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January 22, 2014

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Dodgers list

The Top Ten

  1. LHP Julio Urias
  2. SS Corey Seager
  3. CF Joc Pederson
  4. RHP Zach Lee
  5. RHP Chris Anderson
  6. LHP Chris Reed
  7. RHP Ross Stripling
  8. LHP Tom Windle
  9. LHP Onelki Garcia
  10. RHP Victor Arano

1. Julio Urias
Position: LHP
DOB: 08/12/1996
Height/Weight: 5’11” 160 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Mexico
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: 2.48 ERA (54.1 IP, 44 H, 67 K, 16 BB) in Low-A Great Lakes
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential CH; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: As a 16-year-old, Urias fluttered the hearts of many a prospectphile, jumping straight to the Midwest League and showing three above-average pitches, including a fastball that touched plus velocity in each start.

Strengths: Advanced pitchability; taller than listed height (more like 6’1’’); easy and repeatable delivery; fastball works 91-93; touches 95 frequently; multiple fastball looks and actions; turns over highly projectable changeup with good arm speed deception and fading action; projects as easy plus offering (and possibly higher); spins average curveball that already flashes plus potential, with a tight rotation and depth; above-average command projection; makeup for accelerated developmental schedule.

Weaknesses: Body could prove to be high maintenance; will need to maintain weight and athleticism as he matures; several sources question arsenal projection (more polish and present than projection); changeup can get too firm and lose action; limited exposure or experience with longer looks (starts).

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; mature stuff but 17 years old.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The fantasy profile here is just something we are really not used to seeing from an ETA standpoint, even if the stuff is more comfortable for evaluation. This could be an arm who impacts all four categories strongly—especially with that changeup as a big strikeout weapon against right-handed hitters. But the innings limits he’s likely to be facing at the beginning of his career (if he does reach the majors in the next two seasons) will hurt his value slightly. Invest heavily, but wisely.

The Year Ahead: Urias is a very advanced prospect who could see the Double-A level at some point in the 2014 season, and perhaps reach the majors before his 19th birthday in 2015. The Mexican southpaw pitches well off his fastball, showing multiple looks, including a four-seamer he can push into the mid-90s when he needs it, and backing up the fastball with two secondary offerings that can already play as average and flash plus potential. I haven’t seen a pitcher this advanced at this age since I started scouting, and if Urias can add strength and maintain his body without losing his delivery and command profile, his stuff will allow him to find results regardless of the level, major leagues included.

Major league ETA: 2015

2. Corey Seager
Position: SS
DOB: 04/27/1994
Height/Weight: 6’4” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Northwest Cabarrus HS (Concord, NC)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org)
2013 Stats: .309/.389/.529 at Low-A Great Lakes (74 games), .160/.246/.320 at High-A Rancho Cucamonga (27 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 potential power; 6+ arm; 5+ glove; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: As a 19-year-old, Seager crushed in his full-season debut in Low-A before struggling against better pitching in the California League and the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Excellent size/present strength; sweet swing from the left side; balanced with plus bat speed; projects for both power and average; tracks the ball well; puts himself in good hitting conditions; arm is plus; hands work well in the field; quality actions; runs well for his size; baseball skills and instincts.

Weaknesses: Can lengthen swing for power and open holes (inside); can get fastball happy and roll over off-speed early in counts; size limits projection at shortstop; lower-half movement can get stiff; good but not great range; straight-line speed will end up below average.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; Major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to play at Double-A level; struggled against more advanced pitching.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Seager would be an even more interesting fantasy prospect if he had a better chance of sticking at shortstop. But even at third base, a .285 hitter with 20 homers is plenty valuable. On top of that, he’s shown a good approach at the plate and the ability to take a walk, which could give him a slight boost in OBP leagues. The speed isn’t a zero, but don’t expect more than 5-10 steals annually.

The Year Ahead: Seager is a safe bet to end up at third base, which puts more pressure on his bat to carry the burden of value. With a smooth, fluid swing that produces bat speed and loft, the bat has a chance to hit for average and power, which could make him a first-division talent at the hot corner. The 19-year-old did struggle against more advanced pitching, pulling off balls and losing his approach at times, but the offensive projections remain above average, and he should return to High-A and show more with the stick than he did in his 100 at-bat sample.

