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Dodgers Prospects: Bring Up Will Smith Now

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24: Will Smith #79 of the Los Angeles Dodgers stands at bat in the spring training game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

When Russell Martin was put on the Injured List the Dodgers recalled Rocky Gale instead of Will Smith. The plan, according to Dave Roberts, was to play Austin Barnes almost every game except start Gale when there was a day game after a night game. The plan was executed against the Cardinals in a loss on April 11 with Gale going 0-4 with three strikeouts and an error. Given the original plan to have Barnes catch 3 of every 5 games and Martin catch 2 of every 5, this is a significant deviancy that could have some negative impacts later in the season.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 17: Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a RBI single against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fifth inning in Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Burning Out Barnes

I guess since the Dodgers burned out Yasmani Grandal the last four seasons they will now burn out Barnes? The 3 of 5 game plan for Barnes is perfect and I wish they’d done that with Grandal last season. Baseball is a very hard game and it is hardest on catchers. Last season they went with Grandal so much because Barnes was not right. By the time the last part of the season and the post-season rolled around Grandal was bad. Nobody really knows if there is a true cause and effect for Grandal’s play in the post-season (he had some personal issues also in 2017) but why take a chance with Barnes? The Dodgers play for the post-season so why not play Barnes just 3 of 5 while Martin is out.

Austin Barnes is off to an excellent start in 2019 and is showing that 2018 was a fluke and not 2017. To have a well rested catcher in the pennant stretch and the post-season would be excellent. As we all saw in 2015, 2016 and 2018 a burned out catcher is not of much use. The Dodgers need to do something different to help Barnes stay fresh as they don’t know how long Russell Martin will be out. The injury Martin has seems similar to the one he had in Spring Training which cost him around two weeks.

Bring Up Will Smith

In our look at the Dodgers’ catching prospects Smith, according to former Quakes manager Drew Saylor, has a lot of great defensive skills. He did struggle during his AAA call up late last year, but has started off the 2019 season well. Smith is also 24 years old and he is the next guy up. He’s a better hitter and defender than Gale right now. When Gale started against the Cardinals, Walker Buehler was the pitcher. Smith had a lot more experience catching Buehler and maybe Walker does better with Will behind the plate.

Having Smith take over the 2 of 5 games part of the plan makes a lot of sense. Barnes stays relatively rested and the Dodgers see what Smith can do. I know the Dodgers probably don’t want to bring him up just to have to use an option to send him back to AAA when Martin comes back. He still would have options for both 2020 and 2021. If he still needs to be optioned back to AAA at age 27 in the year 2022 then he’s not very good in the first place.

Final Thoughts

Will Smith is a better player than Rocky Gale, period. The offensive potential is in favor of Smith and he already has the defensive edge. We already spoke about the minor league options issue so that isn’t an excuse. Getting Smith some experience now would be invaluable to him and keeping Barnes fresh is invaluable to the Dodgers. I’d like to see Smith catching at Dodger Stadium this Sunday against the Brewers.

Do you have any reason they should stand pat with Rocky Gale? Do you think Will Smith is a better option? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. Problem is the pitching not the catching…………Kyle Farmer is gone and we could of had Realmuto if we wanted to part with 2 of the 4 choices the Marlins asked for,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Smith,Ruiz,Lux or the real stud of all in May……………eat it now cause Smith is the only one I would consider dealing!!!

  2. Completely agree Tim, Smith as all young players will benefit from any Major League time he can spend as it will accelerate his maturation. Urias and Buehler this year are demonstrating regardless of talent the need for Major League experience there is no other way. Guys need to play at the highest level to improve and learn how to compete day in and day out against the other elite players.

    Gale is a perennial sub and not the answer for the Dodgers going forward.

    I have been very disappointed in the Bull Pen as I am sure we all are. I am hoping the team will being up young arms like Sborz that may help as Baez, Floro, Kelly have not been the answer and consistently blown games the Dodgers should have won. Games in APril are just as important as games in July.

  3. Put this one on Friedman again. Throwing in Farmer in the Cinnci trade was a mistake and Roberts knows that. Now, when we need a proven catch even though he didn’t catch that much in LA, he’s a good clutch hitter and does a decent job behind the plate. Smith is way ahead of Gale as a player and should have been the guy they called up first. How many games are we going to lose because of Friedman’s mistakes. It may be hind sight but bringing up Gale makes no sense. The guy can’t hit and leaves Roberts no options when he needs a hitter off the bench. It comes as no surprise as to who is calling the shots on many of the moves behind the scenes and in games situations as well, its Friedman, not Roberts. The bull pen sucks as a whole. Garica will be gone probably when Kershaw comes back thank God and I wish Baez would go with him before he costs us another game and whats with Kelly. He has been terrible. His fast ball has no movement and anybody can adjust to speed and Friedman should have seen this one coming. Actually, Friedman is one who should go. He builds a team to win a division, not a World Series

    t

    • All the current great Dodger players were brought in from Ned Colletti. They should bring him back and get rid of Friedman.

    • Denny, along with Freidman, Roberts needs to go too IMHO. Iv’e seen enough of both their acts! But was to know that this offense would return to their strikeout with RISP ways so soon this year

    • Farmer is one pf the best human beings to ever be in a Dodger uniform. However, it looks like he’s not a catcher. Even the Reds aren’t using him much behind the plate.

  4. I would bring-up Will Smith, but perhaps he is not major-league ready. Another possible reason, they(management) doesn’t want to promote their catchers(Smith,Ruiz,etc.) or pitchersGonsolin,May,White) is because their major-league service time would start and ofcourse the Dodgers want to keep these players under their control longer.

  5. It is encouraging to see how blessed we in the Dodger Nation are with young catching prospects. I believe more so than at any time I can remember and I have been a fan since Campy was behind the plate. Speaking of which, I read an article that talked about Campanella catching 5 or more games a DAY when in the old Negro Leagues, so maybe we worry too much about this platoon business?? Put Austin back there, give him a day off once in a while (he is a fantastic catcher and his bat has came back) and if you need to call up someone to fill in for Russell I agree that it should be Will Smith. We need to win these games in April and we should be putting our best horses in there. Go Dodgers!

  6. And while we are bringing up Smith, lets bring up Gonsolin; our BP is so pathetic a healthy arm who can actually pitch would be a welcoming sight. We have now lost 5 in a row, and we have yet to face the Mets and Phillies. Go Blue!!!

  7. The Dodgers bringing up Gale instead of Smith tells ya all one needs to know about freidman and his puppet, Roberts….DUMB…STUPID, RIDICULOUS, and downright irresponsible as far as this team goes! No offense but Rocky Gale DOES NOT…I REPEAT DOES NOT BELONG ON ANY MLB FIELD.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I want to know AF’s rationale for NOT bringing up Smith; what’s in that pea brained head of his?

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