My Prediction – Dodgers Minor League Starting Rotations

Well we have played GM long enough, and yet they still will not listen to us.  Now it is time to play Director of Player Development  A couple of weeks back there was a blog that posed the challenge to name the starting rotation for the OKC Dodgers.  Never let it be said that I would not accept such a challenge and I of course gave me 2 cents worth.  I cannot absolutely remember who my five were, but I did premise my thoughts knowing that the Dodgers are very much into signing AAAA pitchers to filter into the OKC and Tulsa rotations during the year to not put undue pressure on the up and coming LAD rotation possibilities by pushing them to a level they do not belong. I think my five were Daniel Corcino, Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana, Mitchell White, and Andy Sopko.  But I also thought that Ben Holmes was a likely candidate.  We know Sopko is gone in the Russell Martin deal. During the 2018 season, the Dodgers added the following starters to the OKC and Tulsa rosters: Daniel CorcinoZach NealManny BanuelosTyler PillGuillermo MoscosoJustin De FratusLogan BawcomKyle LobsteinFrank Duncan Corcino has already re-signed with LAD, and it is a match that makes a great deal of sense.  Corcino likes being with the Dodgers, and the Dodgers love his versatility.  He is an emergency to be sure, but he was called last year (6/9) optioned back to OKC (6/13), DFA (7/4), cleared and outrighted to OKC (7/7), where he remained for the year.  Daniel knows who he is and would relish the opportunity to get re-called to MLB.  I am sure he can see the roster and the players in the Dodgers MiLB system and recognize that the chances LAD will re-call him are not high, but he loves the organization. I am a Daniel Corcino fan. Let’s see if I can place the current group of minor league starting pitchers into their initial assignment.  I am going with 6 each, as that quite often is how many they keep. 

OKC:

Daniel Corcino, Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana, Ben Holmes, AAAA, AAAA Ferguson has been told he is still considered a starting pitcher, and I can see him starting the year at OKC. But if the bullpen needs a LHRP, he will most certainly get the call.  I see Santana only getting recalled in an emergency.  He is more of a 2020 potential, or more probable in the bullpen in late inning high leverage situations.  Ben Holmes is a candidate for the bullpen once one of the Tulsa group is ready. 

Tulsa:

Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Mitchell White, Leo Crawford, Parker Curry, AAAA None of May, Gonsolin, or White will be blocked by AAAA pitchers if they pitch as well as expected at Tulsa.  Tulsa could get a bevy of AAAA pitchers if May, Gonsolin, and White are moved to OKC, and none of the RC starters have shown they can compete at AA.  As somewhat of a projection, I can see Michael Grove end up in Tulsa before September. 

RC (Perhaps the toughest to predict):

Edwin Uceta, Gerardo Carrillo, Jose Chacin, Max Gamboa, Chris Mathewson, Wills Montgomery I think Uceta, Carrillo, and Chacin will get every opportunity to shine at RC, and that Gamboa, Mathewson, and Montgomery will need to prove themselves in the rotation or look to the pen.  That will be especially true if any of the Great Lakes starters prove they should get an early promotion. 

Great Lakes:

Michael Grove (to start with a quick promotion to RC)Josiah GrayJohn RooneyBryan WarzekJoel InoaJesus VargasVictor Gonzalez Because of the potential inclement and cold April weather at Great Lakes, I can see Grove staying in Arizona and then getting assigned to RC.  But for this exercise I will place him at Great Lakes to start.  Depending as to how the RC group fares, I can see both Josiah Gray and John Rooney getting moved to RC relatively early on as well.  One thing the player development group does do well, is that they do not quit on the players.  If the pitchers are not pitching well, they will keep shoving them out there, but not at the expense of not promoting a deserving player at a lower level. I suspect that Yadi Alvarez, Jordan Sheffield, and Melvin Jimenez will all be fully converted to relievers.  Sheffield and Jimenez have already started that conversion, and Alvarez should (IMO).  If Alvarez balks at relieving as Brock Stewart did, I would try to package him before all his value is relinquished as is Stewart’s. I see Braydon Fisher and Robinson Ortiz both being held over in extended ST in AZ and then getting assigned to Ogden in June.  There is still no word on Morgan Cooper (that I have heard). One other player that I would have included was RHSP Isaac Anderson who has retired.  I wish him well in whatever endeavor he chooses.  My understanding was that he was a very good teammate.

