The New MLB Pipeline Dodger Top 30 prospeccts have been published. Jim Callis is a premier minor league talent evaluator. He is not the typical sabermetrics talent evaluator. He uses the eye test as well. If he has not seen the player live, he has studied hours of tape. Some people prefer Eric Logenhagen of Fangraphs or Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, but I am partial to Jim Callis.
The current ranking, the player, position, and the previous ranking are identified below:
- Walker Buehler RHSP 1
- Alex Verdugo OF 2
- Keibert Ruiz C 6
- Mitchell White RHSP 7
- Yusniel Diaz OF 5
- DJ Peters OF 16
- Jeren Kendall CF 4
- Yadier Alveraz RHSP 3
- Will Smith C 8
- Dennis Santana RHSP 12
- Dustin May RHSP 14
- Edwin Rios 1B/3B 15
- Gavin Lux SS/2B 9
- Cristian Santana 3B 26
- Connor Wong C 25
- Caleb Ferguson LHSP 20
- Starling Heredia OF 11
- Jordan Sheffield RHSP 10
- Imani Abdullah RHSP 18
- Errol Robinson SS/2B/OF 28
- Morgan Cooper RHSP 22
- James Marinan RHSP 19
- Matt Beaty 3B/1B/OF 29
- Tony Gonsolin RHRP NR
- Kyle Farmer C 24
- Drew Jackson SS/2B/CF 17
- Romer Cuadrado OF NR
- Ronny Brito SS/2B 21
- Luke Raley OF 27
- Donovan Casey OF NR
Omar Estevez (formerly 13), Carlos Rincon (formerly 23), and Jake Peter (formerly 30) are no longer on the Top 30 Prospect list. Maybe being excluded from the prospect list upset Estevez who hit a 2 run HR on Tuesday. He was only 19 last year at High A Rancho, and played fairly well. I was surprised to see him drop off the list. Let’s see if he can climb back up.
The biggest jumps came from Cristian Santana (up 12 spots), Connor Wong (10 spots), DJ Peters (10 spots, and Errol Robinson (8 spots).
Three catchers in the top 15, with the current AAA catcher and potential backup at the ML level at #25, the Dodgers are stacked at Catcher. They also have a very good group of RHSP that show tremendous talent with high floors. All five of the top 11 RHSP are at least projected to be late inning high leverage relievers. I think Dennis Santana has the potential for a closer. He has the mental makeup and the “forget about the last game” attitude that closers absolutely must have. I think this is where he will eventually land.
I think Verdugo is a potential All-Star and Yusniel Diaz could be a steady starter. DJ Peters will get pushed at AA this year, and if he cuts down on his K’s, he has the potential to get the mid-season promotion to AAA and be in line for a potential start at ML level in 2019. His power will dictate how far he goes, but make no mistake, Peters is a complete baseball player with a very defensive discipline. He has enough speed to play CF at least at AA and maybe AAA. I think with his power he is destined to be a corner OF at the ML Level. The wild card for me is Jeren Kendall. He has the potential to be a quality All-Star CF, and the potential to be a bust. High risk/High reward.
The Dodgers are lacking in middle infielders (infielders in general). Gavin Lux, Errol Robinson, and Ronny Brito are the only true middle infielders on the list, and none of the three are projected to be potential All-Stars. I did not include Jackson in this group, because I think he is truly being groomed to be a Kike’ Hernandez type utility player, as is Tim Locastro.
Besides the three that are no longer on the list, those that fell the most were Drew Jackson (dropped 9 spots), Jordan Sheffield (8 spots), Ronny Brito (7 spots). With Starling Heredia dropping 6 spots and Yadier Alveraz dropping 5 spots, most of that vaunted 2015 International Group have tumbled, with the exception of Yusniel Diaz.
Of the 30, 21 were drafted, 8 are international signees, and 1 was acquired via trade.
Top Hitter 60 Grade Alex Verdugo
Top Power 60 Grade DJ Peters
Top Run 70 Grade Jeren Kendall
Top Arm 70 Grade Alex Verdugo, (Drew Jackson)
Defense 60 Grade Will Smith, (Ronny Brito, Jeren Kendall, Errol Robinson)
Fastball 70 Grade Walker Buehler, (Yadier Alveraz)
Curve 65 Grade Walker Buehler
Slider 60 Grade Walker Buehler, (Yadier Alveraz)
Change 55 Grade Jordan Sheffield, (Imani Abdullah, Morgan Cooper)
Control 55 Grade Dustin May, (Imani Abdullah, Walker Buehler)
With 3 plus plus pitches, and above average control, Walker Buehler only lacks experience to join the rotation. He could be an early summer addition, but will definitely be a permanent fixture in 2019. Alex Verdugo is good enough to start on most ML teams (he would be a star in SF), but with the crowd in front of him, he has time to gain even more experience at OKC. He is the Dodgers future in RF if Puig decides to test free agency, and should be the starting LF in 2019 if not this summer. Buehler and Verdugo have to be as close to untouchable as there are.
Obviously 2017 was a major disappointment for Yadier Alveraz, but with his pitch grades, his ceiling is as a top of the rotation pitcher, and with a floor of late inning high leverage reliever. His arm is can’t miss, but his head and heart and what is questionable. I have heard he has come to camp with a better attitude, ready for a challenge. This will be a year he makes his move to back to the top of the prospect list.
I have been following Cristian Santana from his 2016 DSL days. He really came into his own this past year at both the rookie level at Ogden and low A in Great Lakes. As a 20 year old he slashed .363/.390/.563/.953, in 228 PA. He had 10 HR, 41 RBI, 11 BB, and 48 K. Like most players today, he is an aggressive hitter who does not like to walk. But he only struck out 20%, so he is making contact. I look for him to make High A at Rancho this year. If he does not start there, he will not be long at Great Lakes. He has nothing to prove at Great Lakes, and I think he deserves to be pushed.
I have also been a steadfast supporter of Caleb Ferguson, and I am pleased that he continues to move up the prospect list. He is the only LHSP in the group, and he projects to a mid to bottom of the rotation starter. He is not in the group of Buehler/Urias/White, but he is not that far behind and he is a fierce competitor. Nobody will do more with what they have than Caleb Ferguson. Like Trevor Oaks, Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes, Chase De Jong, and Jose De Leon, he is a potential trade piece, and I would be very disappointed if that happens.
I was surprised to see Romer Cuadrado and Tony Gonsolin make the list, but both had very positive 2017 seasons, and are deserving of the status and the scrutiny that it brings with it.
I think this is going to be a telling year for Yadier Alveraz, Gavin Lux, and Jordan Sheffield. If nothing else, Alveraz and Sheffield may find themselves in the bullpen, and Lux could find a permanent home at 2B or with another team. I know I say it every time, but I still cannot believe they selected Lux over Bo Bichette.
It will be very interesting to see where all of the prospects land this year. I am starting to make out my potential rosters for AAA, AA, A+, and A.