Los Angeles Dodgers Top-25 Prospects
Five more wins. With five more wins, the Dodgers trading away five prospects for Manny Machado will be all worth it. As the Dodgers get ready for game six of the NLCS tonight, it’s important to note that their farm system is a major reason why they’re currently in the spot they’re in. In addition to the homegrown talent they have playing in the NLCS, five Los Angeles Dodgers prospects headed East to Baltimore back in July in the Dodgers trade for superstar Manny Machado.
Those five prospects were outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, and third baseman Breyvic Valera. Diaz, Bannon, and Kremer were the biggest names in that deal and would have found themselves on the list below with Diaz joining Lux and Verdugo in the top tier. Even without these prospects, the Dodgers still have a solid all-around farm system. There might not be any flashy names with huge upside like in the Houston system, but the names at the top of this list have All-Star upside with fairly high floors as well.
Overall System Grade: B-
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Oklahoma City – Pacific Coast League
Double-A: Tulsa – Texas League
Single-A (Advanced): Rancho Cucamonga – California League
Single-A (Full): Great Lakes – Midwest League
Short-season Single-A: None
Rookie: Ogden – Pioneer League, Two teams in Dominican Summer League, one in Arizona League.
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
New Top-25 Los Angeles Dodgers Prospects
1. Gavin Lux, SS/2B, Bats: L, DOB: 11/23/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .324/.399/.514/.913, 27 2B, 8 3B, 15 HR, 13 SB, 10.9 BB%, 16.8 K%, 463 AB
A 2016 1st round pick, Lux broke out in 2018 after a sub-par 2017 season. The hit tool and plate approach have always been there, but now Lux is driving the ball better and put up his best power numbers yet in 2018. Lux continues to trim his GB% and hit more line drives and fly balls which has really helped him tap into his raw power. If this continues, he should blossom into 20-homer pop to go along with 20-25 SB upside and a strong batting average. Due to an inaccurate throwing arm, Lux might need to slide over to second base long term.
The swing on this … 👀#Dodgers No. 6 prospect Gavin Lux, the shortstop on our Pipeline Team of the Year, ripped this two-run shot as part of a big day that helped the @TulsaDrillers advance to the Texas League finals:https://t.co/00jlzSuPzi pic.twitter.com/puWXicHrlD
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 10, 2018
2. Alex Verdugo, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 5/15/96, ETA Debuted in 2017
2018 Stats (AAA): .329/.391/.472/.863, 19 2B, 10 HR, 8 SB, 9.0 BB%, 12.4 K%, 343 AB
2018 Stats (MLB): .260/.329/.377/.706, 6 2B, 1 HR, 0 SB, 9.3 BB%, 16.3 K%, 77 AB
Verdugo is in one of those “ready but doesn’t have a path to regular playing time” situations. With the exception of a .273 AVG with Double-A Tulsa in 2016, Verdugo has hit .295 or better at every level in the minor leagues and a robust .309 for his minor league career. That’s Verdugo in a nutshell for you. A plus hit tool and exceptional plate coverage are his calling card offensively and what will lead to a long Major League career for him. You’d like to see more power or speed from him, but that’s just not his game. Expect .300-plus averages with around 10-15 HR and SB. Defensively, Verdugo has adequate range with an above-average throwing arm. He’ll get his full-time shot soon, just likely not to open 2019.
3. Jeter Downs, 2B/ SS, Bats: R, DOB: 7/28/98, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A): .257/.351/.402/.753, 23 2B, 13 HR, 37 SB, 9.9 BB%, 19.7 K%, 455 AB
A shortstop named Jeter born in the middle of the Yankees late-90’s dynasty? Hmmm. To be fair, Downs would’ve been conceived somewhere around the 1997 World Series, which the Yankees did not win or even participate in. This particular Jeter keeps sneaking higher and higher in my rankings to the point where he’s now in top-100 overall discussion. All Downs has done since being selected 32nd overall in the 2017 amateur draft is impress. He posted a .795 OPS during his professional debut in the Pioneer League in 2017 with almost as many walks (27) as strikeouts (32) and followed that up with 38 extra-base hits and 37 steals last season in the Midwest League.
