe his combination of present stuff and aggressiveness in the strike zone could give him a future in a big league rotation. He backs his fastball, which sits around 91-94 mph, with a budding curveball and a firm changeup, and all his pitches are thrown with a loose, quick arm.

MLB: The complete minor league coaching staffs for the Dodger affiliates were revealed.


Los Angeles Times: Unsurprisingly, Tony Clark and the MLBPA don’t have any problem with Shohei Ohtani‘s deferral-laden contract, nor any plans to change things.

“We want the players and their individual representation to have as many tools in the tool bag to work with teams to find common ground,” Clark said in an interview with The Times. “All of those things we should assume to be correct.”

“For us, the fundamental simply is making sure that the player, the individual representative and the teams that may be otherwise engaged have as many options at their disposal [as possible],” Clark said.
“It’s the rights that the players have, that they can choose to use in the fashion that they deem fit,” he added. “We offer them perspective. We offer them history. We offer them any information to help them make the best decision they can themselves. So if a player decides to do what Shohei did, they can make that determination. If another player comes in and he wants and finds a team that’s willing to have their contract all in present value, that’s fine as well.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody, as deferrals allow their membership to secure as much guaranteed money as possible from ownership. After all, they allow teams to manage their luxury tax numbers, which also allows them to spend on other players.

I knew people had lost their marbles over the Ohtani contract when they started saying the MLBPA needed to step in cause it was bad for players or something. If anybody would step in, it’s the owners, because they want the luxury tax to serve as a salary cap and for teams who try to win to be punished for it.

FanGraphs: Davy Andrews looks into which ballparks make it easiest to see the pitch, something I’ve always wondered about but didn’t know how to measure. For what it’s worth, Dodger Stadium ranks 6th, which makes sense with their batter’s eye.


On to the next.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times