This article has 63 Comments

  1. When you draft near the bottom of the first round, it is difficult to snag pitchers who are of “Ace Quality.” That’s why the Dodgers drafted Walker Buehler who needed TJ at the time of the draft. With him they got that quality of starter. They also took Michael Grove who also needed TJ. While not “Ace Quality” he could be a Numebr 2 or Number 3. Along with Dustin May, I think they have the highest ceiling, although Mitch White could be right there too IF he can find consistency and stay healthy. On any given day, he has Ace-Stuff, but most days he can’t control it.

    I am also high on Tony Gonsolin – his ceiling is a #3… maybe higher… as he has shown the ability to adapt. Even though the Dodgers don’t have that one ACE PITCHER in the system, I cannot remember ever seeing this much depth in starters in the organization. Alvarez, Sheffield and Jimenez all should be converted to relievers as Brock Stewart should have been two years ago. I still do not understand why he wasn’t?

    Also, Ferguson and Santana both need to be relievers. We already saw what Caleb can do… and he will only get better and Dennis Santana is likely the next Dodger closer or at least a key releiver. The starters are loaded and the relievers are loaded in the minors. A few of these guys will see the Show THIS Season.

    My personal favorite is Tony Gonsolin.

    Great writeup, AC – are you sure you didn’t forget anyone? When you are doing stuff like this you are paramoid that you will leave someone out. 😉

        1. At 27 and not having pitched past the California League (last time 2016), I cannot see him much more than a AAAA pitcher right now as a starter. He could make the AA rotation, but if I were Solbach I would think that his best chance to get to The Show is through the bullpen. He might surprise, but again at 27 his prospect status is dimming. That being said, as everyone knows I have zero issues with organizational depth or AAAA players. Those are often some of my favorite players, like Daniel Corcino.
          .
          Maybe DC and I can collaborate on a list of our favorite players who are probably destined for organizational depth. There are a lot of special ones. The problem we may have is that…a) because of our affinity with the minor leaguers it would first be difficult for us to cull the list of our favorites to a manageable level, and b) both of us always think prospects can make it; even 26th round draft picks. Right Brandon Montgomery?

  2. What about Urias? Is he going to stay with the big club out of ST, or is he headed to OKC in order to keep his innings limited?

  3. AC, are you assuming that Urias starts in AZ at extended ST? Other options would be L.A. starting rotation or L.A. bullpen. I would actually have pegged him for OKC starter but you obviously have a different idea.

  4. I didn’t know where to place him initially. His innings will be monitored and the best way is the beginning of the year. He could start in OKC, but my thought was extended ST.

  5. AC – I certainly can’t disagree with your starting minor league rosters very much, if at all. It does seem different to look at them without Dean Kremer and Devin Smeltzer in the mix. I wish them well in 2019 with their new organizations, Baltimore and Minnesota respectively. Isaac Anderson was a 40th round selection in the 2015 draft by the Dodgers and actually pitched very well with the Quakes in 2018. I expect at age-25 he saw the road ahead was getting longer rather than shorter.
    .
    2019 would seem to be a rather important year for Wills Montgomerie, Max Gamboa and Chris Mathewson, a trio of 23-year-olds with the Quakes, although Montgomerie and Gamboa will only be starting their third year of pro ball.
    .
    I think left-hander Victor Gonzalez might also be at a crossroads. He too is 23 and although he missed the entire 2017 season he would be starting his fourth actual season with the Loons. I would not be surprised to see him begin the year with the Quakes or be loaned out to a team in Mexico to expand starting positions. He is from Mexico and presently pitching in the Mexican Pacific Winter League.
    .
    Two guys I think might continue to start for a while are right-handers Alfredo Tavarez (21) and Andre Jackson (22). I expect it might be with the Loons again with hopefully mid-season promotions to the Quakes. I also wouldn’t be surprised it John Rooney started with the Quakes, like Grove with expanded spring training.
    .
    I am not sure what 2018 holds for Riley Ottesen. He has “stuff” if he can control it. I think relief is in his future.
    .
    Two recent acquisitions might be considered as starters in a crowded Tulsa starting corps which might push Gonsolin and White to OKC. Right-handers Markus Solbach returning after a successful stint in Australia and free agent signing Eric Carter. Solbach might be considered for OKC.

