AC provided an Always Complete list of the Top 30 Dodger rookies and it’s not hard to see why the Dodgers still have a Top 5 Farm System. The Dodgers have the most depth at catcher of any team in baseball and have a glut of outfielders to go with a plethora of live arms. Middle infield is the only positions where they have a lack, but a trade of two from their excess could easily remedy that. The question is: Are all of these kids being blocked from getting to the major leagues? Plus, who can tell me who the three players are in today’s photo?
Andrew Friedman has made it a point to articulate that the Dodgers Top Prospects need to progress through the system and that he doesn’t want to block them. That’s a logical assumption. The Dodgers have had two straight Rookies of the Year in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, and it’s possible that Alex Verdugo could be the third in a row, but now Matt Kemp and Joc Pederson have him blocked in Left Field.
Verdugo profiles as a right fielder, but he has great instincts and can play CF as well as LF, but he’s less than ideal in CF due to his average speed. He’s best suited for RF because he has a cannon on his shoulder, but Yasiel Puig has him blocked there. Alex Verdugo is a player who might win multiple batting titles. He may have had some immaturity issues in the past, but that looks to be in the rear-view mirror. He has shown that he comes to play.
Andrew Toles is showing what he has… and he has a lot. Personally, I think he can be a very good Center fielder, but he needs time to get acclimated. He is a player who might hit .300 with 25 HR and 25 SB – he is a valuable talent. I like Toles a lot, in fact, I see him as the Dodgers CF’er in 2019, if Chris Taylor goes to 2B after Logan Forsythe goes elsewhere, but this year, he may go to OKC with Alex Verdugo to just get a little better.
The big obstacle this year is that the Dodgers have Matt Kemp and he has such a tremendous upside (after he lost 40 pounds and a bad attitude) that the Dodgers HAVE to give him a shot. He won’t steal 40 bases again, but he might jack 40 HR and hit .300. He’s a rare talent and the Dodgers may have caught lightening in a bottle…. or not. They have to give him a chance and there are over $20 million reasons why this has to happen. I am not predicting that Matt Kemp will hit 40 HR… but he could (and he almost has). I am not predicting that Matt Kemp will hit .300… but he could (and he has). I am not predicting that Matt Kemp will drive in 100 runs (but he has). I am also not predicting that Matt Kemp could not become a malcontent (because he has).
It’s risk verses reward. When they traded for Kemp, if FAZ thought that Matt Kemp could be the starting left fielder in 2018 for the LA Dodgers, then they are freaking geniuses. They are good, but not that good. However, they may have lucked-out in this one. This could be a comeback and redemption story for the ages… that could lead them to the promised land.
So, Toles and Verdugo will have to wait their turn while Matt Kemp mans LF for a year. After that, he gets traded to the AL to be DH… or maybe, just maybe the DH comes to the NL next year. The MLBPA would support that change 100%.
The Dodgers could make a trade. Joc Pederson is obviously the odd-man-out. Puig could be gone in 2019… OR NOT. Forsythe will be gone. Grandal will be gone. They could trade all four this season, but it would be risky. You don’ t want to mess with a Championship Caliber team’s chemistry. The Dodgers have the prospects to trade for Chris Archer or they could sign Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta, but is that smart? If there are no trades, the lineup is pretty set this year, but next year? WOW! The options are endless.
Will the Dodgers be in on Bryce Harper? They will kick the tires, but with all of the outfield depth they have, why? I haven’t even mentioned Yusneil Diaz or Starling Heredia or DJ Peters or Jeren Kendall, nor have I mentioned Trayce Thompson whom half the teams in baseball would take as a 4th or 5th outfielder.
One of the catchers could move to 2B. Ruiz is great behind the plate, but what about 2B? Smith can already play 2B, so there are lots of options. Manny Machado is more of a possibility, but again, why? If the Dodgers need a starter, they will likely deal from that stash at the trade deadline. It is going to be interesting to watch this play out.
By the way, it turns out Toles is limping. Dodger Insider wrote this:
“I think for me, as a guy that’s gone through many surgeries, it’s more of the swelling, how the knee responds to a buildup in workload,” Toles said. “We’re going to keep running him out there, and then we start to get the back-to-backs and see how he responds.”
Toles said most of what he’s dealing with now is mental over physical. There’s some general soreness he said he’s fighting through — not from the knee injury he sustained, but mostly from not having played for nearly a year. He said that’s common for many of his teammates as they start to play again.
At times when he slows down, though, he said he stills feels himself leaning on his other leg too much. (i.e., that’s called “limping”)
“I’m working on it,” Toles said. “I can’t do that. Our training staff and all them, they just want me to trust it.”
It’s not a bad thing – just a hurdle to get over… but I know a limp when I see it1
Yesterdays Shining Stars
- Andrew Toles showed he has some power.
- Chris Taylor looked ready with the bat, but my own observation is that he a better CF’er than a SS or 2B man.
- Yusniel Diaz gave us a glimpse of the future – he’s coming and fast!
- Will Smith flashed his bat with two hits.
- Wilmer Font continues to lock in his roster spot.
- JT Chargois could be the 2018 Brandon Morrow – he has some filthy stuff.
Everyone and his brother makes pre-season predictions. Let’s take a look at last years. ESPN’s Power Rankings were as follows:
- Red Sox
- Blue Jays
How did that work out?
Lindy’s Sports Baseball picked the Giants to win the West and the Nats to win the NL and the Indians to win the AL. Yeah Right!
Sports Illustrated picked the Dodgers over the Indians in the World Series. Nobody got it right.
So, the only prediction, I am going to make is that the Dodgers will win the World Series in 2018. I have said that EVERY year since 1988, so I am due to finally be right. Take it to the bank. Tommy is not Baseballs Last True Believer…