Mattingly thinks Seager could handle bigs

With Dodgers set at shortstop, club will continue to develop 20-year-old in Minors

Mattingly thinks Seager could handle bigs

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While Dodgers management backs away from any implication that 18-year-old pitcher Julio Urias is ready for the Major Leagues, that's not the case with 20-year-old shortstop Corey Seager.

"I wouldn't be afraid of him. I'll tell you that," manager Don Mattingly said on Monday.

In fact, while Mattingly said every Dodgers prospect will benefit from a step-by-step progression through the farm system, he also said -- "without putting a giant hex on his back" -- that Seager profiles as a big shortstop like Cal Ripken with a small swing like John Olerud.

"The whole package has been good," Mattingly said. "He has a chance to be special."

And, if Seager were to have come along with a rebuilding team willing to let him learn on the job, Mattingly could live with that.

"You want to make sure he fully develops. There's more for him to pick up," said Mattingly. "If the situation was different, I'm not sure you wouldn't just throw him in and let him play and get the experience here. But that's not the situation here."

That's why the club traded for veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins to replace Hanley Ramirez, to keep the team competitive and the shortstop position filled until it's Seager's time. Rollins will be a free agent after this season.

"Talking to Andrew [Friedman, president], we want to give them the best chance to develop so it's not a back-and-forth thing [to the Minor Leagues]," Mattingly said. "They all like to get here quick, but you run the risk of cutting corners and that can set a guy back."

Mattingly said the club felt that happened when Dee Gordon was rushed into the starting shortstop job Rafael Furcal was traded in 2011, only to be sent back to the Minor Leagues before reinventing himself as an All-Star second baseman last season.

MLB.com lists Seager as the top prospect in the Dodgers system and No. 7 in MLB. Seager had a walk-off RBI double to win Sunday's exhibition game against Milwaukee.

"There's really nothing not to like," Mattingly said.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.