Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST.
IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.
THESE ARE PRE-SEASON GRADES.
1) Corey Seager, SS, Grade A: Hitting .296/.343/.504 with 14 homers in 355 at-bats between Double-a and Triple-A. Can’t complain about this; Dodgers apparently have no intention to trade him. Still an outstanding prospect.
2) Julio Urias, LHP, Grade A: Missed six weeks with surgery to correct eye issue, has been effective as usual when on the mound, 3.29 ERA with 49/9 K/BB in 41 innings in Double-A, just 30 hits. Top left-handed prospect in baseball.
3) Joc Pederson, OF, Grade A-: Hitting .228/.352/.464 with 21 homers, 59 walks, 122 strikeouts in 347 at-bats for the Dodgers. Excellent power and OBP skills, batting average low of course but productive nonetheless.
4) Grant Holmes, RHP, Grade B/B+: 2014 first-rounder looking strong in Low-A Midwest League, 2.78 ERA with 98/43 K/BB in 81 innings, just 64 hits. Needs tighter command but stuff is excellent, rotation anchor upside.
5) Alex Verdugo, OF, Grade B/B+: Hitting .285/.315/.386 with four homers, 15 walks, 50 strikeouts in 365 at-bats in Low-A. I thought he could show more power and patience than this but at age 19 there is still plenty of time for improvement and overall he’s holding his own.
6) Chris Anderson,. RHP, Grade B-: 3.83 ERA with 88/50 K/BB in 110 innings in Double-A, 103 hits. I’d like to see more strikeouts but he continues to chew up innings, could fit in back of rotation or perhaps be more dominant in the pen.
7) Jose De Leon, RHP, Grade B-: 24th round pick in 2013 was excellent in High-A (1.67, 58/8 K/BB in 38 IP) and decent enough in Double-A (4.15, 74/25 K/BB in 56 innings, just 40 hits) until going on disabled list this month. Scouting reports have been glowing, command has wobbled a bit for Tulsa but K/IP and H/IP remain exceptional.
8) Scott Schebler, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .246/.325/.446 with 11 homers, 12 steals, 28 walks, 66 strikeouts in 305 at-bats in Triple-A. Retains intriguing power/speed combination but overall production has tailed off against advanced pitching.
9) Darnell Sweeney, INF-OF, Grade B-: Hitting .279/.334/.426 with eight homers, 28 steals, 33 walks, 104 strikeouts in 401 at-bats in Triple-A. Like teammate Schebler, Sweeney continues to show a broad range of tools but PCL pitching has exposed a few holes in his game.
10) Austin Barnes, C-2B, Grade B-: Hit .304/.385/.484 in 217 at-bats in Triple-A with excellent 28/26 BB/K and 10 steals. Always posts strong OBP, has some pop, unusual speed for a catcher, a very intriguing player.
11) Julian Leon, C, Grade B-/C+: Hitting just .201/.251/.280 with 13 walks, 78 strikeouts in 239 at-bats in Low-A. I liked him a lot pre-season but has been unable to duplicate gaudy 2014 numbers, still just 19 though. End-of-year reports from Midwest League will be illuminating.
12) Pedro Baez, RHP, Grade C+: 2.93 ERA with 36/8 K/BB in 28 major league innings. Solid relief work.
13) Chris Reed, LHP, Grade C+: Disappointing AA performance with control problems knocked his stock down to the point that he was designated for assignment. Now with Marlins. 5.31 ERA with 27/24 K/BB in 39 innings in high minors this year.
14) Zach Lee, RHP, Grade C+ Excellent in Triple-A, 2.36 ERA with 50/14 K/BB in 69 innings, 60 hits, all quite good especially for the PCL. Got beat up in one major league start but will get more chances, still projects as number four starter.
15) Joe Wieland, RHP, Grade C+: Throwing strikes but still trying to recapture pre-Tommy John form with his stuff, 5.42 ERA with 62/18 K/BB in 75 innings in Triple-A, 98 hits.
16) Ross Stripling, RHP, Grade C+: Another Tommy John guy working his way back, 4.50 ERA with 28/13 K/BB in 32 innings in Double-A. Both Wieland and Stripling can be command-oriented fourth starters if their arms come all the way back.
17) Yimi Garcia, RHP, Grade C+: Reasonably good in big league pen, 3.99 ERA with 54/9 K/BB in 38 innings, 32 hits. Components are better than the ERA and he has a bright future.
18) Zachary Bird, RHP, Grade C+: 4.75 ERA with 95/48 K/BB in 89 innings in High-A, 74 hits. Reports on stuff remain enthusiastic, high-ceiling arm but still sharpening his command, still has lots of time at age 21.
19) Enrique Hernandez, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .265/.303/.442 in 113 major league at-bats. A useful role player.
20) John Richy, RHP, Grade C+: Steady success in the difficult High-A California League, 3.77 ERA with 89/27 K/BB in 105 innings, 111 hits, lots of ground balls. Another inning-eating starter candidate
21) Cody Bellinger, 1B, Grade C+: Hitting .246/.320/.495 with 20 homers, 39 walks, 123 strikeouts in 366 at-bats in High-A at age 20. Impressive power production at a young age, but contact issues could prove troublesome at higher levels and the Cal League is not masking that flaw.
22) Jharel Cotton, RHP, Grade C+: Slow start due to minor injury but rolling along now, 2.27 ERA with 47/11 K/BB in 44 innings in Double-A, 35 hits. Reports from Texas League praise his ability to deceive hitters. Another possible back-end starter.
23) Jake Rhame, RHP, Grade C+: 3.16 ERA with 42/17 K/BB in 37 innings, 23 hits in Double-A. Impressive campaign, could fit in Dodgers pen soon with a bit more command refinement.
There is very little to complain about here: it has been a strong campaign for the Dodgers farm system. Joc Pederson may lead the league in strikeouts but he also has a 126 OPS+ and made the All-Star team as a rookie on a 30-homer pace. Corey Seager, Julio Urias, and Grant Holmes have all lived up to expectations and Jose De Leon has shown that his ranking on pre-season lists was not just hype.
In the majors, Enrique Hernandez has been a good bench player and enigmatic Cuban Alex Guerrero has slugged 10 homers in 159 at-bats. Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, and fellow rookies Carlos Frias and Adam Liberatore have all boosted the major league pitching staff. At the minor league levels almost everyone has at least held their own and some have boosted their stock considerably.
Right-hander Jeff Brigham is showing up in trade rumors despite a non-great year in High-A: 5.96, 64/36 K/BB in 68 innings, 78 hits. Reports indicate a strong power sinking fastball but the need for more refined secondary pitches. 30-year-old Cuban "prospect" Hector Olivera has hit .348/.392/.493 in 19 games in the minors including .387 with a .581 SLG in a week of Triple-A action. He signed in May, too late to be included on the original list.
The 2015 draft had some disappointments, notably Walker Buehler’s Tommy John surgery and Kyle Funkhouser’s decision to return to college. Keep an eye on Willie Calhoun down at Ogden; his bat could be special.
Overall, it is a good time to be a Dodger fan and the front office has plenty to work with in trade negotiations.