Seager, Urias top Dodgers prospects to watch

February 14th, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next week. In anticipation, presents a series of articles previewing the 2016 season.

The latest installment is "Prospects to Watch," which includes the untouchable duo of Corey Seager and Julio Urias, with capsules below.

SS Seager:'s No. 1 overall prospect already displaced former National League MVP Jimmy Rollins as the starting shortstop last September, and guaranteed playing time should make him a strong contender for Rookie of the Year. Seager is the second rookie given a starting job by the club in as many years (Joc Pederson).

Spring Training information

LHP Urias: If management thought Urias was ready, only one of Scott Kazmir or Kenta Maeda would have been signed to replace Zack Greinke. The top left-handed pitching prospect in the game is only 19 and he's never thrown more than 87 2/3 innings in a season, so the trick is to stretch him into a Major League starter without rushing him. Relief duty isn't out of the question, nor are four-inning starts over the first half.

RHP Jose DeLeon: Unlike Urias, DeLeon is a late bloomer who might be ready to help the Major League club even sooner, perhaps as a reliever. He struck out 163 in 114 1/3 innings last season at two levels, with an improving changeup added to the fastball and slider.

INF Micah Johnson: His short-term opportunity took a real hit when Howie Kendrick returned after the re-signing of Chase Utley, even though Johnson projects as the table-setting leadoff hitter the Dodgers could use. So Johnson will spend Spring Training trying to show he's the second baseman of the future, after the White Sox decided he wasn't the answer on the South Side.

C Austin Barnes: Acquired in part because of his defensive versatility, he put away the infield gloves and focused on catching last season, when he got more than a taste of the big leagues while A.J. Ellis and Yasmani Grandal had injuries.

OF Trayce Thompson: The son of former Lakers center Mychal Thompson and brother of Warriors guard Klay is trying to show he's more than a fourth outfielder. Without a trade, though, it will be tough for him to crack a crowded outfield.

RHP Ross Stripling: Two years after Tommy John surgery, Stripling is back in camp hoping to restore his prospect status. He seemed healthy in 14 starts over the second half of 2015.

RHP Jharel Cotton: A broken left wrist didn't stop Cotton from dominating the Texas League last year and fighting off the label of small right-hander. It's not clear if his future is starting or relief, but regardless of his spring success, Cotton figures to pitch this season at Triple-A.

RHP Frankie Montas: He had an outside chance of becoming a factor in Spring Training, but sudden surgery to remove a rib on the eve of camp raises serious questions. If the root of his trouble is thoracic outlet syndrome -- almost always the case when a pitcher has the first rib removed -- Montas will have an arduous rehab ahead just to retain prospect status.