2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Top Prospects For Dynasty Leagues
In baseball, there are two ways to win a championship. One way is to have a massive payroll where you can put a championship-caliber squad on the field by simply opening your wallet and letting the moolah fly. The other way is to have a top-notch player development organization and build a team that way before they leave via free agency. The Kansas City Royals in 2015 and Tampa Bay Rays in 2020 are perfect examples of that. And then you have the elite tier that can do both of those things well. Basically, the elite tier starts with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is why they’ve been a contender for basically my entire three decades on this planet. While they currently lack an elite top-25 talent, this wave of Los Angeles Dodgers top prospects is highly-talented with incredible depth in the field and on the mound.
In fact, their #1 player for dynasty purposes is the newest addition to this top-20. But don’t let the lack of a sexy prospect name fool you, this Dodgers system is once again loaded and that newest addition I mentioned has top-10 prospect upside.
For all other team top-20s, click here.
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Los Angeles Dodgers Top Prospects For Dynasty Leagues
1. Wilman Diaz, SS/3B
While I’m incredibly high on Wilman Diaz, it did shock me a bit to see him sit atop these rankings when I added all the International signings into my rankings. While this Dodgers system remains highly-talented with incredible depth, they currently lack an elite “wow” prospect. Well, until now. Diaz has the skills to be that next buzzy prospect in this system that everybody fights over in dynasty leagues. Signed for a hair under $2.7 million, the Dodgers got the best bat in this year’s international class in my eyes, for the 7th highest (so far) signing bonus. I’ll go out on a limb and say this now… Wilman Diaz could be the Marco Luciano of this draft class. Exciting, isn’t it?
Dodgers are expected to sign the No. 3 IFA SS Wilman Diaz from Venezuela. Diaz is a five-tool threat who trains in the same program that produced Diego Cartaya and Yeiner Fernandez. “The sky is the limit” for Diaz who has apparently outgrown his stadium below.🇻🇪 pic.twitter.com/yMUrdGRh8W
— tyler j. spicer (@tylerjspicer) January 14, 2021
Currently listed at 6’2/180, Diaz already has a strong and athletic frame with more room for growth. From the right side, his swing is exceptionally quick thanks to his lightning-quick hands and Diaz has already displayed plus raw power that could grow into 70-grade territory as he matures physically. The hit tool is always the hardest to judge with the J2 bats, but with the barrel control and all-fields power that Diaz has shown so far, he’s far from a power-only bat. It will be interesting to see how he fares in game action once he arrives in the United States, but I can see an above-average hit tool, maybe more in time. Add in above-average speed and you have a fantasy stud waiting to happen.
As of now, Diaz checks in around 60th overall in my prospect rankings, but with his raw tools, he won’t stay there for long. We could be looking at a top-20 dynasty prospect in a year or two. There’s a chance he outgrows shortstop and has to move to third, but that’s not imminent.
2. Kody Hoese, 3B
If I was ranking this system on the highest floor, Kody Hoese would be #1. And that’s no knock to Hoese who possesses intriguing upside as well. Hoese is the type of prospect that winds up having a long career putting up solid numbers year in and year out. That might not have been what people expected before his final season at Tulane, but a more simplified approach along with eliminating his bigger leg kick allowed Hoese to really settle in and break out to the tune of a .391/.486/.779 slash line with 20 doubles and 23 home runs in 58 games with more walks (39) than strikeouts (34).
That performance launched Hoese up into the first round of the 2019 draft where the Dodgers selected him with the 25th overall selection. Hoese continued his hot hitting after the draft with a .299/.380/.483 line in 41 games between the Arizona League and Midwest League.
— emilycwaldon (@EmilyCWaldon) July 29, 2019
What I love about Hoese’s swing and approach is the simplicity. As I mentioned, he got rid of his bigger leg kick prior to the 2019 season and now uses a more minimal leg kick that syncs well with his hands. The load is moderate without any unnecessary hand movement and Hoese is direct to the ball with plus bat speed. He’s shown that he can drive the ball to all fields and doesn’t get fooled often with offspeed outside the zone. Hoese should have no issues hitting for a high average with a high OBP as well thanks to his higher walk rate. This is a 55-hit, 55-power third baseman with .280/25 upside that should reach Los Angeles by mid-2022 at the latest.
3. Luis Rodriguez, OF
Regarded as one of the big-4 from the 2019 international class, Luis Rodriguez has already begun ascending up prospect rankings before he’s even taken his first swing in a minor league game. Signed for a tick under $2.7 million, Rodriguez hasn’t been ranked as high as Jasson Dominguez, Erick Peña, or Robert Puason as he doesn’t have any standout tools. But for fantasy purposes, he’s highly-intriguing as he could be above-average across the board as a 5-cat asset.
From the right side, Rodriguez has a simplistic swing with fluid motions, but is able to generate plenty of bat speed and torque thanks to quick hands and a strong lower half. He’s exhibited an all-fields approach with legitimate abive-average or better raw power to all fields and has a great feel for the barrel. He’s also an above-average runner presently, but likely settles in around 50-grade there once he matures and fulls out a bit. But hey, that should still translate to 10-15 steals to pair with a good average and 20+ home runs annually. There might even be more power than that at peak. Thanks to his all-around offensive skills, L-Rod is on the rise and will likely shoot up into many top-50s if he has a strong professional debut in 2021.
4. Josiah Gray, RHP
Many around the industry are much higher than I am on Josiah Gray. He features a plus fastball in the low to mid-90’s with great finishing life, but has yet to establish a plus secondary offering that he can rely on to get whiffs. Outside of the fastball, Gray will mix in a slider, curveball, and changeup, with the slider being the best of the bunch. Thrown in the low-80s, Gray’s slider has sharp two-plane break and is his main out pitch right now, but I wouldn’t throw a plus grade here. Both the curveball and changeup are fringe-average offerings.
Josiah Gray, Overpowering Fastball (with Sound 🔊). pic.twitter.com/cmxZqro9Vy
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 11, 2020
Gray has been able to find plenty of success in the lower minors with this mix along with above-average command and control, but as the competition level continues to rise, Gray is going to need to develop and establish his secondary offerings more. Longterm, Gray projects as a solid #4 starter in my eyes with the ceiling of a #3 that can keep ratios in check and post a strikeout rate between 25-30%.
5. Michael Busch, 2B
When you look at the five scouting tools for Michael Busch, three of them grade as below average. Luckily, for fantasy purposes, two of those don’t matter too much in his arm and defense. Busch is barely passable at the keystone, but doesn’t profile any better elsewhere, so for now, that’s where he’s likely going to remain. And what he lacks defensively, Busch makes up for at the plate. In each of his last two seasons at North Carolina, Busch hit in the vicinity of .300 with more walks than strikeouts while combining for 29 home runs in 129 games. He also excelled in the Cape Cod League back in 2018, slashing .322/.450/.567 with six dingers and, once again, more walks than strikeouts.
Busch doesn’t project as a stud in either department, but both his hit tool and power grade as above average and the approach is exceptional. He has a plan at the plate and will make the pitchers attack him in the zone before he’ll help them out by chasing. Don’t expect more than a handful of steals annually, but Busch could develop into an above-average offensive 2nd baseman with .280/.350/20+ potential down the road.
6. Jake Vogel, OF
One of my favorite mid-round FYPD targets, Jake Vogel has the tools to really shoot up prospect rankings over the next year or two. The main reason for that is his double-plus speed. Vogel was one of the fastest players in the 2020 draft and could be a 30-plus steal threat one day. But speed can only get you so far, right? You have to get on base to utilize that speed for the greater fantasy good.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 12, 2020
At 5’9/165, Vogel certainly doesn’t scream power hitter and doesn’t project as a hitter that will provide much in that department. Vogel’s approach is more of the line drive variety and his swing doesn’t generate much natural loft to the path. Added bulk plus his plus bat speed could put him in the 12-15 homer range at peak, but that’s likely the best-case scenario. But with that said, the contact skills are above-average and he’s shown a good approach for his age without major chase concerns. If his approach sticks and takes a step forward, Vogel could be a top of the order asset.
