By Rich Arleo
CBS Local Sports, in our 30 Players 30 Days spring training feature, profiles one young player from each Major League Baseball team leading up to opening day.
Corey Seager, Shortstop, Los Angeles Dodgers
2015 season (Minors): 125 G, 501 AB, .293 BA, 18 HR, 76 RBI, 4 SB, .831 OPS
2015 season (Majors): 27 G, 98 AB, .337 BA, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 2 SB, .986 OPS
There are always plenty of expectations surrounding first-round Draft picks, and that’s been no different from the start with Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. But when you hit .350 with a 1.004 OPS in 118 Minor League games, the expectations increase. And when you follow that up with similar numbers at higher levels, and then do what Seager did in his short stint in the bigs last year, well, the expectations rise to astronomical levels.
Seager enters the 2016 season as the Dodgers’ starting shortstop after making a statement during a 27-game audition to end ‘15. Seager has cruised from the low levels of the Minors all the way to the Majors without so much of a hiccup, and now with a full year to show off in the bigs, Seager should be able to take the final step toward superstardom.
At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Seager isn’t your prototypical shortstop. The younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey towers over his older brother, and most shortstops in the Majors. The youngest Seager may end up moving over to the third as well, but for now he will continue to try his hand at shortstop, where he can be considered average at best. He won’t do anything to drive fans mad out there, but the field isn’t where he shines — it’s at the plate where Seager does his best work.
In his Dodgers’ debut, Seager walked at a surprisingly high rate, more than he did in the Minors. If he can continue to reach base at a similar pace (12.4 walk rate), there may be no stopping him. Seager has the power to be a middle-of-the-order threat, rivaled at his position only by fellow young superstar-in-the-making, Carlos Correa. He clubbed 62 homers in 390 Minor League games, and hit four out of the park in just 98 big league at-bats.
Seager has shown a good knowledge of the strike zone and strong plate discipline, especially for someone his age, with plenty of room to grow. Not only is the power legitimate (.224 ISO with the Dodgers last year, backing up his high homer rate in the Minors), but he’s not just a slugger. Seager hit .313 in the Minors, and went 33-for-98 with the Dodgers. Seager isn’t a swing-and-miss hitter; he can make tons of contact, and he doesn’t do so at the expense of his power.
After missing much of Spring Training with a sprained left knee, Seager and the Dodgers avoided a scare as the young shortstop was able to return in the final week of spring and make Los Angeles’ Opening Day starting lineup. Barring any more freak injuries, Seager should be a mainstay and be able to provide the Dodgers with a near-.300 average and 20-plus homers.
Rich Arleo is a freelance sports writer and editor who covers Major League Baseball and fantasy sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Rarleo.