Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dodgers after Carlos Lee, Corey Seager signs, Puig contract official

Look, I understand the Dodgers are struggling right now. They've lost six games in a row, Matt Kemp is still on the disabled list, Andre Ethier could end up there and the they've scored a grand total of 15 runs in their last 11 games.

Still, that's no reason to panic. That's no reason to trade valuable assets for Carlos Lee.

As I'm sure you've heard, rumors popped up last night of the Dodgers' interest in Lee. But, as often happens on Twitter, the first reports weren't accurate.

It went from Zach Lee and Garrett Gould for Jed Lowrie to Zach Lee and Gould for Carlos Lee to Gould for Lee in the span of 20 minutes.

Lowrie would be a nice acquisition, as the 28-year-old has an .839 OPS and 14 home runs while playing shortstop. That's premium production, but Lowrie's problem has always been staying healthy. His career-high in games played is 88, established last season.

But as it stands, Houston isn't including Lowrie in this deal. And I wouldn't give up Zach Lee to get Lowrie either.

As it stands right now, the offer appears to be Gould for Lee. It's up to Lee to waive his no-trade rights. That's the hold up.
"Carlos Lee says Dodgers have made an offer and he's mulling whether to accept it."
I don't like this deal one bit. Chad Moriyama, per usual, nails it.
"As I was expressing on Twitter, I’m not thrilled with the idea of trading prospects for Carlos Lee. A solid segment of fans disagreed though, as they were generally enamored with acquiring an upgrade over James Loney. I’m just not sure Carlos Lee is the guy they’re looking for.

Carlos Lee’s current slash line is .290/.342/.412/.754, which is in line with his recent production, and he projects to hit .276/.328/.434/.762 the rest of the way. Additionally, consider that he’s a terrible defender in the outfield and a fringe to poor defender at first base.

James Loney’s current line is .236/.303/.323/.626, which is partially the result of lower than normal BABIP. He projects to hit .266/.327/.387/.714 the rest of the way. Plus, he plays above-average to plus defense at first.

Now 50 points difference in OPS is nothing to scoff at, but factor in the defense and then consider that Loney has a .802 OPS career against righties (.669 against lefties) and Juan Rivera has a .821 career OPS against lefties (.747 against righties). Now the gap is basically non-existent.

You know how to tell that this trade is an iffy upgrade? When it’s even arguable as to whether a potential acquisition is an improvement over James Loney and Juan Rivera."
Someone needs to forward this to Ned, Stan and Co. Yes, Loney sucks with the bat and Rivera isn't much better. But when combining the two, you basically get Lee with better defense.

This doesn't even qualify as an upgrade. And if the Dodgers are so hell-bent on acquiring Lee (seems like just a matter of time now), they shouldn't be giving up quality, tradeable assets to get him.

I wrote a scouting report on Gould over at Moriyama's blog and I know he's not a lock to be a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the majors, but that's his potential. Potential has tradeable value. Using this value to acquire a player who is of little value makes no sense.

If this was the Lee of three years ago, OK. But he's basically a singles hitter right now and has some extreme reverse platoon splits:
  • .335/.383/.456 vs. RHP
  • .143/.213/.268 vs. LHP
Maybe the Dodgers trade for Lee and he goes all Bobby Abreu on us. But Abreu (like the entire team) is slumping and the shine is wearing off.

I'm all for trading prospects to get quality players in return. And I know fans tend to overvalue their own team's prospects, but this proposed deal doesn't make a lot of sense.

Seager signs

The Dodgers are set to sign first-round draft pick Corey Seager. The deal should be announced today. He'll receive a $2.35 million bonus.

That's a spot of good news. Seager, 18, was drafted at No. 18 in the 2012 MLB Drat by the Dodgers earlier this month. There was little question that he'd sign with the team, it was just a matter of how much he was going to get.

The slot recommendation for the pick is $1.95 million. The Dodgers were a little more than $300,000 under budget, so this signing leaves them $98,500 over budget with second-rounder Steven Rodriguez still to sign. In all likelihood, he'll sign for at least $98,500 less than slot to avoid the Dodgers having to pay a luxury tax.

The signing leaves 12 unsigned draftees, with just one (Korey Dunbar, 39th round) saying he won't sign.

Martin to the DL

Jarret Martin was placed on the 7-day disabled list and has returned to Arizona -- presumably Camelback Ranch -- to rehab.

This isn't particularly newsworthy, but I'm going to do a little speculating.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to send Martin from Michigan (where the Loons play) to Arizona for a one-week rehab stint. There are two possibilities here:
  1. He'll be on the DL for more than seven days
  2. He'll be on his way to Rancho when he's healthy
I'd like to think it's the latter, despite his struggles in the last month. The main thing is he gets healthy and back to pitching.

The man who replaced him on the roster was 15th-round pick (Duke) Dalton Von Schamann. He made his Low-A debut last night and fared pretty well: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Not bad for a guy who was pitching in college a month ago.

Dodgers finalize Puig deal

The Dodgers finalized the Yasiel Puig's 7-year, $42 million Major Leauge contract on Friday. He was assigned to the Arizona League and placed on the temporary inactive list. He'll need a stint there before being moved up.