7. Andy Pages, OF
Switching gears, we go from a speed-first player to a power-hitting outfield masher. The Dodgers signed Andy Pages for just $300K out of Cuba late in 2017 and that investment is looking mighty fine so far. Despite a lower average in his 2018 debut, Pages still hit 10 homers with 10 steals in 52 games and followed that up with a .298/.398/.651 showing with 19 homers and seven steals in 63 games in 2019. Don’t let the stolen base numbers fool you though as Pages is slightly below-average as a runner and has not shown a high level of efficiency on the bases. The power is legit though.
Pages projects as a plus power corner outfielder with a quicker swing that generates plenty of natural loft. In each of his two seasons so far, Pages’ flyball rate has easily eclipsed 50%, but he’s also been overly reliant on pulling the ball. There’s not much question surrounding that power, but I do wonder if his approach at the plate gets exposed as he faces more advanced competition. Pages struck out 28.3% of the time in 2019 and better pitchers will certainly exploit his pull happy ways and pitch him away until he shows that he can handle it. He’s in a great organization to makes those adjustments, however, and his power potential makes Pages exciting longterm.
8. Bobby Miller, RHP
Big bad Bobby Miller. I’m not sure if anyone has ever called him that, but it fits. Especially when watching Miller pitch. The 29th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Miller is an imposing 6’5 right-hander with an equally as imposing mid to upper-90’s fastball with explosive life. The pitch easily grades as plus and might even border on double-plus if Miller’s command ticks up. Offsetting the heater is an above-average slider that flashes plus with two-plane tilt, a fringe curveball, and a serviceable changeup that is around average.
— Kyler Peterson (@KPeterson813) June 11, 2020
I’m very on board with Miller’s FB/SL combination but would love to see that changeup develop into a third weapon for him. If that happens, Miller could be a high-end mid-rotation arm that slots in behind the big arms already dominating in Hollywood. As a polished collegiate arm, Miller could move quickly too with an early to mid-2022 a distinct possibility.
9. Alex De Jesus 2B/SS
While I like the bat, I’m not sure where Alex De Jesus fits long-term. He’s mostly played shortstop in the minors with a little second and third sprinkled in, but those positions are all locked down or have one or two people ahead of him on the organizational depth chart. Beyond that, the bat has a chance to develop to the point where De Jesus can make a solid impact offensively.
In his one season back in 2019, De Jesus slashed .281/.340/.392 with three homers and five steals in 57 games. The .392 slugging and three homers don’t inspire much confidence, but De Jesus has displayed above-average to plus raw power. He just needs to translate that into games more consistently. If he can, a .275/20 bat isn’t out of the question if he can clean up his approach a bit too and cut down on the 29.9% strikeout rate.
10. Diego Cartaya, C
The Dodgers have made it a point to stockpile catching talent over the last several years. They already have Will Smith excelling in the Majors and Keibert Ruiz right behind him, and in a couple of years, Diego Cartaya will enter the mix as well. While Ruiz possesses the better hit tool, Cartaya blows him away in the power department. That power hasn’t consistently shown up in games yet, but Cartaya has at least above-average raw power, probably plus, and has a strong frame with plenty of torque in his swing. The slight uppercut swing path generates some natural loft as well.
Cartaya is also a better defensive backstop than Ruiz is, both in terms of his receiving skills and throwing arm. Cartaya is still a few years away, but he could develop into a 50-grade hitter that is above average everywhere else, except for his below-average speed.
11. Miguel Vargas 1B/3B
Meet the corner infield version of Michael Busch. Miguel Vargas profiles as a bat-first corner infielder that has the arm to stick at the hot corner, but might be better suited for first base defensively. But with that said, Vargas doesn’t have the power to stand out at either position. Vargas’ raw power is around average and his swing path is mostly linear, lacking loft. Even with a swing adjustment, 15-18 homers annually is likely his ceiling, albeit, with a fairly high batting average.
‘Vargas’ hit tool grades as above-average and borders on plus, but there’s just not enough impact to rank higher for me. A .280/15 first baseman is likely what we’re looking at here, and does that really excite anyone?
