Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 50 - Zach Mortimer interview, trade deadline

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk about the Dodgers. Yes, they're still playing well, and it's fantastic.

The Dodgers' opened a two-game set with the Yankees. While we didn't know at the time, Mark Ellis would hit the walk-off single that gave the Dodgers their 27th win in 33 games. This team is fun to watch right now.

Brian Wilson signed with the Dodgers. I think it's a good, low-risk move while Jared has some reservations about it. We'll see how it goes. He could boom or he could bust.

Zach Mortimer of Baseball Prospectus (#FollowMort) drops by to give us his insights on some prospects in the Dodgers' system, namely Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and Julio Urias. It's nice to hear someone else's perspective about the Dodgers' prospects.

Then we talk a little about the trade deadline that just passed. I can't officially say the Dodgers didn't do anything, but they basically didn't do anything. They acquired catcher Drew Butera from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Here's hoping it's the latter.

As usual, we close with listener questions.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Dodgers have interest in Angels' 2B Howie Kendrick, but don't expect a deal

An interesting name on the trade market, first brought up by Mike Petriello, is the Angels' Howie Kendrick. The second baseman is someone the Dodgers have interest in and he'd fill a long-term need.

Petriello also wrote about the Kendrick whispers, as he called them, over at his blog today.

I'm as big a Mark Ellis fan as any Dodger blogger, but even I would jump at the chance to acquire Kendrick to upgrade the position.

Despite Eills hitting the walk-off single last night, set up by Andre Ethier and his "above-average" speed, the Dodgers could use an upgrade at second base. Ellis has been playing better of late. He's hitting .322/.362/.391 with 14 RBI in 22 July games and .415/.419/.512 during his 11-game hitting streak. I only included the number of RBIs in the first stat line because it was a surprising total to me. He's been rock solid at second base since a few hiccups earlier in the season. But just because he's playing well now doesn't mean the Dodgers should stop looking to get better.

Ellis would be a perfect complementary player to a guy like Chase Utley, but it appears he won't be traded in the next 5 1/2 hours. Kendrick is no slouch at the position defensively and is a clear upgrade offensively.

Kendrick is two years removed from being a 5-plus-win player -- a number Ellis has never posted in his career (4.3 WAR is his career-high). This year, Kendrick is worth a nearly 2 1/2 wins and has a triple slash of .301/.344/.446 with 11 home runs.and solid defense at second.

Kendrick is locked up through 2015 for a total of $18.85 million. He also has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 12 teams.

A player like this wouldn't be especially cheap in terms of prospects, but with the Angels' barren farm system and the fact they traded Scott Downs for a non-prospect and Alberto Callaspo for a former first-rounder who might not hit enough in the majors (Grant Green), the Dodgers could swoop in and pry Kendrick away.

Then again, the last time the Dodgers and Angels made a trade was 1993. I know I remember the Dodgers sending Reggie Williams south for Mike James. What a blockbuster. Before that, they hadn't traded since 1976.

With Atre Moreno's stubborn ways and apparent disdain for the Dodgers, a deal doesn't seem likely. But they just traded a nice bench piece in Callaspo to the A's -- a division rival -- so I guess anything is possible.

There are two close-to-untouchables in the Dodgers' system: Corey Seager and Julio Urias. I wouldn't move either of those kids (they're both teenagers) for anyone short of Giancarlo Stanton or, as long as we're thinking unrealistically, Manny Machado. It wouldn't take either of those kids to land Kendrick.

The Angels could use help at just about every position on the farm. Guys like Zach Lee, Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling and Chris Reed would go a long way to replenish their system.

Unless the Angels could be convinced Reed and filler would be enough for Kendrick -- they're seeking frontline, MLB-ready arms for guys like Kendrick and Erick Aybar. Makes sense, but it won't happen. Lee might be the closest thing to that want.

Preferably, I'd rather the Dodgers make a guy like Chris Reed the centerpiece, but I'm not sure the Angels' brass would feel the same way.

As big a Lee guy as I am (had him ranked the team's No. 1 prospect since the start of the 2012 season), I'd think for a long time about including him to get Kendrick. That's hard for me to write.

It'd probably take only one top five guy and some filler to land Kendrick. At this rate, I wouldn't be terribly opposed to it. I see big things for the Dodgers going forward, and having another proverbial round in the chamber never hurts.

With the Dodgers landing Brian Wilson on Tuesday, I could see another trade for a reliever, but it's not as likely now. Instead, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Dodgers stood pat today.

One thing's for sure -- they probably won't make a blockbuster-type move -- at least, not today.

Photo credit: Eric Enfermero, Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dodgers sign Brian Wilson to deal, which could be a boon for Los Angeles

The Dodgers signed Brian Wilson to a contract on Tuesday, a day ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

It isn't a popular move among most of the fanbase because of Wilson's ties to the Giants, but it could be a nice low-risk/high-reward move for the surging Los Angeles Dodgers.