Also, since the contract was a Major League deal, a 40-man roster move needed to be made. Justin Sellers was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Puig. It'll be interesting to see what happens when Sellers is healthy and another spot is needed (or when the Dodgers inevitably acquire Lee). Guys on the short list include Matt Angle, Michael Antonini and Stephen Fife. I'm betting Angle and Fife are the ones to go.

Photo credits
Lee: SBoyd, Flickr
Seager: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Friday, June 29, 2012

Faith the key for Dodgers' slugging prospect O'Koyea Dickson

Faith is a big part of many professional athletes lives and success. Dodgers' prospect O'Koyea Dickson is no exception.

Dickson, 22, was drafted in the 12th round out of baseball powerhouse Sonoma State University near the San Francisco Bay Area. Seriously, Sonoma State has seen 40 players drafted since 1974 -- not bad for a Division II school. The "hitterish" prospect had a great debut with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League: .333/.402/.603 with 13 home runs, 38 RBI and 10 doubles in 48 games.

Though he isn't as physically imposing as one would expect a slugging first baseman to be (5'11, 215 pounds), he's more than held his own in his first two seasons.

This is the video from 49th State Hardball I embedded from the last time I wrote about Dickson.

His debut performance put him on the prospect map for many. This season, Dickson started off on fire despite not starting the season when everyone else.

He suffered a hand injury in Spring Training -- an injury that kept him out of action until May 4. But Dickson said the hand is doing well.

His performance this season with the Great Lakes Loons earned him a spot in the Midwest League All-Star Game. This is particularly impressive because he missed 30 games and had to absolutely rake to get the nod. He hit .331/.442/.564 with six home runs, 22 RBI, 13 doubles and a good 24:22 BB:K ratio before the All-Star break.

"It meant a lot making it to the Midwest League All-Star Game," Dickson said. "Didn't think I was gonna make it due to my number of at-bats, but I'm blessed I got a chance to be an All-Star."

Dickson showed spectators what he's made of in the All-Star game, going 2-for-3 with a home run, which earned him MVP honors.

"It was pretty sweet going yard at the game," Dickson said. "Just wasn't trying to do to much and I got a good pitch to hit."

Dickson has made the transition from Pioneer League pitching to Midwest League pitching, and that's a big transition to make. The environments in the Pioneer League are much most hitter-friendly, so the fact he's hitting well in the Midwest League is encouraging.

Dickson said he's noticed the difference in the pitching at both levels.

"I thought last year in the Pioneer League guys threw a little harder," Dickson said. "On a daily basis, and this year, guys still throw hard, but they tend to throw a lot more off-speed pitches in hitter's counts."

Like a lot of athletes, Dickson puts his faith in, well, faith.

He said God is a big part of his life.

"Faith is the biggest factor because even when you're struggling, you have to keep the faith because good things have yet to come," Dickson said. "No matter what, God controls everything."

In fact, he said one of his favorite things about playing baseball is tied to faith.

"My favorite thing about playing baseball is showing that if you put your trust in God and be faithful to him, he will bless you with whatever your heart desires," Dickson said. "I just want to show people with God by your side, anything is possible.

Dickson said he doesn't set specific goals for himself, but looks at what he needs to improve and lets God do his thing.

"I put a little more focus on a particular part of my game I need to work on," Dickson said. "So, like (runners in scoring position), I want to be able to drive them in more frequently. I kinda just go day-by-day and let God control the outcome of my day."

Dickson said he's a student of the game and considers that his biggest strength.

"I don't try to put any pressure on myself. I try to make baseball as simple as it needs to be," Dickson said. "See ball, hit ball.

But Dickson also acknowledges his shortcomings.

"I think my weakest part of my game is defense," Dickson said. "I'm not bad at first baseman, but I'm trying my best to get better everyday. (It's) just all about being comfortable and trusting in your abilities."

Dickson first caught people's attention in high school when he hit a ball out of AT&T Park. He said that was his most memorable moment as a high schooler. He also said hitting a home run in the Division II World Series in the ninth inning and two home runs in the Pioneer League playoffs last year were also memorable for him.

He's hit a bit of a cold since the All-Star Break (2-for-22), but he has the ability to turn it around. With a lot of potential moving parts in the levels above Low-A, he should see time in Rancho Cucamonga later this summer. Despite the cold streak, he doesn't have a whole lot left to prove in the Midwest League. He needs to be tested against advanced pitching (even if the California League is a hitter's haven).

These are the players manning first base ahead of Dickson:
Other than Sands and Van Slyke, not much to be impressed with. Dickson has even been splitting time at first base with the rehabbing Angelo Songco in Great Lakes.

But in the end, Dickson has one ultimate goal.

"(Getting) a chance to play in the big leagues," Dickson said.

If he plays as well in the upper levels of the minors as he has in his brief career in the lower levels, it's bound to happen.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dodgers to sign Cuban defector Yasiel Puig to record $42 million contract

And we thought $30 million for Jorge Soler was a little shocking.

It wasn't super surprising to see the Dodgers had signed Cuban defector Yasiel Puig when I checked my timeline this morning. It was super surprising to see the reported record price: $42 million over seven years.


Puig (pronounced pweeg) is 21 years old and from those who have seen him, hasn't been that impressive. But it is a small sample size and the Dodgers must have saw something they really liked.