12. Zach McKinstry, 2B
Many will think this rank is too low, but I’m just not understanding the recent craze over Zach McKinstry. The only areas of his game that impresses me for fantasy purposes are his above-average contact skills and solid plate approach. McKinstry has consistently shown the ability to use the entire field regularly and has kept his strikeouts in check (20.5%) while also drawing walks at a 10.5% clip. Outside of that, the allure stops for me. McKinstry’s power is average at best so don’t be fooled by his mini power breakout in 2019 which was aided by a seven-homer in 26 games performance in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. McKinstry’s swing is more geared for line drives in the gap than over the fence pop.
You could say his speed is above-average or better, however, he hasn’t run much in the minors (23 steals in 356 games), and when he has run, he hasn’t been successful (60.5%). At best, I believe we’re looking at a utility infielder that fills in when one of the starters gets hurt. If he does somehow ever accrue a full season’s worth of at-bats, .275/15/10 is a reasonable expectation. But hey, that’s not too bad for a former 33rd round pick.
13. Ryan Pepiot, RHP
After a solid, yet unspectacular career at Butler, Ryan Pepiot found himself being taken in the 3rd round by the Dodgers back in the 2019 draft. Following the draft, Pepiot pitched 23.1 innings to the tune of a 1.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 31.6 K%. Missing bats at a clip like that has always been Pepiot’s strength and he showed that consistently at Butler with a 32.2% strikeout rate over three seasons. However, pounding the strike zone in general and limiting the free passes has been a struggle. Pepiot posted a 12.3% walk rate in college and 13.3% in his 2019 professional debut. This is the one thing holding him back in my eyes from behind a mid-rotation arm, because the stuff is impressive.
Butler RHP Ryan Pepiot has flashed pretty good stuff here today. Big physical guy, bAvg command but mostly in zone, FB working 89-93, missing bats in zone w/ it, fringy SL, CH is often plus w/ tumble, early-ish Day 2 look for me today. Good look at the CH here. #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/Yuz7J628Ep
— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) May 3, 2019
His fastball sat in the low-90’s in 2019, but reports say that the velocity and movement increased at the Dodgers alt site in 2020. If he’s now closer to the mid-90’s with stronger life, Pepiot’s fastball goes from 50/55 t0 55/60. He’ll mix in a trio of secondaries with his changeup easily serving as the best of the bunch, grading as plus with great velocity separation, fade, and sink. What will really determine just how good Pepiot can be is the development of his breaking pitches and refinement of his command and control. Currently, his curveball is fringe at best and his slider does flash above-average at times, but inconsistently due to Pepiot’s command.
14. Keibert Ruiz, C
Every year, I rank Keibert Ruiz lower than most would anticipate in this system and people question it. But let me quickly divulge why I’m not high on him for fantasy purposes. With Ruiz, the hit tool is legit. He’s consistently displayed above-average or better contact skills and flawless zone awareness and pitch recognition. In his 387 career minor league games, Ruiz is a .299 hitter with a minuscule 9.7 strikeout rate. That’s not something you see often from a catcher. But outside of the contact skills, Ruiz doesn’t walk much, has regressed in the power department, and has to deal with Will Smith at the Major League level.
Without question, Ruiz could be a .280 hitter in the Majors, but the power is below-average with a linear swing, and he hasn’t produced a 40% flyball rate since way back in rookie ball. At best, I think we’re getting 10-12 homers from Ruiz, who will likely only be a batting average source at the Major League level. That simply doesn’t warrant a ranking above the players above him that all can make bigger fantasy impacts.
15. Kendall Williams, RHP
Drafted in the 2nd round back in 2019 by Toronto, the Dodgers acquired Kendall Williams in the Ross Stripling deal and it’s easy to see why they targeted him. Toeing the rubber at 6’6/205, Williams is an imposing force on the mound with physical projection left on his frame and the potential for two plus offerings down the road. Those being his low-90’s fastball and big breaking curveball. These pitches already flash plus and if Williams can get up into the mid-90’s for his sitting velo range, his fastball will push into plus territory as he’s shown above-average command with late life as well.
Williams will also mix in a slider and changeup that are behind, but both could be average offerings for him. There’s a good chance Williams shoots up prospect rankings over the next year or two, so acquiring him now is highly recommended.
