Dodgers farm manager Will Rhymes doesn’t want to use the word “project.” But he knew when Los Angeles drafted outfielder James Outman from Sacramento State in the seventh round in 2018 that there was work to be done.
“We saw a tremendous amount of ability on both sides of the ball,” Rhymes said. “His swing was a bit – something we knew we had to dive into as a group from day one. We brought that to James and he immediately got to work on the offensive end.
“I think we saw the offensive advantage as massive with more plug-and-play defensive skills.”
Outman is considered by many to be MLB ready in defense. Rhymes said there are a lot of good elements in his left handed swing.
“I think if you look under the hood, his decision making is high end. I mean top of the charts, as is the quality of the contact,” Rhymes said. “So the components were there. “
Outman and the Dodgers’ hitting coaches worked on his swing, fine-tuning his mechanics to handle professional pitching and, in particular, synchronizing his lower body with his upper half.
“It’s awesome to see someone continue to dive and really understand their swing and what they’re trying to do and continually refine it,” said Rhymes. “Usually the development is not that linear, but it improves steadily.”
After a slow start at High-A Great Lakes this year, Outman, 24, started in July and continued after being promoted to Double-A Tulsa later in the month. During the season, he reached .266 / .379 / .490 with 18 homers and 23 stolen goals in 104 games.
This success continued in the early stages of the Arizona Fall League.
“He came to us with these components, and he was incredibly serious and curious about his swing,” Rhymes said, “and he was the main driver of the tweaks.
“The way it’s wired has been very impressive to watch. That’s why it’s made so much progress.”
– In order to add third baseman Andy Burns to their playoff roster when Justin Turner suffered a hamstring injury, the Dodgers had to clear a 40-man spot. Right-hander Edwin Uceta has been nominated for the assignment. Uceta posted a 6.64 ERA in 14 appearances for the Dodgers, but spent most of the season with the Oklahoma City Triple-A, where he had a 4.71 ERA.
– The Dodgers named third baseman Miguel Vargas and right-hander Hyun-il Choi the organization’s minor-league player and pitcher of the year. The award is named after Branch Rickey. Vargas had a combined 0.319 with 23 homers at High-A Great Lakes and Double-A Tulsa. Choi recorded an ERA of 3.17 and a WHIP of 0.83 at Low-A Rancho Cucamonga before ending the season at Great Lakes.
2018 Los Angeles Dodgers MLB Draft Notes
The Dodgers failed to sign Mississippi State right-hander JT Ginn, but there are others in their draft class that the team is excited about.