Historically, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been at the forefront of player development and scouting. The team has twice boasted at least four consecutive NL ROY winners. Unfortunately, this rich tradition was cast aside during the dark days of the Fox and McCourt eras, much to the dismay of Dodgers fans. However, the team has seen a resurgence in both the depth and quality of its farm system under current ownership, signing and drafting high-profile players such as Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Let’s take a look at the team’s top 10 prospects for 2014.
1. Corey Seager, SS 6’4” 215 lbs.
Seager spent most of the 2013 season tearing up the Midwest League. However, he struggled to hit after getting promoted to Rancho Cucamonga in the California League. Seager’s combined BA (.269) and OPB numbers (.351) for 2013 were underwhelming. However, he hit .309 with a .389 OPB before leaving the Midwest League, which is indicative of his true potential as a hitter. Seager also flashes decent pop, hitting 16 HR last year to go along with 40 total extra base hits. While Seager’s glove is adequate, many believe he will eventually move to third base due to his size.
2. Joc Pederson, OF 6’1” 185 lbs.
Despite posting strong numbers at every stop so far in his career, Pederson was considered a non-prospect by most until last year (even though his 2011 stats were stellar). Everyone is finally on the same page regarding Pederson as he has proven he can hit and play all three outfield positions well enough to become an everyday Major League player. Pederson spent all of 2013 in Double-A, where he posted a .381 OPB, hit 22 HR, and stole 31 bases. He has a great eye, is very athletic, and has shown marked improvement in each of his three minor league seasons.
3. Julio Urias, LHP 5’11” 160 lbs.
Urias is 17 years old, left-handed, and can touch 95 MPH. Those figures alone merit inclusion on this list. However, Urias also posted very good stats last year in the Midwest League. In 18 starts, his WHIP was 1.10 and his K/9 was 11.1. The key here is that Urias had a good season last year as a 16 year old. Obviously, this means that he has a high ceiling, yet he is still less of a known quantity than the other players on this list. Urias is polished for his age and shows good control.
4. Zach Lee, RHP 6’3” 190 lbs.
Lee is a good prospect, but definitely a notch below the top three on this list. Lee spent all of 2013 in Double-A and amassed 142.1 IP. His K/9 was 8.3 and his WHIP was 1.17. Lee is a great athlete and most scouts think he projects as a solid mid-rotation option. He throws four pitches and his fastball sits in the low 90s. Lee showed a lot of improvement in 2013 and if that continues, he should prove to be a solid Major Leaguer.
5. Chris Anderson, RHP 6’4” 215 lbs.
Anderson was the Dodgers’ 1st round pick in the 2013 draft, therefore his professional resume is short. He had 12 starts last year in the Midwest League, where he posted a 1.22 WHIP and struck out 50 in 46 IP. Anderson has a big frame which should help him shoulder the workload of being a starter for years to come. His fastball can get up to 98 MPH, but his control and delivery are not ideal. He has the tools to be a solid starter, but he will need to make significant strides to realize that potential.
6. Alexander Guerrero, 2B
The Dodgers signed Guerrero last fall and it’s hard to predict how he’ll perform in 2014. Guerrero played SS in Cuba, but will transition to 2B in the hope that he can form a successful middle infield tandem with Hanley Ramirez this year. He may start the year in the minors, similar to Puig’s first season last year. Scouts are divided regarding Guerrero and some consider him a non-prospect. Regardless, the consensus on Guerrero is that his glove is average and his bat will make or break his career. He shows good power for a second baseman, but 2014 will show a lot about how good his hit tool actually is.
7. Ross Stripling, RHP 6’3” 190 lbs.
Stripling has excellent command, a smooth delivery, and a good frame. He posted a 1.17 WHIP in Double-A in 2013. While Stripling is very polished, he only possesses decent velocity and his strikeout rate (7.9 K/9) is less than ideal. In general, strikeout rates drop as players advance to higher minor league levels, making Stripling’s rate a concern. He may be able to remain a starter, but will most likely become a reliever/spot starter.
8. Chris Reed, LHP 6’4” 195 lbs.
Reed was a reliever in college and he needs to return to the bullpen if he’s going to make it to the majors. He has struggled to stay healthy since being drafted in the 1st round in 2011. Reed did manage to throw 137.2 innings last year in Double-A, but his WHIP was 1.39 and his K/9 was only 6.9. Reed’s mechanics are inconsistent and need to improve.
9. Scott Schebler, OF 6’1” 208 lbs.
Schebler is a bit of a sleeper. He was the Dodgers’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2013, but is not gaining a lot of recognition amongst scouts, most likely due to his poor performance in prior years. Regardless, Schebler put up great stats in 2013 in the California League. His OBP was .360 and he had 69 extra base hits, including 27 HR. Schebler can hit, but occasionally lets his emotions get the best of him, impeding his performance. Defensively, Schebler profiles as a decent corner outfielder.
10. Onelki Garcia, LHP 6’3” 210 lbs.
Garcia cracked the Major League roster in 2013, but only pitched in three games. In the minors, he split time between Double-A and Triple-A last year, throwing a total of 62 innings. His combined WHIP was 1.32 and his K/9 was 9.7. Surprisingly, Garcia had better stats in his brief Triple-A run in hitter-friendly Albuquerque than he did in Double-A. Garcia’s fastball gets to 95 MPH, but usually falls in the low-90s. He has a lot of potential, but his mechanics are a work in progress. Garcia will see time in Los Angeles in 2014 and may become a dangerous reliever.
To help preview the 2014 season Featured Blogger Josh Martin will be breaking down each organization’s top 10 prospects for 2014. We hope you enjoyed today’s feature on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Keep an eye open for subsequent features on the rest of the league in the near future.
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