Dodger AFL Pitching Prospects

Yesterday, I discussed the Dodger hitters in the Arizona Fall League and of course Will Smith was the star of the team.  Now, we focus on the Dodger pitchers, none of whom are really top prospects, but there are a couple are worth talking about. Of the Dodger hitting prospects, Will Smith was ranked #8, Yusniel Diaz was #5 and Matt Beaty was #30.  Of the pitchers, none of them are ranked in the Dodgers Top 30 Prospects.

AFL Dodger Pitchers

Issac Anderson – Issac is a 6′ 2″ RHP who is 24 years old.  He put up a 8.74 ERA this year at Tulsa.  He was better in the AFL, but not good. He gave up 9 hits in 12 innings, had a 2.19 ERA but posted a 1.54 WHIP.  I can’t see much here. He could turn it around, but the “eye test” ain’t good.

Andrew Sopko – Another RHP, the 6′ 2″ 205 pound, 23 year-old Sopko put up a 4.13 ERA in Tulsa this year and followed that up with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP in the AFL.  Not horrible, but nothing to turn your head. He was ranked #27 on the prospect list before the season.  He regressed a little this year and will likely go back to AA.  He has back of the rotation potential… at best and could be converted to a reliever where he may find a couple more MPH on his fastball and use his slider as his out pitch.  His curve and change are milquetoast.

Shea Spitzbarth – This RHP just turned 23 and turned heads at High A and AA last season.  He pitched pretty well in the AFL but his 1.18 WHIP speaks volumes over his 4.91 ERA.  He has a future in the LA Bullpen and is a guy who come right at you with his mid-90’s fastball, plus three other pitches that he commands.  He needs to settle on 2 or 3 and I can see his velocity ticking up.  He’s a guy who is built mentally for the pressures of the pen… he loves it!  Watch this guy!

Michael Boyle – The lone LHP, the 23 year-old Boyle was up and down in the Cal League this year and only one bad outing drove his ERA up to 3.46, but his WHIP was 1.00.  He also has a future in LA.  I just need to see him progress more this year.

I’m sure AC will weigh in on these guys too….

Dodger News

  • Julio Urias is allegedly making amazing progress and may be ready as early as May or June.  So, there’s that!
  • Allegedly the Cubs are talking to Brandon Morrow about closing.  Well, it looks like he’s gone…
  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball lists his TOP 20 Dodger prospects.  Here’s the Top 5 and he lists Buehler, Verdugo, Oaks and Rios are MLB ready in 2018:
    1. Walker Buehler, RHP, Grade A- 
    2. Alex Verdugo, OF, Grade B+/B
    3. Keibert Ruiz, C, Grade B+/B
    4. Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Grade B/B+
    5. Mitchell White, RHP, Grade B/B+


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 11 Comments

  1. I don’t expect Morrow to sign with the Dodgers and leave any money on the table but it’s way too early to say “he’s gone” just because his agent is floating the notion the Cubs want him to close. A lot of moving pieces to this entire off season/free agent/trade market and FAZ will surprise us with an acquisition none of us saw coming.

    The GM meetings started some of the Hot Stove League discussions with more to follow at the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks. Agents and the MLB pundits will link the Dodgers to a number of players and in the end we will see some movement. I look to see Grandal and one of McCarthy or Ryu to be moved to free up some cash possibly for Morrow or someone else on the FAZ radar.