Major league ETA: 2016

3. Joc Pederson
Position: CF
DOB: 04/21/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 11th round, 2010 draft, Palo Alto HS (Palo Alto, CA)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2013 Stats: .278/.381/.497 at Double-A Chattanooga (123 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 6 potential power; 5+ arm; 5+ run; 5+ potential glove

What Happened in 2013: In his steady climb up the minor league ranks, Pederson more than held his own 21-year-old in Double-A, showing all five tools and becoming a highly coveted target around the league.

Strengths: Plus all-around athlete; natural hitability; good balance; great hands; creates plus bat speed; hit tool could play above average; tracks the ball well and forces a pitcher to beat him; raw power could grade as plus-plus; game power has a chance to play above average; strong arm in the field; above-average run/range; glove could play above average in center.

Weaknesses: Overall profile is more solid-average than special; lacks high-end tools; sum of his parts player; good bat but exposed by arm-side pitching; big swing-and-miss; power likely to play under projection; defense in center is good but shows some tweener qualities and some see a better fit for left field.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: Low 5; second division player/platoon starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; 123 games of Double-A experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: With a classic five-category outfield profile, Peterson is someone to get excited about in both the short term and long term, despite not projecting to a superstar. There’s real 20-20 potential here, and with an average that should hover around .270 and more upside in the power.

The Year Ahead: Pederson is a balls-out type of player with solid-average to above-average tools that he can bring into game action. While he might not be a premium up-the-middle talent, the former 11th rounder can make plays on all sides of the ball, showing a multi-dimensional offensive attack (hit, power, run), and strong fundamentals in the field. Sources are mixed about his long-term projection—be it as a first-division type or more of a league-average type in a corner—but several outside the org sources suggested he was a player they highly recommended for acquisition should the opportunity present itself, as Pederson will be a no doubt big-league contributor for a very long time.

Major league ETA: 2014

4. Zach Lee
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/13/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, McKinney HS (McKinney, TX)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #87 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.22 ERA (142.2 IP, 132 H, 131 K, 35 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5+ CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2013: In a return to the Southern League, Lee built on his already strong professional resume, missing close to a bat an inning while limiting damage and holding Double-A hitters to a .247 average.

Strengths: Strong, athletic frame; repeatable delivery; arm works well/good release; fastball is solid-average offering; pitches well off it; velocity in the 90-93 range; can spike higher; can manipulate movement and shows good feel for location; slider can miss bats in the low-mid-80s; can be thrown for strikes with some intensity to the break; changeup is solid-average and thrown well in sequence; good arm speed deception and some sinking action; can drop a curveball for strikes; good overall command profile.

Weaknesses: Lacks plus stuff; fastball can play pedestrian; can move it around but struggles to live loose in the zone; slider isn’t wipeout offering that forces bats out of the zone; changeup is more weak contact than whiff; curveball can get soft and easy to track; more of a steal-a-strike pitch at higher levels.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 38 starts at Double-A level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The fantasy profile for Lee is more solid starter than impact one, as his stuff does not lend itself to missing a ton of bats at the major-league level. With that said, a slightly above-average pitcher in Dodger Stadium can be a no. 3 fantasy starter even without an offering that looks like a separator

The Year Ahead: Lee is going to be a good major-league starter, but his current stuff and limited arsenal projection points more to a solid no. 4 type than the frontline arm many envisioned coming out of high school. The 22-year-old Texan is more command/control than power, but he can still dial up the fastball to the mid-90s on occasion, and the slider has been known to show some bat-missing intensity. But for the most part, Lee works his solid-average fastball in the 90-92 range, hitting his spots and setting up his deep secondary arsenal, which is geared more toward weak, off-balanced contact than swings and miss, at least as it is projected against more advanced hitters. Lee should move up to Triple-A in 2014, and could get a look at the major-league level in some capacity in 2014, either as a potential long man out of the bullpen (to break in), a back-end starter in case of injury or opportunity, or with another organization in the event of a trade.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Chris Anderson
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/29/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Jacksonville University (Jacksonville, FL)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 1.96 ERA (46 IP, 32 H, 50 K, 24 BB) at Low-A Great Lakes
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Selected 18th overall in the 2013 draft, Anderson moved straight to the full-season level and made 12 starts, missing 50 bats in only 46 innings of work.

