Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

The Arizona Fall League Championship Game will be played on my birthday, November 18th, but of more importance is how certain Dodger Prospects are performing.

Yusniel Diaz has played very well in the Fall League with a .303 Batting Average and a .356 OB%.  To date, he has displayed excellent skills in all phases of the game… except power. That may or may not come, but the only question I have is whether he starts in Tulsa or OKC next year. He has already performed well at AA last year, so AAA may make sense. Without a modicum of power he has to be a CF.

DJ Peters (22 years old) had only 7 hits in 37 at bats, but 3 were home runs, a double and a triple.  He struck out 18 times in 37 AB’s.  He has prodigious power, but has to hit the damn ball.

Matt Beaty will be 25 next year and finished strong after a slow start.  He has  a lot of work to do and is headed for a career as a minor league player with an occasional callup, unless something changes.

That brings me to the star of the Glendale Desert Dogs:  Twenty-three year-old (in March) Will Smith, who has simply “arrived” and is pounding on the major league door.   Let me say, that I will not be surprised if Will Smith breaks with the Dodgers next year as the backup to Austin Barnes.  Now, mind you, I am not saying he will, but last year at this time I told you Cody Bellinger was ready and two years before that, I said that Corey Seager was ready.  FAZ didn’t listen then, and brought in Jimmy Rollins instead.

Will Smith is MLB ready – he will likely go to OKC (maybe even Tulsa) next year, but I think he will break into the majors sometime in 2018.  So far, Will Smith has hit .371 (third in the league) in the AFL, with a .452 OB% and a 1.017 OPS.  He hit 2 HR and had 16 RBI to go along with 4 doubles and a triple. Smith’s defense was never in question – it was the hitting that people questioned.  His bat may now push Kiebert Ruiz to another position.

It’s no secret that scouts love his athleticism,  footwork, arm and defense and like Austin Barnes and Kyle Farmer, he can also play 2B and 3B. I don’t think he will pull a Cody Bellinger and become the 2018 Rookie of the Year (If any Dodger does that, it will likely be Alex Verdugo), but I do think he is MLB ready.  What happens next is anyone’s guess, but it is going to be fun watching these young guys develop.

Just so we are clear, here are the Rookies I think could make an impact in 2018 (AC may disagree or he may have other names too… and that’s cool).  It’s just my opinion:

  • Kyle Farmer
  • Will Smith
  • Alex Verdugo
  • Walker Buehler
  • Trevor Oaks
  • Dennis Santana (as a reliever)

Other Stuff

  • Doc and Clayton both finished second.  Nice try! I have no issues with the voting….
  • Some e-mailed me and asked if I was going to keep calling Friedman and Zaidi “FAZ” after AJ Antropolous took a job as Atlanta’s GM.  I called them FAZ before AJ came, so I would think they still are “FAZ.” Friedman and Zaidi!  Maybe AJ can send us Ender Inciarte for Joc Pederson.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don’t do game recaps or such things — lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don’t think they are the “end-all-be-all.”. This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We’d like to hear your voice.

This article has 15 Comments

  1. The catching position is the one position I always worry about. They have to be a good defense player, be able to handle the pitching staff, and yet be able to hit. It now looks like we have four good catchers. There just is not a place for Grandal on the roster. He has to be traded. It is nice to see that some of these catchers can at least play other positions. Talked about depth. What a luxury.

  2. If Grandal is traded then I look for Farmer and Smith to fight it out for the backup to Barnes in ST.
    Before Verdugo was called up in September I thought he had an excellent chance to become the starting left fielder for the Dodgers in 2018 but now I’m not sure if the Dodgers view him as an asset or a behavioral problem (no facts just a feeling) that they would rather part with. I hope that is not the case as I think he will be a great hitter with a very low strikeout rate which would be much needed.
    I do see Buehler joining the Dodgers rotation in May or June depending on his performance at OKC. I’m not sure about Oaks, I see the Dodgers using him in a trade as I think Mitchell White, Yadier Alvarez, and Dennis Santana have all moved ahead of Oaks.

  3. I like Will Smith a lot, he has moved fast through the system since being drafted out of Louisville 2 years ago. I think he will get a shot in ST, along with Beuhler, Verdugo and Farmer. If moved to the bullpen I believe Wilmer Font could stick as well. DJ Peters was gassed at seasons end, similar to Verdugo last year. He will be fine but is a couple years away. Diaz has done the best of the Cubans signed a couple years back. I also like Sierra in the bullpen.