    1. Well, I believe he is “GONE” because someone is going to overpay, jut like Darvish is gone. I hope I am wrong…

      1. You are not wrong on Darvish. There is no way that FAZ will spend $150M for 6 years on him. Someone will pay that. Maybe the Cubs. They did with Lester and that has worked out so far. I think the Dodgers will go with what they have to start, and then see what potential #2 becomes available at trade deadline. But what kind of fun is that to discuss. Finding a way to get Stanton is much more fun to design.
        I believe it will come down to who FAZ prefers for a setup…Brandon Morrow or Mike Minor. Morrow is my choice, but that is based on emotion. FAZ does not base decisions on emotion. Something tells me that they are more enamored with Minor. I think the Cubs are interested in Morrow as a closer because they do not want to spend what it will take to get Wade Davis or Greg Holland. Morrow as their closer gives them more available cash for Yu Darvish. They need a starter and a closer, and they know that the only SP they want is Darvish, and he will cost. So Morrow gives them a closer option without the Davis/Holland price tag, and they can fill both of their needs (SP and closer) without trading any of their young talent.
        The one consistent that FAZ has stated all along is that they want to get below the luxury tax threshold. I think as fans we all concentrate on the 25 man and want the best talent available with cost not being a consideration. That is not how FAZ operates. They use a 40 man roster. That philosophy has come up short thus far, but it is not because FAZ has not provided the personnel to get that championship ring. The last two years the Dodgers have come up short because Kershaw did not come through in Game 6 (2016 NLDS) and Game 5 (2017 WS). And because the #2 they did bring in for 2017 had a horrendous WS after an outstanding NLCS and NLDS. So FAZ has to wonder, if Charlie Morton can have a breakthrough for the Astros, why can’t Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, or even Andrew Cashner have that breakthrough year for the Dodgers. Nobody wanted Charlie Morton last year. He would have been vilified as garbage diving material by most Dodger bloggers. FAZ is looking for this year’s Charlie Morton or JA Happ.

  2. I am not one to be negative towards any player. I try to find the positive in everyone. To even get drafted, one has to have exceptional talent. That being said, I am not sure as to why Isaac Anderson was on an AFL roster. He was marginal before the 2017 season, and did not pitch well at all in 2017. For 2017, he started at AA, assigned to Rancho (high A) on June 22, and ended the season (August 29) in rookie ball on a rehab assignment. During the season, in 18 games (13 starts) he allowed zero runs in 1 game, 1 run in 2 games, and 2 runs in 6 games. That means in half of his games, Anderson allowed 3 or more runs. His 2017 WHIP was 1.81. In 59 innings pitched he had 45 K and 23 BB. That is less than a 2:1 K/BB ratio. Isaac reminds me of another Anderson previously in the Dodgers organization… former #1 draft pick Chris Anderson. At 24, Isaac should be given one more shot at Rancho to start in 2018.
    Michael Boyle is an enigma to me. He will be 24 next year, but has never been a standout. His AFL season has been fairly good. In 8 out of 10 relief appearances, he allowed 0 runs. He allowed 5 runs, with 4 coming in 1 game (.2 IP). So he has been fairly steady. He has at least earned a shot as a relief option at Tulsa next year. If he is to make a ML roster, it will have to be in a relief role. He is a longshot, but sometimes that is all you need.
    Andrew Sopko is a 23 year old I was hoping more out of. Sopko and Josh Sborz were supposed to be mainstays at Tulsa in 2017 and were somewhat disappointments (at least to me). Sopko’s AFL season is a mirror of his 2017 regular season. Out of 6 starts, he was clean in only 2. In 19 IP, he had 11K and 7BB. He is not a strikeout pitcher, so he will be hit. In those 19 IP, he allowed 19 hits. His WHIP for the regular season was 1.3, and 1.34 in the AFL. Because of his lack of a strikeout pitch, and lack of command, I do not see him as a relief option. As a reliever he needs command from pitch #1. As a starter he can work into it a little more. He will have to be able to dial in his command and improve his pitch placement as a starting pitcher if he is going to make a ML roster. He is going to need to improve his GO/AO ratio as well. His ceiling is back end starting pitcher. With the number of good RHP the Dodgers have in their organization, I do not see a future for Andy as a Dodger.
    I think people are remembering what they saw from Shea Spitzbarth in 2017 ST, and believed that is who he is. He may very well get there, but I have my doubts. John Sickels also rates him as “Others To Note”. At 23, he still has time. In 10 AFL relief appearances, he was scored on in 3 games. His last two appearances were excellent and mirrored his ST, so the potential is there. He needs consistency to be a ML reliever, which he has to work on. His 19K and 2BB in 11 IP says a lot about his potential. He should return to Tulsa. Of the four, Shea has the best chance to become a Los Angeles Dodger pitcher.

