2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Luke Raley
Luke Raley
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Luke Raley was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh round of the 2016 MLB draft but they had to re-acquire him before he was able to make his debut this year.

Raley’s path to L.A. took a brief detour after he was traded to the Minnesota Twins in a 2018 deal that brought Brian Dozier to the Dodgers.

The Twins then sent him back to L.A. in 2020 as part of the trade that sent Kenta Maeda to Minnesota. It was unofficially a three-way trade that brought Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers.

Raley did not make the roster out of Spring Training but he was quickly recalled on April 9, where he made his MLB debut against the Washington Nationals as a pinch-hitter.

It wasn’t until April 14 when Raley doubled against the Colorado Rockies to earn his first career hit. The next day, he started for the first time and went 0-for-4.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder spent a lot of time traveling between L.A. and Triple-A Oklahoma City as he was recalled six times during the regular season and a seventh time in the postseason.

Raley ended up appearing in 33 games and took 72 plate appearances, hitting .182/.250/.288 with two home runs and a 47 wRC+.

Despite his struggles, Raley did show some of the skills that made him intriguing for the Dodgers. His max exit velocity this season was in the 89th percentile of MLB players and his sprint speed was in the 92nd percentile.

He additionally showed off his power, most notably when hitting a 472-foot home run at Coors Field.

The Dodgers decided to carry Raley on their roster for the National League Wild Card Game against the St. Louis Cardinals and sent him to pinch-hit during the game. Raley struck out and was removed from the roster before the NL Division Series.

While it was a tough year for the outfielder, Raley learned to keep a positive mindset during the season.

“I ultimately learned to keep going,” he said in September. “I’ve had my struggles up here, gone down to Triple-A and been successful, then back up here and struggled. I need to stay positive and realize I can play at this level.”

Raley’s 2021 highlight

On April 16, Raley hit his first career home run to tie the game against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers went on to win 11-6 after scoring five runs in the 12th inning.

“It felt great,” Raley said after the game. “I knew I hit it well and when I saw it go over the fence I was just extremely excited.

“I knew that tied the game up, and that’s what matters. Winning ballgames. That’s what I want to help the Dodgers do.”

2022 outlook

As it stands right now, Raley should be in the competition for a more permanent spot on the Dodgers’ bench next season. However, it would not be surprising if he is one of the players who will be designated for assignment once the offseason resumes and the Dodgers continue to acquire more players.

If he sticks on the roster, Raley will likely play a similar role he did during the 2021 season, providing outfield depth and spending a lot of time between Triple-A and the Majors.

If the Dodgers do DFA Raley, there is a chance another team would claim him and he could earn a bench role somewhere else, but it seems just as likely that he would pass through waivers and return to Triple-A.

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