Downs checks in at an athletic 5’11/175 with above-average speed that has been more apparent on the bases than in the field. He played both second base and shortstop in 2018, though, he’s better suited for second base where he should be an average defender at least. At the plate, Downs has a clean right-handed swing with plus bat speed. He’s improved his overall approach and plate coverage since being drafted and has the upside to hit north of .270 with a strong OBP to go along with it. The power is probably as good as it’s going to get, but there’s enough raw strength and bat speed to consistently get into the teens for home runs. With some added loft, 20 dingers isn’t out of the question. Don’t let his last name fool you, this is a prospect trending up with .280/15/30 upside.
Now with the Dodgers, he has a much clearer path to playing time with only Gavin Lux to battle with for future reps at second base.
4. Keibert Ruiz, C, Bats: S, DOB: 7/20/98, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): .268/.328/.401/.729, 14 2B, 12 HR, 0 SB, 6.3 BB%, 8.0 K%, 377 AB
“Put the ball in play kids. A strikeout doesn’t do you jack squat.” — Eric Cross, just now.
I’m sensing a theme here at the top of these Dodgers rankings. Like with Lux and Verdugo, Ruiz has a knack for putting the ball in play and limiting his strikeouts. His batting average dove well below .300 this season, but a near 70-point BABIP drop played a decent role in that. Consider this simply a blip on the radar. Ruiz has a clean swing with a direct swing path that generates plus bat speed and hard contact. He’s more of a line drive gap to gap hitter, but has the strength to deliver HR totals in the teens. Put it all together and you have a solid offensive profile for a catcher.
But, Eric, will he stay behind the plate? Yes, at least for the short term he will. His throwing arm is merely average, but he’s still refining his mechanics behind the plate and projects as an average defensive catcher long term. Remember, he just turned 20.
5. Will Smith, C/3B, Bats: R, DOB: 3/28/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .233/.322/.455/.777, 18 2B, 20 HR, 5 SB, 10.6 BB%, 27.7 K%, 352 AB
Okay, lets go another direction here. Smith might not be as contact-oriented as the previous three, but the 23-year-old possesses above-average raw power with good loft on his swing and can run a little bit for a catcher. The hit tool is better than his .233 average lets on. Smith was hitting .264 at Double-A Tulsa before a 12-for-87 Triple-A debut caused that average to nose dive. He’s the better defensive catcher out of him and Ruiz, but has gotten work in at second and third base as well.
6. Dustin May, RHP, DOB: 9/6/97, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 132.2 IP, 3.39 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 8.3 K/9, .233 AVG
First off, I’m not convinced Dustin May and Clint Frazier aren’t long-lost twins or something. Seriously. Go look at Frazier’s headshots from the minors. May is a tall, lanky right-hander with a solid four-pitch arsenal. His fastball sits in the low to mid-90’s and he offsets that with a power curve, changeup, and a cutter with good riding action. The curve is the best of the bunch and when it’s on, is a very effective out-pitch for May. The focus for May moving forward will be the development of his changeup. If he can gain consistency with that pitch and continue to command his arsenal well, May should turn into a solid mid-rotation arm with the ceiling of an SP2.
7. D.J. Peters, OF, Bats: R, 12/12/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (AA): .236/.320/.473/.793, 23 2B, 29 HR, 1 SB, 8.1 BB%, 34.3 K%, 491 AB
Maybe D.J. Peters should take my quote from the Ruiz section to heart. There’s massive raw power here, but the rest of the offensive profile is a work in progress. Peters swing tends to get long and making consistent contact has been an ongoing issue. For his career, Peters has a 30.9% strikeout rate that has increased each season since his 2016 debut. Additionally, his walk rate has dropped each of the last two seasons. Peters has the upside of a 30-plus homer corner outfielder with a strong throwing arm, but the hit tool needs a lot of work to be Major league ready.
What a hit by DJ Peters! A butter-smooth swing sent the ball driving into the batter's eye at ONEOK Field.#JackieRobinsonDay #FortyTwo #MLB #NO42 #Dodgers #HomeRun #Baseball #Drillers #MiLB #Tulsa pic.twitter.com/u1NV7K5R9R
— Tulsa Drillers (@TulsaDrillers) April 16, 2018
8. Miguel Vargas, 3B, Bats: R, DOB: 11/17/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK/A): .330/.404/.465/.869, 15 2B, 2 HR, 7 SB, 10.0 BB%, 15.7 K, 200 AB
Signed out of Cuba, Vargas hit for a high average with solid plate coverage during his first taste of professional ball in the stats and has more power in that bat than he’s shown so far. Once he starts filling out that 6’3 frame, expect the power numbers to take off. Vargas stands to lose a little speed once he fills out, but should still be an average runner with 15-plus SB upside.