    1. No doubt about it. It is a mountain to climb. This young man either seems bitter about the process or that so many think playing minor league ball is living a glory type life. Certainly there must be a tremendous amount of enjoyment playing the game they love at a relatively high level but walking through a mine field must be very, very difficult at times.
      .
      Here is an article I wrote way back almost five years ago which helps a bit to explain why minor league players are compensated so poorly. Underneath something might be happening but on the surface nothing has happened to improve their financial lot in those five years.
      .
      https://www.thinkbluela.com/2014/03/minor-league-baseball-is-financial-emancipation-on-the-way/
      .
      This one among others, was written six years ago.
      .
      https://www.thinkbluela.com/2013/01/life-in-the-minor-leagues/

      1. Thanks for the links. I would love to see the compensation system fixed. Unfortunately, those in power don’t have the incentive. Hopefully enough will say, let’s fix it, it’s the right thing to do.

    2. I do not know whether he is bitter or not, but he is absolutely being truthful. There is nothing that I can dispute. It is not easy being a minor leaguer broke or not. Having money (bonus or wealthy parents) just makes the misery more bearable.

  6. From
    @Ken_Rosenthal
    “On rumors of Joc Pederson trade to #WhiteSox: #Dodgers have been discussing Pederson in possible deals, rival executives say. CWS one of clubs in those conversations, according to sources. Not known if talks are advanced to point where teams are close to a deal.”

    Have no idea whether this comes to fruition, but it suggests AF is not done yet, if he can find a deal. Still expect an addition to the current OF

    1. Moving Joc without having something else extremely close to fruition beforehand would certainly be curious. Am I one of the impatient ones? Yes. But I also recognize that what Friedman actually does will probably not be seen coming. I think Andrew works behind the scenes better than any other G M/President Baseball Operations. It is hard to ignore that nothing has happened subsequent to the Farmer trade. It is easy to just brush it off as Puig and the others are malcontents, and the clubhouse will be much better without them. But if Puig were such a distraction, one might think that it would have been better to move him before the WS seasons. I still think there might be more, I am just impatient. Is there a 12 step program for impatience?
      .
      I do value Joc, however certainly nowhere near the level of Bums. But there has to be more than JB Shuck (or similar) player to replace him. Do not forget, if LAD had won the 2017 WS, Joc Pederson would have been the WS MVP. I absolutely believe that Joc can play CF in that stadium allowing ChiSox to wait on the full development of Luis Robert or Luis Alexander Basabe. Joc is certainly an upgrade over Adam Engel. Joc would have 30+ HR potential in Guaranteed Rate Field. Makes sense for ChiSox. I do not know how much sense it is for LAD…unless other moves are made. Maybe it is a 3 way with Detroit where the Dodgers get Castellanos, the ChiSox get Joc, and the Tigers get prospects from the ChiSox farm which is rated higher than LAD.

      1. There is a difference in liking and rooting for a player and overvaluing a player. He is a very supportive teammate and seems to have a heart of gold. Did I mention he hits dingers?

  7. Fearless Predictions:
    1. Joc will be traded (I hope Bums is not listening);
    2. Russell Martin will be the starting catcher, and pull a “Matt Kemp;”
    3. Julio Urias will start out in the bullpen (I think AAA innings and/or extended spring training is dumb);
    4. Morgan Cooper is done; and
    5. Castellanos will be a Dodger.

    1. 1. Only if another OF is coming to LA. Castellanos? Pollock? Harper?
      .
      2. I do not see Martin starting over Barnes. I think he is there strictly as a backup. I do think Barnes will be a more complete player this year. Undoubtedly not at the level of 2017, but he has always hit, so IMO 2018 was the anomaly not 2017.
      .
      3. Keeping Urias in extended ST is not dumb if you are monitoring innings and you want him available at the end of the year. The Dodgers do not say a heck of a lot, but when they do, we should listen. The FO has been steadfast that they are going to monitor Urias’ innings.
      .
      4. Cooper may be done. But until I see him released or on the voluntary retired list, I will continue to hold out hope.
      .
      5. I am hoping this one comes true. I think the RH bat would fit in greatly with the current lineup.

      1. I still think 3. I’d dumb. Innings are innings. Let him start slow in the pen and build up arm strength.

        Make him the long man and give him multiple innings. Then build in it.

        I just can’t get behind anything else. He is obviously ok to pitch. He just needs to build back up arm strength and you get there by pitching. Let him do that where it counts.

        That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      2. I look for Barnes to be the starting catcher but envision a 50/40 start split for Barnes/Martin. Other 10% or so starts to Smith/Ruiz et al

        I don’t see them going away from the philosophy of adequate rest in the regular season so players are “fresh” for the post season.

        Does that philosophy work. I don’t know, but the Dodgers think it does, so my opinion only matters to me.

    2. 1. Joc might be traded but then Verdugo might be the one that is traded should the Dodgers sign Pollock.
      2. Barnes will wind up being the starting catcher if not in April then by August.
      3. Urias will be stretched out for the rotation and be in it by if not sooner than July.
      4. Who is Morgan Cooper?
      5. Casty won’t be a Dodger before August if ever.

      1. I was not sure if you were serious or not about Morgan Cooper. But he was the Dodgers #2 pick (#62 overall) in the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Texas. He is (was) a RHSP. He has not pitched 1 inning as a professional. His latest injury was to his shoulder. Here is a brief scouting report from MLB Pipeline:
        .
        Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
        .
        Cooper was a key reliever on Texas’ 2014 College World Series team as a freshman before his elbow blew out that fall, requiring Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for all of 2015. He returned as a starter in 2016 and turned down the Nationals as a 34th-rounder that June. The Longhorns’ best starter this spring, he went in the second round and signed for a below-slot $867,500 as a redshirt junior.
        .
        Cooper’s fastball is a plus pitch when he’s at full strength, operating at 92-94 mph and peaking at 96. He uses his size and an overhand delivery to create a steep downhill plane that results in swings and misses as well as groundballs. His velocity dipped toward the end of his last two college seasons, however, so he’ll have to prove he can maintain it over a longer pro schedule.
        .
        All of Cooper’s secondary pitches flash as solid, with his changeup showing more consistency than his curveball or cutter. His curve was his No. 2 offering before he got hurt but hasn’t been as reliable since. He has a sound delivery and arm action that bode well for his future as a starter, though his walk rate increased in each of his three years at Texas.

        1. I did hear that he was done, but it was made by someone in the game but with no inside knowledge.

    3. Russell Martin has never been that good. He had 3 good years with the Dodgers 10 years ago. After that not anything to write home about. He is serviceable if healthy and in limited duty as a starter or reliever. I hope you are right about Castellanos. Urias who knows but I hope you are right about that and he ends up in the rotation. If joc is traded we need to get a very good hitter back because he is good against rhs. Btw, I would rather go into the playoffs with Martin and Barnes as grandal.

