While there’s been change at the top with Dave Roberts replacing Don Mattingly as manager, the roster the rookie manager inherits features the same core from last season.
Howie Kendrick’s return means the only change among position players — at least at present time — is at shortstop, where Corey Seager replaces Jimmy Rollins. However, even that change is a bit overstated as Seager was the regular starter down the stretch in 2015.
Spring Training will not only afford Roberts his first opportunity to see how the various pieces can fit together, but also a look at some of the organization’s prospects.
Los Angeles currently has extended 20 non-roster invites for Spring Training; 10 of which have gone to pitchers.
Among them are Jose De Leon and Julio Urias, whom many believe are on the doorstep of making an impact in the Majors. Other notables who received a non-roster invite were Chris Anderson, Cody Bellinger and Chase De Jong.
Although some may believe Spring Training can be used as a measuring stick for the crop of prospects, Roberts is primarily looking forward to how they interact in the clubhouse, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:
He’ll be selective about using Cactus League games to evaluate prospects (like Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, and the other young non-roster invitees). “We’ve done a great job accumulating talent and giving us options. To see these guys on a major league field, around major league players, is always fun. With Arizona spring training, it’s hard to evaluate, so you can’t get too ahead of yourself — with the light air, the ball flies. But just to see how these guys carry themselves in a major league clubhouse is exciting.”
For Urias, the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, it will mark his second Spring Training appearance with the Dodgers. Last year, he posted a 4.50 ERA with three walks and two strikeouts over two innings pitched in Cactus League games.
De Leon, who was ranked the No. 5 right-handed pitching prospect in baseball, will make his Spring Training debut. While with High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2015, De Leon went 4-1 record with a 2.15 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and averaged 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
De Leon closed the season with Double-A Tulsa, where he went 2-6 with a 4.11 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 16 starts.
Anderson, the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2013, is set to participate in his third Spring Training. After a forgettable spring debut where he posted a 13.50 ERA, his second time around saw improvement.
Last spring the right-handed pitcher allowed only five hits, two earned runs, and two walks, while striking out three batters in six innings pitched.