Top 10 Prospects (2016): Los Angeles Dodgers: A Slew Of Young Pitchers Loom…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know that the Dodgers have deep pockets, and that has led to numerous big dollar signings of late.  The influence is definitely felt on these rankings, with the inclusion of numerous Cuban born players (with another potentially to be added shortly).  That doesn’t mean that money is the only thing that has led to a relatively deep system, as they are rich in pitchers who could arrive before long.

Who is the best of the group?  Who has the highest upside?  Let’s take a look:

1) Corey Seager – Shortstop
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A

We all waited for the Dodgers to grow frustrated enough with Jimmy Rollins to turn things over to Seager. Finally, late in the year, the team made the change and reaped the benefits (.337, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 17 R, 2 SB over 98 AB). Is Seager going to be able to maintain that type of pace?

It’s not likely, considering he benefited from a .387 BABIP. That said the power is clearly developing (despite 13 HR at Triple-A over 421 AB, he added 30 doubles) and he showed a good command of the strike zone (14.0% strikeout rate at Triple-A, 16.8% in the Majors). He has the potential to be one of the elite shortstops in the league, and could reach that potential as soon as ’16.

2) Julio Urias – Left-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2016
Grade – A

The southpaw pitched most of ’15 as an 18-year old, reaching Triple-A and likely would’ve arrived in the Majors had he not missed time for a pre-planned procedure. In 13 starts at Double-A he showed just how good he could be, with a 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.75 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9. Throw in a 1.05 GO/AO and what’s not to like?

One of the only things would be his delivery, which in unconventional, but we’re splitting hairs. The fact that he threw 80.1 innings last season could ultimately keep him out of the Majors in ’16, though don’t rule it out.

3) Jose De Leon – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2016/2017
Grade – A-

In most organizations De Leon would be the top prospect, but in LA he’s a distant third. That speaks more to the two players ranked above him than anything. He split time between High-A and Double-A last season, showing both strikeouts and control at each stop:

  • High-A – 13.86 // 1.91
  • Double-A – 12.33 // 3.40

With 163 K over 114.1 IP he clearly brings potentially elite strikeout stuff. The question is going to be if he can keep the ball in the ballpark, considering his GO/AO of 0.77 and having allowed 12 HR last season. Pitching in the PCL is going to be a big challenge, but if he conquers that it’s not impossible that he arrives late in ’16.

4) Grant Holmes – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade- B+

Control… Control… Control… Pitching at Single-A last season he posted a 4.70 BB/9 (54 BB over 103.1 IP), obviously a significant concern. There were strikeouts (10.19 K/9) and enough groundballs (0.95 GO/AO), so if he could consistently find the strike zone he could be a dominating option. Lucky for him and the Dodgers the team has some impressive pitching prospects ahead of him, as well as a similar prospect in Frankie Montas who is closer to the Majors (as well as the rumored addition of Yasiel Sierra). That’s going to allow him more time to develop, something he clearly needs. Like Montas, at worst he ultimately transitions to the bullpen but at 19-years old we wouldn’t anticipate that quite yet.

5) Frankie Montas – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B+

Montas got his feet wet in the Majors in 2015, making 2 starts and 7 appearances overall.  Obviously his fastball is his calling card, averaging 96.6 mph during his brief time in the Majors and being capable of hitting triple digits.  That’s going to bring strikeout potential, but he also has struggled with his command (3.86 BB/9 over 112.0 IP at Double-A this season) and needs to further develop his repertoire to stay in the rotation.  The fastball will play up in a relief role and he could have “future lights out closer” written all over him, if he can’t develop as a rotation option. With the Dodgers having a need at the back of the bullpen (as evidenced by their failed Aroldis Chapman trade), it’s possible Montas gets moved to the bullpen sooner than expected.

6) Micah Johnson – Second Baseman
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B

Johnson broke camp with the White Sox in 2015, but struggled and ultimately was exiled back to the minors.  His potential value comes from his legs and batting average, as he’s stolen as many as 84 bases in a minor league season and is a career .301 hitter (.296 at Triple-A, .317 at Double-A).  There are questions about his defense, which is something that will have to be answered, but the upside is there. With Chase Utley all that’s standing between him and a regular role, it’s hard to envision him not getting a lengthy opportunity in ’16.

The Rest:

7) Cody Bellinger – First Baseman
(Note – He exploded for 30 HR at High-A, adding 33 doubles and 4 triples as well. The strikeouts, 27.6%, are a concern, but expectations are that his plate discipline/strikeout rate shouldn’t be a major issue as he advances.)
8) Yusniel Diaz – Outfielder
9) Yadier Alvarez – Right-Handed Pitcher
10) Alex Verdugo – Outfielder

Just Missed – Walker Buehler – He’s going to miss ’16 due to Tommy John surgery, but once healthy he could climb up among the top pitching prospects in the system in short order.

Note – Yasiel Sierra hasn’t “officially” signed as of yet, but if he had he’d likely come in at either #5 or 6, having drawn comparisons to Raisel Iglesias, and be given a B+ grade.

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Grading System (still in development):
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 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

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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