Monday, January 10, 2011

My Top 30 Los Angeles Dodgers' prospects for 2011

Here is a list of my top 30 Dodger prospects. Baseball America will release its Dodger top 10 list on Jan. 21. Baseball Prospectus, Minor League Ball and L.A. Dodger Talk have already released its top Dodger prospect lists. 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 April 1, 2011.

Impact potential: B-
- The Dodgers have a lot of raw potential in the organization and some prospects could make big impacts. However, many of them are unproven and 2011 will be a telling year for the farm system.
Depth: C+
- The Dodgers have tons of depth at right-handed pitching and the outfield. They are lacking depth at left-handed pitching, catcher and third base.

Top 30 Dodgers' Prospects for 2011

1. Jerry Sands, 1B/OF (6'4, 225, 23 years old)
- Sands had question marks coming into the season -- mostly, could he continue to hit well against advanced competition? He had a .315/.401/.618 line in 2009 between rookie ball and Low-A. In 2010 at 22, he proved he could keep up his production by putting up a .301/.395/.586 line between High-A and Double-A. He was so dominant at High-A that he was promoted near the end of June. His Double-A numbers weren't as dominant, but he still managed a .889 OPS against advanced competition. He was named the organization's 2010 minor league player of the year after slugging 35 home runs (third-most in the minors). He was tried at third base early in the off-season, but that didn't last. Sands could fill a Dodger void in LF or 1B in the near future. He's athletic enough to stick at the corner outfield positions, but I see him replacing Loney at first base. He surprisingly stole 18 bases this season.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga/Triple-A Albuquerque
ETA: late-2011

2. Dee Gordon, SS (5'11, 160, 22 years old)
- Gordon is near the top of my prospect rankings for a second consecutive year. A lot of scouts are hot and cold on him. If you look at his stats, he doesn't seem to be worthy of this spot. But his exciting brand of ball and potential cannot be denied. He does need to improve his on-base skills and defense, though, to remain an elite prospect. This season will tell us whether or not he's the next Jose Reyes or Ronny Cedeno.
2010 ranking: 1
2011 location: Triple-A Albuquerque
ETA: late-2011

3. Trayvon Robinson, OF (5'11, 195, 23 years old)
- Robinson broke out in 2009 between High-A and Double-A, putting up a .300/.373/.493 line between the two levels. Some thought it might be a fluke, but Robinson backed it up with a really good 2010 season in which he put up a .300/.404/.438 line in Double-A. Comparing the two seasons, he hit for less power (57 extra-base hits in 2009, 37 in 2010), but he raised his OBP 31 points while hitting for the same average. That is awfully encouraging for a future No. 1 or No. 2 hitter. One area of concern is Robinson's strikeout rate, which was 28.9 percent last season, which was an increase from 27.1 in 2009. He'll need to cut that down if he wants to be an impact player in the majors. It's hard to argue with a .400+ OBP, though. He could succeed Matt Kemp in center field or slide over to left field in the majors.
2010 ranking: 10
2011 location: Triple-A Albuquerque
ETA: mid-2011

4. Zach Lee, RHP (6'4, 190, 19 years old)
- Lee was written off by nearly every Dodger fan when the Dodgers drafted him No. 28 overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. Many said the Dodgers punted the pick. So when Aug. 16 rolled around, no one thought he'd end up in the Dodgers' minor league system. Yet he signed and here he is. He's an elite talent. Logan White said he could be better than Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, which is high praise for the Dodgers' top talent evaluator. He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a changeup that some scouts call "major league-average" right now, although Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said it is his "worst" tool. He lands at No. 4 here without throwing a professional pitch. He could advance quickly, as the Dodgers like to push their high-school right-handers.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Pioneer League Ogden/Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2013

5. Rubby De La Rosa, RHP (6'1, 170, 22 years old)
- Baseball America picked De La Rosa as its Dodger sleeper prospect in the 2010 Prospect Handbook. Baseball America hit this one right on the head, as he was the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the year. A baffling note, though, is De La Rosa was inexplicably left off the Southern League Top 20 prospect list at the end of the season. De La Rosa split time between Great Lakes and was catapulted to Chattanooga, where he was even more dominant. He had a 1.41 ERA in 51 Double-A innings. His strikeout rate dropped from Low-A to Double-A, which is cause for a little concern. De La Rosa is a unique groundball pitcher in that he has a fastball that was clocked as high as 102 mph. With a heater like that, one would think he'd strike out more hitters. But he had only 69 2/3 innings pitched coming into 2010, so he's still learning how to pitch. He is oozing with talent and potential, but he needs to develop his secondary pitches more to remain a starter. On a fun note, he was dubbed, "Giggles," by Dee Gordon on Twitter.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga/Triple-A Albuquerque
ETA: 2012

