With full-squad workouts and Cactus League play underway, the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to get good looks at both the present and future in the coming weeks of Spring Training.
With a group that consists of All-Stars, veterans and up-and-coming prospects, there is no shortage of talent in camp. Many players have stood out among their peers, including top catching prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.
So much so that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has already come away impressed with their demeanors and interactions with teammates. “The confidence is there,” he said.
“The ability to take in what’s going on around them as young players, to learn, is there. They’re different players, but they look the part, it looks right.
“Whether they’re talking to Major League players in the bullpen, they’re talking to coaches, the way they receive, in the batter’s box the way they talk to hitting coaches, it looks right. They’re sort of on different paths with age, Smith is ahead of him a little bit, but they’re both on their way to having fun, long careers.”
As Roberts points out, Smith is considered more advanced than Ruiz given their ages and can potentially see some Major League action as soon as the 2019 season.
The 26-year-old is coming off an excellent campaign in which he split time with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-Oklahoma City, posting a .776 on-base plus slugging with 18 doubles, 20 home runs and 59 RBI over 405 plate appearances (98 games).
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently praised Smith for his defensive abilities, but noted he would have to improve his offensive game before receiving a promotion to the Majors.
Ruiz’s timeline falls more in line with the 2020 season, as he has yet to appear in a game above the Double-A level.