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Opening Day for Dodgers minor league teams

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Clayton Kershaw starting at OKC, Tulsa celebrating their championship highlight the first day of their seasons

Keibert Ruiz
Keibert Ruiz
Rich Crimi

Today is Opening Day for the full-season minor league teams. They will play 140 games in 152 days with their seasons ending on Labor Day September 2nd.

Two of the Dodgers full-season affiliates will be defending their respective league championships, Tulsa won the Texas League and Rancho Cucamonga will hoist the California League championship banner next week at their home opener.

Here’s a quick preview of the season and we’ll also tell where the Dodger top prospects are playing.

Triple-A Oklahoma City

The Dodgers will have a new manager at the helm as Travis Barbary will be in the Oklahoma City dugout to begin this season. Barbary has been the Dodgers catching coordinator for the past 12 years so he will be right there for both Will Smith who starts the season in Oklahoma City and top catching prospect Keibert Ruiz who will be in Tulsa to begin the season.

This past February, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick spoke to Barbary about the top four catching prospects, Ruiz, Smith, Connor Wong who will be at Rancho Cucamonga and top international signee Diego Cartaya.

The Oklahoma City roster has five of the top 30 Dodger prospects on MLB pipeline’s list, right-handed pitchers Tony Gonsolin and Dennis Santana, catcher Will Smith and infielders Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty.

Double-A Tulsa

If you want to follow the one minor league affiliate with the most Dodger prospects, you just have to tune into Tulsa Driller games this month. The defending Texas League champions have nine players on their roster on MLB pipelines’s top 30 Dodger prospects list.

Starting with top catching prospect Keibert Ruiz, right-handed pitchers Dustin May and Mitch White and infielder Gavin Lux are all in the top ten prospects. Outfielder D.J. Peters, right-handed pitchers Yadier Alvarez and Marshall Kasowski and infielders Omar Estevez and Cristian Santana fill out the rest of the list.

It will be interesting how long players like May and Lux stay in Tulsa. The Dodgers may want to see how they stack up against the final level of minor league competition if they continue to dominate Texas League competition. However, with playing time an issue, Ruiz might stay at Tulsa as long as Will Smith is at Oklahoma City.

Class-A Rancho Cucamonga

The Quakes will begin their California League title defense on the road and they will also have someone new managing the team in 2019. Mark Kertenian takes over and he will manage several players who will be returning to the Quakes this season.

The Quakes roster has six players on the MLB pipeline top 30 Dodger prospect list. Catcher Connor Wong, outfielder Jeren Kendall and right-handed pitcher Edwin Uceta each played for the Quakes in 2018. Three very interesting prospects will join them, infielder Jeter Downs and right-handed pitchers Michael Grove and Gerardo Carrillo will be in their first season in the California League.

Class-A Great Lakes

The Loons will have John Shoemaker returning to manage the team in 2019. Shoemaker is the subject of a wonderful profile written by SB Nation’s Eric Stephen. The Loons roster has four players on the MLB pipeline top 30 prospect list.

Right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray and infielders Jacob Amaya, Leonel Valera and Miguel Vargas will start their full-season careers in Great Lakes.

Thursday’s schedule

3:30 p.m. PDT Great Lakes (TBD) at Lake County [Indians] (TBD)

5:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Clayton Kershaw) vs. San Antonio [Brewers] (TBD)

5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Dustin May) vs. Arkansas [Mariners] (Justin Dunn)

7:10 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (TBD) at Stockton [Athletics] (TBD)