6. Allen Webster, RHP (6'3, 185, 21 years old)
- Webster was an 18th-round pick and not many thought he'd make as big an impact as he has in his career. He followed up his impressive 2009 season with a solid 2010 campaign at Low-A. His 2.88 ERA ranked ninth among Midwest League starting pitchers. He has a low-90s fastball, a curveball and a good changeup. He does need to bulk up to remain a starting pitcher. At 21, though, that shouldn't be too big a task. His delivery is clean and repeatable -- a staple of Logan White draft picks.
2010 ranking: 9
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: 2012

7. Kenley Jansen, RHP (6'6, 220, 23 years old)
- We all know Jansen's story -- a light-hitting catcher turned flame-throwing reliever. Jansen will be an integral part of the Dodgers' bullpen this season after dominating at High-A and Double-A (1.60 ERA, 15.6 K/9) before continuing the dominance with the big club (0.67 ERA, 13.7 K/9). He does need to improve his control a bit, as he walked a few too many in his debut (5.0 BB/9). He even picked up four saves as a rook. If Jonathan Broxton falters again, Jansen could end up splitting closing duties with Hong-Chih Kuo.
2010 ranking: 28
2011 location: Majors
ETA: Now

8. Aaron Miller, LHP (6'3, 200, 23 years old)
- Miller looked like one of the biggest steals of the 2009 draft after the Dodgers took him at No. 36 overall, as he showed good control and the ability to strike out hitters in his debut season. His 2010 started off great in High-A before getting promoted to Double-A. Let's just say his experience in Chattanooga was forgettable -- a 7.04 ERA in 23 innings for the Lookouts. He was demoted to Inland Empire, where he finished the season. Miller still has great ability and could have just hit a rough spot in his time at Double-A. He has a low-90s fastball and a slider. Like most all young starters, he needs to develop an adequate third pitch to stick as a starter. Worst case scenario is he's a power lefty coming out of the 'pen.
2010 ranking: 5
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: mid-2012

9. Leon Landry, OF (5'11, 185, 21 years old)
- The Dodgers chose Landry in the third round of the 2010 draft, and they may have found a gem. Landry came out of LSU and is a little younger than most guys out of college. He had a fantastic debut, hitting .349/.399/.510 in the Pioneer League. He's a toolsy outfielder with really good potential. He could end up being a regular center fielder with pop. He has surprising strike-zone discipline for a younger kid fresh out of college. With a good year against advanced pitching, he could solidify himself as a top-five guy on this list come 2012.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: late-2013

10. Chris Withrow, RHP (6'3, 195, 22 years old)

- Withrow was primed to truly breakout in 2010 and stake his claim to the No. 1 spot in the Dodger organization and potentially a big league rotation spot in 2011. Unfortunately, he forgot how to throw strikes consistently. The 2007 first-round pick had a miserable season at Double-A, posting a 5.97 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 4.8 BB.9 and 1.74 K/BB ratio. About the only positive is his strikeout rate (8.3), but even that was down from the year before (10.4). This season will determine whether or not Withrow is truly an elite prospect. For the Dodgers' sake, here's hoping he is.
2010 ranking: 3
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: 2012

11. Matt Magill, RHP (6'3, 190, 21 years old)
- If Webster was not expected to do well in the minors as an 18th-round pick, then who could have predicted the kind of success Magill has had so far. Despite fringy stuff (average fastball, average-to-above-average secondary pitches), Magill did nothing but impress in the Midwest League this past season. He had a 3.28 ERA and the second-lowest H/9 ratio in the league (6.2). He even struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings -- a vast improvement from his first two seasons (7.1). He'll be 21 this season and could get promoted to Double-A early in the season. He's one of my favorite prospects despite not being as "sexy" as other pitchers in the system. He falls just outside the top 10.
2010 ranking: NR
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: 2013

