The Los Angeles Dodgers are easily the deepest team in the league, which gives the fans a lot to watch during Spring Training.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best problem that a team could have: too much depth. There is so much talent on the roster and so many valuable pitchers that can contribute both in the rotation and in the bullpen and not enough roster spot.
The team essentially has nine big-league starting pitchers and if you add Dennis Santana to the mix, the Dodgers could field a second starting rotation that would be better than a third of the league.
With so much talent it can be hard to keep up with all of the storylines of Spring Training. For most clubs, Spring Training presents an outlet for teams to get into the swing of things and to see some lesser know minor leaguers. For the Dodgers, it is a showcase of all the depth that the organization possesses.
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One storyline that fans should be watching this season is the re-arrival of Luke Raley, who was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the Kenta Maeda trade. Raley was orginally drafted by the Dodgers and this homecoming of sorts is more important than most fans realize.
The left-handed-hitting outfielder that is catching all the headlines right now is Cody Thomas, and rightfully so. Thomas is a non-roster invite this spring and has already hit two home runs and robbed one back.
Add that with the fact that he was Baker Mayfield’s backup in college and there is a compelling reason to pay close attention to Thomas, even if he is not on the 40-man roster and probably has no chance of making it in 2020.
Raley, on the other hand, is on the 40-man roster and is going to prove to be an intregal part of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020, similar to Matt Beaty a year ago.
Raley is essentially the Dodgers’ “next outfielder up” in the minor legaues that will be called on if anyone gets hurt. Sure, the team has Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor to play in the outfield and even Beaty can get some reps in, but if we see one outfielder get hurt, Raley will be the next man up.
This is especially true with Joc Pederson, who is actually dealing with soreness and has not been active at all this spring. While he most likely will be ready for Opening Day, that soreness, mixed with the fact that the Dodgers openly shopped him to the Los Angeles Angels, creates a potential door for Raley to the big leagues.
The role that he could help the Dodgers in would be very similar to Pederson’s as well. While he would not get the benefit of being an everyday player against right-handed pitching, he would be a nice platoon option to get A.J. Pollock some rest in left field against right-handed pitching.
Raley hit .333 against right-handed pitching in his last full minor league season in 2018 and hit .313 against righties in 2019. He does not have the same power potential as Pederson but he does put the ball in play more and has more gap-to-gap power.
Again — he does not get this role with Pederson and the rest of the outfield healthy but there will come a time this season where a door will open and Raley should be the first one that is granted access. The Dodgers traded back for Raley for a reason and he has all the potential to be the shocking rookie contributor of 2020.
So, with everything else that is going on this spring, make sure to pay extra attention to Luke Raley whenever you can. Chances are we will see him on the Los Angeles Dodgers at some point in 2020.