SAN DIEGO -- Most of baseball’s top prospects aren’t prospects any more, begging the question of how much longer the Los Angeles Dodgers will leave Corey Seager in Triple-A Oklahoma City as 36-year old shortstop Jimmy Rollins continues to struggle at the plate.
The latest blue-chipper to get the promotion to the major leagues is outfielder Byron Buxton, who will make his Minnesota Twins debut Sunday. Last week, the Houston Astros promoted shortstop Carlos Correa, who is five months younger than Seager, who turned 21 in April. Of Baseball America’s top-10 prospects entering the season, every player ranked higher than Seager has already been promoted. Seager was ranked No. 2 behind Correa in the list compiled by ESPN’s Keith Law.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team will promote Seager when he is ready, not because Rollins is batting .200. He said the team has a road map for Seager’s development that includes more seasoning at Triple-A. The Dodgers think he could benefit from continuing to face the veteran pitchers at Triple-A and continuing to adjust to a faster game defensively.
“We feel like he’s in a really good place to be a really good major league player for a long time, but when that is will be determined by when he’s ready to do it, when we feel like it will put him in the best position to be as good as he can be as quickly as he can be,” Friedman said.
Seager has missed two straight games after he jammed some fingers sliding head-first into a base on Thursday, but Friedman said X-rays proved negative and Seager should be fine.
Both Friedman and manager Don Mattingly said the team is content in sticking with Rollins through his latest struggles. Rollins has three hits in his last 30 at-bats.
Rollins’ struggles seem less extreme when placed in the context of other major-league shortstops, who have regressed offensively in this era. Four other qualified shortstops have a lower OPS than Rollins’ .614: Asdrubal Cabrera of the Tampa Bay Rays; Freddy Galvis of the Philadelphia Phillies; Didi Gregorius of the New York Yankees and Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox.
Friedman pointed out that Rollins’ defense has been solid, and his power -- seven home runs and eight doubles -- has translated well from Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park to the spacious stadiums of the NL West. Mattingly did concede that it’s possible Rollins’ swing has slowed down with age, but he said he doesn’t view an upgrade at shortstop as a priority for the team right now.
“I haven’t seen Jimmy over an extended period in the past, but there are certain things that are going to slow down over time. I still think Jimmy’s going to be fine and [with] what we’re asking of Jimmy, he’ll be fine,” Mattingly said. “I think Jimmy’s going to hit for us. Average-wise I think it’s not where he’s going to end up. Nothing really has bothered me about Jimmy. I’d love him to be hitting .330, but I’d like everybody to be doing that.”