16. Clayton Beeter, RHP
Without question, Clayton Beeter is the biggest boom or bust arm in this top-20. Beeter was dominating in 2020 at Texas Tech before the season was cut short in March. In four starts, Beeter poster a 2.14 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 40.3% strikeout rate to finish his collegiate career at 41.7%. Those four starts were the only ones he made in college as Beeter was a reliever in 2019 and missed a bunch of time due to two separate elbow surgeries, including one TJS.
Pretty loud first from @TTU_Baseball’s Clayton Beeter with two punchouts. Sitting 94-96/97, tough OT slot, works fast & in attack mode, mixing in cons aAvg breaker with power @ 84-85. #mlbdraft pic.twitter.com/xeeMeYQNBD
— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) February 28, 2020
But enough about that. You could argue that Beeter has the best two-pitch combination in this pitching-rich system. His mid-90’s fastball and low-80’s curveball are both easily plus offerings and are aided by Beeter’s high arm slot. But outside of those, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered. Can his changeup develop to Major League average? Will his command improve? Is he durable enough to be a starter? A plethora of questions but a ton of upside as well.
17. Jimmy Lewis, RHP
Admittedly, I’m a bit higher on Jimmy Lewis than most, but there’s good projection here. Lewis is a 6’6 right-hander with plenty of physical projection left on his frame. He currently sits in the 92-95mph range with solid life on his heater and can touch a bit higher. With the velocity, life, and command, Lewis’ fastball grades as above-average for me and could finish as plus down the road if he adds bulk and the velocity ticks up a bit. Offsetting the fastball is an average to above-average curveball that he has shown advanced feel for, although, it’s not a big breaker, and and a below-average changeup. That might not be a glowing report, but the Dodgers are one of the best player development organizations in the game and I’m confident they can maximize Lewis’ potential.
18. Devin Mann, 2B
Another bat-first infielder in this Dodgers system, consider Devin Mann a poor man’s Michael Busch. Their profiles are fairly similar, but Busch is a bit more advanced offensively with a higher ceiling. After a breakout final season at Louisville vaulted Mann into the 5th round of the 2018 draft, he’s performed admirably, especially in 2019. In 103 games, 98 of which came in the CLass-A Advanced California League, Mann slashed .286/.366/.501 with 19 homers, five steals, and a 10.7% walk rate.
Mann has consistently flashed an average or slightly above-average hit tool with above-average raw power, a solid approach, and enough speed to add a handful of steals annually, but he’s absolutely buried on the Dodgers depth chart. A change of scenery would give Mann’s dynasty value a nice boost, but he’d still only be a deeper league target.
19. Landon Knack, RHP
The Dodgers 2nd rounder this past June out of East Tennessee State, Landon Knack is your standard innings-eating #4 caliber starting pitcher with a sturdy floor. In his 19 starts in college, Knack posted a 2.29 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 3.5 BB%, and 29.5 K%. He was absolutely rolling in 2020 before the season ended, allowing only three runs and 12 hits in 25 innings with a ridiculous 1.1 BB% and 56.0 K%. Can’t do much better than that. Knacks above-average command and plus control give him that safe floor I mentioned above, and the arsenal isn’t anything to scoff at either.
Knack features a four-pitch mix with a low to mid-90’s fastball and above-average curveball leading the way. he’ll also mix in a slider and changeup, both of which are serviceable with the slider flashing above-average at times. With his high school and early collegiate injuries hopefully in the rearview, Knack has all the makings of a Major League starter.
20. DJ Peters, OF
Picking this last spot was difficult, but I’ll go with the guy that possesses the highest upside. Yes, the floor here is crumbling by the minute, but just look at all that raw power DJ Peters has. His 6’6 frame and longer levers do lead to a longer swing at times, but when he connects, forget about it. That double-plus raw power hasn’t been shy in games either and has translated into 33 homers per 162 games over the last three seasons for Peters. Unfortunately, a .254 average and 30.9% strikeout rate went along for the ride.
That’s the problem with Peters. His hit tool is below average and he chases too much outside of the zone. That’s not uncommon for a guy his size, but still limits his long-term effectiveness. At this point, I’m not sure the hit tool will allow him to be more than a weak-side platoon bat.
Media Credit: Chris Clegg, Tyler J Spicer, Emily Waldon, Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja), Baseball America, Kyler Peterson, Prospects Live, Brian Sakowski, Vinnie Cervino
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