I asked last week whether folks would rather sign Wilson or trade a prospect for a reliever. The vast majority went with Wilson, which surprised me.

The great Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports broke the news less than an hour ago.

He goes on to say Wilson will go to the Dodgers' facility in Arizona before going on a minor-league assignment in Rancho Cucamonga. He'd then join the Dodgers -- a timetable of roughly two weeks.

This is the same path Carlos Marmol took with the Dodgers. Here's hoping for better results.

I laid out my thoughts on the Wilson signing with a Yahoo! Sports article earlier today.
"It's unsure how Wilson would fit into the Dodgers' plans, but I'm guessing he'd be more of a sixth- and seventh-inning guy until he shows he's back to the Wilson of old. If he were to get there, the Dodgers could have an amazing bullpen.
At this point, it can be debated the Dodgers don't need a bullpen upgrade. That would mean putting faith in League and the youngsters -- a risky proposition. But, if the Dodgers sign Wilson to a team-friendly deal, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it."
Wilson could be a nice piece to a recently dominant bullpen, especially if he can be anything close to his 2010 self when he was a 2 1/2-win player as a closer. That might be unrealistic, but if he can be better than Brandon League -- which shouldn't be too hard at this point, despite a recent resurgent -- then it should be a net gain for the Dodgers.

One would think the Wilson signing would make acquiring a reliever a lesser priority. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Dodgers land yet another reliever, but I'd bet on them focusing on a starter or maybe a surprise position player such as Howie Kendrick. More on that last part in a later post.

Photo credit: HarmonyRae, Flickr

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Scouting report: Scott Schebler, Los Angeles Dodgers' outfield prospect

If there's one position the Dodgers have produced and had a surplus of in the minors in recent years, it's outfielders. That holds true at the Major League level, too. So, I'm sure you're not surprised to see the have yet another outfield prospect on the farm who could be more than just a fourth outfielder down the road.

Scott Schebler is tearing up the California League in 2013. He's second in the league in OPS at .982, trailing only Zach Borenstein of the Angels. He's also second in total bases (215) to another Angel farmhand Michael Snyder. He's tied for the league lead in home runs (21) and is the only player who has at least 20 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs. The guy is simply having a great season.

While his future probably lies with another organization, he could be a valuable trade chip next season. If he's traded this year, the Dodgers might not get as much value out of him.

Editor's note: I am not a scout (#notascout). This is an amateur scouting report based on what I know about baseball and from following the sport all my life. I don't claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. Enjoy.

How he got here

Schebler, 22, was a 26th-round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft. He wasn't considered an easy sign, which is why it took until deadline day to get him inked. He signed for $300,000 to forego the rest of his eligibility at Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa.

He played in five games his debut season for Arizona Rookie League Dodgers and hit .294/.333/.529. He'd follow that up with a solid 2011 campaign for the Ogden Raptors (.285/.324/.529). In his first go at full-season ball in 2012, Schebler struggled a bit in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League (.260/.312/.388). His power was sapped. This year, however, is a different story. Chock it up to the environment, but Schebler owns a .307/.365/.618 triple slash this season with 56 extra base hits. That doesn't happen all just because of the environment.


6'1, 208 pounds, 22 years old.

He's every bit that height and weight. He probably weighs a little more than that, but it doesn't hamper his game.


Here's how I would grade Schebler's tools.

Tools Now Future
Hitting 40 50
Power 45 55
Speed 50 50
Fielding 50 55
Arm 55 55


Schebler uses a his thick frame to generate above-average bat speed. His swing can get a little long at times, but most of the time, he's short and quick to the ball. He has strong wrists that help him to show off some -- at times -- impressive power.

When I saw him in May, he was on the verge of figuring things out. When I saw him last week, he was dialed in -- after a few at-bats that made me scratch my head.

Schebler seemed to be out in front of breaking pitches from both lefties and righties. That's not uncommon, but it was causing him to make weak contact early when I saw him. He made adjustments and was able to square up some pitches.

His base is a little wider than most and his stride is a little longer than I'd like to see it, but it works for him. His stance is relatively straight up-and-down. He holds his hands about shoulder-level before the pitch which allows him to get into good hitting position without too much load time.

He hit four home runs in the four games I saw this month, including two in one game (July 19) with Dodgers' Vice President of Amateur Scouting Logan White in attendance. The first one he hit that night was lined shot over the right-center field wall. It may not have been a home run in every park, but he was quick to the ball and barreled it up cleanly. The second home run (first video below) was a moonshot over the batter's eye in center field. It was a first-pitch fastball and Schebler jumped all over it. It would have been a home run in any park.

The second video is of him hitting a home run off a lefty back in May.

He's posting reverse platoon splits, as he's hitting .321/.382/.654 against lefties in 89 plate-appearances and .303/.359/.607 against righties in 298 plate-appearances. So, he's not doing all his damage against righties and shows he at least has a chance to be an everyday outfielder in the majors.

