Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My mideason Top 25 Los Angeles Dodgers' prospects

We're just more than half way through the Major League season, which means there's only a couple months remaining in the minor league season. It's time for a prospect update.

Since I did a Top 50 prospect list in November, I'm going to unveil my midseason Top 25 Dodgers' prospects. There's been an infusion of new players from the draft and International signings, some risers and fallers. Preseason rankings and ranking differential are in parenthesis.

1. Zach Lee, RHP (1)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Double-A Chattanooga
- Lee is the Dodgers' best prospect and was promoted to Double-A last month. He's made just three starts. But he was successful in Rancho Cucamonga, despite an ERA in the mid-4s.  His walks per nine innings rate (1.9) is awfully impressive for a 20-year-old in just his second season of professional baseball. He's also striking out more batters per nine innings this season (8.2) than last (7.5), so there has been overall improvement in his performance.

2. Corey Seager, SS/3B (Not ranked)
Started: Rookie League Ogden
Current Location: Ogden
- Seager, the Dodgers' first-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, hurdles a lot of decent prospects to land the No. 2 spot on this list. He's only played in four games (all at shortstop), but his potential is the best of any prospect in the system. The Dodgers plan to keep him at shortstop until he shows he can't handle it, but he's going to have to slide over to third base as he progresses through the minors. Ogden is the perfect place for him right now as an 18-year-old. Depending on performance, he could either go back to Ogden in 2013 or be pushed to Great Lakes.

3. Allen Webster, RHP (3)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga

- Webster's career in Chattanooga has been up and down. He started off this season quite poorly (7.49 ERA in his first seven starts), but has been really good since that time. He still possesses the necessary tools to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He might be the next starting pitcher in line for a promotion to Los Angeles after John Ely. I wouldn't expect him in LA until 2013 at the earliest, though. Oh, and he's given up just one home run in 81 2/3 innings this season. That's studly.


4. Yasiel Puig, CF/RF (NR)
Started: Rookie League Arizona
Current Location: Arizona
- There are 42 million reasons for this ranking. Dodgers' Assistant General Manager Logan White called him the system's top hitting prospect. I have him right behind Seager because Puig hasn't even played a game for the AZL Dodgers yet. In fact, he hasn't played organized baseball in more than a year. But when a player draws comparisons to Vladimir Guerrero and Sammy Sosa (pre-PEDs, I hope), it's hard to overlook that.

5. Joc Pederson, CF (6, +1)
Stared: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Before Seager was drafted and Puig was signed, Pederson was set to be a Top 3 prospect in the system. Well, a Top 5 showing isn't too bad for a 20-year-old. He's hitting .294/.370/.433 in the California League and has been hot of late. While he likely ends up in left field long-term, he has center field ability. He's been hitting in the No. 2 hole a lot in Rancho and I could see him as that kind of hitter in the majors. I wrote a scouting report on him in mid-June.

6. Chris Reed, LHP (19, +13)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Double-A Chattanooga
- A preseason oversight on my part, Reed is one of the best Dodgers' prospects. However, there's still question whether he can be a starting pitcher. Despite putting up some really good numbers (2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 5.9 H/9, 9.2 K/9), he hasn't been throwing many innings. He even spent some time on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue. So, this is a cautious ranking for me because I'm still not sure he's a starting pitcher long-term.

7. Blake Smith, RF (9, +2)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Smith is emerging as one of the Dodgers' best hitting prospects, even if others don't agree. The positives: a .189 ISO (above-average), 11.6 percent walk rate, .376 on-base percentage. The negatives: He's a touch old for Double-A (24) and his K-rate is still a bit high for my liking (26.3 percent). He also plays really good defensive in right field. He's even logged nine games in center field this season.

8. Ethan Martin, RHP (37, +29)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- I had all but given up on Martin as a prospect, let alone a starting pitcher. Well, he's proved me wrong, as you can see by his 29-spot leap. Martin has been the most consistently good pitcher for the Lookouts this season and finally seems to be turning the proverbial corner. He still gets in trouble with the walks, but he's becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower.

