3 Pitchers That Can Make An Impact In 2017

As the Dodgers continue their off-season search for a number of arms that they can place into their rotation and bullpen for the start of 2017, I was thinking we take a look at what they have in the system already. Now these guys are quite the long shot for making any sort of impact at the start of the season, just due to the number of men that they have in front of them. But hey, I am sure the same was said about Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart. Both of them had some sort of influence on the 2016 season. If 2017 turns out to be anywhere near 2016 in terms of injuries, these players can expect to see the major league roster at some point.

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Trevor Oaks (AAA)

Oaks was the Dodgers seventh round draft pick in 2014. After posting a 6.31 ERA with 1.51 WHIP in his first season as a pro in rookie ball, Oaks erupted onto the scene and turned himself into a real prospect. He saw a drop in ERA in 2015, lowering it all the way down to 2.65. He started the year in low A-ball before making the quick move up to High-A. With a 1.04 WHIP and a .235 AVG against, 2015 was when Oaks put himself on the map as a real prospect.

His success carried on in 2016, when after just four starts he was promoted to Double-A Tulsa. There he posted an astounding 2.14 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP in 63 innings. Before he knew it, he was on his way to his third level of baseball on the season. He finished the 2016 season by tossing 63 more innings to the tune of a 3.00 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Oaks will definitely be starting the 2017 as a member of the Oklahoma City Dodgers rotation. The 23-year-old should not be too far down the pecking order, should some injuries arise. If he continues to dominate the minors, the Dodgers will have no choice but to give him a chance on the big league club.

Chase De Jong (AAA)

De Jong was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the second round of the 2012 draft. The Dodgers traded for De Jong in July of 2015, sending the Blue Jays three international bonus pool slots.

After tossing a combined 136 1/3 innings in between the Dodgers and Blue Jays minor league systems in 2015, he had decent numbers: A 3.43 ERA, .230 AVG against, 1.11 WHIP, and a 129 to 33 KK/BB ratio. He seemed to impress the Dodgers organization enough to earn him a debut in Double-A for the beginning of the 2016 season.

And 2016 was a magical year for De Jong, by far his best as a professional. It earned him the honors of the Texas League Pitcher of the Year as a member of the Tulsa Drillers and an end of the year promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. In 141 2/3 innings as a starter in Tulsa, he posted a fantastic 2.86 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, and 129 strikeouts. If not for the amazing run that Brock Stewart went on this season, De Jong would have been a shoo-in for the Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

De Jong should be joining Oaks in the OKC Dodgers’ rotation to start the season. The 22-year-old will have just as good of a shot as Oaks to make it to the Dodgers roster.

Josh Sborz (AA)

The third and final pitcher is the one that was drafted most recently. Taken 74th overall in the 2015 draft, Josh Sborz is doing more than anyone in the Dodgers organization probably thought he was going to do. In early 2015, Sborz was Virginia’s closer, leading them to the College World Series title. Usually, college relievers do not get turned into professional starters, but from the beginning, the Dodgers organization only planned on making Sborz a starter.

Sborz threw his first full seasons as a professional in 2016, and he tossed 108 1/3 innings for the Dodgers High-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga. With a 2.66 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, he went on to win the 2016 Cal League Pitcher of the Year award. Reliever turned starter, Sborz turned the Dodgers faith in him into something special. He earned a late season call up to Double-A Tulsa, where it looks like he will start the 2017 season.

After such a successful first full season in the minors, Sborz could continue to make huge strides in 2017. Even though he is just going to be entering his second full season as a professional, as a college draftee, he will already be 23 years old. With a strong first few starts, it would not be a surprise to see him hit Triple-A early. That could leave him as a viable option for the late months of the season. If he continues to thrive as a starter, the Dodgers will have struck gold.

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  1. Sborz seems likely to stay in the minors.  I think the Dodgers will start him out again in AA, unless they want to be aggressive with his assignment and send him to OKC.  However, I would imagine the rotation at OKC could be crowded so they may just start him at AA so he can continue to get innings as a starter.

    Oaks probably will not see time in the majors this year, barring a large number of injuries in front of him.  Consider the SP depth chart ahead of him: Kershaw #1, Hill #2 (assuming the rumor mill is accurate that we are bringing him back), Maeda #3, Urias #4, and then the #5 spot in the rotation has a mix right now of McCarthy, Kazmir, De Leon, Stewart, Stripling, Wood, and technically De Jong all ahead of him.  De Jong would get the call before Oaks because he is already added to the 40 man roster, whereas Oaks hasn’t been added.  Now, that could change as the season progresses, and some of those names in the mix for the #5 spot could be traded (i.e. Stewart, De Leon, Stripling), end up in the pen (Wood, Stripling), or get injured (McCarthy, Kazmir).  As much as I would love to see Oaks make it to The Show this year, he is likely going to spend a full season at AAA and then get added to the 40 man next off-season at the earliest.  

    Our SP depth is really impressive, all things considered.  Though much of that is in the form of 4/5 type pitchers depth.  Should be an interesting season coming up in terms of who has what role in the rotation/bullpen.

  2. yarritsblake 

    I know a lot of people are against the Hill signing (if it
    comes to fruition), but I am not. I understand he is projected to throw less
    than 125 IP.But what if he does perform
    as he did last year, and with Boston in 2015? When healthy (I know a BIG IF), his curveball
    is unhittable.I think De Leon and one
    of Kazmir/McCarthy gets moved in a trade or trades, leaving Stripling/Stewart/Wood/Kazmir
    or McCarthy vying for the #5 spot in the rotation.Wood probably goes to the pen.Stewart probably starts the year in OKC with
    De Jong and Oaks.Sborz will get there
    sometime in 2017, probably when Stewart moves back to LA.But Hill gives Stewart/De Jong/Oaks more time
    in AAA.

    Everyone mentioned is really
    back of the rotation type pitcher (not bad pitchers, just not front end).I am waiting on Buehler and Alveraz who are
    front end rotation pitchers but will not be ready until 2018 and 2019, about
    the time Hill can move down to #4 or #5 the last year, year & half of his
    contract.If Hill does not make it, then
    Stewart moves up from OKC, but he will have more time to mature at AAA before
    that happens.What other pitcher gives
    the Dodgers a chance for a #2 where they can use De Leon and others for other perceived
    needs (2B, RH bat for OF, relief, maybe 3B).Maeda will never be a #2, and Urias will not get there until 2018.

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