With the big power comes swing-and-miss. He struck out six times in four games (17 plate appearances). His strikeout rate has climbed to 27.6 percent this season, up from 17.7 last season. Seeing as he doesn't have plus-plus power, he'll have to work on going forward if he wants to succeed at even the upper levels of the minor leagues. He's increased his walk rate three years in a row, but will need it to keep improving as climbs the ladder. He needs to exercise more patience at the the plate and just take what the pitchers give him.

His build and power-speed combination remind me a little of Joc Pederson. While he isn't as fast, he might very well have more power potential than Pederson. But Pederson has Schebler beat in the plate discipline/pitch recognition department.


Schebler didn't get much of a chance to exhibit his speed, but he has at least average wheels that allow him to be a potential double-digit stolen base guy at the next level. He stole a base in the fourth game I saw last week. He has a nose for the game and solid instincts when he is loose on the bases.


Schebler has played a little center field in the past, but he's going to be a corner guy going forward. He gets pretty good jumps on the ball in right field and has enough range to make up for any misreads. His arm is average for right and should play up in left field, if that's where he ultimately ends up.


Schebler has a future in this game. At worst, he's a fourth outfielder in the long run. At best, he's a second-division corner outfielder with some pop. He's an emotional player, which is a positive and negative. When he's going well, he's going really well. When he's down, he won't hit a lick. Still, he has enough talent to at least have a big league future, provided he improves his walk rate a bit and decreases his strikeout rate going forward.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 49 - Logan White interview, Kemp, Quakes

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk about the juggernaut known as your Los Angeles Dodgers. They've gone 22-5 in their last 27 games and in literally a month's time, have gone from last place to first place. Bravo.

Stop me if you've heard this before: Matt Kemp is hurt again. He sprained his ankle "sliding" into home on Sunday. Predictably, the Dodgers at first said it was a "minor" injury. Now, he's almost assuredly going on the disabled list. In his last 11 games -- a time that spans from June 25 until now -- he's hitting .324/.390/.622 with three home runs, 10 RBI and eight runs scored. That's the Matt Kemp we all know and love. If only he could stay healthy...

Carlos Marmol debuted on Tuesday. It was predictably horrible.

Matt Garza and Francisco Rodriguez were traded this week. Both players were linked to the Dodgers. I'm glad the team got neither of them, especially considering the price.

I talk about some of the good and bad I saw from the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The names Noel CuevasScott Schebler and Blake Smith are mentioned -- among others.

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Dodgers' Vice President of Amateur Scouting Logan White on Friday night. It was awesome. Have a listen to the audio (apologies for the background noise).

The Dodgers haven't yet signed Alexander Guerrero, but it looks like more of a foregone conclusion at this point. The team did sign Moises Perez, which we talk about.

As usual, we close with listener questions.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Report: Dodgers sign Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to $32 million deal

Reports came in this morning the Dodgers signed Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero to a 7-year, $32 million deal. This comes on the heels of the team reportedly dropping out of the Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez sweepstakes.

Neftali Ruiz of CDN first reported the deal with Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes confirming it. I couldn’t get a source to confirm the signing, though.

Guerrero, 26, defected from Cuba in January because he wasn’t included on the country’s World Baseball Classic roster. Roberto Baly wrote Guerrero left Cuba, ended up in Haiti before training in the Dominican Republic.

Listed as a shortstop, the Dodgers might see him as a second- or third baseman. Soldevila reported Guerrero will play second- or third base at either Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque with the Dodgers planning to recall him to play second base in the majors. If true, that’s aggressive, unconventional and somewhat risky -- and I like it.

I’m as big a Mark Ellis fan as there is in the blogging world, but Ellis’ play has been subpar this season. His defense hasn’t been where it was in seasons past, but he’s been better of late. Still, the potential to add a potential offensive force at second is tempting and intriguing.

Guerrero has posted some impressive numbers in Cuba the last few years:
  • 2009: .338/.408/.641
  • 2010: .343/.414/.583
  • 2011: .310/.400/.599
He also averaged 20 home runs per season in those seasons (886 at-bats). Hat tip to Chad Moriyama on the statistics.

Despite the big power numbers, he stands about 5’10, 190 to 200 pounds. He didn’t play at all in 2012 before defecting.

We all know what happened last time the Dodgers signed a Cuban who hadn’t played in roughly 18 months -- Yasiel Puig. I’m not saying Guerrero is the next Puig (because that would be extremely foolish), but the Dodgers obviously saw enough out of Guerrero to give him a Puig-esque deal. This is Vice President of International Scouting Bob Engle’s first big-money Latin American signing.

Here's some video of the soon-to-be-Dodger.

It remains to be seen if Guerrero actually signed and if he’ll pan out. I don’t think the Dodgers move Hanley Ramirez off shortstop next year, so it seems Guerrero’s best bet to stick in the majors is at second- or third base. Either way, they’re positions at which the Dodgers could use help. Juan Uribe is a free agent after the season and Ellis has a team option that will almost assuredly be declined.