    4. I’d like to play along, but I have no freaking idea what Friedman will do. What’s the over under on signing Pollock? 80% yes? Sure looks like that’s gonna happen if there’s chatter that they’re trying to trade Joc. Way more likely than a 3 way trade with Detroit to land Castellanos.

      Who do you think they’re looking to add from the ChiSox roster assuming this is a simple, two team trade? I spoke about Abreu early, could that be a possibility? I find it hard that they would ship off Munchy after his steller 2018 and I don’t think that Munchy is gonna beat out CT3 at 2B.

    1. Atlanta is another place that would be a good fit for Joc. Perfect two year stopgap waiting for Cristian Pache.

  8. Sounds like Joc is a good fit in a lot of places. Baseball has been good to him. Send him to the Rays and then send the Rays to Portland, OR.

    1. Oh, Bums, ever the optimist . I would like to see a team in Portland. Not quite sure they could support it, but would probably support as well as some ( TB as you mention )

    2. I seem to remember you are in OR. I love Joc but think he might do better at this time in another org

  9. What if Muncy is the player other teams want? If Muncy is traded, Belli would move to first base and open CF for either Taylor or Pollock. Since I believe Taylor will be the second baseman, that means Pollock in CF. Would the Dodgers trade Muncy or include Muncy in a trade for Realmuto, Kluber, Haniger, Jose Abreu, Syndergaard?

    1. The Dodgers could do a lot of things, or they could do nothing at all. Do the Dodgers make one last pitch for Harper and move on to Plan B,C,D,E,F…Is Pollock waiting to see where Harper goes before he accepts any offer (except a significant overpay)? Is their depth deep enough to play until the trade deadline? With all due respect to Mark, I disagree that the team is better now than it was before the Farmer trade, but I do believe it is good enough to contend. IMO not good enough to win the pennant or WS, but more than capable of getting into the playoffs. Maybe they do wait until the trade deadline to gauge what their needs truly are and then make a move. Who knows. Friedman works on a different urgency scale than many of us.

    1. Not sure we need another RH utility player at that price. I’m OK to go to ST with Muncy/CT3/Kiké fighting it out. Kind of soured in trading for a 2B after Forsythe/Dozier

  10. As always with Friedman, he will only go with the right deal.

    I am really curious to see what happens after the season starts.

    Because our line ups never seems to be like we all think it will be, as the season goes a long.

    I like Taylor, but I am not sure he will hit much better then he did last year, unless he shortens his swing.

    And if he shortens his swing, I don’t think he will have much power, and he only hit 16 HRs last year, at the expense of the most strikeouts in the National League.

    1. As always? Friedman equates luck as a factor as does every GM. The only right deal has to play out before ‘right’ can be deemed. But I know what you mean. After all, if there were any GM that was capable of “only going with the right deal” there’d be no reason to play the games. We’d all know which team God had chosen.

  11. I have to focus on football for the next few hours. Go Rams! Go Chiefs! That would be a nice Super Bowl!

      1. I would like a LA Boston game but to keep safe, I would have to root very quietly because I am still in NH.

      1. Bum

        I don’t know about going for just a field goal there.

        I think I would have bet on my offense with 4 and goal to go, because the Rams offense has played better then their defense today.

        And the Saints would only get that ball at the goal line if the Rams don’t score a touchdown there.

        But the Rams have not been good in the red zone all year.

        1. I totally wanted them to go for the TD. If that pass interference had been called, the Rams would have lost.

  12. Forget about such a young coach.

    What a good coach, and such a good decision to go with him, when the Rams did.

        1. My son-in-law is a Pats fan. He was here for the first game, but said there is no way he is watching the Pats game with me.

          That’s because he trolled me on the Colts.

          He happens to work for me too, so I will extract my pound of flesh!

  13. I cannot ever compromise my principles and lower them to root fot the Pats. They are the Devil.

    1. Bobby

      It looks like the Chief might be easier for the Rams, because they are having trouble managing the Patriots running game.

      That is if Gurley is OK.

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