Kazmir headlines list of Dodgers' newcomers

Kazmir headlines list of Dodgers' newcomers

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next week. In anticipation, MLB.com presents a series of articles previewing the season.

Thursday's installment is "The New Guys," of which the Dodgers have fewer than last season after a relatively quiet winter.

Spring Training preview Part I: Puig tops Dodgers' rebound wish list

LHP Scott Kazmir: After losing Zack Greinke, kicking the tires on Jose Fernandez and backing away from Hisashi Iwakuma, Kazmir certainly wasn't management's top pick. It's unfair to ask him to be a Greinke, but he was an All-Star in 2014.

Outlook: Kazmir, SP, LAD

RHP Kenta Maeda: The Japanese sensation wanted to play for the Dodgers badly enough to sign a long-term, team-friendly deal when soundness questions arose during his physical exam. Traditional scouts are scared off because he's a smallish right-hander, but there's nothing traditional about these Dodgers.

RHP Joe Blanton: His first Dodgers stint as a starter after a 2012 stretch-run acquisition was a disappointment, but he reinvented himself as a reliever with the Pirates for two months last year, enough for Dodgers management to think he might help build that elusive bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

RHP Frankie Montas: He's a triple-digit flamethrower who has struggled to harness the talent, but an impressive Spring Training without too many walks could thrust him into the bullpen picture because he has multiple-innings capability.

LHP Julio Urias: If management thought Urias was ready, only one of Kazmir or Maeda would have been signed to replace Greinke. The top left-handed pitching prospect in the game is only 19 and he's never thrown more than 87 2/3 innings in a season, so the trick is to stretch him into a Major League starter without rushing him. Relief duty isn't out of the question.

Top Prospects: Urias, LAD

RHP Jose De Leon: Unlike Urias, De Leon is a late bloomer who might be ready to help the Major League club even sooner, perhaps as a reliever. He struck out 163 in 114 1/3 innings last year at two levels, with an improving change-up added to the fastball and slider.

INF Micah Johnson: His short-term opportunity took a real hit when Howie Kendrick returned after the re-signing of Chase Utley, even though Johnson projects as the table-setting leadoff hitter the Dodgers could use. So he'll spend the spring trying to show whether he's the second baseman of the future, after the White Sox decided he wasn't the answer on the South Side.

OF Trayce Thompson: The son of former Lakers center Mychal Thompson and brother of Warriors guard Klay Thompson is trying to show he's more than a fourth outfielder. Without a trade, though, it will be tough for him to crack a crowded outfield.

INF Elian Herrera: Here's a useful non-roster invitee who provides depth because he can play everywhere in the field and he's not an automatic out. Working against him is that shortstop isn't one of his strengths, and that's a spot where the Dodgers need backups. It's his second time with the club.

RHP Jharel Cotton: A broken left wrist didn't stop Cotton from dominating the Texas League last year and fighting off the label of small right-hander. It's not clear if his future is starting or relief, but regardless of his spring success he figures to pitch this year at Triple-A.

INF Charlie Culberson: A former first-round pick of the Giants, Culberson missed most of last season with a back disk injury. He's had big league cameos, but has never hit enough to stick.

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