The Isotopes are up my way next week. If Guerrero signs and is sent to Albuquerque, you can bet I’ll be out there to see him. This potential signing also means the Dodgers probably won’t acquire an infielder of significance before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Graphic credit: CIA World Factbook

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dodgers' prospect notes from four Rancho Cucamonga Quakes' games

I just finished watching four consecutive Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ games (two in Stockton against the Ports, two in Modesto against the Nuts -- big thanks to both affiliates for the media credentials), and there’s a dearth of talent in Rancho right now.

My takeaways: There isn’t as much talent on this team as there was earlier this season or as in years past.

Ross Stripling and Duke von Schamann getting promoted to Double-A left the rotation depleted. Garrett Gould was also promoted, but he hasn’t pitched well the last two seasons.

Not much movement on the position player front, aside from a resurgent Jon Garcia heading to Chattanooga. There’s just not a lot of talent in Rancho.

Here are a few notes from each game. I’ll post in-depth scouting reports of guys like Lindsey Caughel, Noel Cuevas, Carlos Frias, Scott Schebler, Darnell Sweeney and more in the coming days here and at Chad Moriyama’s site.

Thursday (7/18/13)

Cuevas had a couple soft hits and a couple stolen bases.  His speed is probably his best tool.

Jon Michael Redding got the start. It’s the third year in a row I’ve seen him start in Stockton (and that’s not good). He wasn’t good on this night. His stuff is the same as it’s been. He’s a non-prospect.

Blake Smith took the hill and had impressive velocity for a guy who hasn’t pitched since 2009 in college. He sat at 90-92 MPH with his fastball. Unfortunately, his curveball was a mess. The first he threw went behind the hitter while the other he threw hit a batter. It was a 75 MPH offering. He has a long way to go on the hill, but his mechanics are clean enough to be successful. His command/control needs lots of work.

Friday (7/19/13)

Bobby Coyle popped a home run as the team’s designated hitter. O’Koyea Dickson showed some nice opposite-field power by hitting a no-doubter to right-center field.

Casio Grider, who took over for Cuevas who twisted his ankle in the first inning, has crazy range in center field. A natural infielder, Grider tracked a deep fly ball that he had no business being near, dove and missed a spectacular catch by about six inches. It was an impressive display of speed.

Carlos Frias was awfully impressive. He mixed all his pitches and struck out 11 in seven innings. It was one of the best pitching performances by a Quake this season.

Schebler has a legitimate bat. He hit two home runs. The first was a lined shot over the right-center field wall. The second was a moonshot over the batter’s eye in center field (video below).

Sweeney doesn’t have the chops to stay at shortstop long-term. There’s some loop in his throw from short and he’s messy with his footwork and mechanics. He makes spectacular plays, but botches the routine ones.

Saturday (7/20/13)

Gustavo Gomez started. His velocity was actually pretty good (90-93 MPH), but he gave up a grand slam in the first inning to put him

Schebler has a lot of swing-and-miss, but he also has loud tools. He can play center, but he fits best in a corner. His arm is average in right, so left field could be his future. Speed/power combination isn’t dissimilar to Joc Pederson’s. Has some issues with the mental aspect of the game. Too emotional at times, wears it on his sleeve.

Scott Wingo has sneaky speed and is playing all over the infield. He’s a natural second baseman. He has great on-base ability, but he doesn’t barrel up enough pitches to be considered a legitimate prospect at this point.

Sunday (7/21/13)

Caughel doesn’t have the velocity to be successful in the rotation long-term. Has four pitches, but none grade out as even average. Velo dipped after about three innings.

Coyle is about a 40-45 left fielder at best. His arm is weak and his range is limited. He fits best there or at DH. He has power, but not much else to be excited about.

Grider’s home run was surprising. He’s not a power guy at all, but he ran into one. He had a bunt single in the first inning, too.

Pedro Guerrero has a decent glove, but he can’t hit a lick. He doesn’t hit the ball hard, leading to poor at-bats.

Pratt Maynard has good instincts behind the plate and a decent eye, but the hit tool must improve for him to be more than a career minor-leaguer (and probably a backup in the minors).

James McDonald, the Dodgers’ 18th-round draft pick, isn’t much of a prospect. He doesn’t have a good hit tool, has zero power and his first step at second base is slow. He played left field on Friday night. He’ll be lucky to be a utility man in Triple-A, let alone the majors.


That's about it. Like I said, I'll have some in-depth reports in the coming days and weeks. I'm going to try to get down to Rancho toward the end of the minor-league season to see the boys in their home environment.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dodgers sign Moises Perez, Venezuelan shortstop, for $250,000

The Dodgers made another international signing on Thursday, inking Venezuelan shortstop Moises Perez to a $250,000 bonus.

