Justin Sellers Becomes Dodger #46

Well, he’s really wearing #12, but whatever. As was no surprise to absolutely any of us who were reading the tea leaves (or at least my comments section), Justin Sellers was promoted today to replace Dee Gordon on the 25-man roster, and he’ll be in the lineup hitting 8th in front of Nathan Eovaldi.

Back in the spring, Sellers was my early choice for the 25th spot, back when the contenders were the never-was Juan Castro, the never-will-be Ivan DeJesus, and Aaron Miles, before he was Aaron Miles. Here’s what I said about him at the time:

Sellers is someone who I’ve never talked about much around here, and I’ve been meaning to for a while. Despite looking like he’s about 14, his 2010 AAA stats were impressive: .285/.371/.497, with 14 homers. Don’t put too much stock into that, however; while I can’t say for sure because the great minorleaguesplits.com is no longer around, the power displayed is almost certainly a result of the Albuquerque environment, since he had just 17 homers in five previous seasons.

Still, there’s reason to like him. Most of the reports I’ve been able to dig up claim he’s an above-average glove, possibly making him the best defensive choice of these four, and he’s shown improvement in mastering the strike zone. In two seasons as a Dodger minor leaguer, he’s put up OBP of .371 and .360, thanks to a very good K/BB ratio of 115/99. In January, Baseball America gave him the title of “Best Strike Zone Discipline” in the Dodger system, and you don’t need me to remind you how starved this team is for that right now. Though it’s early, he’s off to a good start in the spring, having walked three times without a whiff. Unlike DeJesus, he did attend the winter development camp.

If there’s a knock against him, it’s that he’s been exclusively a middle infielder, though with Jamey Carroll and Juan Uribe both able to handle third base, that wouldn’t seem to be an issue. He’s not a highly touted prospect, clearly, so at 25 and on his third pro organization, I wouldn’t be all that worried about having him riding the major league bench as opposed to playing every day in AAA.

Sellers missed some time in 2011 due to a bruised right hand, though overall his line has been very good: .304/.400/.537 and 14 homers. I assume that by now I don’t need to tell you not to trust Albuquerque numbers, but don’t trust Albuquerque numbers. Never has that been more true than with Sellers, who should probably buy a home in ABQ (.387/.460/.737 with 11 homers) and never be allowed to put on the Isotopes’ road grays (.218/.338/.331). So you can imagine what that’ll look like in the big leagues.

Still, remember that Sellers is a stopgap solution, with Rafael Furcal gone and Gordon & Juan Uribe both injured. If he can lend a decent glove and a modicum of on-base skills, then maybe that’s enough to get this team through the season without folding, and isn’t that all that’s important right now?

Getting back to the title, Sellers will be the 46th Dodger to suit up this year, tying the club for 8th-most in team history. The record is 53 by the immortal 1998 club, and if you’re going to have Bobby Bonilla, Tripp Cromer, Matt Luke, and, sigh, Juan Castro on a team, shouldn’t you get a record out of it? As our season has devolved into trying to set obscure records – see the chase for the most left fielders and Eugenio Velez‘ march towards infamy – we might as well see about setting this one, too. Can we get seven more Dodgers? Considering how many Isotopes have already suited up in Los Angeles at some point this season, well, probably not. A man can dream, though. A man can dream.

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