Kevin Goldstein provided a brief scouting report (from scouts) via Twitter (hence the brevity):
"Scout notes on Cuban free agent OF Yasel Puig: Physical, plus runner, avg bat, avg power, decent in CF, not a lock to stay there."
Danny Knobler tweeted a line he heard from a scout:
"One scout on Puig: 'You see him on the right day, he could be Vladimir Guerrero.'"
Jesse Sanchez, the reporter who broke the story, had this to say about him on June 19:
"Puig is not as seasoned as fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, a familiar member of Cuba's National team who signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the A's in February, but he has more experience on the country's highest level than outfielder Jorge Soler, who signed a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs last week."
Puig is a big kid at 6'3, 210 pounds. Some reports say he has raw power, despite what Goldstien tweeted. But he doesn't have as much power as Soler. Puig might be a more complete package than Soler, leading the Dodgers and their scouts to However, he might be better than Soler in a few different categories.

While both Puig and Soler have question marks about their hit tools, Puig could be a better defender. The fact that he has center field experience already gives him a leg up defensively. He also has better speed than Soler.

Here's a highlight video of him via YouTube:

My quick scouting report

Defense/Arm: He made a nice diving catch in right field and doubled-up a guy at second base. The throw as strong and accurate despite him throwing a little bit off his back foot. That's impressive.

Hitting/Power: He doesn't have much of a stride because he picks his front foot up, puts it back down and twists it to generate the bat speed (as you can see in the screen grab). His stance is quiet and he holds his hands at about chest level. He has to pull them back a touch as the pitch is delivered, so that's something to keep an eye on going forward. He reached for a couple pitches on the outer half, but he also looks to have legitimate opposite-field pop and a willingness to go that way. The beginning of his stance looks almost a little like Moises Alou.

Speed: Didn't get to see it much, but trust other reports. Made it to second base and had really good range in right field to track down the gapper. This could be his best tool.


This move comes just four days before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement kicks in. If Puig (and the Dodgers) had waited, the most he could have been signed for is $2.9 million. Instead, the Dodgers land him for $42 million. Jon Heyman tweeted and said it wasn't even the highest offer. The White Sox and Cubs were said to be interested. In situations like this, the Yankees and Red Sox probably also had interest.

After missing out on Soler, the Dodgers had to make a splash. I'd say this qualifies. At this price, he's definitely going in my midseason prospect list, but I'm just not sure where yet.

I'm purely speculating here, but I don't see Puig starting in rookie ball. He's played at the highest level in Cuba, is 21 and  signed a huge deal. I hope he starts -- at worst -- with the Loons in Great Lakes. I'm not sure starting him in crowded rookie ball is the way to go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dodgers showcasing Zach Lee for potential trade?

Ken Gurnick seems to think so.
"Lee's promotion has a dual purpose. Not only will it tell the Dodgers how close Lee is to reaching the Major Leagues, it will showcase him against better competition for clubs that will want him in a trade.

Despite the investment the Dodgers have made to sign Lee away from a quarterback job with LSU, the right-hander could become the centerpiece of any deadline deal the Dodgers make this summer."
I wrote about Lee's promotion on Monday and was happy with the promotion:
"I like how aggressive the Dodgers are with their minor-league pitchers, so I'm looking forward to seeing how he handles advanced hitting in perhaps the most talented level of the Minor Leagues. Before the end of the season, he'll work out of the bullpen to limit his innings."
However, I neglected to mention anything about being showcased for a trade -- probably because I didn't want to admit there's a chance the Dodgers could trade him in a month.

With the Dodgers needing a lot of help on offense, trading Lee to get a bat seems like a real possibility.

Despite being prospector, I'm not opposed to seeing them dealt -- in the right deal. With Ned Colletti's history of dealing quality prospects/young players, I'm not exactly excited at the potential return.
As you can see, the return has been anything but good.

If the Dodgers are willing to deal Lee, it should be for an impact player. I'd prefer it to be a bat, but it seems pitching is going to be the most common asset available before July 31.

But I'm not completely sure I'd want the Dodgers to deal Lee in a package for a guy like Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke.

Don't get me wrong, it'd be nice to have one (or both) of them, but both are free agents after the season and it's no secret Hamels and the Dodgers would be a great 1-2 combo.

If I'm the Dodgers, I only trade Lee for an impact bat. The pitching has been good enough this season and guys like Hamels and Greinke could be had without having to give up prospects. It leaves the opportunity for another team to acquire either Hamels or Greinke, but the Dodgers have more pressing needs on offense than to make acquiring a starting pitcher their priority.

Lee makes his Double-A debut tonight in Pearl, Miss., against the Braves' affiliate.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dodgers promote top prospect Zach Lee to Double-A Chattanooga

In a move that was expected in a month or two, the Dodgers today promoted top prospect Zach Lee to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League.

Lee, 20, was the subject of a post I penned 10 days ago in which I pointed out he was having a great season even if some of his numbers looked a little below-average.

Lee is the second first-round pitcher to be promoted to Double-A this season, as Chris Reed was promoted in early June.

The Dodgers have rarely been afraid to be aggressive with their pitching prospects, so this isn't much of a surprise. However, the fact that Lee is 20 and will pitch in Double-A is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert, Clayton Kershaw and Greg Miller all pitched in Double-A at age 20. Edwin Jackson one-upped the four of them by pitching with the Jacksonville Suns (the Dodgers' affiliate at the time) at age 19.