The 16-year-old is the sixth prospect the Dodgers have signed on the international market -- three of whom have been shortstops (Alberto Estrella, Lucas Tirado), one an outfielder (Daniel Padilla) and two pitchers (Sven SchullerAlvaro Trillo).

From Ben Badler of Baseball America:
"The Dodgers have signed 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Moises Perez for $250,000.
Perez, 16, is an athletic player who stands out in the field with clean hands, good actions and an above-average arm. He’s a 6-foot righthanded hitter whose advanced glove is ahead of his bat. Perez trains with Carlos Rios."
Here's a couple shots of the youngster signing his contract.

It seems Perez is a glove-first shortstop, which isn't a bad thing. With his signing, the Dodgers have $269,600 remaining to spend until June 15 (barring any trades). If Schuller's bonus is more than $50,000, it will count toward the cap. I reported on Tuesday his bonus was for "less than $100,000." I'm guessing it won't since it hasn't been formally announced yet.

I could see the Dodgers acquiring more space, especially with the July 31 trade deadline rapidly approaching. They've acquired $406,700 in trades thus far and can acquire up to $649,750 more under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I suspect they'll get a little more.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 48 - Kershaw, Puig, Pederson, prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk about Clayton Kershaw's perfect inning in the 2013 All-Star Game. We also touch on Yasiel Puig's non-inclusion in the event.

The Dodgers are at 47-47 after 94 games. That wasn't the way management and fans drew it up in March, but considering where they were just six weeks ago, .500 is great. I gave out midesason grades for the Dodgers over at Yahoo! Sports.

Joc Pederson played in the Futures Game on Sunday and had a nice showing. He got a hit, drew a walk, showed off his wheels and his arm all in four innings.

Jared released his midseason Top 31 prospects today while I released my midseason Top 25 on Monday.. We talk a bit about them.

The Dodgers signed Alberto Estrella yesterday, and we touch on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who could sign soon as he was cleared earlier this week by the U.S. government.

To close, we answer listener questions. Keep 'em coming, folks.

Now, you may hear me saying Jared sounds like a robot. It's true -- at least, it was on my end. Apparently, the recording didn't reflect that. Despite popular belief, I'm not crazy.

Also, I'm going to the Quakes vs. Ports Stockton tonight and Friday and the Quakes vs. Nuts in Modesto on Saturday and Sunday. I'll have some reports on the guys in the coming weeks.

Libsyn link
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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dodgers sign Alberto Estrella, Dominican shortstop, for $600,000

The Dodgers spent another $600,000 on the international market today by signing infielder Alberto Estrella out of the Dominican Republic.

From Ben Badler of Baseball America:
"Estrella, a 16-year-old who has played in the International Prospect League, stands out for his size (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) and righthanded power potential. Estrella, who has spent time at shortstop, might be able to play third base but with his build he could end up at first base or an outfield corner spot. He trains with Arquimedes Guerrero, whose nickname is 'Pla,' and was also represented by Rob Plummer."
That's one big kid. Odds are, he moves off shortstop and ends up in a corner, as Badler said. It'd obviously be great if Estrella could stick at third base, as it would increase his overall value. But if he ends up at first or a corner outfield spot, it won't be the end of the world.

The Dodgers have now spent more than $2 million on five international prospects thus far (Daniel Padilla, Alvaro Trillo, Sven Schuller, Lucas Tirado). Schuller's bonus is expected to be less than $100,000, according to a source. If his bonus was more than $100,00, it would have been announced. Barring any further cap acquisition, the Dodgers have less than a half-million bucks left to spend on the market, if Schulles bonus is more than $50,000. If it's less than $50,000, it won't count toward the team's cap. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that kind of money can buy a lot of international talent.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers midseason Top 25 prospects

With the Major League Baseball season more than half over, it's time to unveil my midseason Top 25 Dodgers' prospect list.

There are some new faces, some young faces (Julio Urias, right) and some players who have broken out. There are also some who have fallen from their preseason rank. There wasn't as much an infusion of talent as there was in last year's midseason Top 25.

My top prospect might surprise some folks, but I've been on the Zach Lee bandwagon since last year.

All players who have not reached 50 innings pitched, 130 at-bats in the Major Leagues and have less than 45 days of pre-Sept. 1 service time are eligible for this list.

Numbers in parenthesis are the player's rank in my preseason Top 50.

1. Zach Lee, RHP (1)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Chattanooga
- Lee is having a fantastic season as a 21-year-old in Double-A -- something for which he doesn’t get enough recognition. Lee is second on the Lookouts in innings pitched (98 2/3) and ERA (3.01) and has improved his strikeouts per nine innings rate to what would be a career-high if the season ended today (8.2). His secondary offerings have helped to improve that rate. Director of Player Development DeJon Watson said Lee’s slider has been the most improved and his curveball is tighter. For the rest of the season, I’d like to see him build more stamina and go later into games, as he’s averaging just 5.4 innings per start.

