All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Los Angeles Dodgers Top 20 Prospects for 2011.
1) Dee Gordon, SS, Grade B: I still love the speed and athleticism, but he needs to do a better job using it. Stolen base success ratio and error rates are troublesome.
2) Jerry Sands, 1B-OF, Grade B: I think his bat is for real, should be a very productive power hitter. Ranks behind Gordon due to future position value but that is not a knock on Sands.
3) Trayvon Robinson, OF, Grade B: Has dramatically improved his skills the last two years and has always had the tools.
4) Kenley Jansen, RHP, Grade B: You have to love the stuff, so good he's effective even without stellar command. Does he close?
5) Rubby De La Rosa, RHP, Grade B: I'm not sure he gets his due. Love the fastball and grounders, would like to see a few more strikeouts, does he start or relieve?
6) Zach Lee, RHP, Grade B: Would rank higher than Jansen and De La Rosa on pure long-term projection, but I want to see some pro data first. Struggles of other young RH power guys in the system have made me cautious. If all goes well, Lee can be number one next year.
7) Chris Withrow, RHP, Grade B-: This grade is generous if you only look at his performance, but I still like the upside.
8) Aaron Miller, LHP, Grade B-: Command collapse in Double-A is worrisome, but will try again this year and power lefties aren't that easy to find.
9) Allen Webster, RHP, Grade B-: I like him, and he doesn't get the attention he deserves on a national basis. Could zoom up the list.
10) Ethan Martin, RHP, Grade C+: I have no idea how to rank him. You can slot him much lower. His second half was scary-bad.
11) Scott Elbert, LHP, Grade C+: He looked great in the Arizona Fall League. Will he throw strikes? Is his head on straight?
12) Leon Landry, OF, Grade C+: A personal favorite, broad range of skills, but need to see him outside the Pioneer League.
13) Kyle Russell, OF, Grade C+: Love the power, hate the strikeouts.
14) Garrett Gould, RHP, Grade C+: Pioneer League performance wasn't hot, although scouts still seem to like him. Transition to full season ball will be enlightening.
15) Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF, Grade C+: This will seem low to some Dodgers fans. I like what he's done so far, but the miniscule walk rate and age-relative-to-league make me wonder if he'll keep it up.
16) James Baldwin, OF, Grade C+: Had strike zone problems in rookie ball. Great tools, and for some non-objective reason I think he could improve quickly.
17) Jake Lemmerman, SS, Grade C+: Another college guy who tore up the Pioneer League. I like him, but rank him behind Landry since I'm not sure his tools will transition as well. Good skills though.
18) Javier Solano, RHP, Grade C+: If you want someone who will help faster, move him up the list. Should be a good middle man.
19) Matt Magill, RHP, Grade C+: Good numbers in the Midwest League, scouting opinion about him seems very mixed, some like his stuff, some don't. Deserves a full shot at higher levels.
20) Jonathan Garcia, OF, Grade C+: Toolsy Pioneer League guy might break out if he keeps the zone under control.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Steve Ames, RHP; Ralston Cash, RHP; Blake Dean, 1B; Ivan DeJesus, 2B; Tony Delmonico, C; Nathan Eovaldi, RHP; Josh Lindblom, RHP; Joc Pederson, OF; Jamie Pedroza, OF: Alfredo Silverio, OF; Blake Smith, OF: Angelo Songco, OF; Shawn Tolleson, RHP; Greg Wilborn, LHP; J.T. Wise, C; Rafael Ynoa, 2B.
I found many of the players in this system very difficult to grade and rank.
You can make a case for B+ for all of the Grade B guys: Gordon, Sands, Robinson, Jansen, and Lee; I went back and forth on every one of them, but each has some sort of issue that held me back. Grades on all of those guys may change when I start working on the Top 50/50 list next week and rank them against other players from other organizations.
Then there is the huge mass of B-/C+ types, very hard to rank. Withrow, Miller, Martin, Elbert, all of them have great arms but all of them had something go wrong this year that makes me wonder if they will reach their full potential, Martin especially. I have no idea where to slot him on the list, you could put him anywhere between 10 and 20 and make a case for it. I'm quite fond of Landry, but I want to see what both he and Lemmerton do against better competition. Russell and Cavazos-Galvez are a mixture of conspicuous strengths and weaknesses.
All in all, the Dodgers system has a lot of very intriguing raw material in it, but there are a huge number of questions as well. It is not a thin system, but even the elite guys at the top have a doubt or two.