Mitch White Made The Most Of 'Weird' Season
It was a dream come true for righthander Mitch White when he made his major league debut in 2020. But it was nothing like he had dreamed.
Like so many young players, White spent his summer at an alternate training site with no minor league games to play. Added to the Dodgers' taxi squad on multiple occasions, he appeared in two games and made his debut in an empty park in Texas in late August.
"It's unlike anything else," White said of the experience, "but then maybe if I get in another game next year with fans, that might be like another debut. There's no way to replicate that. I mean, they've got the cardboard cutouts and they've got the crowd noise. But it's not the same."
A summer spent as part of the 60-player pool at the Dodgers' alternate site at the University of Southern California was a unique experience. Players had to find ways to continue their development even without a minor league season.
"It's weird," said White, a 2016 second-round pick out of Santa Clara, during the season. "There's really no blueprint for this.
"It's definitely a different atmosphere. It's definitely a little more laid back. Sometimes it's hard to really get going. We do our best to make it competitive. Hitters will do games off of (pitching machine) 'Iron Mike.' They'll kind of make point systems and things like that.
"There's only so much you can do. Sometimes it feels a little more dead. That's just the truth of it. But we're doing our best to keep the progression in mind and development still."
White recognized he was fortunate in that. Dozens of players in each organization were left to their own devices, trying to find ways to work out on their own—or just finding work.
"Some of my closest buddies (were) in situations like that," White said. "A lot of them had to get jobs, working as coaches or just random odd jobs here and there. I think it's been pretty tough."
— The Dodgers' 2020 first-round pick, former Louisville righthander Bobby Miller, spent the summer at the alternate training site and then participated in instructional league in Arizona during the fall. In a unique year, it was a unique introduction to professional baseball for a top pick.
"It'll be really interesting to follow the path of the guys who were drafted this year," Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said. "Ultimately, I think it will be a good thing for him to step right in and face much higher level competition than he would have otherwise . . . he wouldn't have had that opportunity for a couple years (under normal circumstances)."
— The Dodgers signed a number of familiar faces to minor league contracts. Righthanders Brandon Morrow, Brock Stewart and Jimmy Nelson and catcher Tim Federowicz have signed to return to the organization, along with journeyman infielder Carlos Asuaje and Elliot Soto.