Outman flashes athleticism in Glendale win

October 31st, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- showed why he's regarded as one of the best all-around athletes in the Dodgers' system Saturday night. He homered and made three quality plays in center field to lead the Glendale Desert Dogs to a 5-4 win over the Salt River Rafters.

Outman began the Arizona Fall League game by making a leaping catch of a drive by Diamondbacks right fielder Dominic Canzone in deep center. He made a diving grab of a sinking liner to rob Brewers shortstop David Hamilton in the top of the third, then smoked a fastball from Tigers right-hander Wilmer Flores 383 feet with an exit velocity of 109 mph for a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth.

Outman's biggest play came in the top of the ninth with Glendale (8-7) clinging to a one-run lead. Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar (No. 11) crushed a ball to left-center that looked destined to be at least a double, but Outman denied him with a leaping catch up against the wall.

A seventh-round pick in 2018 from Sacramento State, Outman said he takes as much pride in his defense as his offense.

"I think they're equal," Outman said. "Defense is really important, trying to help the pitchers out as much as I can. I just try to affect the game in every area, whether that's baserunning, defense, hitting. I'm trying to be as good as I can in every aspect of the game."

Outman has plus speed and arm strength as well as solid or better raw power and center-field defense. He hit just .249 in three college seasons and .226 in his first full pro season in Low-A, however, so there were questions about his bat.

Since then, Outman has made significant progress. He starred in instructional league last fall and batted .266/.379/.490 with 18 homers and 23 steals in 104 games between High-A and Double-A this year. He hit .297/.392/.568 in the second half of the season and is off to a .276/.400/.655 start with three homers in 10 games for the Desert Dogs.

The Dodgers are known for their ability to maximize the ability of their farmhands, and their knack for developing talent has resulted in nine straight playoff appearances and the 2020 World Series championship. Outman credits the organization's coaches with helping him refine his skills. 

"I think I've improved a ton," Outman said. "Coming out of college, I felt like I was pretty raw, not super polished in any area, just pretty athletic, I guess. The Dodgers have really squeezed every ounce of what I can do and hopefully more. 

"I think the main thing at the plate has been just to start slow and early instead of having a rushed load and being so quick to get my swing off. It's letting it all flow naturally and let myself organize my body and go. That has been the main thing, understanding that and what I want to do with my swing afterward." 

Fellow Dodgers farmhand Jacob Amaya (No. 14) sparked a pair of Glendale rallies with a pair of hits and also made a sparkling defensive play, snagging a grounder up the middle and spinning to throw speedy Brewers center fielder Joe Gray Jr. (No. 9) out at first base. Mets catcher Hayden Senger (No. 21) had two hits and Canzone stroked a two-run double for Salt River (6-8).