I am sitting continuing to try to understand how the Board of Trustees and the AD at USC have chosen to retain perhaps the most over his head coach in all of NCAA Football, Clay Helton. Rudy mentioned that both Westwood and South Bend are cheering loudly, but my radar has all of the Pac 12 and South Bend laughing at this. Oh well, enough pity party for me. It’s time for Dodger Baseball.
But there is nothing going on. Not even a peep of some possibility. I couldn’t continue to just postulate possible scenarios for incoming and outgoing Dodgers. Therefore, I decided to take a look at how the farm systems look throughout MLB. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that even with the numerous Dodgers trades of farm hands (Calhoun, Diaz, JDL, Holmes, Cotton, Montas, Peraza, Cruz, Davis, Dixon, Alexy) all top 30 and many top 10, and the graduation of 1 a year from Pederson, to Seager, to Bellinger, to Buehler, the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system is still a consensus top 10 farm system. Seager and Buehler are genuine stars, Bellinger is a defensive weapon with an offense that can and will mature, while Joc is a solid platoon LH bat and better than average defender in LF. Next up should be Alex Verdugo who is the Dodgers #1 minor league prospect, but he needs a place to play every day. Right behind Verdugo should be Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and reliever Marshall Kasowski. This is a critical year for Mitchell White. Does he stay a starter, or is he better suited for relief? It is also a critical year for Yadier Alvarez. Is he going to insist on starting where he cannot stay focused for a full game? Or can he be convinced that his stuff can absolutely dominate as a reliever? I am hopeful for the latter as he has a great arm. All eyes will also be on Jordan Sheffield as his conversion to reliever goes live for the year. He can move fast as a reliever.
Below is a chart of where the various teams farm systems line up with FanGraphs, Baseball America, and Bleacher Report as the three sources for this piece. I have also calculated where each team would fall in a consensus of the three publications. They all use different measuring tools. FanGraphs uses their 40-70 grade for the players, determines the number of prospects that reach at least 40 in their system, and then determine a Current WAR Value on these players. The teams are then ranked based on their WAR value, and range from the Padres 50.9 to the Mariners 4.8. The Dodgers rank #10 with 2 players with a grade of 55 (Verdugo, Ruiz), 3 at 50 (May, Lux, Smith), 6 at 45, and 13 at 40 for 24 prospects with a FanGraphs WAR value 23.1.
The second methodology was from Baseball America that ranks all of their prospects in order, calculates the number of top 100 prospects, makes an evaluation of the remaining non top 100 prospects, and generates a team ranking. The top team again was the Padres with 9 top 100 players, including the #2, Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS). The bottom team was again the Mariners as 1 of 2 teams without a top 100 prospect. The second team was Boston. Is it any surprise that the GMs that seemingly value prospects the least, Dave Dombrowski and Jerry Dipoto are the bottom two? With Baseball America, the Dodgers rank #9 with 4 top 100 prospects; Verdugo (26), Ruiz (27), Smith (80), and Lux (82). With MLB Pipeline, Dustin May replaces Will Smith in the top 100. Both are undoubtedly in the top 110 of both publications.
The third publication, Bleacher Report measures the prospects in tiers.
• Tier 1: Prospects who have an elite skill set and All-Star potential. This is the cream of the prospect crop.
• Tier 2: Prospects who have a good chance of becoming impact contributors at the MLB level. These are the prospects who can be found in the second half of league wide top-100 lists or just on the periphery.
• Tier 3: Prospects who profile as fringe MLB contributors or young players who are still too raw to project any higher. This tier represents the bulk of prospects around baseball, though more than a few are still capable of climbing up to the next tier.
Yes, once again the Padres lead all of MLB with two Tier 1, 6 Tier 2, and 4 Tier 3 prospects. And again #30 is the Seattle Mariners with 0 Tier 1 prospects, 2 Tier 2, and 8 Tier 3. The Dodgers remained right at that #10 spot with 3 Tier 1, 3 Tier 2, 4 Tier 3 prospects.
|3||White Sox||Blue Jays||Blue Jays||Rays|
|4||Rays||White Sox||White Sox||White Sox|
|5||Blue Jays||Braves||Rays||Blue Jays|
|29||Red Sox||Red Sox||Cubs||Red Sox|
The Padres, Braves, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays are each in the three publications top 5 in some fashion, with the Padres the unanimous #1 system. The Mariners are the unanimous #30 organization with the Red Sox #29 in two and #28 in one.