Aside from Miller, all the other pitchers have made it to the majors and had success (some more than others).

With Lee and Reed being promoted, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes' pitching rotation has been stripped of their two best pitchers. Ryan O'Sullivan was assigned to Rancho earlier today from Great Lakes to presumably take Lee's spot. They also have Garrett Gould and Angel Sanchez. And Jarret Martin could be promoted at any time.

The impact on the Lookouts is also apparent.

To say there's a pitching logjam in Chattanooga would be an understatement. The Lookouts now have seven who can start: Lee, Matt Magill, Ethan Martin, Aaron Miller, Reed, Allen Webster and Chris Withrow (when he comes back from the disabled list).

It remains to be seen what the Lookouts will do. Magill has thrown poorly of late, Martin has been mediocre, Miller has been decent but isn't throwing a lot of innings, Reed is still getting acclimated to the league, Webster seems to have finally figured it out and Withrow struggled before going on the DL.

I like how aggressive the Dodgers are with their minor-league pitchers, so I'm looking forward to seeing how he handles advanced hitting in perhaps the most talented level of the Minor Leagues. Before the end of the season, he'll work out of the bullpen to limit his innings.

But no matter what happens the rest of this season, Lee will begin in Double-A in 2013.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Dodgers-Giants series preview, a view from the other side

Editor's note: This post comes is authored by Russell Preston. Preston is a Giants' fan and runs Seedspitters, a Giants' blog that's part of the Yardbarker Network. Preston is a journalism major at Sacramento State University and was a reporter and editor under my watch.

After a four-run rally in the ninth inning in Oakland on Friday, the Giants were on their way to stealing the series opener from the Athletics.

The Giants never seem to win games when they overcome a deficit. In fact, in the games the Giants were losing after the eighth inning, their record stood at 1-29 before the Game 1 win.

Then a huge game on Saturday had the Giants leading 9-4 with just one out remaining in the ninth. Four relievers and four runs allowed later, the Giants pulled a fluky win out from under the Athletics for yet another lucky win.

In the first two games, the main offensive leaders for the giants came from a future all-star in Buster Posey, and a guy who many thought would never produce at the big league level: Brandon Belt.

Giants’ fans alike were rooting for the kid in Spring Training after a rough rookie season in 2011. Now after some consistent playing time, he has been the most productive Giant in the past couple weeks.

In the past 15 games, Belt has 17 hits in 47 at-bats along with four home runs and 14 RBI. What has been most impressive is his on-base percentage of .509 in that stretch, taking 11 walks and only striking out seven times.

Sunday’s game was the only bad note to Belt’s recent success; he went 0-3 with two strikeouts. Then again, every Giant except Ryan Theriot (2-for-4, 1 R) and Buster Posey (1-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI) was unable to hit the ball against the rookie pitcher A.J. Griffin.

The Giants bullpen has been shaky (as seen in the 9-8 win on Saturday, allowing four runs in the ninth), and closer Santiago Casilla has been the weak link this weekend. Casilla allowed a three-run walk-off home run to rookie catcher Derek Norris to give the A’s a 4-2 victory. Other than the past two nights, Casilla had been lights out (even better than Brian Wilson, I might add) against hitters in the ninth.

Heading into an exciting home series with the division-leading Dodgers, the Giants will test their ability to keep a lead in a ballgame.

The offense has been doing well. The only question is if Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito can put together good enough starts to gain some ground on the rivaled Dodgers.

Check out Seedspitters for my take on the Dodgers and this series.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reports: Kevin Youkilis trade coming soon, Dodgers still in play

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports put out word late last night that Kevin Youkilis is likely to be traded soon.

They view the White Sox as the favorite to land Youkilis, but the Dodgers are still a possibility.

Scott Miller of CBS Sports agrees with Rosenthal and Morosi that Chicago remains the favorite. However, he writes the Dodgers and other teams are "... pushing hard, too."

I haven't written much about Youkilis in the last few weeks, but I'm on board with this potential acquisition -- at the right price.

Boston is reportedly willing to eat some of Youkilis' remaining $7 million salary to get a better prospect in return. The Dodgers are in a position to eat some salary to avoid having to give up a better prospect in return. It's been a long time since Dodger fans could make a statement like that.

Youkilis, 33, also has a club option for 2013 at $13 million with a $1 million buyout. The way he's performing this season (.225/.311/.359), it's all but assured this is a three-month rental. But, Youkilis could be rejuvenated by getting out of Boston where he and manager Bobby Valentine have butted heads on a couple of occasions.

Compensation is going to depend on which team budges first. Everyone knows the Red Sox have to trade Youkilis, but they're not without leverage, as the aforementioned White Sox and also the Reds (Youkilis is from Cincinnati) and the Braves are interested in his services.

He has a career .286/.388/.487 triple slash, but that stat has fallen to .250/.358/.435 over the last two seasons. Still, that would be immensely better than the production the Dodgers have received from their third basemen since Casey Blake in 2009.

Youkilis came up through the minors as a third baseman, but that might not be the best place for him. He's played more first base in his big league career (596 games) than he has third base (363 games). At age 33, his best defensive days are behind him. And he was never exactly Brooks Robinson at the hot corner for Boston.

