Top 10 Prospects (2017): Los Angeles Dodgers: Will Yadier Alvarez Emerge As An Ace & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While the Dodgers traded one of their top prospects during the offseason (sending Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay for Logan Forsythe), the team isn’t void of talent on the horizon (and this excludes Julio Urias, who has graduated from eligibility on this list).  Part of that is due to their aggressive approach to the international market in recent seasons, though they’ve been quietly developing their own prospects as well (with many who should help the team in 2017).  Let’s take a look at how things currently stands:

 

1) Cody Bellinger – First Baseman
Grade – A-/B+
ETA – 2017

Bellinger has evolved into one of the better prospects in the game, showing the potential to hit for power while kicking in at least a few stolen bases (he’s had 8+ every season).  There are at least a few concerns that shouldn’t be overlooked, however.  There’s no questioning the power potential, he had 26 HR last season, but he only added 17 doubles and 1 triple.  With a 0.49 GO/AO while at Double-A, it indicates that he’s swinging for the fences and focusing on hitting for power.  That could lead to a diminished average, despite the improvement he made in his strikeout rate:

  • High-A (2015) – 27.6%
  • Double-A (2016) – 20.2%

He can draw a walk (12.7%), but if the strikeouts rise again to go along with the inflated fly ball rate…  It could get ugly.  How he performs at Triple-A early in the year will be telling, but there’s a chance that the bubble ultimately bursts.

 

2) Yadier Alvarez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019

The 20-year old split his time between Rookie Ball and Single-A, impressing at each stop:

  • Rookie (20.0 IP) – 1.80 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 11.70 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 2.60 GO/AO
  • Single-A (39.1 IP) – 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 12.58 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 1.14 GO/AO

There are some who feel that the flame thrower (reports are he hits 100 mph) will move to the bullpen, though the Dodgers will obviously give him time to mature physically (6’3”, 175 lbs.) and develop his secondary pitches.  If he can fully find his control and consistency the upside is that of an elite starting pitcher.

 


 

3) Alex Verdugo – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

The left-handed hitter has potential and is starting to tap into it.  In 477 AB at Double-A he hit .273 with 13 HR while demonstrating an impressive approach:

  • Strikeout Rate – 12.7%
  • Walk Rate – 8.3%

That type of strikeout rate will give him the ability to routinely hit .280+ (with the potential to put up a .300 average) and he should continue adding power (he had 23 doubles and 1 triple last season).  He also should add a few SB, despite picking up 2 in 2016, as he had 14 in 19 attempts in 2015.  He may not be a burner, but with his average he could pick up 10 SB at his peak.

 

4) Willie Calhoun – Second Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2017

Listed at 5’8”, there’s going to be concerns about his ability to maintain the power (he had 27 HR at Double-A in ’16).  The fact that he also added just 25 doubles and 1 triple adds to it, though all reports believe that he can.  Couple that with the ability to make consistent contact (11.6% strikeout rate in ’16) and there’s a lot to like.  Sure he hit .254 last season, but he wasn’t swinging for the fences (0.94 GO/AO) and should improve on his .242 BABIP.  There may not be speed, but that’s hardly a reason to downgrade him.

 

5) Andrew Toles – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

Toles is a minor league career .309 hitter who has stolen as many as 62 bases in a season (2013).  Throw in a little bit of power and it would seem like there was a lot to like.  However the lack of walks at each level he played in ’16 is a bit of a concern, despite making consistent contact (Strikeout Rate // Walk Rate):

  • High-A – 13.0% // 6.0%
  • Double-A – 15.8% // 6.3%
  • Triple-A – 13.6% // 3.4%
  • Majors – 21.7% // 7.0%

For a player who profiles more as a top of the order bat, that’s going to be something to watch.  He also could be limited to a platoon role, as the Dodgers sheltered him against southpaws a year ago (13 AB in the Majors).

 


 

The Rest:

6) Yusniel Diaz – Outfielder (Grade – B)
7) Walker Buehler – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
8) Brock Stewart – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
9) Jordan Sheffield – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
10) Gavin Lux – Shortstop (Grade – B-)

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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