It was a breakout year for James Outman. His numbers in 2021 were good, totaling an .869 OPS between Great Lakes and Tulsa, but his production increased to a .978 total OPS in the minor leagues this season. His 31 home runs and 106 RBI were career highs, without even including his dominant four game run to open his career with the Dodgers.
Starting the season with Double-A Tulsa, Outman’s 25th birthday coming in May made him relatively old for the level. Because he was drafted back in 2018 out of Sacramento State, the Dodgers had to add him to their 40-man roster in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. His strong performance of a .974 OPS and West Fall-Stars selection in the 2021 Arizona Fall League was an indication that Outman had turned a corner coming into 2022.
To begin his breakout, Outman’s numbers increased in essentially every category with Tulsa compared to his performance in 2021. Still, he stayed in Double-A until June 29, when he finally got promoted to Oklahoma City. He had posted a .915 total OPS as of July 30 when he got his first MLB call-up.
Outman had a remarkable start to his career after meeting the major league squad in Colorado. In four games, he slashed .462/.563/.846 including a homer in his first at-bat before he got optioned back to Oklahoma City. After his taste of the show, Outman tore through the Pacific Coast League over the final month and a half of the year.
He slashed .333/.422/.720 for a 1.142 OPS through his final 35 games of 2022. This included 26 extra base hits, 10 being homers, which totaled a fantastic .386 ISO (isolated power, .140 is average). The most impressive stretch of his tear came August 26-30, when Outman hit for the cycle twice in four games, including a walk-off home run to complete the first cycle.
The list of Outman’s extensive accomplishments as a hitter are fully deserving of the spotlight. However, it shouldn’t be lost how fast and defensively valuable he is. His 6.9 speed score on Fangraphs ranked near the top of the Dodgers organization. Furthermore, he played quality defense at all three outfield spots no matter what level he was at throughout the season. As an above-average runner, defender and thrower, Outman brings a lot more to the table than just his batting.
Outman was upgraded to the Dodgers’ No. 13 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s midseason update, and he may receive another boost before next season. Additionally, he’s a solid bet to get significant time with the major league team at some point next season as he turns 26 in May. The more experience Outman stockpiles as a professional hitter, the better he seems to perform.