12. Garrett Gould, RHP (6'4, 190, 19 years old)
- Gould didn't have the best 2010 season at Ogden (4.06 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), but he still has a lot of potential. There were concerns about his health, as he lost some velocity on his fastball. He'll need to bounce back and show he's healthy this season in order to make a jump midseason or next season. If his fastball gets back into the low-90s, he could still end up as a No. 3-type starter.
2010 ranking: 13
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2012

13. Jonathan Garcia, OF (5'11, 175, 19 years old)
- Garcia posted impressive numbers in the Pioneer League as an 18-year-old -- .305/.365/.527. He isn't the fastest player, but his instincts allow him to play a decent center field. He could end up in right field with his strong arm. The 2009 eighth-round pick made big strides and I'm excited to see what he does in A-ball this season. He could be ticketed for the top 10 come midseason if he continues to perform well. He must improve his strike-zone discipline.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2014

14. Ethan Martin, RHP (6'2, 195, 21 years old)
- If Withrow had a terrible season in Double-A, Martin had a dreadful season in High-A. Martin never got on track, posting a 6.35 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9 and 1.30 K/BB ratio. The knock on Martin coming out of high school was his control and he did nothing to prove his detractors wrong this season. He still has some of the most potential in the organization, but if he can't throw strikes, he's not going to make it. There's a slim chance the Dodgers could look to convert him to third base, as many teams liked his bat better than his arm in the 2008 draft. This season will tell us a lot about Martin and will determine his future in the organization.
2010 ranking: 2
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: 2013


15. Blake Smith, OF (6'2, 225, 23 years old)
- Many saw Smith as a pitcher, but the Dodgers drafted him as a second-round outfielder out of Cal. He had a less-than impressive debut but followed it up with a solid 2010. He hit .281/.363/.488 in Low-A, including 19 home runs. His swing gets long at times, which leads to his higher-than-ideal strikeout totals. he came straight out of college, so the Dodgers could be more aggressive with him. I wouldn't be surprised to see him start at Double-A. He has good power potential.
2010 ranking: 16
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: mid-2013

16. Joc Pederson, OF (6'1, 185, 18 years old)
- Pederson was a surprise signing after being chosen in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. He was committed to go to USC until the Dodgers gave him a $600,000 signing bonus. The athletic outfielder has average tools across the board which could improve as he gets more seasoning. He is currently the best Five-Tool prospect in the system. He had 12 plate appearances for the Arizona League Dodgers in which he had zero hits. However, he drew four walks while striking out five times in his brief time there. He should start in Rookie Ball and has an outside chance of reaching Low-A.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Arizona League Dodgers/Pioneer League Ogden
ETA: 2014


17. Brian Cavazos-Galvez, OF (6'0, 215, 23 years old)
- Cavazos-Galvez made a big jump this past season in Low-A. While he's a tad old for Low-A ball (23), he put up solid numbers and should be pushed to Double-A to see if he's a legitimate prospect. Cavazos-Galvez has some pop (.520 slugging) and the ability to steal bases (43-for-56). His poor defense limits him to left field, though, which diminishes his value a little. Still, he's a gap-to-gap hitter who isn't the that patient. This season will determine the rest of his career.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: late-2012

18. Jake Lemmerman, 3B/SS/2B (6'1, 192, 21 years old)
- Lemmerman had a great debut coming out of Duke University, putting up a great line of .363/.434/.610 in the Pioneer League. There are questions about his quickness and his ability to stay at shortstop, which makes me think he'll be a third baseman as he progresses in the minors. Some think he has enough skill to stick at second base. His bat is far more advanced than his glove. We'll have to see how he takes to tougher competition.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: late-2013

19. Scott Elbert, LHP (6'1, 215, 25 years old)
- Elbert has seemingly been in the Dodger prospect rankings for a long time -- because he has. He was once slated for top-of-the-rotation duty but is now likely nothing more than a left-handed reliever. He could still be a late-inning reliever because of his pure stuff. His AFL performance has restored my faith in him as a reliever, despite his being ranked lower this year than last. He's likely to get a look in Spring Training as the second left-hander out of the Dodger 'pen.
2010 ranking: 14
2011 location: Triple-A Albuquerque/Majors
ETA: Now

