What a difference a couple of years makes when it comes to middle infield prospects for the LAD. Prior to the 2015 amateur draft, there was one regular SS (Jimmie Rollins), one regular 2B (Howie Kendrick), one utility (Kike’ Hernandez), and one prospect (Corey Seager) at SS. Chase Utley was added later in the year. There really was no other prospect. In the 2015 draft, Gasparino’s crew selected:
- Willie Calhoun– 2B (4thround)
- Brendon Davis– SS (5thround)
- Chris Godinez– 2B (18thround)
- Jordan Tarsovich– 2B (22ndround)
- Nick Dean– SS (32ndround)
Calhoun and Davis were traded to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish trade; Jordan Tarsovich was traded to the A’s for Brett Eibner; Godinez and Dean were released in 2016. Calhoun is on the Rangers MLB 25 man roster. Davis is in High A, and Tarsovich is in AA still in the A’s organization.
The Dodgers were concentrating on other deficiencies in the draft; catching and pitching.
In the 2015-2016 International signing period, the Dodgers signed:
- Ronny Brito– SS – Dominican Republic
- Oneil Cruz– SS – Dominican Republic
- Luis Rodriguez– SS – Venezuela
- Aldo Espinoza– 2B – Nicaragua
- Omar Estevez– 2B – Cuba
Brito (19) and Estevez (20) remain top Dodgers prospects. Brito (#22 prospect) is having a breakout year at Ogden, while Estevez (#30 prospect), is having a solid year at Rancho Cucamonga. It is his 2ndyear there and he is still one of the youngest in the California league. Luis Rodriguez (19) was first assigned from DSL to AZL this year, and is now an emergency infielder at AA. He should return to AZL soon. Aldo Espinoza (19) is playing sparingly in DSL. Oneil Cruz was traded to Pittsburgh in the Tony Watson trade, and is one of their top prospects (#5).
In July 2015, FAZ also used some of that International signing bonus money to purchaseTim Locastro(2B) and Chase De Jong (RHP) from Toronto. Locastro is on the 40 man, but is playing more CF, and the transition to utility player looks to be complete. De Jong was traded to Seattle forDrew Jackson, another middle infielder, in 2017.
In November 2015, not yet having that depth that FAZ covets, they signedCharlie Culbersonwho was a very important (if not much utilized) SS (and utility) player for LAD in 2016 and 2017. In January 2016, FAZ traded former 1st round draftee RHSP, Zach Lee, for SSChris Taylor. CT3 spent the last month of 2016 with the big club, but did not show what was about to be unleashed in 2017, albeit primarily as an OF.
With still the only long term prospect at SS being Corey Seager, FAZ needed sought some additional SS help in the 2016 amateur draft.
- Gavin Lux– SS (1stround)
- Errol Robinson– SS (6thround)
- Kevin LaChance– SS (10thround)
- Brandon Montgomery– 2B (26thround)
- Zach McKinstry– SS (33rdround)
After a tremendous first four months at RC, Gavin was just promoted to AA, where he had a great debut (3-5 with a HR and 2 RBI). He is now the teammate of Errol Robinson and Drew Jackson, and all three are in the top 30 Dodger prospects; Lux (#6), Jackson (#19), and Robinson (#20).
McKinstry is having a fine 2018, and also finds himself at AA, while one of my favorites, Brandon Montgomery, is at RC. LaChance has been released.
In 2017, the Dodgers drafted a pair of young shortstops that could move through the organization, Jacob Amaya and Jeremy Arocho. I have already talked quite a bit about Amaya who was an 11thround draft choice who the Dodgers bought out of a Cal St. Fullerton scholarship ($247,500 for an 11thround draft pick).
- Jacob Amaya– SS (11thround)
- Marcus Chiu– 2B (15thround)
- Connor Heady– SS (23rdround)
- Preston Grand Pre – SS (24thround)
- Jeremy Arocho– SS (27thround)
Amaya is also enjoying a great start to the 2018 season and was just promoted to Great Lakes where he went 1-3 with a walk and RBI in his Pioneer League debut. Chiu is getting more comfortable to being a professional baseball player playing in his first full season at Great Lakes. Heady is on the Ogden roster and is Active but he is not playing. He does not have an AB this year. Grand Pre has been placed on the 60 day DL for the second straight year. However, Jeremy Arocho continues to impress at Ogden, and should form quite a good middle infield combo with Ronny Brito. They will undoubtedly continue to switch between 2B and SS.
Of the above, I think Amaya will make it into the top 30 Dodger prospects at some point. Unless he is totally overwhelmed at Great Lakes (which I doubt), he could start next year at RC.
In 2018 the Dodgers drafted versatility.
- Devin Mann– 2B/SS (5thround)
- Luke Heyer – 2B – (8thround)
- Deacon Liput – 2B (10thround)
All three have been assigned to Great Lakes. The one that draws my interest the most is Deacon Liput. I will continue to follow him as he progresses. While he was drafted as a 2B, he has been primarily playing SS. Mann has been exclusive at 2B, while Heyer is almost exclusive at 3B (1 game at 1B). But it is evident, that all three were drafted for the now #10 position on the Dodgers lineup roster…utility.
Since FAZ has taken over, the organization has gone from 1 middle infield prospect (Seager) to 5 (Lux, Jackson, Robinson, Brito, and Estevez). All 5 are capable of getting to the Show, with Lux looking to be the most prominent. While I like Lux, I would not look past Brito to make a ML impact as well. Robinson is the most pure defensive SS, so he could stay there, but Jackson and Estevez will probably be utility depth on a ML roster if they make it. In addition to the 5 top prospects, they have several good prospects throughout the organization that can either make a run with LAD or become logical trade package inclusions.
Tulsa – Lux, Robinson, Jackson, McKinstry
Rancho – Estevez, Montgomery
Great Lakes – Amaya, Liput, Mann, Heyer, Chiu
Ogden – Brito, Arocho
The Dodgers will continue to fill in with organizational depth via trade and minor league contracts especially at the upper levels (OKC – Solano, Mora, Peter). But their current future ML middle infielders will come from the last three year’s draft and international signings.
While their prospects continue to flourish in the minors, for now the Dodgers are blessed to have Manny Machado at SS (although at a steep price), Brian Dozier at 2B, Kike’ and CT3 more than capable SS (and 2B), and Muncy and Utley capable 2B (and 1B). Back up catcher Barnes is also a viable 2B reserve. Seager should be ready to resume his role in 2019. I am going to pencil him at SS until proven otherwise. Who joins him is still a chapter unwritten.