2. Corey Seager, SS (3, +1)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Great Lakes
- Seager has established himself as the team’s best hitting prospect and the best prospect in many others’ eyes. Despite fighting through a hamstring injury, he’s still hitting a .300/.382/.490 with eight home runs, 43 RBI and an .872 OPS -- all while playing a respectable shortstop. Watson said “He’s a shortstop, he’s staying at shortstop, he’s playing it well and he’s really just stabilizing the infield defense whenever he gets in the lineup.” So, I guess he’s a shortstop. I’m still not 100 percent sold, but if he can remain at short, his value increases exponentially.

3. Joc Pederson, CF (5, +2)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Chattanooga
- Pederson got off to a blazing start this season and, as one of the youngest hitters in the Southern League, is having a fantastic season. He represented the Dodgers at the Futures Game (1-for-1, walk, run scored) and was one of eight Lookouts named to the Southern League All-Star team. His .296/.386/.516 triple slash is impressive. His 14 home runs and 19 doubles are impressive. But most impressive is his 26-for-29 stolen base rate. He’s improved every aspect of his game, improving his power, his baserunning and his defense. He’s OPSing .10 points fewer than this season than he did in the California League last year. Pederson is now considered by most a legitimate starting outfield prospect thanks to his average-to-solid-average tools across the board.

4. Ross Stripling, RHP (11, +7)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Chattanooga
- Stripling began the season with the Quakes, and I actually got to see him in person. He had one of his worst starts of the season that night, but he was promoted to the Lookouts one start after I saw him in early May. He’s been awfully impressive at Double-A and the 23-year-old has established himself as a legitimate prospect. Stripling’s velocity has remained consistent and in the 90-94 MPH range. His curveball is as good as always and his changeup has improved since last season. He’s also added a legit fourth pitch in his slider. He should finish out the season at Double-A and have a shot at a Major League roster spot when the Dodgers break camp in 2014.
5. Julio Urias, LHP (25, +20)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Great Lakes
- Urias surprisingly made his full-season debut at the ripe old age of 16, and he’s been nothing but fantastic. In his first 33 1/3 innings, he has a 2.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.6 H/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 10.5 K/9.  He’s nothing short of amazing. He’s also bigger than the 5’11, 160 at which he’s listed. He’s closer to 6’1, 180 pounds. He owns an 88-92 MPH that has touched 93-95 MPH in every single start. He gets a little natural arm-side run. His changeup is his best secondary offering, grading as plus in the future. He also has a curveball that he throws on two different planes. One looks like a traditional 11-5 curve, one looks like a sharper, tighter curve that resembles a slider. Urias is a great prospect and should rank higher on this list as he matures.

6. Chris Anderson, RHP (NR)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Great Lakes
- Anderson was the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2013 and made quite a statement in his debut. The University of Jacksonville product has a low-90s fastball that he can sink. He can also run it up to 97-98 MPH on occasion, as he’s already done in his first action in professional baseball. He has a slider that sits in the low-to-mid-80s that could be a swing-and-miss pitch and an average changeup. He also has a “show me” curveball that he might need if he’s to remain a starter -- and there’s no reason to believe otherwise.

7. Chris Reed, LHP (8, +1)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Chattanooga
- Reed has always been a “favorite” of mine and, despite a slow start, posted some solid numbers in the first half. I still see Reed ending up in the bullpen, but it’s nice to see his stamina improving. He isn’t striking out as many batters as in years past, but he’s compensating for it by getting more ground ball outs. His 89-92 MPH fastball is his main weapon. He also has a low-t-mid-80s slider that used to get more swings and misses. His changeup is fringy, which is why I think he’ll eventually end up as a reliever.

8. Matt Magill, RHP (6, -2)
Started: Triple-A Albuquerque
Current location: Albuquerque
- The first prospect to fall from his preseason rank, Magill had an up-and-down season so far. He made him MLB debut, which was great. Other than that, he had a rough go at it in the majors. He’s handled the extreme hitter-friendly environment of the Pacific Coast League well enough. His fastball is an 88-92 MPH offering that touches 94 at times. His velocity hasn’t been the issue. His command has been bad this season, causing him to walk more hitters (28) than he’s struck out (26) in the majors. His slider is still his out pitch and sits in the low-80s. He also has a changeup that he should probably throw a little more and feel for a curveball.

9. Rob Rasmussen, LHP (22, +13)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Triple-A Albuquerque
- Rasmussen joined the Dodgers when they sent John Ely to the Astros during the winter. He began the season with the Lookouts before being promoted to Albuquerque last month. He has an 88-92 MPH fastball, a curveball, slider and changeup. His frame is such that it isn’t conducive to starting long-term, but he’s been great in the minors this season. He has an outside shot of contributing this season, but more likely next season. At worst, he's a middle reliever in the majors.

