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January 28, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer

State of the Farm:Baby you're a rich man. Baby you're a rich man. Baby you're a rich man too. You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo. What a thing to do.”

The Top Ten

  1. OF Yasiel Puig
  2. RHP Zach Lee
  3. 3B Corey Seager
  4. LHP Chris Reed
  5. OF Joc Pederson
  6. RHP Matt Magill
  7. LHP Onelki Garcia
  8. RHP Chris Withrow
  9. RHP Garrett Gould
  10. RHP Zachary Bird

+Additional report on: Hyun-Jin Ryu*

1. Yasiel Puig
Position: OF
DOB: 12/07/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Cuba
2012 Stats: .400/.500/1.000 at complex level AZL (9 games); .327/.407/.423 at High-A Rancho Cucamonga (14 games)
The Tools: 7 raw; 5+ arm; 5 run

What Happened in 2012: The Dodgers gave the Cuban slugger a seven-year, $42 million deal and the world joined hands and said, “Who is this guy and they gave him what?”

Strengths: Major-league strength; good athlete for size; mature build, with thick core and lower half; linebacker-like; power potential is carrying tool; could hit 25-plus HR at peak; arm is strong and will play in right; average run.

Weaknesses: Muscles balls; strength swing; leveraged and lengthy; hit tool projects to average at best; 5 run likely to be below average at major-league level; limited exposure at professional level.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: High risk; physically mature, but more unknowns in game than knowns; hit tool has question marks.

Fantasy Future: Prototypical corner profile, with big power potential and enough bat to make it play.

The Year Ahead: Puig is ready for a full season at the Double-A level, which will no doubt pull the curtain back on his potential. He appears shorter than his listed height, and he’s built more like a football player than a baseball player, but he shows good athleticism and coordination in his movements. His raw strength is lumberjack, and his power is tied to that near-elite strength. His swing mechanics can leave him using more of his upper body, losing control of the stick in the zone. It remains to be seen if better pitching can trip him up, but sources speculate that the weaknesses of the hit tool could show up at the Double-A level. It’s difficult to rank a player like Puig, who could explode into one of the better power bats in the minors or underwhelm against better competition. At this stage, there are too many unknowns for a clear picture.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Zach Lee
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/13/1991
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, McKinney High School (McKinney, TX)
2012 Stats: 4.55 ERA (55.1 IP, 60 H, 52 K, 10 BB) at High-A Rancho Cucamonga; 4.25 ERA (65.2 IP, 69 H, 51 K, 22 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga
The Tools: 5 FB; 6 potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2012: A quiet season for Lee, who might have lost some zip on his prospect velocity and ultimate ceiling, but took several developmental steps forward and raised his floor in the process.

Strengths: Excellent size; plus athlete for position; delivery looks good; arm is clean; shows plus pitchability and a good overall command profile; fastball is a solid-average offering, working in the low 90s; good pitch manipulation, with ability to run and cut the ball; slider flashes plus; turns over changeup; promising offering; could jump another grade (5/6); competitor.

Weaknesses: Fastball isn’t monster pitch; lacks high-end bat-missing stuff; loses strike throwing when he reaches back for velocity; curveball often used as show piece; slider flashes, but can lose arm speed and get slurvy and long.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; good pitchability; good delivery; lacks high-end stuff.

Fantasy Future: Could develop into a mid-rotation workhorse, with a deep arsenal and a very good idea of how to use it. Lacks elite upside because of quiet stuff, but should log innings and force weak contact.

The Year Ahead: Lee could use a return trip to Double-A, where the long season and better competition painted him with a pedestrian brush. What gets lost in the numbers is Lee’s age and developmental standing, as the 21-year-old Texan has more room to improve and refine, giving him a slightly higher ceiling than the numbers might suggest. His fastball is only a solid-average offering, but his ability to encourage different types of movement give the pitch more than one dimension. His slider can play, and the changeup has the potential to develop into a much better offering than some realize, with a 6 future. Lee might not have the frontline projection that was originally thought possible, but he is a good candidate to develop into a legit major league starter, and that has tremendous value. 

Major league ETA: 2014

3. Corey Seager
Position: 3B
DOB: 04/27/1994
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Northwest Cabarrus High School (Concord, NC)
2012 Stats: .309/.383/.520 at rookie-level Ogden (46 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 potential power; 6 arm

What Happened in 2012: The first-round pick made quite an impression in his professional debut, showing an advanced bat and feel for the game at the tender age of 18.

Strengths: Great hands; athletic body; room to get stronger; hit/power projections to plus; whip in the swing; produces bat speed and can drive the baseball; quality at-bats for young hitter; plenty of arm for left side; glove will play above average at third; shows baseball skills.

Weaknesses: Lacks major-league quality actions and range at shortstop; swing mechanics can appear stiff; tendency to lose lower-body/rotation in swing; small sample against quality arms.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: High risk; offensive demands at position; wide gap in present/future.

Fantasy Future: Bat has above-average projections; can play at position; potential to hit .275-plus with 20-plus home run power.

The Year Ahead: The jump to full-season ball is always a good test for a young player, as he gets to see better raw stuff and better execution of that stuff. A hitter like Seager should be able to make contact, and if the bat speed is legit, should continue to drive the ball with authority. It’s hard to look at a kid with limited experience at the pro level and project the bat, but Seager shows signs of being a legit prospect, with advanced bat-to-ball skills for his age. If he takes a step forward in 2013, he has the raw potential to emerge as one of the better third base prospects in the game.

Major league ETA: 2016

4. Chris Reed
Position: LHP
DOB: 05/20/1990
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
2012 Stats: 3.09 ERA (35 IP, 25 H, 38 K, 14 BB) at High-A Rancho Cucamonga; 4.84 ERA (35.1 IP, 31 H, 29 K, 20 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6 potential SL

What Happened in 2012: The transition from college reliever to professional starter is still a work in progress, and a few assorted injuries kept the big lefty from logging substantial innings at his two stops.

Strengths: Great size; plus arm strength; fastball works 90-96; plus movement; 6+ pitch; slider has easy plus potential; hard and sharp in the mid-80s; bat-missing pitch; fast learning; good makeup.

Weaknesses: Command is spotty; fastball works very loose; struggles to repeat and keep body in control; changeup has a chance, but behind other offerings; still putting together starter’s approach; pace/nuance.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; command profile and lack of average third offering could limit ceiling and force move to bullpen.

Fantasy Future: Has size/strength and two above-average major league pitches, giving him the potential to not only log innings (in theory) but compete and miss bats. In the ‘pen, could work in late-inning role; frontline setup potential.

The Year Ahead: Some sources believe that the more innings Reed can log in a rotation, the better he will get and the higher his ceiling will become. With a live arm from the left side and a very explosive slider, Reed already has an attractive profile, and if the command can refine and the changeup develop into a 5 offering, the Dodgers might have something here. If he can stay healthy and pitch the entire season in the rotation, Reed could be the top prospect in this system at this time next season. If he falters in a rotation, the bullpen backup plan sounds appealing as well.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Joc Pederson
Position: OF
DOB: 04/21/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 11th round, 2010 draft, Palo Alto High School (Palo Alto, CA)
2012 Stats: .313/.396/.516 at High-A Rancho Cucamonga (110 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 5 run; 5 raw

What Happened in 2012: The Dodgers’ minor league player of the year might have had only 16 games of full-season experience under his belt, but he made the jump to the California League and took advantage of his surroundings by hitting for average and power.

Strengths: Baseball skills; good bat-to-ball ability; can make loud contact; hit tool projects to plus; power could be average; 5 run; heady player; max-effort.

Weaknesses: Lacks loud tools; doesn’t profile as up-the-middle defender; left-field profile puts pressure on stick; can play too fast and loose in the field; can get stiff in the box; package has to max out for role 5 grade.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; shows good baseball skills and makeup; bat will have to play at each level because of defensive profile.

Fantasy Future: Could develop into a down lineup left fielder, with enough bat to play; could hit .280-plus with good extra-base hit potential and enough run and base running skills to swipe a few.

The Year Ahead: The Double-A test is upon the soon-to-be 21-year-old, and sources are mixed as to how Pederson will handle the assignment. Call him a gamer or a grinder or whatever, but Pederson knows how to play the game, with feel and five-tool utility. He doesn’t have impact tools, which is a concern for some, as the bat has to carry the load if he wants to hang in a major-league lineup. He can sting a ball in a friendly league, but can he sting plus velocity? Can he fight through hard at-bats against arms with major-league futures? Pederson is a future regular to some and a tweener to others, and a heavy dose of Double-A baseball should help bring the real prospect profile into the light.

Major league ETA: 2014

6. Matt Magill
Position: RHP
DOB: 11/10/1989
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 31st round, 2008 draft, Royal High School (Simi Valley, CA)
2012 Stats: 3.75 ERA (146.1 IP, 127 H, 168 K, 61 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga
The Tools: 5 FB; 5+ SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: A breakout player in 2011, Magill continued the trend in 2012, missing more bats than innings-pitched in 26 Double-A starts.

Strengths: Clean delivery; arm works well; fastball works 88-92 and can touch a little higher; ball has some weight; slider is best pitch; thrown up to 84 with some slicing action; comfortable and confident in pitch; still has room to improve/refine.

Weaknesses: Overall command is fringe; doesn’t stay consistent in slot or release; changeup can get deliberate; slows arm; tendency to work up in the zone; fastball isn’t true plus offering.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; already achieved Double-A level; good history of heavy workload and improvement.

Fantasy Future: Mid- to backend-starter type with innings potential and average production.

The Year Ahead: Slow and steady, Magill has developed into a legit prospect, showing a table-setting fastball and a barrel-missing slider. Since entering baseball as a 31st round draft pick in 2008, Magill has logged over 500 innings of work, and has made 85 starts. It’s not flashy, and the lack of a plus fastball shrinks his margin for error, but he knows how to pitch and he has some room left in the development tank, so another year of steady starts will put him in a good position to contribute to the Dodgers rotation in 2014.

Major league ETA: 2013

7. Onelki Garcia
Position: LHP
DOB: 08/02/1989
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft, Cuba
2012 Stats: 0.00 ERA (2.0 IP, 0 H, 4 K, 0 BB) at High-A Rancho Cucamonga
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 CB

What Happened in 2012: Garcia’s tale of escape and hardship touched the hearts of those familiar, and his fastball touched the mid-90s as he became a professional stateside ballplayer.

Strengths: Physically imposing; very strong arm; fastball is true plus pitch, working in the low-mid 90s; curveball is a hammer; easy plus that one source put a 7 on; bat-missing profile; extreme fortitude

Weaknesses: So many unknowns; limited exposure at professional level; changeup not heavily featured in arsenal; arm-strength prospect with questions about pitchability and future role

Overall Future Potential: 6; frontline setup arm

Explanation of Risk: High risk; limited scouting looks; too many unknowns in profile.

Fantasy Future: Could profile as late-innings/high-leverage reliever, with two plus (to plus-plus) pitches from the left side.

The Year Ahead: Garcia could develop in a number of different ways, and it’s very hard to profile a player that doesn’t have much of a profile yet. We know he can throw hard, and we know he has a true hammer curveball, but with limited looks against quality competition, the raw grades are all we have to go on. He’s a big, strong southpaw with a serious arm, and he’s not going to collapse under the weight of the baseball world, as he’s already sacrificed and overcome more in the last few years than most people will in a lifetime. Garcia could be the top arm in this system in short order or just a touching narrative that didn’t work out. It’s dishonest to suggest we know more than we actually do about his ability on the mound, but 2013 should start to fill in the puzzle.

Major league ETA: 2014

8. Chris Withrow
Position: RHP
DOB: 04/01/1989
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2007 draft, Midland High School (Midland, TX)
2012 Stats: 4.65 ERA (60 IP, 52 H, 64 K, 36 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga
The Tools: 6+ FB (plays up more in ‘pen); 5+ potential SL; 5 CB

What Happened in 2012: Withrow made his Double-A debut in 2009, and hasn’t been able to escape the level since, logging over 344 innings and making 65 starts in the Southern League.  

Strengths: Excellent size/strength; fastball is plus offering; works low-mid-90s; can work higher in bursts; 7 potential; good late life; hard, short slider flashes plus; cutter-like dart to glove side; changeup can show above-average potential; heavy action; also shows curveball with some depth.

Weaknesses: Below-average command; aims the ball; pitches behind too often; secondary arsenal is inconsistent; can overthrow and lose movement/location on fastball; might be better fit for bullpen.

Overall Future Potential: High-5; no. 4 starter/frontline setup

Explanation of Risk: High risk; poor command profile and a shoulder injury on resume.

Fantasy Future: Has the body and delivery to profile as innings eater near back of rotation, but has the electric stuff to play up in short bursts out of the bullpen.

The Year Ahead: Withrow is likely to escape the Southern League, where his issues with command/control will need to refine in order to stick around in a rotation. The raw stuff isn’t the problem, but the execution of that stuff has been the biggest hurdle so far in Withrow’s career. If he can find a way to make the stuff work as a starter, he might profile even higher than his projection, with a nasty fastball/cut slider combo, and a changeup that’s better than you might think. Sources are mixed, however, with some saying that the arm is destined for the bullpen, where the stuff will play up and the command woes will play down.

Major league ETA: 2013

9. Garrett Gould
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/19/1991
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft, Maize High School (Maize, KS)
2012 Stats: 5.75 ERA (130 IP, 140 H, 123 K, 54 BB) at High-A Rancho Cucamonga
The Tools: 5 FB; 5+ potential CB

What Happened in 2012: The California League happened.

Strengths: Has arm strength; fastball is average, but has potential to play up; works 89-92; curveball flashes plus; big tumbler with tight rotation and depth; bat-missing pitch; effective against both LH/RH.

Weaknesses: Body got soft; delivery was inconsistent; fastball is average, and high release limits lateral movement of offering; command profile is fringe; changeup is hit/miss, with some good sink but poor location.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; fastball doesn’t pack a big punch; pressure on command/control for success.

Fantasy Future: Profiles as league-average major-league arm, with some bat missing ability but shaky command and an average fastball.

The Year Ahead: Pitching in the California League can do more than just damage the numbers, it can directly affect a pitcher’s approach, and when that goes south it can affect a pitcher’s confidence. Several sources had Gould graded higher than Zach Lee coming into the season, but the setbacks in the California League pushed him down the list, as the body just didn’t look good, the fastball looked flat, and the secondary arsenal was spotty and inconsistent. Product of the environment is a comment mentioned by several scout sources in regard to Gould, and it will be interesting to see if the damage inflicted in 2012 remains a part of his profile going forward. This season is a make-or-break year for Gould, who could climb back up the ranks with a strong showing or wilt from the wounds of his past and fade into prospect obscurity.

Major league ETA: 2014

10. Zachary Bird
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/14/1994
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 177 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 9th round, 2012 draft, Murrah High School (Jackson, MS)
2012 Stats: 4.54 ERA (39.2 IP, 36 H, 46 K, 17 BB)
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: Bird really shoved it at the complex level, missing more than a bat an inning and teasing onlookers with a very deep and projectable arsenal.

Strengths: Plus athlete; big projection; long limbs; fastball at present is 88-91, but projects to work higher; should end up as easy plus offering; shows multiple breaking ball looks, including big, slow curve and a sharp cut fastball; has some feel for the mound.

Weaknesses: Early in development; fastball velocity is inconsistent; gets out of delivery and loses release; curveball has plus potential but can be too long and easy to track; changeup is underdeveloped at present; can throw strikes, but command needs work.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: Extreme risk; 18-years-old; long way to go.

Fantasy Future: Could develop into electric but erratic mid-rotation arm, with the stuff to dominate at times but the arsenal inconsistency to underwhelm.

The Year Ahead: Bird has a very projectable profile and good feel for his craft, but he might not be ready for the jump to full-season ball in 2013. The raw stuff can survive the level, and its possible that a strong camp could push him to the Midwest League, but there is no reason to rush the young pitcher. Once the command rounds into shape and he finds comfort in the secondary arsenal, Bird could jump back on the accelerated advancement train and move through the system faster than most teenaged arms. It remains to be seen where the arsenal goes from here, but you have to like the body, the delivery, and the arm that he has to work with. Pay attention to this kid. It might not end up special, but it could end up being very solid.

Major league ETA: 2016

*Because of the unique nature of his prospect status, we’ve elected to profile Ryu off the main top ten 10. As with Darvish and Cespedes last season, it’s difficult to rank foreign athletes arriving from foreign leagues who are set to debut at the major-league level, without spending time in the minor-league system. While their development is still ongoing and their assimilation to stateside ball is complex and strenuous, the players are expected to be players and not prospects, despite their rookie status. In order to maintain the precedent established on this site with the exclusion of the aforementioned players from previous lists, we will not be ranking Ryu on the team list or the Top 101. However, since I assume this will be asked, if eligible for inclusion, Ryu would fall firmly in the top 10, most likely in the 6-8 range.

N/A. Hyun-Jin Ryu
Position: LHP
DOB:
03/25/1987
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent (posting system), 2012, South Korea
2012 Stats: N/A
The Tools: 5 FB; 6+ CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2012: After the Dodgers paid a posting fee of $25.7M to negotiate with the Korean southpaw, they signed him to a six-year, $36M contract.

Strengths: Strong, durable frame; built to handle workload; fastball is average offering, but knows how to work with the pitch; sits anywhere from 88-92; can touch higher; changeup is big-money pitch; big arm-side action and deception from fastball; could be plus-plus major league pitch; shows multiple breaking balls; sharp command profile.

Weaknesses: Fastball isn’t monster pitch; average velo from left side; can lose movement; changeup will play, but book will get written about sequence; will have to keep hitters off fastball; curveball can get too big and loose; show pitch; slider should play as average offering, but not big bat misser.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; ready for majors; has arsenal and command profile to pitch at the level and find success.

Fantasy Future: You tell me.

The Year Ahead: Ryu is ready for the major-league rotation, but nothing can simulate or prepare a pitcher for the demands and the challenges of the highest level. Major-league hitters are fast learners, and if the command isn’t sharp, the Korean southpaw could be in some trouble, as the fastball is often pedestrian and the breaking balls average at best. He shows advanced pitchability and a very good changeup, so it’s not like he’s throwing batting practice, but the hefty investment in Ryu might not produce the hefty result that the Dodgers are expecting.

Major league ETA: 2013

Prospects on the Rise

1. IF Jesmuel Valentin: A supplemental first-round pick in 2012, Valentin has instincts for the game and a better stick than his debut numbers suggest. Most likely a second basemen in the end, the bat has a chance to play, and we should get a better taste of his talents in 2013.

2. LHP Julio Urias: High value international signing from Mexico, Urias has projection and pitchability, already working his fastball in the upper-80s, touching the low 90s with a promising CH/CB secondary arsenal.

3. 3B Alex Santana: A second-round pick in 2011, Santana has been slow to explode in short-season ball, but with impressive size and strength, and a highly projectable bat, the 19-year-old is a player to keep a close eye on in the Dodgers system. If it clicks, it could click big.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013

1. RHP Paco Rodriguez: Paco is a pest on the mound, with a frustrating arsenal delivered in a frustrating manner. With noisy movements and a high leg, Rodriguez uses deception and a lively fringe-velocity fastball to set up a very good slider/cutter combo that can miss bats and disrupt timing. Hitters aren’t going to like facing this kid.

2. C Tim Fedorowicz: Backup catchers aren’t sexy players and they have even less appeal as prospects, but they also have a lot of value. Fedorowicz might not have the stick to start, but the 25-year-old has the defensive chops to play at the major-league level for a very long time. He also has the confidence to wear a very uneasy mustache on his face, which only adds value to his profile.

3. RHP Josh Wall: While most systems in baseball can boast of 26-year-old relievers in the upper minors, Wall has two major-league quality pitches, and a role projection that goes beyond the basic distinction of “reliever.” With a 93-95 mph fastball and a hard slider, Wall has the raw stuff to miss bats in late-inning situations, giving him more immediate value than most of the players on this list.

Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (born 4/1/87 or later)

1.     Clayton Kershaw
2.     Yasiel Puig
3.     Kenley Jansen
4.     Zach Lee
5.     Corey Seager
6.     Chris Reed
7.     Dee Gordon
8.     Joc Pederson
9.     Matt Magill
10.  Onelki Garcia

For the Dodgers, the future is now. Since the start of the 2012 season, the organization has shipped a total of 15 players out of Los Angeles in trades involving at least one major leaguer, with 13 of those players being age 25 or younger. Of the 11 players received in these deals, only one—Rob Rassmussen (LHP, Double-A)—was age 25 or younger. The major-league roster is flush with veterans and built for “now” impact. Ironically, the rotation and the bullpen each find the top of their respective depth charts occupied by relative youngsters.

One of the top arms in all of baseball, Clayton Kershaw has already logged 944 innings, tallied 974 strikeouts, and won a Cy Young Award (as well as finished a runner-up), all before his 25th birthday. He will once again serve as the staff ace in 2013 and, with free agency looming in 2015, could net a nine-figure long-term deal before turning 26 next March. Kenley Jansen stepped into the closer role last year and dominated to the tune of over four strikeouts for every walk issued and a highly impressive hit rate of just 4.6 hits per nine innings pitched. Paco Rodriguez (LHP) has the potential to emerge as a solid late-inning arm in spite of an average fastball, due to the velocity tiering of his fastball, cutter, and slider, as well as a deceptive delivery, which combine to frustrate lefties and righties alike. Shawn Tolleson (RHP), like Rodriguez, can change speeds well between his fastball, slider/cutter and changeup, but does so with a little less precision and a little more oomph, reaching the mid-90s with the heater. Chris Reed (LHP), Rob Rasmussen (LHP), and Zach Lee (RHP), though currently all starters, could provide further bullpen help in 2013 should the Dodgers look internally for a boost later in the summer.

Dee Gordon (SS/2B) still has the tool set to grow into a solid contributor up the middle, despite a roundly disappointing season in 2012 highlighted by surgery on his right thumb to repair a torn tendon. Tim Federowicz (C) should slot in as a backup to start the season and could see his playing time increase off the strength of his advanced defensive game. The remainder of the 25-and-under positional talent has limited short-term impact, though the likes of Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager could be well worth the wait. —Nick Faleris

A Parting Thought: The Dodgers’ system is a mixture of moderate impact arms and highly unknown and possibly remarkable foreign imports, making their system both difficult to analyze and provocative to pay attention to.

Last year's Dodgers rankings

*Special thanks to Mark Anderson, Nick Faleris, Chris Mellen, Jason Cole and Hudson Belinsky for their input and influence on this list.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

30 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

sportspopery

A question about Ryu's profile: how many No. 4 starters possess a plus-plus pitch backed by an average arsenal & plus command? Does the fact that his money pitch is a changeup as opposed to a fastball or breaking ball depress his projection?

Jan 28, 2013 06:48 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

For me, yes. Without a plus fastball or plus breaking ball, I don't see him pitching high up in a rotation. The sources I spoke with agreed, but others in the industry are higher on his profile than I am.

Jan 28, 2013 07:46 AM
 
hyprvypr

Doesn't Jeremy Hellickson fit this mold pretty closely? Middling stuff, maybe slightly above average FB/breaking ball and a plus-plus change? Does Hellickson tend to have a higher perceived upside because of his strong command/pitchability as well? Just curious, because for me the comp is very close. Thanks.

Jan 28, 2013 12:41 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I actually like Hellickson's breaking ball, although I know it doesn't get the love that his CH receives. But I also don't think Hellickson is a front of the rotation starter. I think he's a very good pitcher that will pitch in the middle of a rotation for a very long time, but not a prototypical frontline type.

Jan 28, 2013 12:45 PM
 
cjrhgarmon

I've always been curious about this type of pitcher. I wonder if they're undervalued, like the extreme groundballers used to be undervalued. Look at Wade LeBlanc: all he has is an amazing changeup and he's been able to post a positive VORP over the past three seasons. I may be wrong, but I've heard his other offerings are less than MLB-average. If someone like that can provide value to a MLB rotation or bullpen, what about someone with a plus-plus change and average FB & curve/slider? I know, it's not a sexy profile and these guys will never be aces, but they may be an inexpensive, but effective way to fill out the back end of a rotation or long relief.

Jan 29, 2013 10:36 AM
rating: 0
 
DeathSpeculum

"Like they say in the big leagues, I am a five-tool player," Puig said. "I have what it takes and do it with a lot of love. I am going to bring my best stuff to the Dodgers. I don't want to disappoint the Dodgers or the fans."

how would you assess the amount of love with which Puig hits? on the ike turner to luther vandross scale, of course.

Jan 28, 2013 08:29 AM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He doesn't have an Ike Turner approach, but I can see a little R Kelly in his swing.

Jan 28, 2013 08:41 AM
 
19braves77

you really think Puig will start off in the Southern League ?

Jan 28, 2013 09:29 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I think it's possible, but that's just a guess. I don't think sending an advanced power hitter to the California League will offer much above the obvious. He needs to be challenged by more advanced pitching to advance as a hitter.

Jan 28, 2013 09:41 AM
 
mattseward

Jason, reading your reports this system seems to have a very high variance factor with so many guys with major skills but also major question marks.

Which system out of the ones you have done so far would you say has the potential to be either way better or way worse than where you have ranked them?

Jan 28, 2013 09:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I haven't ranked the individual systems yet, but I think the Phillies system could take big steps forward if a a few players blossom, and I think the Mariners system could take a step back if guys like Zunino, Hultzen, Paxton, Franklin don't develop as planned.

Jan 28, 2013 09:45 AM
 
ttt

Re: Onelki Garcia. Why is he assumed to be a reliever? Was he one in Cuba? Is there a chance he could become a starter? Thanks!

Jan 28, 2013 09:36 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

First of all, there are so many unknowns with Garcia that you can't put him in any one box with any conviction. The underdeveloped CH is probably the biggest hurdle in the skill-set re: starting

Jan 28, 2013 09:39 AM
 
tannerg

First, I love reading these -- thanks for your work. But...

"It’s difficult to rank a player like Puig, who could explode into one of the better power bats in the minors or underwhelm against better competition. At this stage, there are too many unknowns for a clear picture."

Yet you ranked him #1?

I supposed that's a commentary on the quality of the rest of the Dodgers' prospects? Where would you rank the Dodgers' top 10 compared to the rest of the league's Top 10s?

Jan 28, 2013 09:42 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Ranking him number one doesn't eliminate the difficulty from the process of ranking him in the first place. Information procurement is a challenge when the sample size is small. We felt we had enough to go on, but it's not like there is a wealth of scouting information and background on Puig. He has a very promising profile, so we put him at the top of the list.

I haven't ranked all the teams yet, so I can't accurately compare the Dodgers with the rest of the league.

Jan 28, 2013 09:54 AM
 
Shaun P.
(676)

Was anyone else struck that of the 10 guys ranked (not including Ryu), 8 have MLB ETAs of 2013 or 2014? For all the young talent they've traded away, the Dodgers might be set to potentially reap a whirlwind of it come 2014 - even if only half of them work out as hoped, and when hoped for.

I don't know if this has been true of any other system ranked to date, but this really jumped out at me here. Is there another possible talent wave behind this one, or are the lower levels more bare (Seager and Bird aside, of course)?

Jan 28, 2013 10:24 AM
rating: 0
 
cdgarosi

This is more of a general question, so I apologize for dumping it here, but Joc Pederson's profile got me thinking. The quote is "left-field profile puts pressure on stick."

I know this is common - each position has a profile for defensive production and a profile for offensive production.

However, the major league level for each team may not (usually does not?) mirror the optimal or preferred configuration. If Pederson came up with the mid-80s O's that had a power hitting SS (or late 90s Red Sox) or any other variant of team that had power coming from elsewhere, then it wouldn't matter (or not as much).

At what point do teams worry about this issue? Do they stop 'investing' as much in the development of a player if his offensive or defensive profile won't work for the position he's going to play?

I know that teams will wait until the last possible moment (for example, Miguel Sano will probably keep playing 3B even though it seems he has less than a 10% chance of sticking there in the majors) to move a player off of a defensive position that they may not be able to handle at the MLB level. What about offense? At what point does Pederson's probable LF/RF-profile run up against his probable offensive profile which may be more suited for an up the middle defensive position?

Thanks as always for these pieces.

Jan 28, 2013 10:27 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

As players move from the middle-of-the-diamond (which most do), their offensive production becomes a larger part of the equation. While its true that the specific makeup of a team's offensive structure will dictate how value can be distributed around the field, from a scouting perspective, corner players carry the burden of a greater offensive weight. This is one of the reasons middle-of-the-field players have so much value in the available markets. Ideally, yes, teams would prefer to acquire talent that can play premium positions. But that's not always possible.

Jan 28, 2013 10:42 AM
 
hyprvypr

Also isn't part of this that when players move to LF or 1B/DH, they are suddenly matched up against an enormous pool of mostly bat/only guys in the minors, any number of which could play sub-par defense and hit .270/.340/.450?

Moving to the corner makes his competition look better, is I guess what I am trying to say.

Jan 28, 2013 12:46 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Exactly.

Jan 28, 2013 12:47 PM
 
jfribley

Anyone know how Puig is pronounced? Pweeg? Pugue (like fugue, but with a p)?

Jan 28, 2013 11:32 AM
rating: 0
 
ttt

I think it's "pweeg".

Jan 28, 2013 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yes.

Jan 28, 2013 12:20 PM
 
bcransom

The Dodgers have been very active in Latin America, even signing a couple guys last week (Michael Medina and Carlos Aquino). Also, they signed Divel Castillo, Ariel Sandoval, Miguel Urena and Ravel Hernandez a couple weeks back.

Any of these names stick out to you or is it just way too early to tell? Should Dodger fans be excited because they're good or because we're just finally active signing guys again? Thanks.

Jan 28, 2013 13:15 PM
rating: 0
 
ofMontreal

Plus plus mustache. Thats rich ;-)

Jan 28, 2013 14:12 PM
rating: 0
 
harmonialvalue

"is destined for the bullpen, where the stuff will play up and the command woes will play down."

You hear this all the time. The stuff playing up makes sense, but why does a move to the bullpen help people with command/control problems?

Jan 28, 2013 16:35 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Command is never a bad thing, but you can live in a world with really good stuff and really shaky command in short bursts whereas its more difficult to survive a full game if you can't locate. Some power arms can achieve this out of a rotation, but it's much easier to find success in the 'pen if you happen to be loose.

Look at it this way: You are piss drunk and about to interview for a job. In a short burst in front of a small group of people, you might be able to fake it and survive without much damage. You might even shine if their own approach is loose and they buy into your faux-sobriety. But when the room expands and you have to sell yourself for a much longer period of time and to a much larger pool of people, your chances of success shrink a tremendous amount. In all likelihood, you are going to get exposed and your own issues will work against you.

Jan 28, 2013 16:43 PM
 
delatopia

This is the most interesting baseball-to-real-life analogy ever.

Jan 28, 2013 19:29 PM
rating: 9
 
LowDraw67

Ryu's picture is 80 grade money.

Jan 28, 2013 17:52 PM
rating: 5
 
yadenr

Darnell Sweeney...is he a something?

Jan 29, 2013 16:26 PM
rating: 0
 
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