As much as I loathe Juan Uribe and everything he stands for as a baseball player, if the Dodgers acquire Youkilis, I'd like to see him play first base. It's a much easier defensive position and less physically taxing. Plus, he has hit better as a first baseman for his career (.297/.395/.498) than he has as a third baseman (.274/.377/.482). Not that big a difference, but a difference nonetheless.

James Loney, despite a fantastic glove, just isn't hitting and likely will continue not hitting. Also, leaving third base vacant gives the Dodgers an opportunity to plug it with another player -- I'm looking at you, Chase Headley.

Prior to 2010, Youkilis was one o the best in the majors at getting on base. From 2006-10, his on-base percentage was .396. That is something the Dodgers could desperately use. At this point, the Dodgers could use any influx of offense.

One thing to note about Youkilis is his durability. He's never played more than 147 games in a season (2006, age 27) and has missed significant time during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He also had a disabled list stint earlier this season.

So, what would it take to get him? That's the big question.

If the Dodgers eat most or all of the remaining money, they could probably land Youkilis for a couple of B/C prospects. If the Red Sox want to eat a good majority of the salary, they could be looking at a B+/B prospect in return.

If the Dodgers take on the salary

To Boston: Jerry Sands, Javier Solano
To Los Angeles: Youkilis

If the Red Sox take on the salary

To Boston: Aaron Miller or Chris Withrow, Solano
To Los Angeles: Youkilis

I would much prefer the first deal. I've been a Sands fan since his breakout season in 2010. He hasn't exactly gotten a fair opportunity with the Dodgers, thus he has fallen way out of favor after being the organization's Minor League Player of the Year just two years ago. A change of scenery could do him well. Solano is surprisingly underrated as a relief prospect. He's in Double-A with the ability to get a strikeout 8.9 K/9 for his career).

It may seem like a lot to give up for a guy struggling, but when trading, it's always best to trade from depth. Corner outfielders and right-handed relievers are positions the Dodgers have quite the surplus of in the system.

The second deal is more risky because Miller and Withrow (especially Withrow) have talent and potential to be big league starters. Miller has pitched better of late while Withrow is on the disabled list for the second time this season. However, Withrow is the only prospect in the Dodger system with 5-star potential -- he's just never lived up to it.

With Matt Kemp due back after the All-Star Break, it'd be nice to welcome him with a present like Youkilis. He isn't as good as he once was, but he's better than anything the Dodgers are running out at either corner infield position.

Let's just hope guys like Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Joc Pederson and Allen Webster are off-limits.

The last time Ned Colletti traded for a broken-down third baseman, he traded away Carlos Santana. Thankfully, the Dodgers don't have a Carlos Santana in the system, but that doesn't mean there aren't some valuable prospects to be had by other teams.

Photo credit: dbking, Flickr

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dodgers' 2012 MLB Draft signing update -- Seager, Rodriguez, Garcia

The Dodgers have signed nine of their first 11 draft picks so far and they are getting some really good deals so far.

Scott Griggs is the most recent draftee to sign. The eighth-round pick out of UCLA signed today for slot amount ($135,100).

The Dodgers' bonus pool was set at $5,202,800. So far, they've spent $2,340,500. The team has yet to sign first-round pick Corey Seager and second-round pick Steven Rodriguez.

Seager's slot amount is $1.95 million. Rodriguez's slot amount is $610,800. Rodriguez was overdrafted for sure, but if he signs for less than slot, it might be worth it.

If Rodriguez does, it allows the Dodgers to give a little more money to Seager, who, as a high schooler, has the option to go to college. He's committed to the University of South Carolina.

Here's a list of the Dodger draftees (in the first 10 rounds) who have signed so far.

Round Player Slot Bonus Savings
1s Jesmuel Valentin $984,700 $984,700 $0
3 Onelki Garcia $420,300 $382,000 $38,300
4 Justin Chigbogu $305,700 $250,000 $55,700
5 Ross Stripling $228,900 $130,000 $98,900
6 Joey Curletta $171,600 $171,600 $0
7 Theo Alexander $144,600 $144,600 $0
8 Scott Griggs $135,100 $135,100 $0
9 Zachary Bird $126,100 $140,000 ($13,900)
10 Zach Babbitt $125,000 $2,500 $122,500
$2,642,000 $2,340,500 $301,500

Thank you Zach Babbitt for saving the Dodgers a ton of money in this draft. The Academy of Arts "star" was massively overdrafted.

The only player the Dodgers have had to spend more than the recommended amount for was Zachary Bird, the first high school pitcher the team selected in the 2012 draft. He wasn't expected to sign for the slot amount, but the Dodgers got themselves a nice deal. Some have (lazily?) compared him to Edwin Jackson.

So, let's say Rodriguez signs for $500,000 (hopefully that's conservative). That means the Dodgers would be able to offer Seager as much as $2,362,300. They could even offer him at least a couple hundred thousand more without any draft pick penalty.

The biggest surprise might be Garcia's less than slot signing. He was ineligible for the draft last year and was said to be seeking a $7 million bonus. The Dodgers selected knowing full well Garcia wouldn't get anywhere near that amount. But I'm not sure they knew he'd sign for less than slot. That could end up being a steal.

