Only 100 Percent Cotton For Dodgers
GLENDALE, Ariz.—Righthander Jharel Cotton has been a man on the move over the past year, and even he didn’t realize how far he would go.
"That’s a big comparison,” said Cotton, 24, measuring the distance between the state of his career in spring 2015 and this spring. "A year ago? No 40-man. I was rehabbing from an injury. Now I’m here.”
"Here” is the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and his first big league spring-training camp after a 2015 season that saw Cotton rebound from a broken left wrist and progress through four levels of the farm system. Cotton said he never stopped to gauge his progress last year.
"The ball is in my hand. I have to go out there and show them what I’ve got,” he said. "That’s basically what I did. I showed them what I have, and they liked what they saw.”
Cotton’s rise through the system caught the eyes of the Dodgers’ new decision-makers.
"I knew a little bit about him,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said, "but he certainly exceeded what I expected coming in. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked to, just coming in new. I’m really pleasantly surprised with his changeup, the way he competes and the overall season he had.”
Cotton’s changeup is probably the best thing the 20th-rounder from East Carolina in 2012 has going for him. In fact, some evaluators think it might be good enough to get him to the majors more quickly as a reliever than as a starter.
For now, Cotton isn’t lobbying one way or the other.
"It’s whatever the Dodgers want,” he said. "Of course, I love starting a lot better, but it’s whatever the Dodgers want. Relieving is not too bad. I would do it if it means coming to the big leagues right away.”
• Cuban righthander Yaisel Sierra made his U.S. debut with a scoreless relief inning during the final weekend of the Cactus League schedule. The 24-year-old signed a six-year, $30 million contract and joined the Dodgers midway through spring training.
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• Righthander Frankie Montas made progress in the first month following surgery to remove the first rib from his right side. He began a throwing program in mid-March. He is expected to need two to four months to recover from the surgery.