20. Ralston Cash, RHP (6'1, 197, 19 years old)
- The Dodgers grabbed Cash in the second round of the 2010 draft and while he wasn't overly impressive, the Dodgers still have hopes for the young right-hander. He had a solid showing in the Arizona League but got absolutely rocked in his two Pioneer League games (12.00 ERA, 2.33 WHIP, 16.5 H/9). He has a low-90s sinking fastball, slider and changeup -- pretty standard for a groundball pitcher. Ethan Martin is his cousin. Another high schooler, Cash could progress quickly if he performs well.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2014

21. Ivan DeJesus, 2B (5'11, 190, 23 years old)
- DeJesus made it back from a broken leg in Spring Training 2009 to post decent numbers in Triple-A (.296/.335/.405). However, his Arizona Fall League performance is something the Dodgers should be excited and encouraged about (.321/.411/.436). He's finally been moved to second base, which is where I thought he'd end up since day one. He has an extreme outside shot at winning the starting second base job out of Spring Training (moving Juan Uribe to third base and Casey Blake to a LF platoon/super utility role), but I wouldn't hold my breath. He could get the call if there are a couple of significant injury in the infield.
2010 ranking: 7
2011 location: Triple-A Albuquerque/Majors
ETA: mid-2011

22. Angelo Songco, OF (6'0, 195, 22 years old)
- Songco was actually putting up really good numbers through the the end of July (.301/.371/.485, 13 home runs) before completely collapsing in August and five games in September (.195/.248/.328). He has potential, including power potential. He had one bad month during an otherwise solid season. It'll be interesting to see if he can play solid for an entire season. At best, he could be a solid corner outfielder in the bigs.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2014

23. James Baldwin, OF
(6'3, 190, 19 years old)
- Baldwin is the son of James Sr., the former Dodger (and White Sox's) pitcher. He has the frame to be a powerful outfielder, yet he played more like Juan Pierre in his debut, which wasn't great (.274/.313/.363). However, he's extremely young and has plenty of time to work on his game. He's toolsy and needs to mature as a hitter, which includes improved performance against left-handed pitching and his reducing his strikeout rate.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Pioneer League Ogden/Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2015

24. Josh Lindblom, RHP (6'5, 240, 23 years old)
- Oh how the mighty have fallen. Lindblom was No. 4 on this list last year. He was ranked so high because he had potential as a starting pitcher. Now, he needs to prove he can be more than a middle- or long-reliever. His 2009 Spring Training performance was reason to be excited, but Lindblom has pretty much fallen flat on his face since. He'll again pitch at Albuquerque with his sinking fastball/slider combination. He had a 6.54 ERA and 1.84 WHIP for the 'Topes last season. If he shows he can cut it as a reliever, he'll get a late-season call-up.
2010 ranking: 4
2011 location: Triple-A Albuquerque/Majors
ETA: late-2011

25. Javier Solano, RHP
(6'0, 190, 21 years old)
- Solano defied the numbers and improved greatly as he progressed through the minors. He had a 9.47 ERA at age 18 in the Pioneer League and a 4.64 ERA when he repeated the level in 2009. In 2010, he was promoted to High-A and pitched well enough to earn a promotion to Double-A, where he pitched even better. Overall, he had a 2.94 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.1 K/9 and a most impressive 5.54 K/BB ratio. He profiles as a middle reliever with his low-90s fastball, upper-70s curveball and changeup.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga/Triple-A Albuquerque
ETA: 2012

26. J.T. Wise, C (6'0, 210, 24 years old)
- Wise was drafted out of Oklahoma in the 2009 draft and tore the cover off the ball in his debut at Ogden (.338/.401/.566 in 164 plate appearances). He hit well at Low-A in 2010 -- .309/.363/.505. So why is he ranked so low? Well, he's 24 and will turn 25 in June. He is old for the leagues in which he's been playing. If the Dodgers want to see what they really have in Wise, they need to jump him to Double-A and let him sink or swim. If he were a couple years younger, he'd be a top 12 prospect for sure.
2010 ranking: 21
2011 location: High-A
Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: 2013

