LOS ANGELES -- The top two Dodgers prospects, Corey Seager and Julio Urias, will open their 2015 season with Double-A Tulsa Drillers, the club announced on Wednesday.
The Drillers open their season on Thursday at home against San Antonio, for which former Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey will be on hand. Chris Anderson starts the season opener for Tulsa, with Urias in line for the start on Friday.
Seager returns to the Double-A level, albeit now in the Texas League after finishing up his stellar 2014 campaign with 38 games in the Southern League. He won the California League MVP in 2014 despite playing only 80 games for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga before his promotion to Double-A Chattanooga, for which he hit .345/.381/.534 with 21 extra-base hits in 38 games.
Seager turns 21 on April 27.
He hit a combined .349/.402/.602 across two levels last year with 50 doubles, 20 home runs, 89 runs scored and 97 RBI in 118 games. He ranked anywhere from the fifth- to the seventh-best prospect in baseball heading into this season by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, FanGraphs and MLB.com.
Seager was a non-roster invitee and impressed in his first big league spring training camp, hitting .333/.500/.500 in 14 games, and had been playing in minor league games with the Triple-A squad after getting reassigned to minor league camp on March 18. But he will start the regular season in Double-A.
"Corey's efficient and effective development is our number one priority and we believed wholeheartedly that additional reps in AA would be beneficial to his growth as a player and as a human being," Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler said. "The decision was made with his best interests squarely in mind."
Manager Don Mattingly earlier in camp had nothing but praise for the 6'4 Seager, and said he envisions him staying at shortstop for the near future.
"You do see the body and say that's not a typical shortstop's body. But that's where I go back to as anyone watching the calmness of his hands? Just the subtle things about playing short," Mattingly said. "That's not to say that he probably at some point he won't be working at third, but for right now we like what we see.
"The way Corey handles himself makes the other guys want to help him any way they can. If they're honest, pretty much everyone in there can see this kid is special, and he has a chance to be really good."
Rounding out the rotation after Anderson and Urias are Deck McGuire, signed last week to a minor league deal, plus Jeremy Kehrt and Matt Shelton.
A pitcher who won't be starting is Chris Reed, the Dodgers' first round pick in 2011 who has started 73 of his 79 professional games. The left-hander will pitch in relief for the Drillers, his fourth straight season pitching in Double-A, though he did make five starts in Triple-A to end 2014.
"Chris is a fierce and fearless competitor. He works quickly and without trepidation," Kapler said. "We're confident that this profile translates well in any role."
Here is the preliminary roster for Tulsa, which will be finalized before their Thursday opener:
|2015 Tulsa Drillers preliminary roster|
|Pitchers (14)||B/T||2015 age*||40-man||How acquired||Highest 2014 level|
|Chris Anderson||R/R||22||no||2013 draft (1st rd)||Class-A Rancho Cucamonga|
|Ralston Cash||R/R||23||no||2010 draft (2nd rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Juan Gonzalez||R/R||25||no||minor league FA, 2014||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Jeremy Horst||L/L||29||no||minor league FA, 2015||Triple-A Lehigh Valley|
|Jeremy Kehrt||R/R||29||no||trade (Bos), Aug. 2014||Triple-A Pawtucket|
|Fabio Martinez||R/R||25||no||minor league FA, 2014||Triple-A Albuquerque|
|Deck McGuire||R/R||26||no||minor league FA, 2015||Triple-A Buffalo/Sacramento|
|Chris Reed||L/L||25||yes||2011 draft (1st rd)||Triple-A Albuquerque|
|Ben Rowen||R/R||26||no||minor league FA, 2015||MLB|
|Matt Shelton||R/R||26||no||2011 draft (24th rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Blake Smith||L/R||27||no||2009 draft (2nd rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Michael Thomas||L/L||26||no||2011 draft (35th rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Chin-hui Tsao||R/R||34||no||minor league FA, 2015||out of baseball|
|Julio Urias||L/L||18||no||international FA, 2012||Class-A Rancho Cucamonga|
|Catchers (3)||B/T||2015 age*||40-man||How acquired||Highest 2014 level|
|Chris O`Brien||S/R||25||no||2011 draft (18th rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Webster Rivas||R/R||24||no||international FA, 2009||low Class-A Great Lakes|
|Ali Solis||R/R||27||no||minor league FA, 2015||MLB|
|Infielders (7)||B/T||2015 age*||40-man||How acquired||Highest 2014 level|
|Lars Anderson||L/L||27||no||minor league FA, 2015||Triple-A Iowa|
|Brian Burgamy||S/R||34||no||minor league FA, 2015||Double-A Binghamton|
|Brandon Dixon||R/R||23||no||2013 draft (3rd rd)||Class-A Rancho Cucamonga|
|Luis Mateo||R/R||25||no||minor league FA, 2015||Triple-A Memphis|
|Daniel Mayora||R/R||29||no||minor league FA, 2014||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Nate Samson||R/R||27||no||minor league Rule 5, 2014||Double-A Mobile|
|Corey Seager||L/R||21||no||2012 draft (1st rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Outfielders (4)||B/T||2015 age*||40-man||How acquired||Highest 2014 level|
|Jon Garcia||R/R||23||no||2009 draft (8th rd)||Double-A Chattanooga|
|Jeremy Hazelbaker||L/R||27||no||trade (Bos), Oct. 2013||Triple-A Albuquerque|
|Peter Lavin||L/L||27||no||minor league Rule 5, 2014||Double-A Reading|
|Travis Witherspoon||R/R||26||no||minor league FA, 2015||Class-A High Desert|
|*age as of June 30, 2015|