Zach McKinstry is starting for the Dodgers in center field against the Reds on Wednesday night at Camelback Ranch, the third different position in three games for the utility man vying for a spot on the major league roster.
The 33rd-round pick from 2016, one of nine Dodgers to date drafted that year to make the majors, had a breakout year in 2019, hitting .300/.366/.516 between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Then he impressed in both spring training and summer camp, and had two stints in the majors, going 2-for-7 in four games.
McKinstry has a hit in both of his spring games this season, starting at second base on Sunday and shortstop on Monday.
“McKinstry can flat out rake,” outfielder A.J. Pollock said on Sunday. “We saw it last year in spring training. We’re going to have him — we don’t know when — but he’s going to be a contributor for sure.”
Positional versatility is almost mandatory to make the Dodgers roster, and with Kiké Hernández having moved on to Boston as a free agent, having someone who can play both infield and outfield is a plus. McKinstry has played 16 minor league games in the outfield, including two in center field, and played in the outfield last year during spring training as well.
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This week on the podcast, which was recorded earlier Wednesday and will be released later this week, we try to guess the 26-man roster and — spoiler alert — McKinstry is prominently featured.
The only other Dodger on the 40-man roster who could be expected to play both middle infield and outfield is Chris Taylor, who starts at second base on Wednesday night after getting scratched on Monday with a stiff neck.
Manager Dave Roberts said Monday that newcomer Sheldon Neuse would play third base, second base, and first base, but not the outfield. Matt Beaty, who has played all four corners in the majors and minors, gets the start in right field.
Gavin Lux starts at shortstop, where Roberts said he might occasionally spell Corey Seager during the regular season in addition to getting regular time at second base.
Julio Urías starts on the mound for the Dodgers on Wednesday. Corey Knebel, Scott Alexander, and Dennis Santana are also expected to pitch, as are 2020 draft picks Bobby Miller and Landon Knack.
Old friend Dee Strange-Gordon, a non-roster invitee in Reds camp, starts at shortstop and bats leadoff for Cincinnati.
Teams: Dodgers vs. Reds
Location: Camelback Ranch
Time: 5:05 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA