Down on the Farm

The Dodgers minor league system is filled with “depth” pieces.  As therealten pointed out, perennially competing for the playoffs and a potential WS takes a toll on the Dodgers draft slot. The last time the Dodgers had a top ten draft slot, they did very well with a HS pitcher from University Park, Texas…Clayton Kershaw.  In 2016, the Dodgers had the #20 selection and drafted HS SS, Gavin Lux.  In 2013, the Dodgers got a #18 pick, and selected and signed RHP Chris Anderson for $2,019,900.  Anderson was finally released by the Dodgers in 2017, signed a minor league contract with the Twins and was released by the Twins after 3 minor league games in 2017. He has not latched on to a team since.  In 2012, the Dodgers had a top 20 pick and did well with Corey Seager.

 

Teams build with top draft picks, and fill with others, via lower round picks, trades, and international signees.  It is hard to stay on top if the team cannot draft well.  When you rarely get to pick in the top 10, the team’s chances of selecting a perennial AS are reduced.  But where the Dodgers have selected, they have built a good not great minor league program for 2018.  Some of their first round picks have been outstanding (Kershaw, Seager, Buehler, and to a degree Billingsley).  But others have been a bust (Chris Anderson, Chris Reed, and Zach Lee).  Sometimes you can flip a former top pick and get something in return.  The Dodgers got CT3 for Lee, and Grant Dayton for Chris Reed.  Sometimes they are just released…Chris Anderson.

 

In looking over the Dodgers minor league teams, there is not one sure fire future All Star.  There is no Vlad, Jr., Ronald Acuna, Eloy Jimenez, Gleybar Torres, Juan Soto, or Alex Reyes in the organization.  While the Dodgers boast 5 of the top 100 MLB prospects, only two are in the top 50 (Verdugo and Ruiz), while three are slated at #90 (White), #92 (Diaz), and #99 (Peters).  Verdugo and Ruiz should become regular major league players but not without faults, and the next three have questions as to how good they will become.  Verdugo is non power hitting corner OF, and for Ruiz it is very difficult to project catchers (think Boston’s Blake Swihart, Cardinals’ Carson Kelly, Orioles’ Chance Cisco, and Indians’ Francisco Mejia).  White has not pitched well at all this year, Diaz continues to have problems staying on the field, and Peters has power to burn but is a strike out machine.  I do not think it is a great sign on the last two drafts when neither #1 (Lux and Kendall) are not in the top 100.

 

What FAZ has done on the ML level, they have also done at the MiLB level.  Good depth.  They have multiple utility players who can play all over the field, catchers who can play the infield (Farmer, Smith and Wong), guys who can hit but may have a tough time finding a defensive position (Rios and Beaty).  Because of the success of Kike’ and CT3, they turn SS into utility players (Locastro, Robinson, Jackson). They trade for utility players like Breyvic Valera or sign them to minor league deals (Donovan Solano).  That is the FAZ way of playing safe.

 

AAA

 

AAA – FAZ likes their AAA affiliate to house players who can step onto the ML roster and compete.  Most are not future stars, but they can compete if called upon.

 

Alex Verdugo – Playing a lot of CF, but really is not a CF. He has a tremendous arm and would fit in nicely in RF defensively, but does not have the power generally required for that role.  Outstanding bat to ball skills with maturity concerns.  There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Verdugo will be a regular at the ML level.  It is conceivable that it will not be with the Dodgers, as FAZ prefers power in the corners, but with his abilities to make consistent contact, the power may be overlooked.  Verdugo is also a high ceiling player at a very low price.  Many expect the Dodgers to be in on Bryce Harper (I am not in that camp), but they may be satisfied with Verdugo’s bat enough to give him that RF slot until DJ Peters makes it to the Show (or K’s out), and spend the dollars elsewhere.

 

Dennis Santana – Converted infielder who is pitching as if he is a mid-rotation starter.  He has a plus plus fastball, with a plus slider.  He is working on a change, but really is a two pitch pitcher.  This generally relates to a good high leverage reliever, but Santana is working on that changeup for his 3rd pitch.  Santana is a fierce competitor and I would not bet against him developing that change, but I think his best spot will be in high leverage relief to eventually become the closer.  I was talking with a friend and the subject of the bridge to closer came up, and the last time we could remember as automatic was Guillermo Mota to Eric Gagne.  Santana to Jansen could become that combination.

