LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers will hold its eighth annual winter development program beginning today in Los Angeles, the team announced on Monday. The 27 participants are highlighted by Julio Urias and 2014 first-round pick Grant Holmes.
This year's program has been condensed to four days, and is designed to teach and train minor league players the details of major league life, though this year is less about on the field than off. New director of player development Gabe Kapler said he wanted to create "a more mentally-inviting environment" in this event.
"We didn't want them to ramp up in the middle of winter, to impress physically," Kapler said. "Rather, we wanted them to be open-minded, nimble of thought, and be excited about coming in to share a unique experience."
In addition to Holmes and Urias, other Dodgers minor leaguers participating in the event are pitchers Chris Anderson, Daniel Coulombe, Jose De Leon, Carlos Frias, Zach Lee, Josh Ravin, Chris Reed and Ross Stripling; catchers Austin Barnes, Kyle Farmer, Julian Leon, Chris O`Brien, Tyler Ogle, Ryan Scott and Shawn Zarraga; infielders Cody Bellinger, Buck Britton, O`Koyea Dickson, Adam Law, and Darnell Sweeney; and outfielders Kyle Jensen, Michael Medina, Jeremy Rathjen, Scott Schebler and Alex Verdugo.
Noticeably absent is top prospect Corey Seager.
"He and I had a conversation, and we determined colelctively that what was best for Corey, who had a bit of a long year, culminating with the Arizona Fall League," Kapler said. "We thought what was best for him developmentally was to stay in North Carolina."
Of the 27 players selected, seven are catchers. It was part of a plan devised by Kapler and the front office to not simply invite the club's top minor leaguers to Los Angeles, but rather a group who would help spread the organizational message.
"We wanted men who would be open to helping us share philosophy and who would be strong contributors to discussion," Kapler said. "It wasn't your traditional 'let's just take the top prospects.' It was well thought out. We feel we have a group that is perfect to stand shoulder to shoulder together."
The ones who are in Los Angeles range from a few non-roster invitees (Britton, Jensen, Zarraga) to yet another 18-year-old in Medina, the outfielder signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.
Stripling, recovering from Tommy John surgery, and O`Brien are the only repeat attendees to the camp from 2014.
LA here I come ..— Grant Holmes (@GHolmes_14) January 12, 2015
10:30 in the AM and of course there is that good ole LA traffic— Darnell Sweeney (@_SweeneySwag) January 12, 2015
LA bound ⚾️✈️— Cody Bellinger (@Cody_Bellinger) January 12, 2015
L.A. ✈️✈️⚾️— Ryan Scott (@IAmRyanScott) January 12, 2015
Six of the 15 participants in the 2014 program played in the major leagues last season, including major league debuts for Joc Pederson, Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Miguel Rojas and Seth Rosin.