The Los Angeles Dodgers farm system is considered one of the best in all of baseball right now with top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias leading the pack. The young prospects are not far away from being Major-League ready, and it is possible that we could see them as September call-ups this season.
Another Minor-League player may reach the Majors sooner, however, is Cuban defector Hector Olivera. The 30 year old played professionally in Cuba for 10 years, thus when the Dodgers officially signed him to a six-year, $62.5 million deal in March, it was believed he would reach the Majors in a short amount of time.
The situation hasn’t played out as such, and Olivera suffered a small setback with a hamstring strain. He recently visited the Dodgers at Chase Field and according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly spoke of Olivera growing more comfortable at third base:
One of the reasons he has been in the minors is because of a position change. He played mainly second base and a little first base in Cuba, but the Dodgers are attempting to turn him into a third baseman.
Mattingly said Olivera told him he was gaining a comfort level at third base after playing his career on the other side of the infield.
What the Dodgers really signed Olivera for is his bat. He hit .323 with 96 home runs over the 10 seasons in Cuba. He’s also shown the ability to hit the ball the the other way, which is something that Mattingly asked Olivera for clarification on:
I asked him why all the Cuban players hit the other way,” said Mattingly, who is critical of young Major Leaguers that have not learned to hit using the entire field. “He said if you play on the national team there, at a young age they teach you to hit the other way. All the Cuban guys seem to do that. [Yasiel] Puig does it really good. [Yasmany] Tomas has that inside-out swing, [Jose] Abreu, too. They all learn that approach. Somebody down there is teaching that at a young age and I like it a lot.”
The Dodgers have maintained Olivera won’t be promoted to the Majors until he’s comfortable both on and off the field. When also taking into account the hamstring injury, it isn’t beyond reason to believe his Dodgers debut won’t come until some point in July or August.