One of their new hires was former MLB player Gabe Kapler for their director of player development. Kapler finished baseball in 2011 and joined Fox Sports One as an analyst in 2013 before joining the Dodgers. He’s a proponent of health and advanced stats, fitting right in with the new direction in Los Angeles. His first big project was the Winter Development Camp that was held at Dodger Stadium and had 27 young players and prospects. It was a change from the previous camps in the fact that the players spent more time in the classroom than on the field.
Kapler discussed some of his new ideas and philosophies regarding player development with Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
One thing we want to do is avoid locking ourselves into any organizational philosophy that can’t be easily altered or improved,” said Kapler. “While mining for best practices, we have overarching themes and philosophies, but we don’t want to say, ‘This is what we believe’ and get so dug in that we’re not capable of being nimble as new studies present better ways to approach problems and development. That flexibility is a thought process that we have to constantly talk about it with players and staff.”
The Dodgers have had a few All-Stars come through their system in recent years (Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, etc.), but have failed to have the type of system that continually filters to the majors. One issue was previous owner Frank McCourt, who underfunded the scouting department.
Now the Dodgers are on the right track and it will be up to Kapler to make sure the plan keeps up:
One thing I realized quickly is that player development is a job about human development, masquerading as a job in baseball,” he said. “It’s all about human development. So, if you work toward developing human beings, then we believe that building more confident, better adjusted men will turn into stronger teammates, will make better baseball players, will help win championships at the Major League level.
If the Dodgers can combine excellent player development with their ability to spend money, there could be a new dynasty in Los Angeles.