10. Chris Withrow, RHP (21, +11)
Started: Triple-A Albuquerque
Current location: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Withrow was converted to the bullpen late last season and that’s where he’ll remain. His mid-90s fastball that touches 98 MPH is his best weapon. He also has a swing-and-miss slider and he recently rediscovered his curveball, which could make him even more dangerous. He could be a fixture in the ‘pen going forward.

11. Onelki Garcia, LHP (7, -4)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Chattanooga
- Garcia had a rough go early on, landing on the disabled list. He’s pitched primarily out of the bullpen, which is somewhat disappointing. The 23-year-old Cuban fireballer is posting an impressive 9.5 K/9, but he’s also walking 6.2 per nine innings, which hurts him as a starter in the long run. He still has a nasty low-90s fastball and upper-70s curveball. He also has a fringy changeup that he’ll need to develop if he wants to be a starter.

12. Jose Dominguez, RHP (23, +11)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Dominguez had to serve a 25-game suspension to begin the season, but he’s been nails ever since. He earned a promotion from Double-A to Triple-A before the Dodgers recalled him to make his debut this season. He’s averaging 98.4 MPH on his fastball in the majors. He routinely touches triple digits with it and it’s by far the best fastball in the system. He also has a nasty-at-times slider and a surprisingly effective changeup. He has late-inning reliever stuff, it just remains to be seen if he can put it all together consistently.

13. Duke von Schamann, RHP (31, +18)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Double-A Chattanooga
- The big right-hander has gone from system depth at starting pitcher to legitimate pitching prospect. He isn’t going to make a living by striking hitters out, but von Schamann possesses good control, a feel for pitching and an 88-91 MPH sinker that allows him to get plenty of grounds. He also has a feel for a slider and a changeup. He should remain at Chattanooga the rest of the season and possibly next season.

14. Yimi Garcia, RHP (19, +5)
Started: Double-A Chattanooga
Current location: Chattanooga
-  Garcia has established himself as the Lookouts’ closer and a potential bullpen option for the Dodgers in 2014. Garcia has a low-90s fastball and a slider that’s helped him accumulate an 11.6 K/9 this season. The 22-year-old has an impressive 6.5 K/BB rate, which should help him have a Major League career. He’s given up eight home runs this season after allowing five in his first four minor-league seasons, so that’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

15. Alex Castellanos, OF (12, -3)
Started: Triple-A Albuquerque
Current location: Albuquerque
- Castellanos has turned it on of late, but he’s probably nothing more than a fifth outfielder at this point (fourth at best). He has a quick bat, but no defined position. It finally seems the Dodgers have given up on him as an infielder, which is probably for the best. He probably won’t get a chance to show what he can do in the majors with the Dodgers, so a trade is probably his best bet for an MLB future.

16. Jesmuel Valentin, SS/2B (13, -3)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Pioneer League Ogden
- Valentin began his season at Great Lakes, which was aggressive. Since then, he’s been demoted to Ogden, which isn’t an indictment of his abilities. With Seager manning shortstop in Midland, it makes the most sense for Valentin to play every day in the Pioneer League. Valentin has struggled a bit this season, but he’s still showing good on-base ability. He’s also one of the best defensive players in the Dodgers’ system.

17. Jon Garcia, RF (48, +31)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Double-A Chattanooga
- The third Garcia to check in, Jonathan began the season repeating the California League. He hit so well he was promoted to Double-A. With Blake Smith switching to the bullpen and Yasiel Puig being promoted to the majors, the Lookouts needed another outfielder. He’s only played 14 games, so it’s too early to tell how he’s truly handling advanced pitching. His play has catapulted him back into the prospect discussion. He has good raw power and a cannon for an arm in right field.

18. Scott Schebler, OF (37, +19)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Schebler has been the biggest breakout of prospect in the system so far. Yes, he’s playing in the Cal League, but he’s also showing every facet of his game. He’s a solid defender in the corners, he’s hitting for power and showing some speed. He’s posting reverse platoon splits and doesn’t have that big a split when it comes to home and away games. He’s a guy to watch the rest of the season. The 22-year-old will need to prove his numbers just aren’t a product of his environment.

19. Darnell Sweeney, SS (18, -1)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Sweeney hit for the cycle in a game during the first half, but he hasn’t been able to get over the “mediocre” hump so far. While he has the ability to play shortstop, he has committed 29 errors this season. He has a decent even arm and good range, so he could stick at short for awhile. He’s also hit better from the right side than the left. He might consider giving up switch-hitting if he doesn’t improve from the left side. His walk rate has fallen and his strike rate risen, which isn’t a good combination. Still, he’s a decent prospect who could improve in the second half.

20. Miguel Sulbaran, LHP (30, +10)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Great Lakes
- Overshadowed by Urias, the 19-year-old Sulbaran has posted solid numbers in his first full season at Great Lakes. He’s not the strikeout pitcher Urias is, but he records his fair share of outs. He’s 5’10, 185 pounds, so it remains to be seen if he can stick in the rotation. If not, he should be able to carve out a career as a left-handed reliever with an 88-91 MPH fastball, a low-70s curveball, a potentially plus changeup and a “show me” slider.

