As spring training comes to an end, the rash of Dodger injuries continue.
The latest two injuries are to starting right fielder Yasiel Puig, who sat out Saturday’s game with tightness in his hamstring, and Scott Kazmir, who left his last start early with abdominal tightness.
The rash of Dodgers injuries is getting out of hand and some pundits and fans are writing off the season. But there is hope if the Dodgers can stay tight in the race until the middle of the season.
As teams in the pennant race make big moves to bring in weapons for the stretch run, the Dodgers will essentially be getting weapons for free as their own players come off of the disabled list.
Rather than trading prospects for big arms mid season, the Dodgers will get Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, and possibly Brett Anderson back. Rather than salvaging the farm for an offensive weapon, the Dodgers will be getting Andre Eithier back.
In the meantime, the Dodgers goal should be to stay within striking distance of the Giants and Diamondbacks until Ryu, McCarthy, Anderson, and Eithier come back. When those four players do come back, the Dodgers will be in good shape to take over the National League West and make a playoff run assuming they are not more than ten games back in the standings.
Catching depth has been an area of concern in past seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But a solid spring training from their top catching prospect ,on top of good springs by AJ Ellis and Yasmani Grandal, have put those concerns to rest.
Austin Barnes has been as hot as the Arizona weather with four home runs in 27 at bats to go along with a .310 average.
The Riverside Poly High School graduate was part of the Dee Gordon trade. He posted solid numbers in Oklahoma City with a .315 batting average and 9 homers. Known as a pitch framer, Barnes was rated as the second best defensive catcher at any level of baseball.
Austin is the nephew of former Angels infielder Mike Gallego and has used that lineage to become a second baseman on top of catching.
Barnes is fighting for a roster spot and his versatility might earn him that spot.
During his college days at Arizona State, Barnes played catcher, second base, third base, and a few games at shortstop.
With Corey Seager injured, could Barnes and his hot bat be a replacement for the starting shortstop?
The thought of your prototypical catcher making diving stops up the middle or turning a double play seems laughable, but Austin Barnes is not built like a prototypical slow catcher.
Barnes is fast stealing 12 bases last year at Oklahoma City and has shown he can be athletic enough up the middle to play second base in the major leagues.
Looking at the other options at shortstop and looking at spring statistics from Barnes, starting him at shortstop until Seager gets back is not that bad of an idea.
Former first round draft pick Grant Holmes finished his first professional season with low A Great Lakes posting a 6-4 record with a 3.14 ERA.
The 19-year-old South Carolina native blew away older players with 117 strike outs in 103.1 innings, but some scouts are worried about his secondary pitches.
Whether 19-year-old Yadier Alvarez joins Holmes in Rancho Cucamonga is a big mystery.
While the high A California League makes sense, some people think he will land in short season leagues because of concerns about his durability and his lack of pitches outside of his 98 mph fastball.
The Dodgers spent $16,000,000 to sign the young Cuban flamethrower so it makes sense the team wants a fairly quick return on their investment meaning anything less than a stint with Great Lakes or Rancho Cucamonga would be a step back.
If both potential aces end up in the front end of the Rancho Cucamonga rotation, it could be a preview of a possible 2018 Dodger rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, and Kenta Maeda.
Imagine a team with Jared Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, and Even Longoria. Pretty good Major League Baseball team, right?
Now imagine those players on one college team. Unbeatable, right?
Long Beach State has quite the resume in terms of producing MLB All Stars with names like Weaver, Tulowitzki, Longoria, Jason Vargas, Cesar Ramos, Danny Espinosa, and others.
The Dirtbags (8-4) play in the difficult Big West Conference with college baseball powerhouses Cal State Fullerton, CSUN, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine.
Despite the tough conference, the Dirtbags have made four college World Series appearances and have started strong this season beating Pac-12 teams Arizona State and UCLA.
Long Beach State had a tough game on Monday Night rallying from a 3-0 hole to beat Fresno State 4-3. Senior third basemen Zack Domingues led the offense by going 4-4 and knocking in the winning run in the seventh while Garrett Hampson stole two bases in the game.
Freshman Chris Rivera nailed down his fifth save making against the Bulldogs (11-2) making him second in NCAA baseball in saves.
The Dirtbags hit the road as they travel across the country for a three game series against the Oklahoma Sooners this week.
UCLA and USC had an epic 14 inning battle in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. Casual baseball fans probably had their interest piqued, yet might not know much about college baseball in Los Angeles.
Unlike college football where UCLA and USC are the only division one powers in Los Angeles, there are many college baseball programs that can compete, and even beat, the Bruins and Trojans.
While UCLA beat USC in the Dodger Stadium Baseball Classic, they lost 10-1 to Long Beach State of the Big West earlier in the year and Long Beach State is not even the highest ranked team in the Big West!
Cal State Fullerton is the highest ranked Big West team at number 23 and the Titans are arguably the best program in the Los Angeles area with four national titles and 17 College World Series appearances.
The Titans (6-4) have won the Big West Conference title 28 times and have never had a losing season.
Senior Dalton Blaser has started strong for the Titans with a .385 batting average and .467 OBP. Junior infielder Timmy Richards has shown speed on the base paths stealing four bases on four attempts while batting .348. Both will probably be drafted by Major League Baseball teams later in the year.
Colton Eastman has burst on the scene as a freshman starting pitcher this year going 3-0 in his first three starts with a 1.89 ERA. He has also struck out 17 while only walking three batters.
Fellow Fresno product Blake Quinn has had three quality starts in his first three games. Quinn has struck out 21 batters in only 17 innings of work.
Fullerton has a nine game home stand starting tonight against Arizona State. The home stand also features Wichita State, San Diego State, and Maryland.
The Titans will start grueling conference games March 24 against college baseball powers Long Beach State, CSUN, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine as they try to repeat as Big West champion.
Never in the storied rivalry of cross town rivals USC and UCLA have the two teams played a baseball game that lasted 14 innings. It happened on Sunday with the Bruins topping the Trojans 5-3 in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic.
Freshman UCLA starting pitcher Brian Gadsby had a rough start as he allowed the Trojans (6-5) to score three runs in the first two innings before settling down to throw three straight scoreless innings.
Brett Stephens had a big day at the plate for the Bruins notching four hits on the day with two runs batted in. Designated hitter Kort Peterson added three hits for UCLA (6-5).
USC jumped out to a 3-0 lead and had plenty of chances to get a clutch hit and win the game, but it never happened. The Trojans left 13 runners on base in the game.
David Oppenheim went 3-4 with a walk for the Trojans. Joe Navilhon, Jeff Paschke, and Brooks Kriske all pitched well for USC (6-5).
The schedule for the Trojans does not get any easier as they head to Texas to face 11th ranked TCU. UCLA takes on CSUN on Tuesday in Northridge.
At Dedeaux Field on the USC campus, #22 Mississippi State was able to hold off #20 USC 8-7 when the Bulldogs got out of a ninth inning jam to secure the victory.
The Trojans had the tying run on third with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Bulldog closer Kale Breaux struck out the next batter and his defense made a great play on a ball up the middle to record the third out.
Across town, #14 UCLA scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Oklahoma 4-2. Eric Filia drove in two runs for the Bruins and had three hits on the day. Sooner pitcher Alec Hansen was the tough luck loser throwing six and a third solid innings giving up only two runs in the seventh inning.
Sunday’s games move to Dodger Stadium as Oklahoma takes on Mississippi State at 11 and USC battling cross town rival UCLA at 3.