Notes: Dodgers' young arms impress; UT role

February 25th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The start of live batting practice is another sign that actual baseball is getting closer. That’s exactly what took place on Wednesday at Dodgers camp, and a few young pitchers stood out.

, , and -- the Dodgers’ top prospect per MLB Pipeline -- were among the pitchers to throw in live BP. Price faced Justin Turner, Austin Barnes, Edwin Ríos and Cody Bellinger. Price, who opted out last season, looked sharp in his return to the mound, getting a “that’s a gross pitch” from Bellinger after a left-on-left breaking ball.

But while seeing Price back on a mound was a welcome sight for the Dodgers, a lot of eyes -- especially Clayton Kershaw’s, who sat in the stands behind the plate -- were on May, Gonsolin and Gray, who are all trying to prove that they can provide quality starter innings for the Dodgers this season.

May faced Matt Beaty, Mookie Betts and Gavin Lux, and the 23-year-old right-hander certainly had his power stuff. Manager Dave Roberts said he was told May touched 101 mph on the radar gun. The next step for May, however, is to use that velocity to mix in his other pitches to generate more swings and misses. May finished in the 7th percentile in Whiff% last season.

“I think just continuing to develop the breaking ball, develop the changeup,” Roberts said of what May needs to do to miss more bats. “I think both those pitches he’s getting more feel for, and sequencing the right way, that’ll accomplish that.”

Gonsolin faced Lux, Ríos, Betts and AJ Pollock. The 26-year-old right-hander displayed a sharp slider and mixed in his curveball. Lux and Betts made solid contact off Gonsolin, but Pollock was the one that got the best of him, shooting two balls to the warning track in right-center.

Both Gonsolin and May have plenty of Major League success and are certainly deserving of being in a Major League starting rotation. But with Price back in the mix, and Trevor Bauer signing with the Dodgers, the team has a surplus of talent in the rotation, meaning May and Gonsolin could start the year in the bullpen or in the Minors.

“It adds a little more competition, and it raises that bar that you need to be at to make the team,” Gonsolin said.

One player who won’t break camp with the team is Gray, but the right-hander is looking to make another good impression this spring. The 24-year-old right-hander spent all of last season at the alternate training site at USC and is a non-roster invitee for the second consecutive year.

On Wednesday, Gray had quite the spectators: Roberts, Price and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

“[He was] really good,” Roberts said. “Obviously, the fastball is real. He synced up some really good breaking balls, and the changeup is a plus pitch as well. I thought today, facing hitters [was] really good.”

With the Dodgers having eight other options in the rotation, it remains to be seen if Gray will get a chance to pitch in the big leagues this year. He’ll start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

“I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but certainly we think a lot of him,” Roberts said. “He just needs to continue to get repetitions, continue to develop. … He’s coming pretty quickly.”

The super-utility role
With Enrique Hernández now with the Red Sox, the Dodgers will be looking for another player to step into the super-utility role he occupied during his six-year tenure with Los Angeles.

is one option, and the 25-year-old says his goal is to make the Opening Day roster. McKinstry’s most natural position is second base, but he can play shortstop, third base and some outfield.

The other option is , who has been with the team since 2016. Roberts said he sees Taylor playing all over the field this season, including third base, where has has played just 25 games in his big league career.

“Right now, you’re looking at the roster in Justin [Turner] and two left-handed bats with Eddie Ríos and Matt Beaty,” Roberts said. “But I also like Chris taking grounders over there and get more familiar with third base.”

Injury update
Right-handers Joe Kelly and Mitch White have been sidelined with shoulder soreness this spring, but Roberts said Kelly has progressed to throwing from 90 feet and has done so in consecutive days. White, on the other hand, has still not picked up a baseball, Roberts said. White is the team’s No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline.