Patience Pays Off For Dodgers' James Outman
When the Dodgers made an athletic outfielder out of Sacramento State their seventh-round pick in 2018, they knew his swing required a lot of work to become suitable for the pro game.
Looking back on it now, James Outman certainly agrees.
“I came into pro ball swinging the bat kind of like a caveman—really stiff, not much there,” Outman said this year, referring to the project as a “total rebuild” of his swing mechanics and approach.
“I tried to loosen it up, get some more length through the strike zone—and it’s paid off.”
The 25-year-old Outman began the season at Double-A Tulsa, moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late June then made an unexpected MLB debut in Colorado on July 31.
He homered in his first big league at-bat and finished his first game with three hits.
Outman’s first taste of the big leagues lasted just five days—he went 6-for-13—but the demotion did not demoralize him. He hit for the cycle twice In a span of four games for Oklahoma City.
The brief time in the big leagues seemed to propel Outman to the finish of his best season. In 35 games after returning to Triple-A, he produced a 1.142 OPS with 10 of his 31 minor league home runs.
Ironically, Outman said the swing project really clicked in for him in 2020 when there was no minor league season. He spent the summer at home in Northern California “hitting in a family friend’s backyard, hitting in local cages—we’d leave it unlocked and sneak in.”
“We didn’t have a season, so I spent a lot of time trying to dial it in as much as I could,” he said. “Then we went for (instructional league), and that’s when I first saw it taking its shape.”
Patience was required along the way.
“It wasn’t too difficult just because I knew I had a long road ahead of me, so I was trying to take it one step at a time,” he said. “I wasn’t looking at it like it was one project that I had to get done in a week . . . So little baby steps.”
— Lefthander Robbie Erlin and righthander Beau Burrows became free agents at the end of the season when they were removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Erlin appeared in two games with the Dodgers. Burrows spent all season in the Pacific Coast League.
— Outfielder Andy Pages ranked among the early leaders with four home runs in his first 16 games in the Arizona Fall League. The 21-year-old was 19-for-60 (.317) after batting .236 with 26 home runs for Double-A Tulsa this season.