27. Kyle Russell, OF (6'5, 195, 24 years old)

- Russell is one of the best power-hitting prospects the Dodgers have. However, the kid doesn't make enough contact to be considered a legitimate prospect. He hits the ball over the fence or he strikes out. He struck out in 41.4 percent of his Double-A at-bats. That isn't going to get it done. He plays excellent defense, so he'll likely get a look in the big leagues before he hangs up his spikes, but unless he turns into a better hitter, he'll never be a regular.
2010 ranking: 12
2011 location: Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: late-2012

28. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP (6'3, 195, 21 years old)
- Eovaldi was in my top 10 last year but injuries and the inability to develop a third pitch has caused him to drop like a rock. He only threw 98 1/3 innings this season, posting a 4.30 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and a 9.9 H/9 ratio while spending most of his time at Inland Empire. He also failed to raise his strikeout rate. It's disappointing because of his plus-fastball and breaking ball combination. He seems destined for bullpen duty if he ever makes it to the majors.
2010 ranking: 8
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: 2013

29. Nick Akins, OF (6'1, 220, 23 years old)
- One would think a guy with a 1.047 OPS in the minors would be ranked a lot higher than No. 29. However, Akins has not played above Rookie-level ball. If he were putting up these numbers in Double-A as a 22-year-old, he could be a top three prospect in the organization. He was a 19th-round pick in 2009 and should get pushed to High-A before the end of the season.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2014

30. Tony Delmonico, C/2B (6'0, 197, 23 years old)
- Delmonico has always been one of my favorite prospects. He has the bat to succeed behind the plate (.293/.403/.463 career in the minors), but there are questions as to whether or not he has the skill set to be a full-time catcher. He has the intangibles to do so, but he hasn't transitioned as well as Russell Martin, Luke May and Carlos Santana before him. He threw out 28.7 percent of base-stealers in 2010, which isn't terrible, but he did have 22 passed-balls, which isn't great. That number is up from 11 in virtually the same number of chances. There's still hope for him, but he did deal with injury issues last season. If he can make the jump to Double-A, he still has a solid chance of making the majors as at the least as a backup catcher.
2010 ranking: 11
2011 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: late-2013

Sleeper: Greg Wilborn, LHP (6'2, 175, 23 years old)
- Wilborn is an interesting case. He has decent stuff for a lefty, including a fastball in the upper-80s to low-90s, a slider, curveball and changeup. He's a little older than is ideal for Low-A, but that means the Dodgers should be able to promote him aggressively. He does have an 11.5 K/9 ratio in his Minor League career, which is impressive. If he can establish himself in Double-A later this season, he could find himself in L.A. before too long. He isn't ever going to be a five-star prospect, but he is left-handed and can pitch, so there's a reasonable expectation he'll reach the majors one day.
2010 ranking: Not ranked
2011 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Chattanooga
ETA: late-2013

The next nine (in alphabetical order): Noel Cuevas, OF; Jon Link, RHP; Justin Miller, RHP; Russ Mitchell, 1B/3B/LF; Jaime Pedroza, 2B; Scott Schebler, OF; Travis Schlichting, RHP; Alfredo Silverio, OF; Scott Van Slyke, OF

Best of the Dodger System

Best Hitter for Average Leon Landry
Best Power Hitter Jerry Sands
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Ivan DeJesus
Fastest Baserunner Dee Gordon
Best Athlete Trayvon Robinson
Best Fastball Kenley Jansen
Best Curveball Chris Withrow
Best Slider Matt Magill
Best Changeup
Best Sinker
Zach Lee
Justin Miller
Best Control Allen Webster
Best Defensive Catcher Jan Vazquez
Best Defensive Infielder Jaime Pedroza
Best Infield Arm Pedro Baez
Best Defensive Outfielder Kyle Russell
Best Outfield Arm
Best Five-Tool Prospect
Jonathan Garcia
Joc Pederson

Projected 2014 Lineup


Catcher Tony Delmonico
First Base Jerry Sands
Second Base Ivan DeJesus
Third Base Jake Lemmerman
Shortstop Dee Gordon
Left Field Andre Ethier
Center Field Trayvon Robinson
Right Field Matt Kemp
No. 1 Starter Clayton Kershaw
No. 2 Starter Chad Billingsley
No. 3 Starter Zach Lee
No. 4 Starter Rubby De La Rosa
No. 5 Starter Allen Webster
Closer Kenley Jansen

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