9. Dennis Santana, RHP, DOB: 4/12/96, ETA Debuted in 2018
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 49.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 11.8 K/9, .196 AVG
I left out Santana’s Major League stats because they don’t matter here. It was 3.2 bad innings and is not indicative of the pitcher he’s capable of being. Santana throws from a lower arm slot which has created a ton of riding life and sink on his mid-90’s fastball. The results, as you can expect, have been a ton of groundball outs. His best secondary pitch is a hard slider with plenty of break and Santana’s changeup lacks consistency but should be a serviceable pitch for him. Unfortunately, Santana had to get shut down to rehab a strained rotator cuff, but avoided surgery and should return in 2019. Whether that’s in the rotation or bullpen is another question. The most likely scenario has him returning to the rotation in Triple-A.
10. Edwin Rios, 3B/1B/OF, Bats: L, DOB: 4/21/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AAA): .304/.355/.482/.837, 25 2B, 10 HR, 0 SB, 6.7 BB%, 32.3 K%, 309 AB
You’d like to see better plate discipline, but it’s hard to argue with a .302 AVG over 346 minor league games. Rios generates plenty of bat speed and hard contact to all fields from the left side of the plate and his above-average raw power should lead to 25-plus HR pop. He’ll need to remain patient at the plate or he’ll be exposed against Major League pitching. Still, his ability to barrel up balls should help him keep his average respectable. Depending what the Dodgers do this offseason, Rios could find his way into the Los Angeles lineup next summer.
11. Tony Gonsolin, RHP, DOB: 5/14/94, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 128.0 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 10.9 K/9, 227 AVG
It’s safe to say that Gonsolin’s first season in the starting rotation was a success. His performance made the Dodgers look like freaking geniuses for making the switch. Gonsolin features a plus fastball/splitter combination and offsets those with two breaking balls, with his hammer curve being the better of the two. There’s no questioning that Gonsolin is going to remain a starter and has SP2/3 upside with a fairly high floor as well.
— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) March 17, 2018
12. Jeren Kendall, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 2/4/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): .215/.300/.356/.656, 20 2B, 12 HR, 37 SB, 10.5 BB%, 32.0 K%, 438 AB
A plus defender with elite speed, Kendall is a mess at the plate right now. He’s got a little pop, but struggles to make consistent contact and strikes out way too frequently. A solid walk rate has salvaged his OBP somewhat, but Kendall is going to need to start putting the ball in play more.
13. Mitchell White, RHP, DOB: 12/28/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 105.1 IP, 4.53 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, .273 AVG
After limiting contact and missing plenty of bats in his first two professional campaigns, White took a step back in those two departments in 2018. White’s H/9 jumped from 5.5 to 10.7 while his strikeout rate dropped from 10.8 to 7.5. Nothing overly concerning here, just some struggles during his first full season in Double-A. White features a mid-90’s sinking fastball and plus-plus slider with two-plane tilt, but has struggled to develop his changeup and his command comes and goes.
14. Josiah Gray, RHP, DOB: 12/21/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK): 52.1 IP, 2.58 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 10.1 K/9, .155 AVG
After splitting his time between the mound and shortstop, Gray made the full-time transition to pitching a couple years ago and showed enough potential to be taken in the second round this past draft. And as you could probably expect, Gray throws two above-average to plus pitches in his low-90’s running fastball and sweeping slider, but has yet to develop a serviceable change. The fastball and slider lay a solid flood for Gray as a late-inning bullpen arm with the upside of a No. 2 or 3 starter if he can make strides with his changeup. When it’s all said and done, I believe Gray ends up as a starter. He has a clean delivery and gets great extension. Just needs that changeup to come along.
Gray came over, along with Downs, in the Yasiel Puig deal on 12/21/18.
15. Edwin Uceta, RHP, DOB: 1/9/98, ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A/A+): 120.1 IP, 3.89 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 9.8 K/9, .238 AVG
A small right-hander at just 155 pounds, Uceta has three average to above-average pitches with the potential for a plus changeup. He’ll need to add strength to that frame if he wants to stay in the rotation. If moved to the pen, Uceta could flourish as a setup man.
