Mark referenced a site, https://www.rosterresource.com/mlb-los-angeles-dodgers/ , that I have studied for some time. I went back to look at my notes and do have some observations:
There is no way the bench will be comprised of 4 RH hitters and 1 switch hitter. I do not see Segedin or Thompson on the 25 man coming out of Spring. I would project Toles and one of Peter/Muncy/Locastro to replace Segedin and Thompson. The only way Trayce Thompson makes the 25 man is if he has a great ST and Kemp is not with the team. I understand why Segedin might be considered as the RH backup to Cody, but that can be Forsythe, JT, Grandal, and Kike’. Rob Segedin is the proverbial 26th man.
The “team needs” section, lists setup man and outfielder. That is borne out by the 2017 MLB rankings:
ERA – #1
WHIP – #1
BB/9 – #3
K/9 – #6
H/9 – #2
HR/9 – #4
ERA – #4
WHIP – #2
BB/9 – #3
K/9 – #3
H/9 – #3
HR/9 – #14
AVG – #21
OBP – #6
OPS – #8
R – #12
HR – #11
SB – #18
The strength of the team, and the farm system, is pitching. The relievers need to keep the ball in the yard, something that Brandon Morrow exceled at. Alexander, being a ground ball pitcher, should keep the ball in the yard, but how will the others respond? While I may have wanted Gerrit Cole, it was not because he is a top of the rotation pitcher, but because he is an innings eater and can save the bullpen somewhat. But it appears that the Dodgers are pretty set at pitching, but could use a good contact hitter. Recognizing that the Dodgers will not sign any of the premier offensive free agents, the only offensive player option via trade seems to be Christian Yelich. However, the asking price for Yelich seems to be going up every day. It has been reported that the Fish are insisting on Ronald Acuna (#6 overall MLB prospect) from the Braves in any trade. The Dodgers do not have a Ronald Acuna to offer. Therefore the offensive upgrade is going to have to come from internal options.
It’s amazing to me to see so many sites that basically “write off” Toles. He is listed as AAA in a number of sites, and even on the LAD Depth Chart he is only listed as the #4 LF. IMO he has a very good opportunity and chance to become the everyday LF. Even though a very small sample size, Toles does have positive splits both sides. vs RHP .295/.247/.481/.828; vs LHP .278/.278/.500/.778.
Some other observations as they relate to the minor leagues. One of the other strengths the Dodgers have is catching. After being totally inept with catching, FAZ concentrated on building up this position starting with the 2015 draft. Now 4 of the Dodgers top 30 are catchers; Farmer, Smith, Ruiz, and Wong. They should end up at OKC (AAA), Tulsa (AA), Rancho (A+), and Great Lakes(A). There is also a fifth that deserves to be followed…19 year old Ramon Rodriguez who should start at Ogden in June.
1st Base seems to be where the Dodgers put big bats with questionable defense at other positions. The depth chart lists both Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty as 1B. Both have tried 3B but do not seem destined to play there at the ML level. Rios actually has a good arm which keeps finding himself at 3B, but I think he stays at 1st this year. Beaty is also listed as a 1B, but I believe he will split time between 3B and LF. Both Rios and Beaty bat LH, and both are good hitters, so a platoon seems out of the picture. Ibandel Isabel should start at Tulsa, and this will be a key year to see if his power projects at the AA level.
2nd Base is chock full of utility players; Jake Peter, Angelo Mora at AAA and Drew Jackson at AA. The first primary 2B is last year’s 15th round draft choice, Marcus Chiu, who is projected to start at Great Lakes. Another utility player listed as a 2B, Kevin Lachance is also slated to begin the year at Great Lakes. The Dodgers also just picked up another utility player, Donovan Solano. At 30 he is organizational depth, probably for AA.
Another position that does not seem to have a true pipeline is 3B. As was discussed in an earlier article, there is very little in the way of top 3B prospects waiting in the wings. Max Muncy, another utility player, is projected to start at 3B for AAA. I like Muncy to get a legit shot to be a LH hitting utility infielder with the ML team. There is no projected 3B for Tulsa, thus the acquisition of Independent League 3B, Wes Darvil. Darvil is not a prospect, but a necessity to play 3B at AA. ORGANIZATIONAL DEPTH. Again the first primary 3B in the organization will start in A Ball. As was Chiu, Rylan Bannon was a 2017 draft choice (8th round) and is projected to start at Great Lakes.