Some of the first nine picks have already made their debuts in the Pioneer League with the Ogden Raptors or with the Arizona League Dodgers.

The Dodgers are in good shape. Even if Rodriguez signs for slot, the Dodgers can still offer Seager a deal worth about $2.25 million. So, those concerned the Dodgers might not sign their first-round pick, I'd breathe easy.

Before too long, Seager will sign and make his debut shortly after. I'd like to see him begin in Ogden, but I could see him beginning with the AZL Dodgers.

The Dodgers have also signed 16 of their 30 selections after the 10th round. High schoolers Josh Henderson, Kevin Maxey and Cuban left-hander Alfredo Unzue remain some of the biggest names unsigned. The only player who has said he will not sign is Korey Dunbar. He's a catcher from Nitro High School in West Virginia. It'd be a big shock if he ends up signing.

The Dodgers are doing an admirable job in the first year of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The signing process is vastly different than it has been in the past.

The Dodgers once paid Andy LaRoche a $1 million bonus as a 39th-round pick. Those days are long gone.

Here's to getting Seager signed and a few of the later-round guys under contract soon.


My latest at Chad Moriyama is my scouting report on Garrett Gould. Here's an excerpt:
"For Gould, his success depends on his fastball velocity. During the 2010 season, his velocity sat more in the upper-80s than the low-90s, but in 2011, he was closer to the low-90s on a consistent basis. When I saw him live, he was sitting between 87-91 MPH with his fastball, and he threw his two-seamer in the 86-88 MPH range. He touched 91 MPH with hi four-seamer and generally sat around 88-90 during his five innings of work. To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with his fastball. He located it well at times, but it also got him into a little trouble during the game. His control was adequate, but he walked three batters in his five innings."

Photo credit: Courtesy of Perfect Game

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chris Reed the only prospect to represent Dodgers in Futures Game

The 2012 Futures Game rosters were announced today and London-born (say wha?) Chris Reed will represent the Dodgers in Kansas City this year.

It's no surprise to see Reed headed to KC, as he's had a really good season so far: 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 9.2 K/9 between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga.

Reed, 22, has a good fastball that sits in the low-90s, a mid-80s slider and a showme changeup. He was the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2011 -- a pick I wasn't particularly thrilled with. It remains to be seen if he's going to pan out, but he has the stuff. His stamina and durability are the concerns.

While it's not a surprise to see him pitching well, it is a little surprising to see he's the only Dodger prospect selected to play in the game.

Guys like Zach Lee, Joc Pederson, Blake Smith and Alex Castellanos all deserved consideration. Lee is widely regarded as the Dodgers' best prospect, Pederson as the Dodgers' best hitting prospect and Smith and Castellanos as guys who have a lot of ability. I could see guys like Lee and Pederson getting the nod in the next year or two.

The Futures Game has been in existence since 1999 and is played the Sunday before the MLB All-Star Game at that year's venue.

Here are the Dodgers' Futures Game participants from the past:
The only players on this list to not make it to the Major Leagues in some capacity are Dorame, Baez and Silverio. Dormae has since retired, Baez is 24 and in Double-A and Silverio was probably going to get a call-up in September if he wasn't in a car accident in January and had subsequent Tommy John Surgery in May.

So, the Futures Game is the minor-league All-Star game to watch. The best of the best participate in this game and usually guys who are destined to be MLB players at some point.

The game is on July 8 at 2 p.m. Pacific time.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Brandon Lennox, True Blue L.A.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scouting report: Joc Pederson, the Dodgers' best hitting prospect

When I went to Rancho Cucamonga in April, I was hoping to see Joc Pederson in action. Instead, he was out after straining his groin. But I did get to see him in Stockton a couple weeks ago, and I was impressed.

He is easily the Dodgers' best position prospect and will be ranked a little higher in my midseason prospect rankings (out by the end of June). I ranked him No. 6 coming into the season.

Ray Guilfoyle of Minor League Ball was impressed with Pederson this winter.
"Yes, he is several years away from making an impact at the big league level, but it is nice to finally hear something good about a Dodgers hitting prospect."
And he's right. Despite the Dodgers need for impact hitting prospects, Pederson, 20, is still at least a couple years away from being big league-ready. Here's my scouting report on the young outfielder.

How he got here
The Dodgers drafted him in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Palo Alton High School. He was committed to play college ball at USC, but was swayed by a $600,000 bonus the Dodgers gave him to sign.

Pederson's father Stu played at USC and appeared in eight games with the Dodgers in 1985.

Because he signed just prior to the deadline in 2010, he only appeared in three games his first season with the Ogden Raptors. He began 2011 with the Great Lakes Loons out of necessity. The Loons were short on outfielders and Pederson, who was in Extended Spring Training, didn't make his season debut until May 29 (nearly two months into the season).

He didn't fare particularly well with the Loons, going just 8-for-50 (.160) with four runs, an RBI and two stolen bases. He did have a nice 7:9 BB:K ratio.

He ended up back in Ogden when its season began and absolutely tore up the league, posting a .353/.429/.568 line with 11 home runs, 64 RBI, 20 doubles, 54 runs scored, 24 stolen bases and a 36:54 BB:K ratio. Those numbers earned him team MVP ahead of O'Koyea Dickson (who also hit really well).

