It’s no secret that the Dodger organization has fallen upon rough times. With an unstable ownership situation, constant legal turmoil, financial struggles, abysmal attendance, and a sub .500 record, there are very few reasons to smile at Chavez Ravine. But lately, Dodger fans have been treated to an early glimpse at some of the talent on the horizon. Several of the Dodger’s most highly touted prospects have made their major league debuts, either filling in for injured starters or getting a chance to prove themselves at the big league level.
Among the most highly anticipated names on the list was Dee Gordon. Most experts speculated that because of his inexperience, inconsistent defense, and slight frame, he would not make his debut until much later in the season and possibly not until next year. However, Mattingly was running out of patience after watching his club struggle through injuries and offensive woes. Gordon isn’t exactly hitting the cover off the ball, managing only a .270 On Base Percentage, but his real contribution is expected to come from his speed. He has stolen 4 bases in 16 games with the club.
Jerry Sands, who is currently back in the minor leagues after a short stint with the Dodgers, cooled off considerably after making a great first impression. He has seen limited playing time in left field and at first base and is expected to be the favorite for opening day left fielder in 2012. However, he may not have to wait that long to see big league time, as he may be called upon to replace an injured Marcus Thames.
Kenley Jansen, who turned heads last season with a nearly unhittable fastball, will look to reestablish his dominance this year. The converted catcher has yet to develop a strong secondary pitch, and while he has struggled in limited time this season while fighting injuries, there is still reason to believe he will develop into a highly revered closer.
Yet to see the majors is the young power hitting first baseman, Trayvon Robinson, who has been on an offensive tear lately, slugging .449 in the hitter friendly Albuquerque environment according to baseball-reference.com. Although he is still considered too raw to join the club just yet, most speculate that he will be the favored successor of the offensively inconsistent James Loney, whom the club has hinted as a possible non-tender candidate in the off-season.
On the pitching front, the Dodgers are excited to see the development of Zach Lee, last year’s first round pick. Having begun the year in A ball, he is not likely to reach the big leagues for some time, but the club is optimistic that he will someday join former top prospects Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley in a potentially unstoppable rotation.
Other names to look out for include Ivan De Jesus Jr., Josh Lindblom, and Jon Ely, all of whom have seen some big league playing time and may develop into fine ballplayers.
While fans await the day that the ownership situation is resolved and the Dodgers reclaim the National League Western Division, all eyes are on the future. As far as general manager Ned Colletti is concerned, the future is fast approaching.