Since being brought on in 2010, former Los Angeles Dodger second baseman and current first base coach Davey Lopes has been instrumental in helping players learn the nuances of the stolen base.
Lopes has worked with just about every Dodger with speed in recent years, including former Dodger Dee Gordon, who stole 64 bases for the team in 2014. While Gordon is gone, Lopes is not done teaching and has a new speedster to lend his knowledge too. Darnell Sweeney is an infield prospect that is spending the spring in big league camp. Sweeney has been working on his versatility this spring, learning to play the outfield, and also is working with Lopes on utilizing his speed.
According to Ari Kaye of MLB.com, the 24-year-old is learning from the former Dodgers All-Star:
He’s taught me how to pick up keys and certain things I need to look for looking toward the pitcher,” Sweeney said. “I think right there, if I can learn that, that’s going to help me a lot during the season.”
Sweeney stole just 15 bases in Double-A last season, being caught 16 times in the process. The year before he stole 48 bases in 68 attempts in Advanced-A. While Sweeney does not have the same speed that Gordon possessed, he’s definitely fast enough to become a threat on the basepaths.
While he may be a year away from being a consistent contributor for the Dodgers, Lopes believes Sweeney can help his chances by using his gift:
Wherever he goes, he has basestealing ability, so he’s got to utilize it,” Lopes said. “That’s the area that’s going to help him — enhance his chances of getting to the big leagues, staying in the big leagues and playing in the big leagues on a consistent note.”
If Sweeney can become a base stealer and combine that with versatility, it will be hard for the Dodgers to keep him in the minors much longer.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Darnell Sweeney Talks Versatility