Dodgers Prospect James Outman Balances Incorporating Data With Being ‘Loose’

The Los Angeles Dodgers have created a rare opportunity for their roster this season after multiple mainstay players signed elsewhere which opened up a spot for younger guys. Prospect James Outman was called up for his MLB debut in 2022 but figures to be a heavy contributor moving forward.

Outman rose through the Dodgers Minor League ranks with defense being the most prominent aspect of his game. However, a record-breaking offensive onslaught in his debut on July 31 last season hinted there’s much more to the 25-year-old.

Outman carried that confidence with him after being optioned back to Triple-A Oklahoma City when he twice hit for the cycle in one week during August.

The Dodgers organization has been at the front of the analytics-driven movement, and on an episode of “Dodger Talk” with David Vassegh, Outman discussed how he incorporates data into his approach:

“It kind of depends on how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling like there’s something kind of obvious in any kind of data, whether that’s pitch characteristics or pitch frequency, stuff like that I’ll pay attention to the data. But I definitely have tried to stop thinking about the data as much in terms of hitting, exit velocity, launch angle and stuff. I’m just trying to get the barrel to the ball at this point. I feel like being able to dumb it down has helped me out a lot.”

Although Outman is mindful of leveraging useful data, he looks to balance that with taking more of a lax approach as well:

“You have to be thinking up there. You can’t go up there with no approach. I’m sure some guys can, and those are the elite of the elite guys. You’ve got to be thinking a little bit, but you’ve got to find that middle ground where you’re not thinking too much and you’re able to kind of turn your brain off when the pitcher lets go of the ball. … I think the goal is try to be loose, try to be fluid and be on time.”

Outman wrapped up an impressive year for OKC batting .292/.390/.627 with 15 home runs and 61 RBI. The Dodgers have multiple prospects who have a shot to make a large impact, with Outman, Miguel Vargas, and possibly Michael Busch being likely candidates.

Vargas and Outman should see a bulk of the opportunity after Dodgers regulars Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger weren’t re-signed.

How James Outman fits with Dodgers roster

After the Dodgers non-tendered Bellinger, a void in centerfield opened up which creates a hole that they’ll attempt to patch with a mixture of in-house candidates.

Trayce Thompson, Chris Taylor and Outman are the most-likely names, but it will probably be a rotating slot based on matchups. The Dodgers would prefer to allow Taylor to move around the diamond and maintain his valuable versatility.

For his part, Outman has said he is not worried about what role or position the Dodgers may ask him to fill in 2023.

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