The Dodgers head into 2013 with a loaded roster and a hefty payroll. But, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be guys who step up and surprise in Spring Training.
As the first Cactus League games get underway this weekend we take a look at some players to watch for in Spring Training who could potentially have an impact on the big-league team during the regular season.
Chris Withrow, RHP
Withrow was the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2007. He was added to the big league roster to prevent him from entering the Rule V Draft. The Dodgers are stacked with starting pitching, so Withrow won’t be cracking the starting rotation anytime soon. However, as a former No. 1 draft pick and a guy the Dodgers purposely added to give protection, he certainly warrants watching in Spring Training to see what he’s about.
The trio of Kevin Gregg/Mark Lowe/Peter Moylan, RHPs
The Dodgers recently signed the three veteran righties to minor-league contracts with invitations to camp. The back-end of the Dodgers bullpen is stacked with power right-handers Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, and Ronald Belisario. However, the rest of the Dodgers bullpen is made up of relatively inexperienced youngsters, and either of these three guys could compete for a middle relief spot.
Gregg has experience closing games with 144 career saves under his belt, including 22 as recently as 2011 with Baltimore. Lowe and Moylan have both been extremely effective setup men in the past, but both were slowed by injuries last season.
Jesus Flores, C
It’s unlikely the Dodgers would carry three catchers going into the season, but Jesus Flores could potentially push Tim Federowicz for the backup catcher job. Flores has major league experience with the Washington Nationals, but has seen his career marred by injuries. Flores would bring a .241 career average and solid defense to back up A.J. Ellis
Yasiel Puig, OF
One of the first big investments of the new ownership group is Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers signed the 22-year old Puig to a seven-year/$42 million deal, last year.
In his brief minor league stints at rookie level and class-A Rancho Cucamonga, Puig hit a blistering .354 with 5 HR and 15 RBI in 23 games. Puig was sidelined with a staph infection but appears on track to participate in Spring Training.
The Dodgers have potential all-stars at all three outfield spots, and the organization will certainly want Puig to continue to develop for at least another year in the minor leagues, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him in the big leagues in 2013. However, Puig might be the Dodgers’ most exciting prospect in years, and is someone who can’t be missed at Spring Training.