Now that spring training is in full force, life is good! Gone are the days of suffering through meaningless TV sports like college or professional basketball games, grunt-fest tennis matches or, God forbid, Australian rugby.
Last night, I actually got to watch a replay of the Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Oakland A’s on MLB Network. Nothing better than knowing that the children are all safely tucked in their beds, my wife is securely snoozing and the house is all quiet for a current version of the 1988 World Series rematch between the Dodgers and A’s!
Maybe you’re not like me, but during spring training, I don’t care how Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier and other studs for the Dodgers are doing. Why? Because those guys are going to be in the opening day lineup, whether or not they have a horrid spring.
I want to know how the young bucks on the Dodgers are doing this spring. I want to know which offensive linemen and wide receivers (numbers 70-89!) are trying to make a case to crack the 40-man roster.
So far this spring for the Dodgers, three players are making a bid to star on an episode of “American Pickers.” You know that show, right? It’s where two dudes go around the country (more like the middle of nowhere!) trying to take one man’s junk and turn it into their treasure.
Three young (well, let’s say two young and one not-that-old) players are trying to give manager Don Mattingly no choice but to bring them to Los Angeles. Coming soon to a Los Angeles area garage sale near you: Josh Fields, Alex Castellanos and Cory Sullivan.
Josh Fields – This is a guy who gets me excited about his chances to make the team. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t even remember the Dodgers signing Fields to a contract back in January. I had to look him up to even know who he was and why he has started off this spring by hitting .800. Why should we be optimistic about the 29-year-old Fields and his chances in 2012 for the Dodgers? Here’s why:
- Juan Uribe is just a fat explosion away from missing time at third base for the Dodgers. Where does Fields specialize? You got it – third base.
- Fields was the 18th overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
- Baseball Prospectus ranked Fields as the 45th-best prospect in all of baseball in 2007.
- Fields is so athletically gifted that he set a record in the 2004 Cotton Bowl by passing for 307 yards as quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
If Fields can continue his torrid pace at the plate this spring, he just might end up making the Dodgers as a backup for Uribe. If Fields doesn’t land in Los Angeles, he will probably end up at triple-A for more seasoning.
Fields smacked 23 homers and drove in 67 runs for the White Sox in 2007, but then a bad hip ruined things for him after that. Fields is now with his fifth team since 2007, so he can definitely turn the Dodgers’ junk find into a treasure by making the team.
Alex Castellanos – Castellanos was obtained from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 in the Rafael Furcal trade. The 25-year-old Castellanos plays second base and the outfield, which doesn’t hurt his chances in Los Angeles.
Castellanos has never had a taste of the big leagues, like Fields; however, a study of his minor league numbers hints at impending success in Los Angeles. After he was drafted in 2008, Castellanos made fans yawn with his minor league numbers … until 2010!
Two years of single-A ball in 2008 and 2009 saw Castellanos hit a combined 13 homers. In 2010, though, Castellanos stroked 13 homers and drove in 58 runs at single-A. Last season, he smacked 23 homers, drove in 85 runs and posted a .320 average at double-A for the Cardinals.
Castellanos also has averaged 19 stolen bases a season over the past four years. A second baseman who can hit for power, drive in runs and steal bases doesn’t sound too shabby at Chavez Ravine.
Cory Sullivan – Sullivan has to be the longest shot of this group. By MLB standards, Sullivan is “long in the tooth” at 32 years of age. The center fielder is most certainly playing for a permanent backup role to all-everything Matt Kemp with the Dodgers.
Sullivan is trying to make the most of his chances, though. He is hitting .600 thus far this spring after a 3-for-4 performance against the A’s. Sullivan’s big-league numbers in 2008-10 with Colorado, the New York Mets and Houston Astros were nothing to write home about – a combined two homers and 23 RBIs with a .218 batting average.
At triple-A in 2008 and 2009, Sullivan did enough to merit some consideration. In 2008 with the Rockies’ triple-A affiliate, Sullivan hit seven homers, drove in 47 runs and hit .320. In 2009 with the Mets’ triple-A team, he hit two homers, drove in 24 runs and batted .290.
Unless Sullivan keeps hitting .600 the rest of the spring, he probably won’t make the Dodgers. There’s a reason that Sullivan is now with his fifth team. But what’s not to like about an aging Bull Durham who just wants another shot?