    Winter meetings, arbitration proceedings, free agency and trades all will play out before ST and there is a dearth of news right now except post season awards. I have read Dodgers are interested in Darvish, Ohtani, Britton and maybe even Stanton. There is dead weight in AGon and Kazmir and lots of trade bait in Grandal, McCarthy, Ryu, Joc etc plus all of the prospects that can’t all play in LA. Faz loves complicated trades and if the dead weight can be somehow moved and prospects thinned for quality I’m for it. It’s the waiting around and speculation that’s tough.

  4. IMO, if Smith makes the team out of spring training it should be as the starter only. Otherwise, he should go to OKC or Tulsa so he can play everyday. It will be interesting to see how the off season and spring training play out. I agree to with Mark’s previous article that from an offense perspective the big decision is who plays left. As cool as it would be to have Stanton I just don’t see it happening as they won’t want to pay down the contract much and will want a haul prospect wise. Would the Marlins take Grandal and one of McCarthy, Ryu or Maeda in addition to prospects? I continue to think that if FAZ goes outside the organization to find an outfielder it will be Ozuna, K. Davis, Cain or Avisail Garcia. Of course if Stanton says he’ll only go to the Dodgers….

  5. Thinking inside the box, I can see Grandal, Pederson and McCarthy being traded to Baltimore for Britton and one or two of their Top 10 prospects.

    Baltimore needs starters, catcher and someone to take over in CF for Popeye (moving him to LF).

    Grandal and Pederson’s bats would play well in Camden Yards. The Dodgers dump payroll and IF they could sign Morrow too, they would have three closers or setup people.

    Kike and Toles could be our 4th and 5th outfielders and the big question is: “Is Alex Verdugo ready?” If he is, he is a perfect leadof hitter: lots of walks, low strikeouts, high OB%.

    1. Verdugo LF
    2. Seager SS
    3. Turner 3B
    4. Bellinger 1B
    5. Taylor CF
    6. Puig RF
    7. Barnes C
    8. Forsythe 2B

    1. I like this in part.

      No way you get more than Britton though.

      McCarthy has negligible if not negative value. Grandal is getting costly.

    2. Britton’s not cheap though: he made $11.4 M last year in only 37 innings and has his final year of arbitration in 2018 then is an UFA in 2019. That would be a lot of money in the bullpen, even more if Morrow is resigned.

    3. Why is a guy with no speed a perfect lead-off hitter? I would rather have Taylor who K’s more hitting leadoff than 5th. His .OBP was plenty high and he can run. Until Verdugo can show he can hit in the bigs, he will start at the bottom of the order and work his way up just like every other young guy not named Seager has for the Dodgers. Of course Verdugo has to actually make it as well. I prefer Toles to Verdugo at this point.

      1. I don’t know that FAZ places alot of value on speed. I think they care more as to whether or not he’s a good base runner.

      2. Verdugo has an opportunity to be a special hitter in the likeness of Tony Gwynn. He doesn’t have no speed, he has average speed, but he runs the bases well. Now I am not saying he will be Tony Gwynn, but he could be. I don’t know if he’s ready, but he’s close. His Run Rating is a “50.” Kyle Farmer is a 40. Corey Seager is a 40. Austin Barnes is a 40. Cody Bellinger was a 50 too. So, while Verdugo may not be CF fast, I think if he is Tony Gwynnesque, he will fine.

      3. Running is of minimal importance for a leadoff batter.
        Getting on base and not making outs is much more important.

      1. I will be interested in your viewpoint. The Dodgers do not normally send top tier pitchers to the AFL, and this year was no different. With minimal innings, IMO each of the pitchers are really relievers for measurement purposes. One bad outing can really disrupt an ERA, so I like WHIP more as a metric.

  6. the dodgers have to many outfield that won’t do much. toles will struggle, joc will do the same as always struggle and be sent down to AAA. puig won’t get gold glove next season and tank. verdugo will not do anything for the dodgers. trade him. agon sucks and he’s done. the dodgers need to grow a set and get hitting and pitching. if not it will be a repeat of 2017 season and lost crappy at the world series. They need to give clayton help with batting and pitching. Because if they don’t and lose the world series next season, he will opt out and go somewhere else.

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