Has James Outman completed sufficient to make Dodgers roster?
As he walked off one of many Camelback Ranch backfields Monday morning, Dodgers triple-A supervisor Travis Barbary crossed paths with outfield prospect James Outman.
“Have a day, Outty!” Barbary exclaimed, recent off watching the extremely touted 25-year-old crush three house runs in a reside batting follow session.
“I got one more, right?” Outman requested, jokingly.
Barbary laughed and shook his head.
“No,” he mentioned, glancing over the distant outfield fence Outman had repeatedly cleared with ease. “There’s no more balls left.”
Chalk it up as the most recent stellar second of Outman’s standout spring — one more resounding assertion within the younger slugger’s bid to make the Dodgers’ opening day staff.
Coming into the season, Outman was seen as the highest outfielder within the membership’s system, however a participant who may nonetheless profit from extra minor league seasoning.
He was, in any case, only a few seasons faraway from an enormous overhaul of his mechanics. He’d logged solely 212 profession at-bats in triple A, not reaching the minors’ highest stage till halfway via final season.
And although he’d impressed in a quick debut within the majors final July — hitting a house run in his first at-bat and going six for 13 in 4 video games general — he’d additionally struck out seven occasions, an indication that holes remained in his revamped swing.
Still, that preliminary style gave Outman a renewed longing for the large leagues.
“When he came back down … I asked him, ‘How was it?’ ” Barbary, who manages the group’s Oklahoma City affiliate, recalled this winter. “And he said, ‘All I want to do is get back, and I’m going to do whatever it takes.’ And he played great the rest of the year.”
Outman closed the marketing campaign on a tear, posting a .293 batting common and 1.018 on-base-plus-slugging share in triple A that included 15 house runs and two cycles inside the span of every week.
That robust end has carried over to the spring.
In 23 Cactus League at-bats, Outman has 9 hits — 4 of them for further bases, two of them as no-doubt homers. He’s pushed in eight runs. And he’s struck out solely six occasions, including three walks for an on-base-percentage of practically .500.
“Training the hitting aspect, rather than just the swinging aspect, is a big thing.”
— Dodgers outfielder James Outman
In reside batting follow Monday, his streak continued. Evan Phillips, Caleb Ferguson and Daniel Hudson all turned and watched Outman take one among their pitches deep.
“My second time facing hitters in eight months,” joked Hudson, who not too long ago returned from a torn ACL, “and they got me facing Babe Ruth over here.”
And there’s actually an opportunity Outman may nonetheless be left off the opening day staff?
Apparently, sure, primarily based on the best way supervisor Dave Roberts has tip-toed across the query in latest weeks.
“Is he big league ready? I would say he is,” Roberts mentioned. “How we shake out, that’s a different question. But yeah, he’s doing everything he can do.”
And because the clock ticks towards the tip of camp, there are a number of components at play.
Scouts have been cut up on how properly Outman’s sport may translate to an prolonged huge league keep.
Though he has the uncooked energy and pure athleticism to be a probably productive MLB slugger, some evaluators have questioned if his swing nonetheless has a couple of too many shifting items to carry up towards higher-caliber pitchers able to altering speeds and attacking numerous elements of the plate.
The Dodgers may think about going one other course with the roster spot that’s been left open by Gavin Lux’s season-ending harm. Other veteran choices within the infield and outfield stay in rivalry, reminiscent of Steven Duggar, Yonny Hernández and Luke Williams.
At the crux of the choice, although, is what the Dodgers imagine is finest for Outman’s long-term future:
Guaranteed on a regular basis at-bats within the minor leagues, at the very least for the opening leg of the season? Or extra of a part-time function with the large league squad, which already has two left-handed-hitting outfielders penciled into its season-opening roster.
“High-class problems,” Roberts mentioned of the scenario. “This is good, the competition. Guys are performing, guys are competing. And we have a lot of great options.”
Outman declined to wade into the roster hypothesis Monday, saying he’s “trying not to think about it” as spring coaching enters its ultimate couple of weeks.
His latest focus has been on situational hitting and making an attempt to refine his method in high-leverage journeys to the plate.
“Is he big league ready? I would say he is. How we shake out, that’s a different question. But yeah, he’s doing everything he can do.”
— Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts on outfielder James Outman
Sunday’s sport towards the Cincinnati Reds supplied the newest check. In the third inning, Outman popped out with the bases loaded. In his subsequent at-bat, he bounced again with an RBI double.
“Training the hitting aspect, rather than just the swinging aspect, is a big thing,” he mentioned.
The speedy response caught Roberts’ eye.
“James is unique,” the supervisor mentioned. “I put his mentality in the [Dodgers catcher] Will Smith bucket, as far as [being] unflappable.”
It doesn’t imply, nevertheless, Outman isn’t having fun with his breakout spring efficiency.
Among the numerous methods the rookie has ingratiated himself to his new teammates, probably the most seen is perhaps the pet rock he retains perched in his locker, a grey fist-sized stone with a toothy smile markered on as a face.
Outman initially acquired it early in his triple-A stint final yr, when Oklahoma City pitcher Marshall Kasowski handed it alongside as a very good luck appeal from the pitching employees.
“Hey, we used to have this for the pitchers,” Kasowski instructed Outman. “But we started giving up too many hits.”
Ironically, Outman famous, the reward didn’t initially work.
“I wasn’t swinging it very well,” he mentioned.
Before lengthy, although, Outman discovered a groove he has but to lose.
So, the rock has stayed round as a minor superstition — going with him to spring coaching, highway video games and, perhaps sometime quickly, a stall within the house clubhouse of Dodger Stadium.
Times employees author Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.