 

Caleb Ferguson – Anyone who has read anything that I have written over the last couple of years knows that my favorite minor leaguer has been Caleb Ferguson.  There is something about a 38th round draft choice that dominates at the lower levels to gain attention, and then carrying it all the way to the ML.  I started following and writing about Ferguson in 2016 when he was dominating at Ogden and was then promoted to Great Lakes where in 51.1 IP, he compiled 41 K’s against 3 walks.  Last year at High A, he led the California League in ERA, 2nd in BAA, and 3rd in K’s all as a 20/21 year old. He was a California League All Star selection.  His AA debut was not very good in 2018, but since that initial game he has been nothing but spectacular.  His 2018 stats over two levels (AA & AAA) are 3-0, 44 IP, 13 BB and 50 K, 1.23 ERA, and 1.07 WHIP…and he is still 21.  Caleb has a plus fastball and curve with an average change.  His ceiling is as a #4 or #5 in the rotation.  He could be the next Ross Stripling.  He is a grinder, and if I were to project anyone to succeed (not star) at the next level it would be Caleb.

 

Still time for – Josh Sborz – Potential mid relief who could become occasional high leverage.  Needs consistency to make the next jump.  Can dominate at times and get hit hard on others.  Has let too many inherited runners score at AAA to project to be a consistent high leverage reliever which is what Gasparino was hoping for.  Sborz is 24 so he has time.

 

Someone who could surprise – Kyle Garlick. Kyle is 26 so he is not a prospect in the true sense.  But he has continued to hit and hit for power ever team he has played for.  In 2018 at AA and AAA, Kyle has hit .283/.325/.553/.878 with 11 HRs and 28 RBIs.  I would compare him to SVS as a #4/#5 OF who can come off the bench to provide power. He has played some 1B, but I would like to see him play more to make him more versatile.

 

Big hit potential with limited defense – Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios.  Both Beaty and Rios are left hand batters and right hard throw.  Beaty who also caught in college is a tremendously versatile player who can play any corner position and be an emergency catcher.  His obstacle is whether he can play any of the positions to become a regular.  His hit skills certainly indicate he can play at the next level.  He was the Texas League batting champ and player of the year in 2017.  He had an injury to start the season, but he is now playing at OKC.  He has great hand-eye coordination and very good bat to ball skills, with some (not projectable) power.  While not a middle infielder, he could become the next Kike’ as utility corner position player.  Matt is another bulldog type player who I would love to see in Dodger blue.

 

Edwin Rios – Another corner position hitter, limited defense.  Not as projectable as a hitter as is Beaty, but still has enough hand-eye coordination and bat speed to be a good hitter but with more power than Matt.  Edwin also started the year with an injury, and is also now playing at OKC.  Rios can be an adequate 1B, but not GG caliber, and should hit well enough to stick with an AL team as a DH/1B.  He has played some OF.  Rios has the arm for RF, but not the range for LF or RF.

 

AAAA – Henry Ramos, Joe Broussard, Travis Taijeron, Jake Peter.

 

DL – Andrew Toles.

 

AA should be completed by tomorrow.

 

Posted by Always Compete

This article has 48 Comments

  1. Thanks AC. It sounds like the Dodgers are stronger in quantity than quality with quite a few players with MLB skills but few or zero with All Star skills. Seems like FAZ would be more willing to make trades.
    .
    Stewart’s troubles last night came from the stretch position. He did well from the windup. He has good movement on his fastball. The injury worry with the Dodger rotation will keep Stewart in a starter role for now.

  2. Sounds like AC will let me take a few days off!

    That’s probably good for all of you… and me! 😉

    There are not many All-Stars at AAA – Verdugo is a possibility if he can hit like I think. He is young and may have a little more power going forward, but he has hit 4 HR this year in 151 plate appearances while last year he hit 7 in 520 PA’s. So, he has upped his HR percentage a little. If he can hit .330 with 12-15 HR, I think he would be a real asset and he has the hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition to do that. That could make him an All-Star.

    Santana and Ferguson could both be mid-rotation guys – that’s their ceiling.

    When you draft in the mid-20’s or low 30″s, it’s hard to get those impact players unless you draft someone like Buehler who needed TJ surgery and can wait. That’s why it is difficult to compare what FAZ is doing to most other teams because they were very bad and got high draft picks before they turned it around. FAZ has not had that luxury!

  3. Is Andrew Toles really on DL or assigned to not play again with the Dodgers. What gives?
    Is he really injured or just not wanted? I’d like to know.

    1. What do you think Bobo?

      Do you think the team doesn’t want him, and decided to put him on the DL instead of granting him his release?