9. Garrett Gould, RHP (4, -5)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Gould has fallen slightly because of his own performance, but mostly because of additions and other prospects showing improvement. His ERA isn't great (4.61), but his a lot of his peripherals are great. Velocity has always been an issue with Gould and he'll need to consistently work in the low-90s to reach his potential as a No. 3 starter. I wrote a scouting report on him for Chad Moriyama's blog.

10. Alex Castellanos, 2B/OF (21, +11)
Started: Triple-A Albquerque
Current Location: Albuquerque
- Castellanos has absolutely destroyed Pacific Coast League pitching this season (.359/.450/.658) and has done so as a second baseman. When he was recalled to LA, he played in the outfield. So, I'm not exactly sure what the Dodgers want to do with him. But there's no doubt he has potential in his bat. Despite being an older prospect, he has one of the most intriguing bats in the system. He'll likely be a September call-up.

11. Scott Van Slyke, OF/1B (15, +4)
Started: Triple-A Albquerque
Current Location: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Van Slyke, like Castellanos, is having his way with PCL pitching (.326/.404/.576) but has struggled in his brief big league stint. He did have a mammoth pinch-hit home run to win a game for the Dodgers, but that's about it so far. He's also an older prospect, so the clock is ticking on him.

12. Shawn Tolleson, RHP (8, -4)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Tolleson dominated the Southern League (again), earning a call-up to Triple-A. He struggled a little there, but was still rewarded with a Major League gig. However, he's had a hard time throwing strikes (five walks, one hit-by pitch in 5 2/3 innings) and could use a little more seasoning in the minors.

13. Leon Landry, CF (18, +5)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- I tabbed Landry as one of my Dodger prospects with the most to gain before the season, and he's definitely showing his potential with the Quakes. He's posting the best numbers of any offensive prospect in Rancho (.331/.364/.524) and is playing solid defense in center field (also spent some time in left). Landry is age-appropriate for the league (22) and it will be interesting to see how he handles the Southern League next year.

14. O'Koyea Dickson, 1B (20, +6)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: Great Lakes
- The first Loon makes the list and it's the team's best hitter in Dickson. He's struggled a lot since the All-Star Break (.138/.250/.241), but he was on fire before the break (.331/.442/.564). He probably should have been promoted to Rancho by now. The 22-year-old needs perform well against advanced pitching to be considered a legitimate prospect. He also needs to be given a chance.

15. Logan Bawcom, RHP (26, +11)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Double-A Chattanooga
- Bawcom might be one of the most underrated prospects in the system. His Tollesonian K/9 (15.4) is what intrigues me most. It also got him promoted to the Lookouts. He's been less effective in Chattanooga, but he's been solid.

16. Angel Sanchez, RHP (5, -11)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current Location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Sanchez hasn't flourished in the Cal League as he did in the Midwest League last season, causing him to fall in these rankings. His 5.40 ERA isn't even the biggest concern. His 10.4 H/9, 1.3 HR/9 and 4.46 FIP are more concerning. He's struggled to develop a consistent breaking ball. Without one, he could be destined for the bullpen. But he's still young.

17. Jake Lemmerman, SS/2B (10, -7)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Lemmerman started the season poorly before getting hot in early May. But since May 9 when he was hitting .329/.420/.553, he's struggled big time. He's at .251/.361/.366 right now. The on-base percentage is great (considering the low batting average), but he's looking more and more like a utility player (as everyone but myself believed) than an every day player.

18. Ryan O'Sullivan, RHP (NR)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
- O'Sullivan began the season in the Loons' bullpen before working his way into the rotation. He pitched well (2.92 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.55 FIP, 2.9 BB/9) and was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga where he's thrown just six innings. He has the stuff to miss more bats, so it'd be nice to see him do so. The 21-year-old will likely finish the season and begin next season in Rancho.

