It is probably hard to imagine that there are under-the-radar Los Angeles Dodgers prospects. This is an organization that not only seemingly always has a deep farm system, but has a history of pumping out consecutive Rookie of the Years. That’s likely the case this year as Cody Bellinger could easily follow Corey Seager’s 2016 award winning season.
That said, it’s hard to find three prospects that are already known in this system. Here are three you should know by now.
Trevor Oaks, RHP
California Baptist’s head coach Gary Adcock has an eye for pitching. Though they aren’t big league aces, the Lancers have pumped out highly-drafted pitchers in the MLB Draft for several seasons. Oaks should be the first to reach the big leagues.
Oaks, now 24, has had consecutive solid runs in the Pacific Coast League. That is primarily thanks to his sinker that limits home runs in the power-happy circuit. That makes him ground ball heavy, never posting a lower than a 50 percent ground ball batted ball rate in his career. That pitch has gained velocity over the years, and paired with his change up (he also mixes in a cutter and slider), Oaks has shown the ability to throw innings.
The righty spent a bit of time on the disabled list this season or else he would have likely made his big league debut. That’s all but certain with a healthy start to 2018. Oaks projects to be a reliable innings eater at the back-end of the rotation that could put up some surprising numbers.
DJ Peters, OF
Peters is the definition of beast. He stands at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, and simply launches baseballs.
Drafted out of Western Nevada Community College in the fourth round of last season’s draft, Peters exploded on the scene. He posted a 1.052 OPS in Rookie ball, blasting 24 doubles and 13 home runs in 66 games.
(video courtesy of our friend Bobby DeMuro at Baseball Census)
He proved last season was no joke, taking home MVP honors in the California League. Peters hit to a .276/.372/.514 slash line with 29 doubles and 27 home runs. He has a long swing, which leads to frightening strike out rates, and his aggressive approach leads to a lot of pull power. That said, he walked 64 times in 587 plate appearances.
Peters currently plays centerfield, but he is destined for the corner. He has a tremendous arm, so there will be a spot for him somewhere. It will be interesting to see how the 21-year-old handles the next level of pitching, especially coming of a season that he posted a 32 percent strikeout rate.
Imani Abdullah, RHP
I admittedly don’t know as much about Abdullah as I should, but he has quite the interesting resumé.
Our own John Sickels had Abdullah ranked No. 16 in the Dodgers preseason Top 20. Here’s what he had to say:
Age 19, 11th round pick in 2015; posted 3.61 ERA with 59/12 K/BB in 72 innings in Low-A; 6-4, 205 pounds and still has projection; fastball 91-94 now with more possible; both curveball and change-up need more consistency but he already throws strikes and has mound presence; long way off but number three starter upside; ETA 2020.
He is an impressive specimen. Abdullah is certainly growing into his big frame. The earliest reports on his fastball was that it was a high-80s offering and now it’s in the mid-90s. It’s most impressive when you consider he didn’t start pitching until his junior season of high school. The Dodgers saw enough in his natural athleticism and projectable frame that they snagged him in the 2015 draft.
Abdullah hardly pitched this season, getting a late start and then spending more time on the DL. He is purely speculation and projectability at this point, but an intriguing prospect he is.