      That sounds very plausible to me.

      Sarcasm alert.

    2. Toles hammy is the issue. The Dodgers are being extra cautious so as to not have a third flare up of the injury. He is actually highly thought of by the management.

  4. Thanks AC for the minor league update.
    I used to laugh when they compared Tony G’s bat with Verdugo. (Still maybe a little )
    Verdugo has one the finest strokes I’ve seen in awhile. Now if the head stays straight, look out L.A.

  5. The pitching gave up runs early, then shut em down….and the Dodgers got “lucky” once again. It’s the pitching ,

  6. Thanks Mark,
    I am anxious for Toles to get back with this team. I believe he can add alot. I hope he gets the opportunity to do so.

  7. Like Bum said, with many very good minor leaguers but no true untouchables, FAZ could go into a wheel and deal mode sooner than later.

  8. I like Verdugo a great deal and the fact that he is not a power hitter but a very good contact hitter makes me like him even more. Faz likes power, fine but 2 or 3 contact hitters in the lineup who are not strike out machines is a part of the game the Dodgers are missing.

  9. Bluto, I guess I was wondering if Toles was legitimately on the DL, and not physically ready to come back or is he being held there for some other reason.
    MT commented he is there because management is being cautious with his hammy.
    I accept that that is the reason, and like I said I am anxious to see him back with the club, I believe he will contribute.
    I know others are anxious for his return also.

  10. MJ, (and Bluto) no worries.
    You know it’s only a case of wondering why some guys are still here and why other guys aren’t here yet. Yeah, that’s it.

    1. Bobo

      No problem, I was wondering about Toles too.

      He is in Arizona gettiing well, and our GM said he should be back in a week, to ten days.

  11. Thanks AC I think there is a pitcher the Dodgers got who is out this year that people were very high on. I think his name is Therion or something like that, I was wondering how his rehab is going. We have some good players who can fill in at the majors for a short period but other than Verdugo and santana nothing to get excited about. The dodgers draft position is a killer. They have tried free agency, international,trades,drafts and taken on salary to get players, and dumpster diving for a diamond in the rough so the effort is there but it is a very tough gig. Once we get out of luxury tax pergatory we might be able to sign someone like machado who I am in favor of. The front office was willing to wait on Buehler so barring injury we have a star. Kendall is a guy I got excited about but who knows it was certainly worth the risk. I could go on but I want to read AC first.Btw I can be critical of Roberts but I like the way he is using kemp. We need him healthy for the long haul as he can flat out hit. The sound when he hits a ball good is truly exciting. He loves the dodgers and if his attitude stays good he is a keeper. I know he won’t hit .330 but he could hit .290 with 25 jacks and 90 rbi and be fresh for the post. Come on Kershaw show us you can be an ace.

    1. I Think you are referring to Jesen Therrien, a 25 year-old RH from Quebec, and has worked with Eric Gagne for months in Arizona as he lived with Gagne.

      He has a 92-93 MPH fastball and a very good slider. He closed in the minors last year and pitched 57 innings, allowed 39 Hits, 9 BB and 65 K’s. His ERA was 1.41 and his WHIP was 0.837. He did not fare well with the Phillies last year, putting up an 8.35 ERA. Some think he is ready to close, including Game Over, but I think he might be a nice part anywhere in the pen.

      The only problem is that he is on the 60-Day DL with TJ and will not pitch this year. He should be ready for Spring Training 2019. FAZ is looking ahead and he could be a very nice pitcher come 2019!

  12. With the title of this I expected to see Little Feat’s ‘Down On The Farm’ under. Or hear it rather.

  13. I have to address some really moronic ideas that a few fans and bloggers are propounding. That idea of sending Cody Bellinger back to OKC. Yes, he is not doing well. Yes, he is slumping, but let me point out that his WAR is as good or better than the following First Basemen:

    Goldschmidt – Former All-Star
    Hosmer – Former All-Star
    Rizzo- Former All Star
    Gallo
    Bour
    Gonzalez
    Morrison
    Bell
    Ramirez
    Gurriel
    Pujols
    Desmond
    Davis

    His OB% is .301 – not good by any means, but we have seen him adjust before and lots of other players are struggling. It’s a long season – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…. and if you send him down, who’s better? I’m not saying they are dumb – I am just saying that they have bad luck when it comes to thinking. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

    GeeeeeeeeZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

  14. Rockies are up 5-0 and have 7 hits in the 1st 4 innings. The Giants have made 3 errors already. Samardzija left the game after 1 inning with a ‘tight right shoulder’.