19. Aaron Miller, LHP (24, +5)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Miller has been healthy this season, something he's struggled with in the past. However, he hasn't been throwing deep into games (4.96 innings per start). His BB/9 is way too high (5.1), as is his WHIP (1.47). However, his H/9 (8.2) and K/9 (8.5) are solid. He, as was speculated by some when he was drafted, could end up in the bullpen.

20. Chris Withrow, RHP (12, -8)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Withrow, in his fourth year with the Lookouts, hasn't figured it out. At this point, it seems he might not ever figure it out. He's struggled, been on the disabled list twice and is now working out of the bullpen. I'm betting the Dodgers keep him in the bullpen for an extended time (like the rest of the season) before re-evaluating what they plan to do with him. The good thing is, he can still strike batters out (9.3 K/9), so not all hope is lost; just hope of him being a starting pitcher in the majors.

21. Onelki Garcia, LHP (NR)
Started: Rookie League Arizona
Current Location: Arizona
- Garcia, the Dodgers' third-round draft pick, has yet to throw a pitch in the minors, but his talent and potential are enough to land him in the Top 25. The Dodgers would have drafted him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft if he were eligible, so to snag him in the third round this year was a nice get. He has a low-90s fastball and an above-average curveball. He'll need to develop a third pitch to remain in the rotation long-term.

22. Angelo Songco, 1B (6, -16)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
- Songco, after a really good 2011 season, started the 2012 on the disabled list. He had a metal rod placed in his leg after he injured it last season. To my surprise, he struggled in the Midwest League. Now, he struggled there every time he's gone, but I expected more out of him. He's back in Rancho and he might remain there the rest of the season. He was supposed to be in Chattanooga to begin the season, but his injury kept him from being a Lookout.

23. Tim Federowicz, C (30, +7)
Started: Triple-A Albuquerque
Current Location: Albuquerque
- Acquired in the Trayvon Robinson deal last year, Federowicz has been solid for the Isotopes this season. His .301/.366/.466 triple slash earned him a spot in Triple-A All-Star Game. He's the team's best catching prospect after Gorman Erickson fell flat on his face this season with the Lookouts and Pratt Maynard has struggled a little with the Loons. He's still a glove-first catcher and could be the Dodgers' backup catcher in 2013.

24. Steve Ames, RHP (17, -7)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current Location: Chattanooga
- Ames has fallen, but not because of his performance. He's pitched well (2.04, 1.23 WHIP, 9.5 K/9), but his ceiling is limited. Still, he owns a low-90s fastball and a good slider that has worked for him thus far.

25. Eric Eadington, LHP (NR)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current Location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga

- Eadington, a Harvard graduate, was outstanding with the Loons (13.8 K/9, 27.00 K/BB, 0.96 WHIP) and earned a promotion to Rancho. He's stepped in as the team's primary closer and has been solid. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a decent curveball. Though he's a little old for the league (24), he has potential as a left-handed reliever.

The next five (in alphabetical order): James Baldwin, Matt Magill, Brandon Martinez, Scott Schebler, Steven Rodriguez

Graduated: Nathan Eovaldi (2), Josh Lindblom (14)
Released: Tony Delmonico (46)
Dropped out of Top 25: Alfredo Silverio (11), Erickson (13), Baldwin (16), Jonathan Garcia (22), Maynard (23), Schebler (25)
Moved into Top 25: Seager (NR to 2), Puig (NR to 4), Bawcom (26 to 15), O'Sullivan (NR to 18), Garcia (NR to 21), Eadington (NR to 25)
Biggest riser: Martin (37 to 8)
Biggest faller: Erickson (13 to 40)

The system overall is stronger after a solid draft and the signing of Puig. The fact that five of my Top 10 prospects are hitters is a good sign. I realize I'm higher on Smith than others, but the other four are legitimate rankings.

Photo credits
Federowicz: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners
All others: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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