  3. I agree about Spitzbarth being the only one of the pitchers from the AFL with a future in the organization, even then he needs improvement. The Dodgers have a lot of young arms that may fit better in relief roles. Sheffield may be one and Sborz was a closer in college. I have opined on Font and Sierra and there are others. The Faz way is not to spend big money on the bullpen, making an exception for Jansen. Maddon commented during the playoffs that Morrow was ‘their secret weapon’ so no surprise there might be interest from the Cubs with Davis leaving. I think Morrow may indeed prefer to return and also Darvish but there could be many millions in dollars and years the team may be inclined not to match. Same with Ohtani as the difference in dollars and no DH make the AL a better fit and the Bosox and Yanks can offer a bigger bonus. Still, the team surprised me last year by bringing back Jansen, Hill and Turner so there is a history of going after their own free agents. The whole Stanton scenario is interesting but complicated. The Grandal issue is becoming more clear with Smith impressing in the AFL and the emergence of Barnes. Sure they have the money and the prospects to do any deal they really want but have to balance the future roster and payroll. For a team with 104 wins and 1 game from winning it all it does not seem they need to make a big splash but I would wager they are crunching the numbers and calculating the long and short term benefits of many moves. This will be the most interesting off season Hot Stove in recent memory but remember agents want to have the Dodgers ‘in’ on every player to drive the price up. It may come down to players wanting to come to or stay with the team and giving a break on dollars or years and I will go on record right now that Kershaw will not opt out after this season, but will rework his deal for a slight increase in both.

    1. I am on the Austin Barnes bandwagon as much as anyone. However before he is anointed as the next Steve Yeager, we need to consider that once he assumed the everyday catching responsibilities (NLCS), his offense sort of tanked. Starting with Game 1 of the NLCS, his batting line was .158/.233/.184/.417. If you go back to his start in Game 2 of the NLDS, his batting line was .200/.275/.311/.586. It takes a lot out of a player physically to be an everyday catcher. When Barnes was a backup at catcher and utility infielder, he was outstanding. There is no question. FAZ may indeed trade Grandal, because it is better to trade him and get some value rather than lose him to FA. But they could also see value in continuing the same two catchers but in reverse roles for 2018. What gives them more value…Grandal as the backup catcher or trade potential?
      Last year there were only four catchers that had enough plate appearances to be considered for MLB offensive leaders in AVG, OBP, and SLG; Buster Posey, JT Realmuto, Gary Sanchez, and Yadier Molina. And I am sure that a fair number of PA for Sanchez came as a DH, and Buster had a number as a 1B.
      I am not convinced that the Dodgers believe that Kyle Farmer is ML catcher. He did not get a chance to catch except one game for a couple of innings at the end of the season. There are two potential backup FA catchers that the Dodgers will consider; Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta (maybe AJ Ellis if he did not burn bridges). Regardless as to how good of an AFL season that Will Smith had, he is not ready for the ML. He has had 1 AB (2 PA) above high A. Before he is considered for the Dodgers 25 man let’s at least see how he does at AA or AAA. His AFL offense combined with his outstanding defensive skills might get him a shot at AAA to start, but it is more likely that Smith will start at AA and Ruiz at High A. Not counting Kyle Farmer, the Dodgers have 4 quality catching prospects in Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz, Connor Wong, and Ramon Rodriguez. While not probable, it is possible that Smith will start at AAA, Ruiz at AA, Wong at High A, and Rodriguez at low A. It is just as possible that Farmer will go back to AAA and everyone moves down a slot.
      The four catching prospects do give FAZ comfort in being able to trade Grandal this year, and seeing if Kyle Farmer can be an adequate backup catcher, or sign a FA catcher for one year.

      1. Pretty much agree on Grandal, always liked him but $7-8 M for a backup or platoon catcher is steep and how he was used in the playoffs was a head scratcher for me. They could easily sign him and see how the young catchers develop and trade him at the deadline for something useful. I highly doubt they extend him long term and last spring I felt it was likely they did. Farmer never caught an inning in 2 call ups and 2 playoff series. They like his bat and versatility but never let him behind the plate. He seemed to do fine fielding wise at AAA and knows a lot of the young pitchers already. A veteran backup probably costs much less: Hundley made $2 M last year and Iannetta $1.5 M. Not a bunch but I could do a lot with $5 or $6 M!

        1. Farmer actually was a catcher in 3 games; September 26 (2 innings), September 29 (2 innings), and October 1 (3 innings). Not a lot to go on, but there were mistakes. I may be wrong, but I view Kyle more as a utility player who can catch than as a backup catcher. I think Hundley and using $6M for other needs would be a better option.

  4. I expected more from Sopko and Sborz last season and was disappointed with their results. I think all 5 pitchers will have to show marked improvement in 2018 to remain in future Dodger plans that don’t start with the word trade.
    If Darvish and Morrow want to pitch for the Dodgers next year they will have to sign for less money than they can receive from other teams and I don’t think either one will do that.

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