  15. The Dodgers just lost another starting pitcher – they have only lost 80% of their starting staff this year. The good news is that they have 20% left and another 20% coming back Thursday. All is well!

      1. He came in, walked a batter and should have been out of it, but his 2B let the team down.

        Get Scooter Gennett!

        1. how do you blame Alexander for that one? A dribbler that gets by the pitcher, and then a ground ball that the 2b didn’t handle.

          I’m going to guess you’re watching the gamecast, and not the actual game

        2. You’re right…Forythe being Forsythe, but you can’t walk the batter as he did on five pitches

          1. Kind of a sudden entrance to a game. No excuses. He walked a batter. He should not have done that, but he’s not perfect. After that he was great.

            True Story:
            Today, we had 4 new employees in orientation. So, I am expected to give them a “speech.” I walked in with two signs: The first one said “The beatings will continue until the morale improves.” Everyone’s jaw dropped and I said “OK, that’s just a joke.”

            The second sign said “EXCUSE LIMIT – ZERO.” I let them look at it for a few seconds and then I said: “I expect you all to make mistakes. I don’t want you to keep making the same mistakes and I want you to learn from them, but mistakes are mistakes and you have to own them. No excuses! Learn from them and move on. OK, let’s go make some mistakes!”

            Bottom Line: Logan’s Run is over!

  16. I admit that I was on board with signing Forsythe because of his defense and playing for a new contract. By all accounts, Logan is a great guy, but I want his off this team – LIKE NOW!

    Alexander did his job. Forsythe should have collided with the runner…. BAD PLAY!

  17. Alexander has been very good. He is doing his job: getting ground balls. Forsythe sucks!

    Some guys can’t play in LA:

    Reddick
    Granderson
    Forsythe

    I’m on a Forsythe rant!

  18. Mark, this moron would like to know how you can compare Cody Bellinger with some of the names on your list of first basemen. Yes, Bellinger has a very high ceiling, but simply does not have the years of distinguished service of players like Goldschmidt, Rizzo, Hosmer, Pujols, etc. No way anyone would consider sending down any of those veteran stars, all of which have earned the right to fight their way out of a slump at the big league level.

    I have never suggested that sending Bellinger down was something the Dodgers had to do, but I have suggested that if the Dodgers evaluators are of a mind that Bellinger would benefit from some time in OKC, then by all means he has yet reach the stature that would preclude such a move. No matter what he did last year, Bellinger is still a 22 year 2nd year player with a lot to prove, and not nearly as established as those on your list.

    1. Brooklyn, I did not think you were in the camp of sending Cody down… in fact, I don’t really believe you are. Cody is on a bad stretch THIS month but he did hit .306 in April… followed by .172 in May. I don’t think that warrants sending him down and who do you replace him with? If Cody went to AAA, he would rake… but he needs to fix it up here. He figured out that low inside pitch and now he has to figure out the high one.

      Yes he does not have the credentials of a Goldschmidt or Rizzo, but the point is: It happens to the best of them! I was sure he was ready last Spring and while he is curfrently slumping, I am just as sure he will fix it! The morons are the ones making videos about sending him down.

      He has had one bad month! ONE! You don’t send a player like that down for one bad month!

  19. Puig came back as a much better hitter after spending 10 days in AZ. The Dodgers can live 10 days without Cody. It would not be a demotion. It would be a break to clear his mind and groove his swing. He wouldn’t even have to report to OK.
    .
    Forsythe was a stupid signing. It cost them Morrel. Give Muncy a shot at second base.

    1. Comparing the Puig Demotion to Cody is apples to crab apples. BTW, it was for a month and not 10 days, and it was disciplinary in nature. It had nothing (or very little to do with his swing). He was sent down Auguest 2 and recalled Sept 2. Before he was demoted, he OPS’ed .826 in June and .806 in July.

      If anyone should go down for a bad May, it’s Joc Pederson:

      Joc in May – .206 BA/.286 OB%/.619 OPS – 0 HR /4 RBI
      Cody in May – .172 BA/.257 OB%/.655 OPS/5 HR/13 RBI… Plus Elite Defense at 1B and CF

      At least Cody has some power. Joc is currently a Punch and Judy hitter. Let’s not forget that in Corey Seager’s sophmore year, he had a month where he hit .179.

      Joc doesn’t pass the eye or smell test. He is killing the team right about now… and this is nothing new.

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