Dave Roberts Picks Dodgers Spring Training Surprises

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

With 2023 Spring Training now over, the Los Angeles Dodgers turn their sights to the regular season that begins Thursday with an Opening Day matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The final game of the spring also gave Dodgers manager Dave Roberts a chance to reflect on the past month as they look forward to the actual season getting underway.

Ultimately, Roberts felt the club accomplished everything they needed to and he is now excited to begin the real games. But since the beginning of camp, there were a few things that stood out to the skipper.

“The biggest surprise of Spring Training, I think one part of it is how Miguel Rojas has assimilated with our ballclub, pitchers included,” Roberts said. “I’m really impressed with, he’s not here with us, Gavin Stone. I was really impressed with Gavin Stone. And I’m really impressed with James Outman, how he’s continued to make strides.”

Rojas was expected to serve in a utility role for the Dodgers this season, but the injury to Gavin Lux forced the veteran shortstop into a starting role. He was also supposed to participate in the World Baseball Classic with Team Venezuela but withdrew from the tournament to focus on his new starting job with the Dodgers.

Rojas chose to stay with the Dodgers so he could form relationships with his new teammates and build chemistry with Miguel Vargas in the middle infield. The decision seems to have paid off, at least in Roberts’ view.

Stone has quickly risen through the Dodgers prospect rankings to become one of the highest-touted pitching prospects in MLB, and this spring he got a chance to show what he can do for the first time.

The right-hander pitched 6.2 innings and struck out 14 hitters while allowing no runs on five hits and two walks. He also showed off an elite changeup that made hitters look foolish.

Stone should make his MLB debut in 2023 and if Spring Training was any indication, he could become a front-of-the-rotation starter.

Outman went into camp competing for a spot on the team, and that path opened up even more when Lux tore his ACL and LCL. He ended up being the most impressive hitter in Spring Training for the Dodgers, finishing with a .283 average, three home runs, 11 RBI and a .957 on-base plus slugging.

The production earned him a spot on the Major League roster, which will mark his first Opening Day with the team. He should be an important piece in helping the Dodgers replace some of the offense they lost in free agency.

Dodgers plan for James Outman

Outman will be one of six outfielders on the Dodgers’ active roster, along with Mookie Betts, Jason Heyward, David Peralta, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson.

Betts will be the everyday starter in right field, and left field will be shared by Peralta and Taylor. Thompson is expected to get the majority of at-bats in center field against left-handed pitching and Outman will get most of the starts when a right-hander is on the mound.

“You know, I just want it to be clear, cycling in and out, it’s essentially two positions of nine spots in the order,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of how his outfield will be configured.

“So I think that for us, right now, Trayce and C.T. are going to take the brunt of those left-handed at-bats. And then versus right, I think it’s a combo of James, Peralta and J-Hey.

“I think that James is going get the lion’s share of those right-handed at-bats in center field. So when you look at it like that, then it’s kind of seeing how guys perform.”

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