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OKC Dodgers: Stars have been produced, so who's next?

A week ago, Joc Pederson started Los Angeles’ home run party with a deep blast to center field and five other teammates followed.

Kikè Hernandez. Austin Barnes. Corey Seager. Max Muncy. Cody Bellinger.

Those names should be familiar to Oklahoma City baseball fans. They all spent significant time at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, honing their skills for the big-league life in Chavez Ravine.

“There are so many guys that are capable of blowing up in L.A.,” OKC infielder Matt Beaty said.

As the OKC Dodgers prepare to open their fifth season affiliated with the city Thursday night, several former players have become stars on a national level.

Seager and Bellinger won Rookie of the Year Awards. Those two and Muncy have been in Home Run Derbies. They’ve all been huge in back-to-back World Series seasons.

So, who’s next from OKC to make a big impact in L.A.?

Highly touted prospects Will Smith, Edwin Rios and Beaty are the favorites. The trio is ranked among the top 30 prospects in the organization, according to Baseball America.

“They know that if you play well in this organization you’re going to get a chance to be in the big leagues,” new OKC manager Travis Barbary said. “Yeah, we have a lot of good players in the big leagues but these guys are really preparing themselves, I feel like, to perform well and when their name is called they’ll be ready to go to the big leagues.”

Smith, 24, is the highest at No. 5. A catcher and third baseman, he is a polished hitter who ended spring training on fire with multiple home runs. He struggled in 25 games with OKC last season, but starred at Double-A Tulsa.

Beaty, 25, is regarded as one of the organization’s top hitters. But injuries limited him to just 34 games last season.

Rios, 24, is one of the more powerful hitters in the organization, a left-handed corner infielder who will get some time in left field as well. He worked hard on his defense in the offseason to catch up to his bat, which drove in 55 runs and hit 10 homers last season.

“He’s improved so much defensively that he’s going to be really exciting to watch him throughout the year,” Barbary said.

But there are sleepers.

Chris Taylor was one in 2017. Muncy was last year. Both played less than two weeks with OKC before being promoted and never returning.

They took advantage of their chance. That’s the hope of the next star.

“I think that’s the Dodgers,” Beaty said. “They do a great job adding depth to their minor leagues. It can happen to anybody.”

*****

Opening Night

OKC Dodgers vs. San Antonio Missions

When: 7:05 p.m. Thursday

Where: Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

Radio: 1340-AM

Matchup: OKC will start Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw on a rehab assignment. San Antonio will start Locust Grove product Adrian Houser.

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma City Dodgers infielder Edwin Rios. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Oklahoma City Dodgers infielder Edwin Rios. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8e8ce226e8371c55d8b7a77dd1aaa7fb.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Dodgers infielder Edwin Rios. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City Dodgers infielder Edwin Rios. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City Dodgers infielder Edwin Rios. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-646c30ef825c9f4ada2fad58cb006545.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Dodgers catcher Will Smith. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City Dodgers catcher Will Smith. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City Dodgers catcher Will Smith. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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