Dodgers' Andy Pages Is Self-Driven To Make Adjustments
Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.
In February 2020, the Dodgers and Angels had a trade in the works that would have sent Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling and prospect Andy Pages to the Angels. But the deal was held up as the Dodgers worked out their acquisition of Mookie Betts from the Red Sox.
Impatient Angels owner Arte Moreno nixed the deal.
All Pages has done since then is develop into one of the best power prospects in baseball.
Pages hit a Midwest League-leading 31 homers for High-A Great Lakes in 2021, even after last playing in Rookie ball because of the canceled 2020 minor league season.
"I think what was impressive was his ability to cut his strikeout rate—while being up two levels—and to close down some holes on fastballs, particularly up in the zone," Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said. "His ability to handle right-on-right spin is unique for a young player . . . At his age, it's just an impressive ability to be adaptable."
The 21-year-old Pages earned an invitation to big league camp this spring.
"It's obviously impressive to see him play," Rhymes said. "But it's almost more impressive to talk to him—his understanding of hitting, just the intuition about it, how much he observes about other players. We just haven't had very many players come through with that kind of baseball IQ."
The next challenge for Pages, Rhymes said, is to show he can make adjustments to improve against lefthanders.
"He had pretty big reverse splits last year, which we think kind of pointed out a few things in his swing, just posture-wise and hand position getting a little too far out over the plate," Rhymes said. "We thought it was creating a little too easy an attack plane for lefties. So he's worked really hard to stabilize his posture.
"A lot of this is self-driven by Andy. He's incredibly sharp. He's trying to simplify his swing a little bit, minimize the high leg kick, so his timing can be a little more consistent, then stabilize his posture a little bit to create less windows for angles."
— Righthander Hyun-il Choi, the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the year in 2021, makes no bones about what he wants to improve this season.
"Velocity. The No. 1 thing is velocity," Choi said this spring. "I feel like I have not good enough but pretty good command and control. But I threw like 91-92 (mph), sometimes 88-89. I want to consistently throw 92-93. Touch 96."
— Rhymes said 2021 first-round lefthander Maddux Bruns made a visit to Driveline during the offseason.
"He really wanted to just get kind of an assessment—and get an assessment from an outside lens—as far as strengths and weaknesses," Rhymes said. "As far as implementation of that information, I think it's more of a baseline . . . It was really more about his curiosity and seeing what makes him good and getting a data point that we can use as a baseline going forward."