It’s no secret that this year’s Los Angeles Dodgers team is not going to beat you with speed.
Unlike last season when they ranked second in the Majors in stolen bases, the team ranks dead last in stolen bases this season. The biggest reason for that was the departure of Dee Gordon via trade to the Miami Marlins. Gordon alone has more stolen bases than the entire Dodgers team. Other reasons include the losses of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, as well as the injury to Carl Crawford. Regardless, this Dodger team wasn’t built to beat teams using speed.
However, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, the Dodgers are preparing players in the minors to possibly join the team and help with that lack of speed:
What the Dodgers have done this year, in the latest example of a new and creative front office diligently pursuing even the slightest of advantages, is to search for the most effective designated runner by opening what amounts to a baserunning academy.
The Dodgers invited five players to their “speed camp” and three made it through: Robbie Garvey, Edwin Drexler and Kyle Hudson. Drexler is the cousin of NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler and was drafted by the Dodgers in June.
Instead of working on hitting and fielding, the plans for Drexler were a bit different as laid out by Dodgers director of player development, Gabe Kapler:
They said they were going to make me into a baserunning monster,” Drexler said.
The three players were to focus on baserunning only and were then dispersed in the minors to do what they were taught. In 40 games, the trio has had zero at-bats and have stolen 27 bases in 36 tries.
With the idea that one of them could be a possible September call-up, the three players jumped at the chance to make an impact:
We said, ‘We have an opportunity for you to be a professional baseball player again,'” Kapler said. “That’s not a tough sell.”
It’s unclear if any of the three will join the Dodgers in the coming months, but the thought of making the Majors was enough to sway the players. One thing that could hurt them is the acquisition of prospect Jose Peraza, who is valuable on defense and at the plate, as well as on the bases. The Dodgers could decide to use him in September, but it’s not a given.
Even if the Dodgers don’t use this to their advantage this season, it’s a look into what the front office has in mind for maximizing any advantage they can.