Albuquerque Isotopes Face A Crowded Outfield Situation In 2013

The Dodgers are facing an interesting situation heading into the 2013 season — at least, the Albuquerque Isotopes and Chattanooga Lookouts are.

Following a Twitter exchange with Chris Jackson (@TopesWriter) and Evan Chavez (@newmexicofan), it occurred to me: The Isotopes and Lookouts are going to have some awfully crowded outfields — especially the ‘Topes.

The following outfielders are, at this point, slated to begin the 2013 season in Albuquerque:

Alex Castellanos: Could play second or third base.
Brian Cavazos-Galvez: Left fielder with some experience at first base.
Scott Van Slyke: Corner outfielder who the Dodgers don’t view as a 1B anymore (h/t to Jackson).
Kyle Russell: Corner outfielder who could fill in at center field in a pinch.
Blake Smith: Same as Russell, but better defensively.

Those guys are all but certain to be ‘Topes in 2013. Castellanos and Van Slyke have a chance to be on the Dodgers bench, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Nick Buss, who spent the entire 2012 season in Chattanooga, is another guy, and if things fall his way he could actually be the Isotopes starting center fielder. Of the guys listed above, Buss is the only true center fielder.

Then there are the players who aren’t even members of the Dodgers yet. Perennially, those are the likes of Trent Oeltjen and Matt Angle. Hell, Tony Gywnn Jr. is still under contract and could find himself back in New Mexico as well.

Bottom line is, the Isotopes are going to be jam-packed in the outfield.

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Including all of the guys above doesn’t even take into account players who could be promoted during the season based on performance — mainly, Bobby Coyle, Joc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig.

Coyle was a late-season call-up to Chattanooga and I think he’d have the best chance of playing in Albuquerque in 2013. Pederson is only 20 and should be with the Lookouts for the entire season (save perhaps a playoff call-up, as he was this past season for Chattanooga).

The wild card though is Puig. There’s no telling where he’ll begin, but it won’t be any lower than High-A Rancho Cucamonga. If he makes it to Double-A and flourishes, I could see him don an Isotopes uniform before the conclusion of the 2013 season.

Any of the trio being promoted quickly would make for even more of a mess than it already appears to be.

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Heading into last season, the Dodgers minor-league depth came in the form of right-handed pitchers and outfielders. They’ve already traded away a lot of the RHP depth and now it looks like the OF surplus could be next.

Too much of one position isn’t usually a bad thing, but the concern is that it could stunt the development of a few players, so it’ll be interesting to monitor the situation and see how it plays out.

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Dustin Nosler is the founder of the site Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He also co-hosts the weekly podcast Dugout Blues. Follow him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue or like his site on Facebook.

About Dustin Nosler