This is the first in a series of most surprising and disappointing Dodgers' players and prospects.
The Dodgers' farm system was ranked higher than it had been in recent years, most notably by Baseball America. It ranked the system as the 12th-best in baseball after spending 2010 and 2009 ranked No. 21 and No. 23, respectively. That followed a four-year stretch of being ranked in the top six, including twice in the top two.
Some of the most notable minor-leaguers to help the 2011 ranking are Zach Lee, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands. Lee was drafted, De La Rosa broke out and Sands emerged as the team's best power-hitting prospect.
Here are my Top 3 most surprising Dodger hitting and pitching prospects.
Most surprising hitters
1. OF Alfredo Silverio
- I just wrote a long post on Silverio, but he heads the list of most surprising hitting prospects. Coming into the season, his prospect star had diminished. He put up an .809 OPS in the hitter-friendly California League, but he was seen as nothing more than a fifth outfielder -- at best -- by most. Despite his lack of plate discipline, he's a legitimate outfield prospect. He's hitting .306/.339/.545 in the Southern League, which is no easy feat. At 24 years old, he's a tad old for his competition, but he's faced some great pitchers in the league.
2. OF/1B Angelo Songco
- Like Silverio, I wrote a long post on Songco back in May after he hit for the cycle. Songco was hitting well in 2010 until August came 'round. He hit .195 in the season's final month to bring down his overall numbers. This season, however, has been different. He's been an extra-base hit machine, as he has 38 doubles, three triples and 25 home runs. While the Cal League is hitter-friendly, it's hard to argue with a .917 OPS. If the Dodgers didn't have such a logjam of outfielders, I suspect he would have been promoted a month ago. He's playing the rest of this season at first base, which potentially gives him a faster track to the majors.
3. 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke
- Van Slyke is most known for being the son of former Phillie and Pirate Andy Van Slyke. He made a name for himself in 2009, when he put up a .907 OPS, 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 42 doubles for the Cal League's Inland Empire 66ers. His 2010 season was disappointing. He started back in the Cal League before getting promoted Chattanooga. His OPS was .903 in High-A and .650 in Double-A. So, he took it upon himself to right his ship. He is in the Top 4 in the league in batting average (4th, .344), on-base percentage (4th, .424), slugging percentage (3rd, .577) and OPS (3rd, 1.001). He's second in total bases behind Silverio (243) and leads the league in doubles (42). He's played nearly equal time in the outfield and first base, so his future could be at either position.
Honorable mentions: O'Koyea Dickson, Gorman Erickson, Jamie Hoffmann, Jake Lemmerman, Joc Pederson
Most surprising pitchers
1. RHP Nathan Eovaldi
- Eovaldi is the clear No. 1 on this list. I had lost hope for him after his mediocre 2010 season. However, the 21-year-old took control in Double-A, earning himself a promotion to the Dodgers in August. His most impressive stat in Double-A is his 6.6 H/9 rate. His other numbers are more in line with his career (he's striking out more hitters, though). He's been solid in the majors, too: 2.05 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.5 H/9. His K/9 (5.7) and K/BB (1.4) could use a little work, though. He's bidding to be the Dodgers' top 2012 prospect.
2. RHP Javy Guerra
- If Eovaldi is the clear No. 1 here, then Guerra is the clear No. 2. His biggest issue was his control/command in the minors. He has a 7.3 BB/9 and 1.70 WHIP for Chattanooga last season. Despite those numbers, he put up a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings, so he was extremely lucky. He started 2011 much, much better: 2.6 BB/9, 0.76 WHIP in 17 innings. Those numbers, combined with a multitude of injuries, earned him an early-season call-up to the Dodgers, where he's taken firm grasp of the closer role after Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen all falter and/or got hurt. He has a 2.27 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 2.78 K/BB and is 11-for-12 in save opportunities.
3. RHP Angel Sanchez
- Sanchez is doing his best De La Rosa impression by seemingly coming out of nowhere to establish himself as a legitimate prospect. And if not for the Major League success of Eovaldi and Guerra, Sanchez would head this list. The 21-year-old has a 2.57 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.9 H/9, 3.7 BB/9, 7.7 K/9 and 2.09 K/BB rate for the Great Lakes Loons in his debut season. He is already in my Top 10 and should get a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga next season. If he pitches well, he could find himself in Tennessee before too long, ala Allen Webster.
Honorable mentions: Scott Elbert, Garrett Gould, Josh Lindblom, Jon Michael Redding, Shawn Tolleson
Next up: Most disappointing 2011 Dodgers' prospects