The other spring training

Most Dodger fans are well aware that pitchers and catchers report for spring training on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, with their first workout the following day. Fans also know that position players will report on Sunday, February 18, with their first full-squad workout also the next day. But what many Dodger fans – perhaps even most – may not know is that the Dodgers other spring training, that of their minor league affiliates, begins a little more than a week later; and if you’ve never watched the baby Dodgers workout or play actual games, you are missing out on witnessing and interacting with the very future of the Dodgers franchise.

It’s no secret that there are quite a few Dodgers minor leaguers already working out at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. In fact, some have been there for a month or more. But for those doing so, they are doing so of their own accord and are not scheduled to officially report until February 23.

“The meeting is on [Friday] February 23 and our first full workout is on [Saturday] February 24,” said Drew Saylor, manager of the Dodgers’ Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

2018 will be Saylor’s third as manager of the Dodgers Advanced Single-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Saylor will be joined by the staffs and players of the franchise’s Low Single-A Great Lakes Loons, Double-A Tulsa Drillers, and Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, and most of them thoroughly enjoy interacting with fans for selfies and autographs after their workouts (a clue).

There is one caveat, however. Due to the sheer volume of minor leaguers in camp, most will not have their names on the back of their jerseys. The (general) exception to this are those who are assigned to the Triple-A and (occasionally) Double-A squads. Also keep in mind that minor leaguers who are not assigned to big league camp that are called upon to play in major league spring training games – usually as late-inning replacements – also will not have their names on their jerseys in the MLB games; something that drives radio and television broadcasters nuts.

The good news is that there are always plenty of coaches, trainers, and other team staffers around the backfields at Camelback Ranch and they will gladly identify specific minor leaguers for you if you simply (and politely) ask them. There is also a very good chance that there will be quite a few moms, dads, and other family and friends watching their loved ones who will also help identify players for you … especially their own.

But there will be one Dodger minor leaguer who absolutely will have his name on his jersey this spring – 22-year-old Glendora, California native and Dodgers 2016 fourth-round draft pick DJ Peters. The extremely popular 6′-6″ / 225-pound outfielder, who spent the entire 2017 season with Drew Saylor’s Quakes, posted a very impressive slash-line of .276 / .372 / .514 for an excellent .886 OPS. He also slugged 27 home runs and drove in 82 en route to being named the 2017 California League’s Most Valuable Player; all of which earned him a non-roster invitation to Dodgers major league spring training camp this year.

“It’s absolutely a blessing to be invited to major league camp,” said Peters. “Knowing that this is only my second spring training and for the Dodgers to have enough faith in me as a person and a player to invite me to big league camp says a lot and is a great honor.

“I️ am ready and will embrace the challenges that come with it,” Peters added. “I️’m excited to learn, to be around the best players and coaches in the game, and tap into those guys who have been around the game for awhile.

“I️’m super excited to be around the clubhouse and see what the atmosphere is like at the big league level. I️ am ready to rock ‘n roll and I️ cannot wait to get out to CBR and get it all started!”

During his 2017 Cal League MVP season, Peters had a three-home run game on July 2 against the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies). (Photo credit – Steve Saenz)

In case you were wondering and even though he will have his name on it, DJ will be sporting jersey number 89 in big league camp this spring.

After that? Stay tuned…


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8 Responses to “The other spring training”

  1. SoCalBum says:

    WOW! You are cranking out one good article after another. I have finalized plans and will be at Camelback the week of March 11 — GO DODGERS!

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Thank you SCB. I always enjoy your feedback to the articles. We don’t get many comments here on the site, but I generally get quite a bit of feedback to them – mostly positive – on Twitter.

      I am very blessed to have a great relationship (and friendship) with both Drew and DJ, and they are always willing to accommodate me with a quote or two.

      I will be at CBR Feb 12-18 for P&C and return for five games Mar 13-18. I would very much like to meet up with you, if you are so inclined.

      Thanks again for the kind words.

  2. baseball1439 says:

    I would enjoy visiting Camelback and walking the back fields but don’t see that happening for at least 20 years.

    • SoCalBum says:

      Hope you can go much sooner. It is a BLAST! My wife and I go over every morning while there. You do not even have to go to a game to enjoy the experience.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Not sure where you live, 1439, but I STRONGLY recommend making a trip to spring training. It is, hands down, the most 100% pure baseball experience you will ever have. There is ALWAYS something going on somewhere in camp.

      As you might expect, with so many players in one place at the same time, you never know who you might run into when you least expect it. (I ran into Andre Ethier and his family at the local Cracker Barrel once). As such, my lifelong mantra has always been to ALWAYS have a Rawlings Official Major League Baseball and a BIC pen with you no matter where you go, because you just never know who you might run into.

  3. mike malisheski says:

    Camel Back is a great experience. Something there for every type of baseball fan. Last year while I was out watching my son Kevin, I chatted with Charlie Hough for 10 minutes. What a very nice individual. Would’ve asked for a selfie with him but my kid probably would’ve been ticked:)

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