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Los Angeles Dodgers Top 20 prospects for 2018: mid-season review

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Checking in on the pre-season list

St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
Walker Buehler
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Continuing with our mid-season organization reviews, we turn our attention to Los Angeles Dodgers farm system.

This list was originally published November 16th, 2017 and updated on March 14th, 2018

*****THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST******

THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST

THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES

1) Walker Buehler, RHP, Grade A-: Age 24, first round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt, 2.96 ERA in 94 major league innings, 102/23 K/BB, 73 hits; everything the Dodgers could have possibly hoped.

2) Alex Verdugo, OF, Grade B+/B: Age 22, second round pick in 2014; hitting .332/,389/.486 in 319 Triple-A at-bats, .280/.345/.440 in 50 major league at-bats; the MLB numbers should be reproducible over a full season, just needs the opportunity.

3) Keibert Ruiz, C, Grade B+/B: Age 20, signed out of Venezuela in 2014; hitting .261/.323/.397 in Double-A, 12 homers, 24 walks, 31 strikeouts in 345 at-bats; impressive defense, bat has been heating up, hitting .359 in August; stock up a tick.

4) Mitchell White, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 23, second round pick in 2016 from Santa Clara; 4.74 ERA in 89 innings in Double-A, 73/31 K/BB, 100 hits; step backward following strong 2017; has pitched well in recent starts, stock down somewhat but still an interesting arm.

5) Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Grade B: Age 22, signed out of Cuba in 2015; 4.44 ERA in 49 innings between Double-A and rookie ball injury rehab, 55/41 K/BB, 39 hits; missed time with groin injury; command is going backwards, too much arm strength to give up on but stock is unavoidably down.

6) Starling Heredia, OF, Grade B/B-: Age 19, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for $2,600,000; hitting .191/.257/.333 in 225 at-bats between Low-A and rookie ball injury rehab, 19i walks, 90 strikeouts; horrendous contact problems, just now getting back into games after missing six weeks with eye problems; stock down.

7) Yusniel Diaz, OF, Grade B/B-: Age 21, signed out of Cuba in 2015, traded to Baltimore Orioles in Manny Machado deal; hit .314/.428/.477 in Double-A before the trade, .222/.325/.374 afterward for a combined line of .285/.397/.445, 10 homers, 12 steals, 56 walks; big noise with two homers in the Futures Game overstates his present power but his pure hitting skills are solid and he is young enough to end up as a 20-homer guy if all goes well, stock up.

8) Jeren Kendall, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 22, first round pick in 2017 from Vanderbilt, hitting .213/.292/.350 with 10 homers, 35 steals, 43 walks, 144 strikeouts in 403 at-bats in High-A; still shows excellent tools but concerns about hitting approach against better pitching have proved valid.

9) Dustin May, RHP, Grade B-/B: Age 20, third round pick in 2016 from high school in Texas; breakout season with 3.21 ERA in 121 innings between High-A and Double-A, 113/24 K/BB, 107 hits; throws four pitches for strikes, stock up.

10) Dennis Santana, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013; excellent in AA/AAA with 2.54 ERA, 65/16 K/BB in 50 innings, promoted to majors then promptly strained his rotator cuff and went on DL; stock was up into B+/A- range pre-injury, unsure now.

11) Will Smith, C, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, first round pick in 2016 from University of Louisville; hit .264/.358/.532 in 265 at-bats with 19 homers in Double-A, but just .148/.186/.204 in 54 Triple-A at-bats so far with 24 whiffs; obviously needs more time to work out swing against AAA competition, stock holding.

12) Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, comp round pick in 2016 from Vanderbilt; lost season with 6.00 ERA in 33 innings between High-A and rookie ball rehab, 39/18 K/BB, undone by command problems and sore forearm that cost him two months; I’d make him a reliever.

13) Omar Estevez, INF, Grade C+/B-: Age 20, Cuban signed as free agent in 2015 for $6,000,000 plus $6,000,000 in bonus penalties; hitting .271/.328/.445 with 37 doubles, 13 homers, 39 walks, 129 strikeouts in 461 at-bats in High-A; sneaky pop, needs to tighten zone, glove best at second base.