SS seems to have a number of quality players, but none that stand out as an elite prospect. Yet another utility player, Michael Ahmed, is projected to start at OKC. Errol Robinson had a very good summer last year at Tulsa. The projection shows him back at Tulsa, but I think he has a chance to go to OKC. He’s a plus defender who seems to be being pushed through. He seems to handle the pressure well so far. I would like to see him start at OKC to see if he continues to handle it. Tim Locastro also projects to play some AAA SS. Omar Estevez should get the bulk of playing SS at Tulsa, and we will get a chance to see who the real Gavin Lux is…1st half 2017 or 2nd half. Nobody hit well at Great Lakes in 2017, part of a very pitcher friendly league. Now Lux gets the hitter friendly Cal League to try to justify his #1 draft position. He was considered one of the premier high school hitting shortstops before he was drafted. He has a strong arm, and the skills to stay at SS, but it will be his bat that will define him. This is Lux’s big opportunity. If he does hit, he can be a potential 2B.
The Dodgers have multiple OF’s that will be up within the next couple of years. The depth chart lists Verdugo, DJ Peters, Cody Thomas, and Jeren Kendall as the CF’s from AAA to A. What seems odd to me is that Yusniel Diaz is listed as a corner OF, and should start at AA. With Locastro, Blake Gailen, Travis, Taijeron, Henry Ramos, Jacob Scavuzzo, and Kyle Garlick all projected to be with OKC, there is very little chance for Diaz to start at OKC. If Diaz continues to hit at Tulsa as he did in 2017, the logjam will mean nothing, and he will move to OKC. Gailen and Taijeron would seem to be players with a potential quick exit. Diaz will get promoted and play every day in CF or either corner OF position. He is a natural CF without pop, so it might be a stretch for him to be a corner OF.
Tulsa has three potential CF other than Diaz; DJ Peters, Johan Mieses, and Logan Landon. Luke Raley and Connor Joe will be corner OF’s. If it is not Diaz, DJ should get the CF position. This will be a big show-me year for DJ. He has the power, and is a plus defender with a plus arm, but he has a huge strike out problem. He is going to need a little more plate discipline in order to move up quickly in the organization.
I will be anxious to follow 2017 OF draft picks, Zach Reks and Donovan Casey, who are projected to start at Rancho. Hopefully Heredia will become more comfortable and play at his skill level. He struggled some at Great Lakes last year, but as a 19 year old in 2018, he will get another chance to show off his skills. The most surprising projection for me was 2015 2nd round draft pick Mitchell Hansen scheduled to start at Rookie League. IMO he starts at Great Lakes and gives it another try. He is definitely running out of chances.
We have talked about the starting pitchers so many times. I would project the starting pitchers to be Buehler/Stewart/Owens/Sborz/Sopko at AAA; Dennis Santana, Yadier Alveraz, Mitch White, Caleb Ferguson, and Devin Smeltzer at AA; Jordan Sheffield, Dustin May, Chris Matthewson, and Leo Crawford at Rancho. This should be a critical year for Josh Sborz, Andrew Sopko, and Jordan Sheffield. The two pitchers I look forward to following are Morgan Cooper and James Marinen who will start at Great Lakes. Imani Abdullah will get back into action this year, and should get some time at Rancho. He is another to keep an eye on.
The future relievers will probably come from the starting pitchers like Sheffield, Santana, Stewart, and Sborz, but there are some relievers who should get strong consideration. Shea Spitzbarth, Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard, and Corey Copping will be closely watched. But perhaps the most interesting reliever “prospect” is the re-converted pitcher Stetson Allie. He does show some real promise as a high leverage reliever.
It is clear that the Dodgers depth is extensive, and have a lot of prospects especially at pitcher, catcher, and OF that can be used to pick up players who can help the ML team in 2018, and/or balance the prospect list a little. The Dodgers could use some legit prospects at 2B and 3B, and you can never have enough legit SS candidates. The future is indeed bright.