Strengths: Excellent size/strength; good arm strength and speed; fastball is plus offering; working low-90s with good angle; can amp up velocity and work up in the zone; slider is above average and should get to consistent plus; mid-80s velocity and sharp two-plane break; hard pitch for right-handers to handle; changeup has some projection; works fringe-average at present; some late action; strike-throwing ability; aggressive approach.

Weaknesses: Fringe-command at present; tendency to overthrow and lose his ability to locate; sources not as high on his curveball; can get loose and slurvy; changeup can get too firm; more deliberate than other offerings.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Oft-overlooked in dynasty drafts due to the publicity of the arms ahead of him, Anderson carries the second most upside of any starter on this list. Of course, that’s not the world’s greatest compliment, as even if the change becomes an average pitch, his fantasy outlook is more no. 4 starter in shallower leagues with a 3.50 ERA and 170 strikeouts over a full season.

The Year Ahead: Anderson has the size, strength, and delivery to log a lot of innings in a rotation, a potential mid-rotation workhorse. The 21-year-old has a solid four-pitch mix, with the fastball being his breadwinner and his slider as his complementary bat misser. When/if the command improves, he can set the table with his fastball and use his secondary depth to make outs, which should allow the big right-hander to find sustainable success in a rotation. Because of the mature stuff, Anderson could move through the minors quickly, with a likely start in High-A and a chance to finish the season in the Southern League, positioning himself for a major-league call-up at some point in 2015.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

6. 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
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.86 ERA (137.2 IP, 128 H, 106 K, 63 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga
The Tools: 6+ FB; 5 CH; 5 SL

What Happened in 2013: After 11 Southern League starts in 2012, Reed logged a full season of work at that level in 2013, making 25 starts and accruing over 137 innings.

Strengths: Tall; remaining projection in body; very good arm strength; fastball is plus, with velocity in the low 90s (can bump mid-90s) and bowling bowl weight; slider can flash plus; can show sharp tilt in the 82-85 range; changeup is average offering in the mid-80s with heavy action.

Weaknesses: Body teases more projection but has yet to fill out to projection; fastball can play down in games; heavy weight but average velocity and below-average command; slider struggles to achieve consistent sharp tilt; break can get soft; lacks true secondary weapon; overall command is below average.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 36 starts at Double-A level; fastball to play in bullpen now.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Reed doesn’t make for a great fantasy option in shallower leagues, as his lack of high-quality off-speed stuff will leave him lacking in the strikeout department. Plus, his control issues will leave him exposed to high WHIPs and diminished win potential. And all that is if he even ends up in the rotation.

The Year Ahead: Reed draws mixed reviews from scouts, with several doubting his ability to offer much impact in a major-league rotation because of his average secondary arsenal and poor command. It’s easy to see a potential power arm out of the bullpen, with a heavy low-90s heater that could play up in bursts and a slider that tends to lose its intensity throughout games but could miss more bats in limited looks. The 23-year-old lefty is going to be a major leaguer in some capacity, but without improved command and a step forward with the secondary stuff, his likely contributions will come out of the bullpen, where he should be able to find some success and eventually develop into a quality late-innings option.

Major league ETA: 2014

7. Ross Stripling
Position: RHP
DOB: 11/23/1989
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 5th round, 2012 draft, Texas A&M University (College Station,
TX)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 2.78 ERA (94 IP, 91 H, 83 K, 19 BB) at Double-A Chattanooga, 2.94 ERA
(33.2 IP, 24 H, 34 K, 11 BB) at Rancho Cucamonga
The Tools: 6 FB; 5 SL; 5 CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, the former A&M starter pitched his way to the Double-A level, mostly on the back of a plus fastball that he can locate.

Strengths: Good size; arm slot allows a steep plane on the fastball; pitch works low-90s with good tailing action; bumps a little higher; spots the ball; works east/west; shows multiple breaking ball looks; curveball works well with sharp vertical spike; slider shows hard velocity and some tilt; changeup has tumbling action and plays as average offering; good control and improving command.

Weaknesses: Short-stride delivery; can get too arm heavy and lose velocity in starts; lacks plus secondary offerings; arm slot can work against breaking ball deception; slider is more weak contact than wipeout.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; mature stuff; 16 Double-A starts

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Stripling isn’t a particularly interesting name for fantasy, as he profiles as more of a back-end guy here. The strikeout potential is middling for a starter at the major-league level as he doesn’t have a true putaway pitch—though he could put up helpful ratios in a perfect world.

The Year Ahead: Stripling is a mature arm with a plus fastball and a deep secondary arsenal of playable pitches that he can throw for strikes. While he lacks the upside and stuff of his former A&M rotation-mate Michael Wacha, Stripling should be on a similar fast track to a major-league rotation, holding a fringe mid-rotation ceiling and a similar floor. Without knockout secondary stuff, Stripling needs his fastball command to be sharp to find sustainable success and to help get bats moving on the off-speed arsenal. The profile will be more weak contact than swing-and-miss, but with good size, an arm that works well, and a good overall feel for craft, the 24-year-old should pitch his way to the majors at some point in 2014, and could settle into the back end of the rotation by 2015.

Major league ETA: 2014

8. Tom Windle
Position: LHP
DOB: 03/10/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013 draft, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 2.68 ERA (53.2 IP, 50 H, 51 K, 20 BB) at Low-A Great Lakes
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Popped in the second round of the 2013 draft, the former college reliever-turned starter made his professional debut pitching in the Low-A rotation, making 12 starts and missing 51 bats in 53 innings.

Strengths: Excellent size; athletic; repeatable delivery with some deception; fastball can work 91-93; bump to 94+; some late action and thrown with good angle; good short, tight slider in the 82-84 range; feel for quality changeup; low 80s with some fade; shows good control; attacks the zone.

Weaknesses: Arm action can get stiff; fastball command is fringe-average at present; tendency to miss arm-side and up; changeup receives average projections; good deception but can too firm; overall command needs grade refinement.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited professional record; Low-A resume; shoulder injury (amateur).

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: A nice sleeper at the end of deep dynasty drafts this year, Windle has a strong arsenal that could lead to helpful ratios and a strikeout rate that would make him worth rostering in all leagues. However, the upside lies somewhere around Jonathon Niese—so don’t go too crazy.

The Year Ahead: You can make a convincing case that Windle is underrated as a prospect, with excellent size, good athleticism and repeatability, and two above-average offerings from the left side with enough feel for a changeup to project an average or better offering. Some sources have concerns about the stiff arm-action and possible injury red flags as a result, coupled with more control than command at present, but even the rotation pessimists believe Windle could transition into a quality late-innings reliever. For now, Windle will get every opportunity to prove his mettle and merit in a rotation, and if he can iron out some of the rough edges in his delivery and improve his command, he could take a step forward in status and make his ultimate projection look more realistic.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

9. 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)
Previous Ranking: #7 (org)
2013 Stats: 2.75 era (52.1 innings, 41 H, 32 BB, 53 K) at Double-A Chattanooga; 3.72 era (9.2 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 14 K) at Triple-A Albuquerque
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6+ CB

What Happened in 2013: Working mostly in relief, Garcia pitched his way to the major-league level after showing above-average bat-missing ability in the upper minors.

Strengths: Strong frame; intimidating presence; big arm strength from the left side; fastball works low-mid-90s; can sit 93+; big life; curveball is big hammer; low 80s on the gun with serious bite; could end up playing well above average with better command; late-innings approach.

Weaknesses: Below-average command; limited pitchability; high effort; mostly a two-pitch reliever without rotational upside.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; late-innings reliever (closer)

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level; minor injury concerns (bone spurs)

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Even a slam-dunk closer prospect (which Garcia is not) isn’t a great bet in the fantasy realm, and that makes Garcia someone worth keeping tabs on, but not picking up at the moment. If your league counts holds, he’ll be more valuable in the short term, but even then he’s behind Paco Rodriguez as a lefty in the pen.

The Year Ahead: Garcia has a nasty two-pitch mix from the left side, and if he can stay healthy and refine his command, he has legit late-innings potential, perhaps even as a closer if the command improves beyond projection. He doesn’t show a lot of pitchability, so his grip it and rip it approach proved to be a much better fit in short bursts than it projected in a rotation. He should continue to miss a lot of bats with his lively plus fastball and hard hammer curve, and could end up in a setup capacity very early in his major-league career.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

10. Victor Arano
Position: RHP
DOB: 02/07/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2013, Mexico
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 4.20 ERA (49.1 IP, 52 H, 49 K, 13 BB) at complex level AZL
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 6 potential CB; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his professional debut, the Mexican right-hander showed off a mature fastball and promising secondary arsenal, missing a bat an inning.

Strengths: Mature body; clean delivery with good arm action; very loose and easy; fastball solid-average at present in the 89-92 range; can touch mid-90s; projects to be easy plus offering; can spin a quality breaking ball; curve can show tight rotation and some depth; good projection; some feel for a good changeup; shows some fade and sink; feel for control and pitchability.

Weaknesses: Body could be high maintenance; already showing some excess; inconsistent fastball velocity; would show 92-94 then fall to 88-90; breaking ball has tendency to get too loose and slurvy; changeup is inconsistent and can get deliberate in the release; can get very slow to the plate with runners on; struggles from stretch; more control than command.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; complex-level resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There is never a shortage of short-season or complex arms to take a chance on and it’s very likely that more interesting ones are out there in your league. Arano could turn into something, but his stuff isn’t extreme enough to own outside of very deep leagues at the moment.

The Year Ahead: Arano has a very easy arm with good present strength, and can pound the zone with a low-90s fastball that can bump a little higher. He shows both a quality curveball and a changeup, although both offerings are inconsistent at present. The soon-to-be 19-year-old has a high mid-rotation projection, but needs to clean up his delivery and find more comfort working out of the stretch and with runners on base. While he lacks the same present polish or projection of Julio Urias, Arano isn’t an arm to sleep on, as the fastball is really good and he could be ready to take a big step forward in 2014 if the secondary stuff finds more consistency.

Major league ETA: 2017


Prospects on the Rise:
1. LHP Victor Gonzalez:
18-year-old Mexican lefty with a good present fastball and changeup, Gonzalez should move up prospect lists in 2014. The body could escape him, and the breaking ball doesn’t offer much projection at this point, but the low-90s fastball and quality changeup should allow him to miss bats and barrels, regardless if he starts at the short-season level or makes the jump to full-season ball.

2. OF Jacob Scavuzzo: After struggling in his complex-league debut, Scavuzzo erupted in the Pioneer League, hitting for average and power. The projectable outfielder has some limitations at the plate, and some sources aren’t convinced he will hit against better pitching. But as he adds strength to the frame and refines his approach—putting himself in favorable hitting conditions and not trying to pull everything—the former 21st round pick has a chance to be a very good prospect.

3. 3B Adam Law: I’m not usually in the habit of hyping soon-to-be 24-year-old prospects without full-season experience, but sources are high on Law, suggesting the combination of hittability, well above-average speed, and feel for the game (bloodlines; son of Vance) could push the infielder up the list next season. He has a knack for hard contact, and the type of speed that would play very well in the outfield should his actions at third prove to be less-than-ideal.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. RHP Yimi Garcia: The slender righty reliever has a knack for missing bats, using a lively low-90s fastball and a low-80s slider that can flash plus (but lacks consistency). After a strong run in Double-A and the AFL, the 23-year-old Dominican will be ready to make a major-league contribution at some point in 2014, most likely in middle relief.

2. RHP Pedro Baez: At one time, Baez’s path to the majors was to be cut with his bat, but the conversion from the hot corner to high-leverage relief is what will take the 25-year-old to the highest level. With the potential to show a mid-90s heater and bat-missing curve, Baez has late-innings potential, and with more refined command and more experience in game situations, the transition from former positional prospect to present major-league pitcher will be complete.

3. SS Miguel Rojas: A super slick defender, Rojas will have an opportunity to carve out a home at the major league level in 2014, either as a utility option or a starting second baseman, but the profile will have to pack more offensive punch than he provided in 2013. With Cuban import Alex Guerrero* in the best position to grab the most time at the keystone, Rojas will need to take a big step forward at the plate to justify any opportunity he might receive.


*Alexander Guerrero was not considered a prospect because he is likely to jump straight to the big leagues without any time in the minor league developmental system.


Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Yasiel Puig
  2. Julio Urias
  3. Corey Seager
  4. Joc Pederson
  5. Zach Lee
  6. Chris Anderson
  7. Chris Withrow
  8. Chris Reed
  9. Jose Dominguez
  10. Paco Rodriguez

Clayton Kershaw only missed this list by 13 days; however, the Dodgers U25 list still includes big-league talent with impact bats at the top and a wide array of arms throughout. Rookie of the Year runner-up and part-time Formula One driver Yasiel Puig leads the way after breaking onto the scene last June and proving that his five-tool talent level equals his $42 million dollar contract signed in 2012.

The list really reflects the genius of scouting director Logan White. It contains the 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013 first round draft picks, 2012 first and second rounders, Urias, who was found in Mexico while the Dodgers were scouting Puig, and Dominguez and Pederson, who were both under-the-radar signs and now possess some of the best power at their positions.

While the current lineup is old (oldest in the National League to be exact), help is on the way. With two top 100 prospect hitters in Seager and Pederson, the Dodgers may reverse the recent trend and fill upcoming holes internally. Neither is far away, Pederson should excel in the hitting haven that is Albuquerque and Seager looks like he may get a shot in Double-A, assuming he improves on a disappointing final month in hitter happy Rancho Cucamonga. Seager should be ready to slide in at third base in L.A. just in time for Juan Uribe’s contract to expire at the end of 2015.

The real strength here lies in the pitching and it comes in many shapes and sizes. Urias is a top pitching prospect in baseball after more than holding his own in the Midwest League, when he should have been a junior in high school. He may move quickly and could be in the majors by 18 or 19. He never projects to be an ace but definitely at a top part of the rotation, showing very good maturity, feel and stuff so far.

The other pitchers are three major-league relievers and three minor-league starting prospects. Dominguez and Withrow both have plus-plus fastballs with the ability to ramp it up in the high 90s—I had Dominguez at 101 regularly last season. With the whole Dodgers bullpen on one- or two-year contracts, it looks as if they, along with lefty Paco Rodriguez, will fortify the back of the pen for a long time. Rodriguez has thus far been used many times as a LOOGY but has proven that his excellent cutter can get out both righties and lefties.

Lee, Reed, and Anderson were all first-round picks who will face stiff tests this year pitching in hitter-oriented parks. Lee could be in L.A. soon and has one of the highest floors among minor-league starters, with his good command and consistently good results thus far in the minors. Reed and Anderson both possess power stuff that could eventually translate to the pen; both will be developed patiently and get every opportunity to start. The tall and lanky left-handed Reed was 94-96 with a wipeout slider as Stanford’s closer before being drafted 16th overall in 2011 to be a starter. He has naturally lost some velocity as a starter but his heavy sinker has allowed him to become a groundball machine. Anderson is a big righty who can sit in the mid-90s as well, and impressed in his pro debut, pitching a combined 151 innings with a 2.34 ERA between college and Class-A Great Lakes.

Overall, the future looks very bright for the Dodgers, with a well-rounded U25 list. With middle-of-the-order type bats in Puig, Joc and Seager, and all the power arms, the Dodgers have players in the majors and throughout the minors still 25 or under that should be good contributors in L.A. They could also be key pieces should the Dodgers decide, as in 2012, to trade for the next corps of already established stars.—Steffan Segui


A Parting Thought: While the Dodgers system is heavier with future major-league contributors [read: role players, average players/pitchers, relievers] than future major-league superstars, the overall system should be judged positively as a result, as actual development has more value than projected dreams.

***

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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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