By all accounts, he's the Dodgers' best position prospect. In a system devoid of hitting prospects, Pederson stands out more than he would in, say, the Cubs' system. But that doesn't mean he has any less value.

At  6-foot-1, 185 pounds, he is a big kid. Wait, 185 pounds? That doesn't seem too big. Well, he's bigger than that, especially after seeing him in person. He's probably closer to 200 than he is 185, but that doesn't change his game or impact the way he plays. He's athletic and has some projection left in his frame.

At 20 years old, he might not be done filling out yet.

Here's how I would grade his tools. His hit tool includes plate discipline.

Tools Now Future
Hitting   45   60
Power   35   50
Speed   50   55
Fielding   55   60
Arm   55   60

Pederson has a chance to be a at least an average MLB player. An average MLB player could mean a guy who posts a .280/.350/.400 line with 15-20 home run pop and 15-20 stolen base potential. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of production.

I talked to a scout when seeing Pederson and even though he wasn't watching the Quakes, he did say he likes his build, his bat control and his swing.

After watching him the first night, his batting stance reminded me of someone, but I couldn't figure out who. It was bugging the hell out of me, but the next day, I finally figured it out. His up-and-down stance is reminiscent of Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche's stance is open while Pederson's is not. The open stance is a staple of power hitters, which LaRoche is and Pederson is not. However, Pederson should hit for more average and get on base more than LaRoche does.

His strikeout rate is 17.2 percent this season, which is 3 percent less than the league-average. His walk rate is 9.1 percent, which is 1 percent better than league-average. So, he has good command of the strike zone and what he's looking for when making a plate appearance.

Pederson doesn't have any triggers and his stance is pretty quiet -- something I actually prefer when watching hitters. I've never been a fan of the toe-tap (probably because I tried it when I played and failed miserably).

Pederson lunged at a few pitches (what hitter doesn't?), but in his first at-bat of the Stockton Ports' series, Pederson roped a triple to the right-center field gap. It was a legitimate triple with no outfielder misplays. He also had a single and a walk in the game.

Here's a slideshow of his swing (sorry for the crappy quality).

Pederson walked after this plate appearance. He has good balance in his swing, despite the lunge. His approach is quite advanced for a 20-year-old playing against competition at an average of two or three years older than him.


In perhaps the most exciting play of the night, Pederson was sent to second base with Scott Wingo on third base. Pederson made it to second easily while Wingo made a great slide to complete the double-steal.

Pederson is no Dee Gordon on the basepaths, but he has average speed with a chance to have a tick more than average speed in the future.

But he is a smart baserunner. As I said with his hitting approach, his skills all seem advanced for his age, save his power.

Pederson is nimble and athletic enough to handle center field, but Leon Landry's presence with him in Rancho has relegated him to left field.

In the first game of the series, a Ports' player hit a ball to the left-center field gap. Pederson and Landry were in pursuit of it and nearly collided on the warning track. Pederson slide to avoid contact while Landry came up with the ball.

His range is good enough for center, so it's really good for left field.

In the second game I saw, Pederson had a chance to throw a a runner out at home. He fielded a single and fired a rocket to the plate. It was a really good throw, but it was just a touch off-line (up the first base line) and prevented catcher Michael Pericht from recording the out. It was about a 65 in terms of strength.

I was sitting on the third base side and was thoroughly impressed with the strength and accuracy of the throw. If he doesn't stick in center field, he definitely has a future in left field.

Pederson, right now, is the Dodgers' best hitting prospect. He doesn't have as much upside as the recently drafted Corey Seager, but that's not a knock against Pederson. His ceiling is an above-average MLB player in either center or left field. If he can produce at the plate while playing center field, his value increase. His lack of 30-home run power makes him not as valuable in left field.

I think a good comparison for him, and I hate comparing him to a Giant, is Melky Cabrera. Cabrera seems to be coming into his own at age 27. Pederson's build, skill set and ability are right in line with Cabrera's. Let's just hope Pederson makes an impact sooner in the majors than Cabrera did.

Plus, the kid has a hell of a handshake. You can always tell something about a man by his handshake. It was strong and firm.

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dodgers have interest in Cubs' RHPs Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster

I wasn't intending to write a post about the Dodgers' interest in Ryan Dempster, but it goes hand-in-hand with the Dodgers' reported interest in Matt Garza.

Nathan Eovaldi has filled in admirably in the absence of Ted Lilly. There's no timetable for his return.

Everyone behind Clayton Kershaw is no better than a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, but are guys like Garza and Dempster that much better than who the Dodgers have right now?

If the Dodgers are going to their resources to acquire talent, they should at least focus on acquiring some offense before another pitcher.

Matt Garza

Garza, 28, is one of the more underrated pitchers in the National League and is a free agent after the 2013 season. He's making $9.5 million this season and gets innings pitched bonuses for 210 ($50,000) and 220 innings ($100,000), meaning he could make as much as $9.65 million this season.

He's never thrown more than 204 2/3 innings in a season (2010) and he's on pace for just 190 this season (assuming 32 games started).

Despite a higher ERA in 2012 (4.04 so far) than 2011 (3.32), some of his peripherals are better than last year's.

His H/9 is down from 8.5 last year to 7.4 this year. His WHIP is down from 1.26 last year (1.30 for his career entering 2012) to 1.12 this season. His BB/9, K/9 and K/BB are pretty close to last year's marks.