The Dodgers are seemingly in good shape with a young nucleus, except pitching, but they have a number of pitchers who are at the ML level or just below that can assume the mantle. Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana, Dustin May, Mitchell White, Tony Gonsolin, and Michael Grove all considered close and in the top 14. The next level also may include some top talent that needs more experience to develop; Edwin Uceta, Braydon Fisher, John Rooney, Gerardo Carrillo, Robinson Ortiz, and Andrew Sopko. This does not include top converted reliever candidates like Yadier Alvarez, Jordan Sheffield, and Josh Sborz, or full-time relievers like Marshall Kasowski. I will include Joe Broussard in that group, because while I am not high on Joe, many fans and bloggers are.
While the Dodgers boast a couple of top ten OF other than Alex Verdugo, I am not sold on either DJ Peters or Jeren Kendall. I am hopeful that both will surprise me with a more productive 2019 with DJ probably in OKC and Kendall at Tulsa. They both need to be pushed to see if they can hit better pitching. The only other OF in the Top 30 is Starling Heredia. He seems lost but does still possess good skills. Whether he can take those skills and become a ML OF is a major question.
The middle infielders are well represented by one potential elite SS/2B (Gavin Lux), three utility players (Drew Jackson, Errol Robinson, and Omar Estevez), and two up and coming SS (Ronny Brito and Jacob Amaya). Even though Amaya is not in the top 30, he is a favorite of mine, so I am going to include him. Robinson did not have a good AFL season, but he should still garner sufficient interest as a good fielding defensive middle infielder/utility player. Can he ever become a Chris Taylor or Kike’ Hernandez? Doubtful, but he at least deserves a chance with somebody. I also would like to see Drew Jackson get a chance. It is possible that he will get drafted in the Rule 5 draft next month.
Other than catchers, the remaining top 30 consist of good stick questionable defensive position players. Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, Cristian Santana, and Connor Joe. Again, Joe is not a Top 30 prospect, but I am including him anyway. He is another potential Rule 5 draft loss next month. The Dodgers will give Rios and Beaty every opportunity to showcase their talents in ST next year. I hope both of them work extra hard on defense in the winter to be able to someday make the 25 man.
Finally, the Dodgers are absolutely loaded with catcher prospects. When FAZ came to LA there was absolutely no catching at the ML level or minor leagues (okay they had AJ Ellis). They now boast far and away the best group of catchers in MLB. They have two top 10 MLB prospect catchers in Keibert Ruiz (#3), and Will Smith (#8), both MLB top 100 prospects. Behind these two is soon to be top 100 catcher prospect Diego Cartaya (Dodgers #11), and top LAD prospect Connor Wong (Dodgers #16). They also have multiple potential ML backup catcher prospects, including one of my favorites, 2018 draftee Hunter Feduccia. DC and I have chronicled multiple catching prospects that will continue to provide the Dodgers with solid catching for many years.
For the 2019 Amateur draft, the Dodgers will continue to look at pitching, but I am hopeful that they will give strong consideration to good bat to ball skill OFers. They will continue to look at players who can play multiple positions and provide that depth they covet, and they will draft pitchers with an eye of turning some of them into quality relievers at some point. Where they draft, it is hard to project elite pitchers. Sometimes they drop (like Buehler), but generally the best we can hope is that a Dustin May type comes through and surprises. Then there is Caleb Ferguson. Who knew? Maybe Logan White. Caleb will go down as his last draft pick (2014 – #38) that signed as a Dodger while Logan was the Director of Player Personnel with LAD. I am sure that after the 1st of the year, both DC and I will begin to look at the possible selections. But for now, LAD has a solid foundation with a solid nucleus of potential elite performers. While I love prospects, I would like to see some of them packaged for perhaps a lower level but higher ceiling prospect with solid bat to ball skills. They will not look at anyone in the Rule 5 draft, as nobody that is exposed is better than what they already have.
Below is link to all three publications and their ranking of the minor league systems.