14) Gavin Lux, INF, Grade C+/B-: Age 20, first round pick in 2016 from high school in Wisconsin; breakout season, hitting .326/.398/.516 with 14 homers, 12 steals, 50 walks, 83 strikeouts in 426 at-bats in High-A/Double-A; needs more defensive polish but bat looks terrific, stock up sharply, B+ prospect at least.

15) Edwin Rios, 1B-3B, Grade C+/B-: Age 24, sixth round pick in 2015 from Florida International University; late start to season due to injury but no problems with AAA pitching, hitting .308/.355/.492 with nine homers, 18 walks, 96 strikeouts in 266 at-bats; whiff rate is high but hasn’t hurt him yet; below-average glove at all positions and he’s blocked in LA but the bat is real.

16) Matt Beaty, 1B-3B, Grade C+/B-: Age 25, 12th round pick in 2015 from Belmont; has missed most of the season with injuries but back in action now, hitting .304/.388/.435 in 69 at-bats in Triple-A; legitimate bat but like Rios, he is blocked in this system.

17) DJ Peters, OF, Grade C+: Age 22, fourth round pick in 2016 from Western Nevada Community College; big power, hitting .228/.314/.447 with 24 homers, 43 walks, 175 strikeouts in 452 at-bats in Double-A; dangerous but containable with current approach.

18) Drew Jackson, SS, Grade C+: Age 25, fifth round pick by the Seattle Mariners out of Stanford in 2015, traded to Dodgers in March 2017; hitting .255/.358/.448 in Double-A, 13 homers, 21 steals, 40 walks, 84 strikeouts; showing more power this year to go with speed, athleticism, and versatility, unlikely to hit for average and getting old for a prospect.

19) Caleb Ferguson, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, 38th round pick in 2014 from high school in Ohio, identified as sleeper prospect on pre-season list, has blossomed, 1.53 ERA in 47 minor league innings in AA/AAA, 52/17 K/BB; 3.82 ERA in 32 major league innings, 45/10 K/BB; not a fluke, would be starting for most teams.

20) Romer Cuadrado, OF, Grade C+: Age 20, signed out of Venezuela in 2014, very raw, .204/.269/.283 in 441 at-bats in Midwest League, 38 walks, 152 strikeouts; example number 1,494,843 why Pioneer League numbers must be approached with caution (he hit .335/.413/.523 there last year).

OTHER GRADE C+:

Imani Abdullah, RHP; Walked 13 in eight innings in High-A, then retired.

Morgan Cooper, RHP; Out all season with shoulder trouble

Melvin Jimenez, RHP; 4.11 ERA in 61 innings in Low-A, 61/30 K/BB, just 43 hits.

Tim Locastro, INF-OF Hitting .293/.398/.431 in Triple-A, 2-for-11 in the majors, utility projection.

James Marinan, RHP; Traded to Cincinnati Reds, 2.59 ERA with 34/21 K/BB in 42 innings in rookie ball.

Erick Mejia, INF; Traded to Kansas City Royals, hitting .264/.316/.366 in Double-A.

Riley Otteson, RHP; Eldritch, cyclopean control problems, 10.75 ERA in 36 innings, 37/51 K/BB between Low-A and rookie ball

Luke Raley, OF-1B; Traded to Minnesota Twins in Brian Dozier deal, hitting .277/.354/.480 in Double-A, 20 homers, 34/124 BB/K ratio.

Errol Robinson, INF; Hitting .248/.314/.345 with eight homers, 18 steals in Double-A,

Ramon Rodriguez, C; Hitting .231/.298/.283 between rookie ball and Low-A.

Cristian Santana, INF; Good power, 23 homers, .261/.287/.443 line in High-A but with 18 walks, 140 strikeouts

Yaisel Sierra, RHP; Hasn’t pitched this year.

Devin Smeltzer, LHP; Traded to Twins, 4.68 ERA in 90 innings in Double-A, 76/21 K/BB

Connor Wong, C Hitting .263/.342/.463 with 17 homers, 33 walks, 131 strikeouts in High-A

***************

Despite some injuries and trades this is a successful year for the system if only due to Walker Buehler.

Looking ahead to 2019, expect high rankings for Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and attention paid to awakening sleepers like Edwin Uceta, Tony Gonsolin and Marshall Kasowski.