Garza boasts a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a low-to-mid-80s slider, a curveball and a changeup. But his best pitch is the fastball. However, he isn't throwing it nearly as much in the National League as he did in the American League.

Last season, he threw the fastball just 53.4 percent of the time (93.7 MPH). This season, he's throwing it 60.1 percent of the time (93.4 MPH). His last three seasons in Tampa Bay (2008-10), he threw it 72.2, 71.1 and 71.5 percent of the time.

I'm a proponent of pitchers using their fastball liberally, especially a fastball like Garza's. Then again, he did have one of the best seasons of his career in 2011, so who knows?

Garza will cost significantly more in prospects/young players than Dempster would, but acquiring him without signing him to a long-term deal wouldn't be a great move by the Dodgers. They'd be getting him for the rest of 2012 and 2013 at the minimum. His salary for 2013 would probably be in the neighborhood of $12-13 million.

There are definitely risks in trying to acquire Garza. The Cubs are going to want a lot in return and the Dodgers are going to have to shell out some cash to keep him around. A positive: It appears the Dodgers can offer him arbitration after the 2013 season. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits offering arbitration to players who will be free agents the following winter ... like our next pitcher.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster, on the other hand, probably wouldn't cost as much in terms of prospects, but he comes with a higher monetary price tag.

Dempster is making $14 million this season and, at age 35, will be a free agent after the season. He's having a great season so far: 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 3.00 K/BB and will probably be headed to Kansas City for the All-Star Game.

He has reinvented himself in his 30s, going from a hard-throwing fastball/slider guy with a lot of walks to a guy with good control and knows how to pitch.
  • Age 21-30: 4.7 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
  • Age 31-35: 3.3 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
That's an impressive and somewhat drastic change for a guy to make heading into his age-31 season (his best to date).

Dempster's fastball averages 89.4 MPH this season after sitting at 90.3 MPH last season. He's throwing his slider 9 percent more often this season than last -- not unexpected from an aging pitcher. He also has quality split-finger fastball.

He'd be a nice acquisition, if the Dodgers really feel they need another starter.

What would it take to get them?

Note: The Dodgers could potentially use a guy like Bryan LaHair, but I'm going to leave him out of these proposals.

This is what I'd give up to get either one.

To Chicago: Jerry Sands, Angel Sanchez, Shawn Tolleson, Allen Webster
To Los Angeles
: Garza

It might seem like a lot, but Garza would be in Dodger Blue for more than a year. The Cubs get a guy who can step into right field (moving David DeJesus to center field), one of the Dodgers' best pitching prospects in Webster, their best relief prospect in Tolleson and a young guy with potential in Sanchez.

The Cubs absolutely stacked in the minor leagues on offense with guys like Javier Baez, Brett Jackson, the recently signed Jorge Soler and the recently drafted Albert Almora, so they're probably more in the market for pitching prospects.

To Chicago: Steve Ames, John Ely, Sanchez
To Los Angeles: Dempster, cash ($2 million)

This one might be a little more realistic. Dempster isn't going to cost a ton and would likely be a rental. The Dodgers have their sights set on Cole Hamels this winter and have guys like Chris Capuano and Harang locked up through 2013. The Cubs get a guy who could replace Dempster in their rotation immediately in Ely and a young pitching prospect in Sanchez and a reliever close to the majors in Ames.


At this rate, I'd prefer the Dodgers go after Dempster than Garza. This post at Obstructed View breaks down Dempster's potential trade value.
"Top 10 hitting prospects     $36.5M
Top 11-25 hitters     $25.1
Top 26-50 hitters     $23.4
Top 51-75 hitters     $14.2
Top 76-100 hitters     $12.5
Top 10 pitching prospects     $15.2
Top 11-25 pitchers     $15.9
Top 26-50 pitchers     $15.9
Top 51-75 pitchers     $12.1
Top 76-100 pitchers     $9.8
Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels)     $7.3
Grade B hitters     $5.5
Grade C pitchers 22 or younger     $2.1
Grade C pitchers 23 or older     $1.5
Grade C hitters 22 or younger     $0.7
Grade C hitters 23 or older     $0.5

The bolded red line is the maximum that we should expect the Cubs to get in return if they traded Dempster today. That's using the high WAR estimate so realistically it's probably closer to the Grade B pitcher or hitter. if they wait until the deadline the Cubs may be looking at only a grade C pitcher or a couple grade C hitters."
This is assume the Cubs eat a majority of the contract. The only guys the Dodgers have who fall into that category are Zach Lee, Webster and Eovaldi. I wouldn't move any of them to acquire Dempster. However, the next line is intriguing because the Dodgers have a ton of those guys (including Lee, Webster and Eovaldi).

Since Garza is locked up through 2013, giving up some talent to get him might not be that big a deal. But if the Dodgers give up any of their top youngsters (Lee, Eovaldi, Chris Reed, Joc Pederson, Rubby De La Rosa) for Garza, I'm not sure I'd be on board. Garza's career numbers aren't that much better than Chad Billingsley's, whom he would be expected to outpitch for the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

The Dodgers could get a starter on the cheap (Dempster) and focus on acquiring a bat with their better trade chips.

Photo credit: mootown, Flickr