2017 Pre-Spring Training Options for the Padres, Angels and Dodgers

Posted: January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

This is an application of my 2016 player development rating.  To follow are specific individuals within the baseball franchises of San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles who are most likely to earn a roster spot at the end of spring training or enjoy a pre-July summons to the big club.

Padres:  A.J. “I Never Lie.  Just Ask Me” Preller may as well extend a middle finger to the free-agency market.  Padres fans are weary of the poor winter signings and subsequent bad play at Petco.  Additionally, Mr. Preller suffers from a lack of honesty when engaging in trading Padres or Padres-to-be, thus I’m guessing his phone does not ring, buzz or scuttle across his desk enough to notice.  What to do?  I know.  Use the sizable pool of talent developed the last three years.

Austin Hedges and Rocky Gale could form a functional trio of defensive catchers once they join Christian Bethancourt (by the way, the mere notion of making him an eighth inning guy or closer, as discussed within the Padres organization, is idiotic).  All three have better than average toss rates and would incline would be base stealers to think twice.  If any of the three hits .240/.330 and tosses baserunners to the tune of 33%, success!

As for the infield positions, Hector Sanchez and Patrick Kivlehan both posted above average AAA numbers in 2016.  Why not share the first base spot until one proves better than the other?  The price, major league minimum salary, is certainly right.  Or would Padres fans rather see the 2017 James Loney resurrection occur in San Diego?  Carlos Asuaje and Nick Noonan could turn two at El Paso.  Turn two in MLB.  Ryan Schimpf played 51 games in AAA during 2016, and he had a fine introduction to San Diego during his two-thirds of the schedule stay.  He and third base seem a good fit.

Jon Jay leaving San Diego for greener pastures is proof enough that signing fourth outfielders to create a core of three is shortsighted at best and reeks of bad decision making at worst (probably the latter is a better explanation).  Alex Dickerson, Nick Torres, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jabari Blash, and Luis Tejada should enjoy extended play during the month of March in an effort to choose five to live in San Diego April forward.

Sadly, pitching isn’t as loaded as the 2-9 spots.  Andrew Lockett is the best bet to land a starting rotation gig.  Aaron Northcraft needs another year as does Seth Simmons and Kyle Lloyd.  However, if the 2017 Padres resemble the 2016 Padres, Mr. Northcraft, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Lloyd will enjoy an August 1st plane ride to San Diego.

The bullpen is similar.  Perhaps Kyle McGrath makes the team in March.  Phil Maton and Elliot Ashbeck enter AA ball  and A+ ball respectively in 2017.  At least the future possesses bullpen help.

I hope that Padres management recognizes the strategy (I’m kind) of the last few years has been, um, ineffective and highly disappointing to the point of despair.  Rather than throw good money after drowsy, disinterested, unmotivated, sloths of seasons gone by, let’s have fun with the kids.  You can’t do worse than 68-94.  I promise.

Angels:  This will be brief because the Angels have become pedestrian in player development.

Let me state that trading Jeff Bandy was shortsighted (dumb).  However, Jose Briceno and his 58%(!!!!) AA toss rate may be enough to convince Mike Scioscia to consider his arm in Anaheim sooner rather than later.

Ji-Man Choi returns to first base.  Why?  Because the Angels don’t have any other options at first.  No other in-house infield options exist.

Michael Hermosillo is the best 2-9 player in the Angels system.  He begins 2017 in AA ball.  Rushing him to Anaheim would be a poor decision.  2018, he likely arrives.  Prepare to be impressed.

Tyler Carpenter is the only impressive starter of note in system.  He will be Mr. Hermosillo’s teammate in AA in 2017.

Tyler DeLoach is the most likely bullpen candidate to arrive in 2017.  He begins the year in Salt Lake City.  A good couple of months means real meal money awaits him at the Big A.

Dodgers:  Andrew Friedman saw the boat fire that constituted the L.A. development system.  He pushed that boat into the Pacific, then bought a new boat, sails and oars.  Much better.

Granted, the Dodgers aren’t the Padres, but L.A. has a substantial amount of home-grown talent from which to choose and a patient manager, Saint Dave Roberts (2004.  A particular stolen base.  Heaven smiles, the Sox beat the Yankees and win a World Series) to guide said youngsters.  Who, you ask?

Austin Barnes is ready for a full-time catching slot.  Sure his bat is better than his arm, but a hitting catcher is rare and to behold.  Shawn Zarraga is on Mr. Barnes heels, and sports an impressive toss rate of 43% last year in AA.

Matt Beatty and Mike Ahmed both had impressive years in A+ ball, thus they are likely two years out.  This may coincide with the contractual expiration of Adrian Gonzalez.  Willie Calhoun had a good year in AA ball.  He stands a chance to make the squad as an extra infielder or perhaps even start at second.  Rod Segedin can play either corner.  His 2016 Oklahoma City numbers were impressive.

The L.A. outfield, always a problem for the Dodgers, may include Andrew Toles (a substantial talent), Cody Bellinger and/or Andrew Verdugo.

I view Julio Urias as a prospect, not a proven MLB starter.  2017 will determine does he stay in L.A. or does he rent in Oklahoma City.  Brock Stewart had 2016 AAA numbers comparable to Mr. Urias.  Either could land as the #4 and/or #5 starter given the calamities that usually infect Dodger starting pitching.

Grant Dayton enjoyed a call up to L.A. given exceptional AAA bullpen numbers.  He should stick in 2017.  Gus Schlosser was the victim of a 2016 rush job to L.A.  His AAA numbers are best described as “yuk” while his AA numbers were off the chart.  A good April and May in Oklahoma City should result in a proper return to L.A.  Caleb Dirks begins 2017 in AAA, but he could easily enjoy the friendly confines of dilapidated Dodger Stadium by July.

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