16. Carlos Rincon, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 10/14/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A/A+): .254/.358/.485/.843, 22 2B, 22 HR, 5 SB, 12.2 BB%, 26.0 K%, 398 AB
Rincon is a strong right-handed hitter that is already tapping into his raw power with projectability for more. Plate coverage has been an issue, but both his strikeout and walk rates improved this season. Will be interesting to see how he handles the high minors.
17. Michael Grove, RHP, DOB: 12/18/96, ETA 2021
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
We’ve yet to see the Dodgers 2018 2nd round pick due to Tommy John surgery, but there’s reason to be excited here. A plus fastball/slider combination is a good start, but Grove has had control issues and has yet to develop a reliable change-up. Both of those could push him to the bullpen long term.
18. Yadier Alvarez, RHP, DOB: 3/7/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/AA): 55.1 IP, 4.23 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 7.2 BB/9, 10.1 K/9, .211 AVG
Nearly a walk per inning in 2018 tells the story here. Ever since he signed back in 2015, all eyes have been on Alvarez due to his upside. That’s all it’s been though. Upside. He started off well enough in 2016, but has struggled mightily with control ever since. Alvarez has an electric upper-90’s heater with a wipeout slider. However, he walks everything and anything that steps to the plate and can’t seem to figure out how to throw a decent changeup. First it looked like he was destined for the bullpen. Now, the word bust is creeping into the picture.
19. Starling Heredia, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 2/6/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK/A): .192/.260/.332/.592, 9 2B, 7 HR, 4 SB, 8.0 BB%, 36.8 K%, 229 AB
Plus raw power with an atrocious hit tool. That’s really all you need to know about Heredia. The power is incredibly intriguing, but Heredia needs to cut down on the strikeouts and put more balls in play if he ever wants to become a Major League hitter. If he can, his strength and bat speed will make him a major home run threat. Definitely a name to monitor moving forward.
20. Christian Santana, 3B/1B, Bats: R, DOB: 2/24/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A+): .274/.302/.447/.749, 23 2B, 24 HR, 2 SB, 3.4 BB%, 24.7 K%, 548 AB
Santana had himself a fine 2018, finishing with 24 homers, 109 RBI, and a .274 batting average. However, that came with 143 strikeouts to just 20 walks. His raw power and strong throwing arm from the hot corner should help him climb the organizational ladder, but he’ll need to improve his plate discipline and coverage if he wants to be a starter at the highest level and not just a Triple-A bat.
21. Diego Cartaya, C, Bats: R, DOB: 9/7/01, ETA 2023/2024
2018 Stats : Did Not Play
One of the top international names on the market this past summer, Cartaya projects as a starting-caliber backstop that hits for a decent batting average. His swing is fairly clean for a player his age and he has shown the ability to use the whole field. Don’t expect much power or speed here, though.
22. Connor Wong, C, Bats: R, DOB: 5/19/96, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A+): .269/.350/.480/.830, 20 2B, 19 HR, 6 SB, 8.8 BB%, 32.0 K%, 383 AB
With guys like Ruiz and Smith ahead of him, and Diego Cartaya now in the mix, Connor Wong often gets forgotten. His upside is not as high as the others, but he is decent with the bat and could go 15/10 over a full season. Give him a 50/50 shot at sticking behind the plate, though.
23. John Rooney, LHP, DOB: 1/28/97, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK/A): 20.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 9.5 K/9, .219 AVG
A big 6’5 southpaw, Rooney dominated during his final collegiate season at Hofstra, vaulting himself into early-round consideration. Armed with three average or better pitches and solid command, Rooney should move quickly through the Dodgers system with the upside of a mid-rotation starter down the road.
24. Braydon Fisher, RHP, DOB: 7/26/00, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK): 22.0 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, .259 AVG
A 4th round pick back in June, Fisher has some projectability as a mid-rotation arm. His fastball currently sits in the low-90’s with some life and should add a tick or two once he develops and adds more strength. A slider and changeup comprise his secondary offerings with the slider flashing plus potential.
25. Jordan Sheffield, RHP, DOB: 6/1/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A+): 37.0 IP, 6.32 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 5.4 BB/9, 10.7 K/9, .270 AVG
It hasn’t been smooth sailing lately for Jordan Sheffield, but I still hold out hope that he can turn into a solid Major League pitcher. Whether that’s in the rotation or the bullpen will be up to his control. He has three above-average pitches when he can control them, but that’s been his downfall. Sheffield got some work in out in the Arizona Fall League trying to hone that control in hopes of a better 2019 season.
Other Team Prospect Reports
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.