Sunday, June 23, 2024
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The Dodgers are Counting on Better Production From Their Kids

James Outman

I’ve been advocating for a Dodger’s youth movement for a couple of years now. This season we are finally seeing those young players promoted to the big club. The Dodgers have called up a large group of rookies in 2023. I’m happy to see them play but they’ve been collectively disappointing. I still believe in the kids, but how long do the Dodgers go with some of these guys and can they win with unproductive prospects?

The Dodgers are not supposed to be in rebuilding mode. If they were then that would be an entirely different discussion. The Dodgers are expected to at least make the postseason this year but they are mired in a massive slump. They’re 5-10 in June and were just swept at home by the Giants. They’ve been in a tail spin for weeks and while we know the MLB worst bullpen is the main problem, the lack of results from the rookies has been overlooked.

I’m not talking about Bobby Miller. So far he’s been fantastic in his 4 starts. He seemed to get flustered on Saturday after that errant pick-off throw and took his first loss. He lost his composure and made some rookie mistakes. Otherwise his stuff looks nasty. Emmet Sheehan had a brilliant debut start, tossing six innings of no-hit ball. But I’m not sure what the Dodgers will get from him in future starts. I want to see more, but his stuff isn’t as electric as Miller’s. As I said before, I look forward to his next start. Michael Grove has shown he can throw hard, however he’s been terrible in most of his starts.

On the position player side, the Dodgers have gotten little to nothing from their prospects. Miguel Vargas one of their highly touted rookies has been well below average on both sides of the ball. He’s just been kind of there and contributing very little at the plate. Vargas is slashing .210/.315/.384 with 6 home runs and an 87 OPS+. His defensive metrics are well below average at second base. I understand patience is needed with the kids but at some point you have to show something. Maybe they should send Vargas down for a while?

James Outman got off to a strong start but has withered away into the middle months. He strikes out a lot. Outman has whiffed 84 times in 238 plate appearances and only drawn 23 walks. He hasn’t homered in weeks and is hitting .237. That comes out to a 104 OPS+ which is barely above average. He’s not a dazzling outfielder either so far. If the Dodgers can refine his swing and he can make contact more consistently then he’s got a chance to be a regular contributer.

Michael Busch, another top prospect hasn’t shown much either. He’s 6 for 29 with a .207 batting average and a 50 OPS +. I know it’s a small sample size, yet the results are not there yet. Jonny Deluca came off the bench on Sunday and got a hit but he’s 5 for 18 and has posted a 55 OPS+ in almost 20 plate appearances.

I understand every prospect develops differently. Some take several years to adjust to the majors. But the Dodgers don’t have long to wait. Let’s take the Giants as comparison. San Francisco’s farm system is not ranked nearly as high as the Dodger’s farm, but a few of their prospects have come up and immediately been productive. We saw a few of them this weekend. Here’s some numbers for you to chew on below.

Blake Sabol 7 HR 100 OPS+

Patrick Bailey 135 OPS+

Lamont Wade Jr. 143 OPS+

Camilo Doval 1.99 ERA

Ryan Walker 1.23 ERA

Tristan Beck 3.31 ERA


Those guys aren’t hyped first round draft picks but they’ve come up from the minors and been productive. I’m not trying to say the Giants have a better farm than the Dodgers. They don’t. Those guys have been able to adjust quickly and they’re playing good baseball. All the Dodgers have gotten so far is 3 great starts from Bobby Miller, 1 excellent start from Emmet Sheehan and one good month from James Outman.

I heard David Vassegh on Dodger talk tell everyone that “This isn’t a try hard league, this is a results league”. The kids are going to have to step it up a little here. The Dodgers need them to start producing, grow up faster than expected and provide better than below average results. Otherwise the Dodgers are going to be in big trouble.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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