21. Jharel Cotton, RHP (43, +22)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Double-A Chattanooga
- Cotton, my choice for sleeper prospect back in January, had a nice showing with the Loons before being promoted to Double-A. Since being promoted, Cotton has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. His fastball is an 88-90 MPH that touches 92 MPH, a potentially plus changeup and a fringy slider. While his future likely lies in the ‘pen, the Dodgers shouldn’t give up on him as a starter just yet.

22. Alex Santana, 3B (28, +6)
Started: Pioneer League Ogden
Current location: Ogden
- It’s a small sample size, but Santana is off to a much better start to the 2013 season compared to the numbers he posted in 2012. His .907 OPS comes with the caveat that he’s playing in an extreme hitter’s haven, but he also has ability as a former second-round draft pick. Santana has big power potential, but also a lot of swing-and-miss. Still, he’s just 19 and in his third minor-league season. He should continue to improve even more.

23. Zachary Bird, RHP (14, -9)
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Pioneer League Ogden
- Bird was a steal in the 2012 draft and was given an aggressive assignment in Low-A. However, Bird didn’t handle it too well, posting an ugly 7.7 BB/9. He was demoted to Ogden and hasn’t fared much better. He’s only 18, so there’s still plenty of time for him to figure things out. He still projects as starter going forward.

24. Noel Cuevas, CF/LF (NR)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Cuevas was a surprise draft signee in 2011 and took a little while to break through, but he’s done so this season. While Cuevas doesn’t have a lot of power potential, he does everything else well. He has enough range to stick in center field and enough arm for the position. When I saw him in person in May, he was tracking down all sorts of fly balls as the Quakes’ center fielder. He also has plus speed, swiping 22 bases so far. The 21-year-old should see Chattanooga  in 2014.

25. O’Koyea Dickson, 1B (20, -5)
Started: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Current location: Rancho Cucamonga
- Dickson hasn’t hit for as much power as expected (10 home runs), but he’s been nothing if not consistent for the Quakes this season. He does have 25 doubles, which is nice. While his strikeout rate has decreased from last season, so has his walk rate. As a guy who’s going to make the majors based solely on his bat, he needs to get that walk rate back to 10 percent while also increasing his slugging. He’s limited to first base defensively despite logging five games at third base and one in left field this season.

The next five (in alphabetical order): Cody BellingerJustin Chigbogu, Victor Gonzalez, Garrett GouldJarret Martin

Graduated: Yasiel Puig (2), Hyun-Jin Ryu (4), Paco Rodriguez (10), Tim Federowicz (26), Scott Van Slyke (44)
Dropped out of Top 25: Garrett Gould (9), Blake Smith (15), Andres Santiago (18), Jesus Valdez (24)
Moved into Top 25: Anderson (NR to 6), von Schamann (31 to 13), J. Garcia (48 to 17), Schebler (37 to 18), Sulbaran (30 to 20), Cotton (43 to 21), Santana (28 to 22), Cuevas (NR to 24)
Traded: Steve Ames (16), Angel Sanchez (36), Josh Wall (NR)
Biggest riser: J. Garcia (48 to 17)
Biggest faller: Smith (15 to 50)

This year's draft wasn't particularly strong, which is why only one player from the class made the midseason Top 25. The team traded three prospects, but none of them projected as more than relievers at the next level. This system is top-heavy and should get a boost from the international signings of the last two years.

Photo credits
Urias (courtesy): Nick Anderson, Great Lakes Loons
Anderson (courtesy): Ali Messick, Great Lakes Loons
All others: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 47 - Puig, Nolasco, Kemp, Ramirez, Urias

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) talk about Yasiel Puig and his All-Star aspirations. I make veiled (and not so veiled) references to this piece I wrote for Yahoo! Sports. Needless to say, every single Atlanta Braves fan -- past, present and future -- is pissed at me.

The Dodgers acquired Ricky Nolasco in a surprisingly good deal. They gave up Steve Ames, Angel Sanchez and Josh Wall for Nolasco and nearly $200,000 in international spending money.

Matt Kemp is on the disabled list again. I fear this could be a lost season for the Dodgers' former slugger. Stephen Fife joined him on the DL on the same day. He had a poor outing in 'Frisco on Saturday, but he had been pitching well leading up to that start.

Hanley Ramirez is on fire. He should probably be in the All-Star game, but he's in the same boat as Puig by not playing enough games (so say the masses).

Joc Pederson cracked Baseball America's Top 50 prospect list at a respectable 35. One omission was Corey Seager. Jared contends Julio Urias should have made it, too. Speaking of Urias, he had the best outing of his young career (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K). He threw just one inning tonight.

Scott Schebler and Justin Chigbogu are having nice seasons in their respective leagues.

Finally, we answer listener questions, which were really strong this week.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin