Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Top 30 Dodger Prospects

Here is a list of my top 30 Dodger prospects. Baseball America will release its Dodger top 10 list on Dec. 4. All players who have not reached 50 innings pitched or 130 at-bats in the Major Leagues are eligible for this list. Ages are as of opening day, 2010.

1. Dee Gordon SS (5'11, 160 lbs., 21 years old)
Son of Tom, Dee Gordon nearly established himself as an elite minor league prospect after his 2009 season. He was named the 2009 Midwestern League Player of the Year. He has drawn comparisons to Jose Reyes. He is easily the Dodgers' best prospect.
2010 location: High-A Inland Empire ETA: mid-2011

2. Ethan Martin RHP (6'2, 195 lbs., 20 years old)
Martin had some flashes of brilliance (10.8 K/9, 0.4 HR/9, .232 BAA), but still has some work to do. He must improve his control (5.5 BB/9), but there's no doubt the 2008 No. 15 pick has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.
2010 location: High-A Inland Empire, possible call-up to Double-A Chattanooga ETA: mid-2011

3. Chris Withrow RHP (6'3, 195 lbs., 21 years old)
It's eerie how similar Martin and Withrow are. Both were mid-first-round picks, both have similar arsenals and both had breakthrough seasons in 2009. Withrow earned a late-season call-up to Double-A and actually had better numbers there, albeit a small sample size.
2010 location: Double-A Chattanooga, possible call-up to Triple-A or Los Angeles ETA: 2011

4. Josh Lindblom RHP (6'5, 240 lbs., 22 years old)
Lindblom impressed the Dodgers in Spring Training, but ultimately never sniffed the Bigs in 2009. He worked as a starter in Double-A and a reliever in Triple-A. The Dodgers want to keep him as a starter because they know he can always go back to relieving.
2010 location: Triple-A Albuquerque with a likely call-up to Los Angeles ETA: 2010

5. Aaron Miller LHP (6'3, 200 lbs., 22 years old)
Miller, the Dodgers' 2009 first-round pick, surprised many folks, including myself. He wasn't the typical projectable high school pitcher scouting director Logan White is accustomed to selecting. He was drafted out of college, and some teams liked him for his bat more out of Baylor. Miller has a chance to top this list with a solid performance in 2010.
2010 location: High-A Inland Empire with a likely call-up to Double-A Chattanooga ETA: 2011

6. Andrew Lambo OF/1B (6'3, 190 lbs., 21 years old)
Lambo was my Dodger No. 1 prospect heading into the season, and he was also Baseball America's choice. Lambo got off to a hot start, but was rather pedestrian for a majority of the season. His numbers across the board fell, but is still the best pure hitter in the Dodgers' system. He was playing against older competition in Double-A and he'll need to bounce back from a sub-par performance in 2009.
2010 location: Double-A Chattanooga ETA: mid-2011

7. Ivan De Jesus SS/2B (5'11, 182 lbs., 22 years old)
De Jesus lost most of his 2009 season to a broken leg in Spring Training. He is one of the most polished prospects in the Dodgers' system, but he tends to try to do too much in the field at times. He has the best plate discipline of any Dodger prospect and could be in line to compete for the starting second base job in Los Angeles.
2010 location: Triple-A Albuquerque or Los Angeles ETA: 2010

8. Nathan Eovaldi RHP (6'3, 195 lbs., 20 years old)
Eovaldi is like Martin and Withrow, but not quite on that level. His ceiling is likely as a middle-of-the-rotation guy with a chance to be a decent No. 2 -- at best. However, he made strides this season and could improve his outlook with a good performance in 2010.
2010 location: High-A Inland Empire with a likely call-up to Double-A Chattanooga ETA: 2012

9. Carl (Allen) Webster RHP (6'2, 165 lbs., 20 years old)
Webster is another Dodger prospect who shot up the rankings after his 2009 performance. He didn't pitch a lot, but when he did pitch, he was quite good. He has a long way to go, but could be a sleeper-type prospect. He still hasn't filled out his frame, so he is projectable. Son of current Dodger scout and former Dodger Mitch Webster.
2010 location: Low-A Great Lakes with potential call-up to High-A or Double-A ETA: 2012

10. Trayvon Robinson OF (5'11, 175 lbs., 21 years old)
Robinson has always had the tools and ability, but he never put it together... until now. He had a breakout season in 2009 and has a chance to build on it in 2010. He's the Dodgers' best five-tool prospect since Matt Kemp, but he isn't even close to that level (nor will he ever be). He has a chance to be a regular in the Majors, if he continues to improve.
2010 location: Double-A Chattanooga ETA: 2012

The best of the rest

11. Anthony (Tony) Delmonico C
Could shoot up if his bat stays solid and he sticks behind the plate, has been a .300/.400/.500 guy in the minors; one of my personal favorite prospects
12. Kyle Russell OF
Too many strikeouts, but his power, glove are the best in the system
13. Garrett Gould RHP
First-round talent, fell to the late second round, could be in the top 10 next year
14. Scott Elbert LHP
Former top 10 guy, this is his make-or-break year
15. Xavier Paul OF
A nice fourth outfielder-type; could be a regular on a bad team
16. Blake Smith OF
Opposite of Miller, as teams looked at Smith more as a pitcher
17. Scott Van Slyke OF
Had a breakout year, but is already 23 years old and barely cracked Triple-A
18. Tim Sexton RHP
Probably profiles better as a reliever, but will stick as a starter for as long as he can
19. Pedro Baez 3B
Perhaps the most talented of any Dodger prospect, but hasn't been able to put it all together
20. Jon Michael Redding RHP
No. 4/5 rotation guy with solid control
21. Jeremy Wise C
Has a chance to be good, but he has to get it going now
22. Russell Mitchell 1B/3B
Had a breakout Arizona Fall League season, but is probably nothing more than a AAAA player
23. Javy (Luis) Guerra RHP
Has the stuff, but needs to get his control down; finally in the pen, where he belongs
24. Justin Miller RHP
Fringe-type guy; probably no more than a mi*ddle reliever
25. Austin Gallagher 3B/1B
The guy who fell the hardest from last year; just hasn't hit enough
26. Brett Wallach RHP
Son of Tim, Brett was a 2009 draft pick and is a work in progress
27. Lucas May C
He came into last season as the possible heir apparent to Russell Martin (if there's such a thing), struggled, went back to Double-A and hit well; probably no more than a backup
28. Kenley Jansen RHP
Converted catcher, has a rocket arm and could be a sleeper
29. Brent Leach LHP
Had a taste of the Majors this year, but is just a LOOGY... except he gets right-handers out more often
30. Tae-Hyeok Nam 1B/3B
Big time sleeper here; played in only three games after coming over from Korea; still very young (19 on opening day)

Best of the Dodger System

Best Hitter for Average Andrew Lambo
Best Power Hitter Kyle Russell
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Ivan De Jesus
Fastest Baserunner Dee Gordon
Best Athlete Dee Gordon
Best Fastball Kenley Jansen
Best Curveball Chris Withrow
Best Slider Josh Lindblom
Best Changeup
Best Sinker
Brent Leach
Brett Wallach
Best Control Aaron Miller
Best Defensive Catcher A.J. Ellis
Best Defensive Infielder Dee Gordon
Best Infield Arm Pedro Baez
Best Defensive Outfielder Kyle Russell
Best Outfield Arm
Best Five-Tool Prospect
Xavier Paul
Trayvon Robinson

Projected 2013 Lineup

Catcher Russell Martin
First Base James Loney
Second Base Ivan De Jesus
Third Base Blake DeWitt
Shortstop Dee Gordon
Left Field Andrew Lambo
Center Field Matt Kemp
Right Field Andre Ethier
No. 1 Starter Clayton Kershaw
No. 2 Starter Chad Billingsley
No. 3 Starter Ethan Martin
No. 4 Starter Chris Withrow
No. 5 Starter Aaron Miller
Closer Johathan Broxton

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Off-season preview, part IV

So far, we've looked at Dodger free agents, arbitration-eligible young players and free agent possibilities. Now it's time for the fun stuff: A look at trade targets.

Before the trading deadline, the hot name was Roy Halladay. Former Blue Jay general manager J.P. Riccardi was outrageous with his trade demands -- at least from the Dodgers' point of view. Now that Halladay is only slated to pitch for a team, Toronto or otherwise, for one season significantly decreases his trade value.

Roy Halladay

Some players Toronto would be looking at:

Chad Billingsley, RHP - Who wouldn't want a 25-year-old all-star pitcher?
James McDonald, RHP - He might profile better as a reliever, but could still make it as a starter; was the No. 2 prospect heading into the season
Dee Gordon, SS - A Jimmy Rollins/Jose Reyes-type shortstop who had an outstanding season in the minors
Ethan Martin, RHP - First-round pick in 2008, Martin is one of the Dodgers' best pitching prospects and is in the mold of the afore mentioned Billingsley
Chris Withrow, RHP - Like Martin, a former first-rounder who had a breakout season and might be the Dodgers' best pitching prospect
Andrew Lambo, OF - He was the Dodgers' top-ranked prospect coming into the season and had a less-than-stellar campaign, but still has great talent
Josh Lindblom, RHP - The Dodgers' most MLB-ready pitcher, Lindblom had a solid season working as a starter and reliever
Ivan De Jesus, Jr., SS/2B - De Jesus lost his season after breaking his leg early in spring training, but has the best plate discipline of any Dodger minor leaguer
Nathan Eovaldi, RHP - Another of the Dodger right-handed prospects who had a solid season
Scott Elbert, LHP - Elbert still has talent, but his control is his only problem
Xavier Paul, OF - ML-ready outfielder who profiles best as a fourth outfielder
Chin-Lung Hu, SS - Like De Jesus, Hu could step in and play shortstop right now, but his bat will always be a question

The Dodgers would be awfully foolish to trade Billingsley in a deal for Halladay. If anything, they should be looking for Roy to mentor Chad, if acquired. Halladay's $15.75 million contract for 2010 could be a sticking point with the McCourt legal problems.

My proposal

To Toronto: Ethan Martin, James McDonald, Ivan De Jesus, Nathan Eovaldi
To Los Angeles: Roy Halladay

Why it works for Toronto: Martin is quickly becoming an elite pitching prospect while De Jesus could step in right now and play shortstop for the Jays. McDonald could slide into the bullpen or rotation, while Eovaldi could develop into another solid starter.

Why it works for LA: Roy Halladay is a horse and one of the best starting pitchers in baseball and could be a great mentor for Billingsley.

Another hot rumor that started up quickly before the deadline was Adrian Gonzalez. He would be an upgrade at first base and as much as I love James Loney, Gonzalez is about the only guy I'd replace Loney with (save Albert Pujols). The rumor was Loney, Russell Martin, Ivan De Jesus, James McDonald and Blake DeWitt for Gonzalez and Heath Bell. However, with the change of Padre ownership, trading the cost-effective Gonzalez without getting top-tier talent in return would be foolish.

Adrian Gonzalez

Here are some other guys to consider, as well as those already mentioned:

James Loney, 1B - With the acquisition of a first baseman, moving Loney is a must, unfortunately
Blake DeWitt, 3B/2B - A stellar third baseman, he was a key component in 2008 for the Dodgers, yet was lost in the shuffle last season
Russell Martin, C - Martin's bat has gone so far down that it's concerning, but he still draws a lot of walks and plays pretty solid defense behind the plate... not to mention how well he handles the pitching staff
Kyle Russell, OF - The Dodgers' best power prospect, Russell is in the mold of Adam Dunn, but with superior defense
Scott Van Slyke, OF - Had a breakout season and could shoot up the Dodger minor league rankings

My Proposal

To San Diego: James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Dee Gordon, Ethan Martin, Scott Elbert, Kyle Russell
To Los Angeles: Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell

Why it works for SD: Loney replaces Gonzalez while the Padres get two of the Dodgers' best prospects. DeWitt could step in and play 3B for SD, allowing them to move Kevin Kouzmanoff and his increasing price tag for other help. Elbert could slide into the pen or rotation for the Padres. Russell immediately becomes the Padres' best power prospect and it allows SD to trim the payroll a bit.

Why it works for LA: A 2-3-4-5 of Kemp-Ethier-Ramirez-Gonzalez is devastating. Plus, Gonzlaez is a great defensive first baseman. Also, Bell at the end of the Dodger pen makes it that much more deadly. The Dodgers cannot move Russell Martin without a viable replacement, which is why he isn't in this proposal.

Edwin Jackson

A speculative rumor out there is involving a former Dodger, Edwin Jackson. It's Jackson for George Sherrill.

My Proposal

To Detroit: George Sherill, Tim Sexton
To Los Angeles: Edwin Jackson

Why it works for Detroit: The Tigers are going to need a closer with Fernando Rodney likely to leave via free agency and Sherrill has experience closing in the American League. They also get a young, developmental arm in Sexton. In the long run, Jackson will end up costing more, money wise, than Sherrill will.

Why it works for LA: The Dodgers get a guy back that they should have not sold low on when they traded him for Danys Baez and Lance Carter. He could immediately step in and be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter.

Expanded Trade Proposal

To Detroit: George Sherill, Tim Sexton, Juan Pierre
To Los Angeles: Edwin Jackson, Carlos Guillen

Why it works for Detroit: Guillen is owed $26M over the next two seasons, while Pierre is owed $18.5M. This deal saves the Tigers money and gives them a lead-off hitter.

Why it works for LA: It works because Jackson is the main piece of the deal. Guillen would fit better at a corner infield spot, but would have to play 2B in LA.

Second base is going to be an issue for LA, as Orlando Hudson isn't likely to return. DeWitt could have a shot at the position, while Ronnie Belliard could be brought back. However, an upgrade at 2B is likely -- guys like Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips and Carlos Guillen will be available.

Dan Uggla

I'm not an Uggla guy, but I could see the Dodgers getting him.

My Proposal

To Florida: Josh Lindblom, Chin-Lung Hu, Cole St. Clair
To Los Angeles: Dan Uggla

Why it works for Florida: The Marlins shed payroll and get two guys who can step in and play right away. Lindblom can serve as a starter or reliever. Hu could play SS if the Marlins decide to move Hanley Ramirez to 3B.

Why it works for LA: The Dodgers' second base hole is plugged, despite Uggla being a sub-par defensive 2B.

Brandon Phillips

Phillips is one of the best defensive 2Bs in baseball, has pop and speed. So, why do the Reds want to trade him? Because of his contract, of course. He is owed $23M over the next two years ($1M buyout in 2011, if necessary). I like him better than Uggla, basically because his glove is light years ahead.

My Proposal

To Cincinnati: Juan Pierre, Ivan De Jesus, Nathan Eovaldi
To Los Angeles: Brandon Phillips

Why it works for Cincinnati: The Reds save $4.5M, get a guy who could take Phillips' spot and a solid pitching prospect.

Why it works for LA: Fills the need at second base with a guy who can also hit.

Another rumor out there is A.J. Ellis for Alberto Callaspo. If there's any hint of truth to this, the Dodgers will get it done ASAP. Ellis is nothing more than a decent backup catcher and Callaspo had a great season last year for the Royals. He could be a valuable piece off the bench.

Now, there's no way all these trades happen, but it's just a look some of the guys the Dodgers should be targeting in the trade market, if they become available.

That concludes the off-season preview. I'll update the blog when there's any significant Dodger news. With the Hot Stove season quickly approaching, there should be lots of things to talk about.

Go Blue!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Off-season preview, part III

With the McCourt's impending divorce, the free agency period is going to be an uncertain time for the Dodgers.

If their legal issues don't prevent the Dodgers from making significant moves, the Dodgers will be in the hunt for a starting pitcher or two. John Lackey is by far the best starter available, with guys like Randy Wolf, Rich Harden and Erik Bedard could be other targets.

Lackey is going to command a huge pay day (some rumors say as much as $100 million), so I wouldn't exactly hold out hope Lackey hops on I-5 and makes the trip to the real Los Angeles.

Wolf had one of the best seasons of his career and is looking multi-year deal. He shouldn't be that unaffordable, though.

Harden and Bedard are injury risks. In fact, there are concerns whether or not Bedard will even pitch this season. Harden has some of the best stuff in the game, but he can he stay healthy?

Some lesser options include Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla or a reclamation project like Ben Sheets.

It seems the trade route could be better for the Dodgers when it comes to starting pitching.

Second base is also going to be something for the Dodgers to explore.

The signing of Orlando Hudson in February was brilliant and paid off. Hudson brought solid offense and gold glove defense -- the latter of which is something the Dodgers have missed for quite some time. However, his benching toward the end of the season likely spelled the end of his time as a Dodger. He was great and I'm going to miss him.

Ronnie Belliard, acquired in August, is a candidate to come back. However, if the Dodgers think he'll be a viable option for an entire season, they're sorely mistaken. He's a good part-timer and he should be brought back for that purpose.

Felipe Lopez is an intriguing option. He wouldn't cost a lot and would provide some solid offense, as he did this year with Arizona and Milwaukee.

The Dodgers could just as well hand the job to Blake DeWitt or see if Ivan De Jesus, Jr. is ready for the job. However, as is the case with starting pitching, a trade might make more sense to fill the second base need.

Next up: Potential Trade Targets

Monday, November 2, 2009

Off-season preview, part II

The flood of arbitration-eligible young players is finally here for the Dodgers. Coming up through the ranks, we all heard about the Billingsleys, Kemps and Loneys -- well, now it's their time to cash in.

Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Hong-Chih Kuo and Jason Repko are all eligible for arbitration for the first time -- which means substantial raises from the peanuts they made in the past.

Well, for everyone except Repko, who will undoubtedly be non-tendered.

Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier and Russell Martin will be eligible for a second time, as will George Sherrill, but it will be his first time as a Dodger.

With all the players eligible and approximately $40 million coming off the books, the Dodgers should have no trouble covering the raises.

However, with the pending divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt, it might not leave a lot of money left over for free agents and/or trade acquisitions.

Here are the numbers, in terms of what the Dodgers paid the afore mentioned players in 2009 (save Sherrill):


Broxton - $1.825M
Ethier $3.1M
Martin - $3.9M
Sherrill - $2.75M

Billingsley - $0.475M

Kemp - $0.467M
Kuo - $0.437M
Loney - $0.465M

Ethier, Martin, Billingsley and Kemp are likely to get the largest raises, which will have an adverse effect on the payroll.

If Manny Ramirez doesn't exercise his option, it would be a blessing. Ramirez isn't the same player he was before the 50-game suspension and can't hit an inside fastball with authority anymore.

Saving his $20M on the payroll would be a long way to improving the team. However, I don't expect that to happen.

Next up: Potential Free Agent Targets