The Dodgers have seemingly always been viewed as a farm system rich with talent, and nothing has changed (at least at the top of the rankings). While they have dealt away some prospects in a push for a World Series title, they’ve held their top prospects tightly and that has helped them maintain one of the better farm systems in the game. We may all know the top names, but are they alone as impact prospects? Who should we know? Who could make a significant impact in the Majors? Let’s take a look
1) Gavin Lux – Second Baseman
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A
He may have struggled in his first taste of the Majors in ’19 (.240 with 2 HR and 2 SB over 23 games), but the experience was likely invaluable. Expected to slide into a starting role in 2020, Lux hit .347 with 26 HR and 10 SB between Double and Triple-A last season. While there were strikeouts, the underlying numbers show that he should provide a strong approach overall:
- Strikeout Rate – 19.5%
- SwStr% – 8.5%
- Walk Rate – 11.7%
Even in his brief time in the Majors he was hitting the ball hard (52.9%), and while his SwStr% spiked (11.4%) he wasn’t chasing outside the strike zone (20.9%). With power and enough speed, Lux has the potential to be a Top 5 fantasy second baseman.
2) Dustin May – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A-
May made his first impact in the Majors Leagues coming out of the bullpen, but his future lies in the starting rotation. Splitting time between Double-A (15 starts) and Triple-A (5 starts) May posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, showing off all the skills we look for from a pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 9.28 K/9
- Control – 2.45 BB/9
- Groundballs – 53.0%
Obviously we’d like to see a little bit more than a 10.3% SwStr%, but he’s still learning and gaining experience at the upper levels. His stuff should develop more and more swings and misses in time, and even if he forfeits a few groundballs to do so it’s not going to be an issue. He has the potential of developing into an ace, and while the Dodgers are rich in starters May should get an extended look in the role at some point in 2020.
3) Josiah Gray – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2020
Grade – B
Gray’s numbers were highly impressive in 2019, as he pitched across three levels and compiled a 2.28 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over 130.0 IP. That included 39.1 innings at Double-A, where he continued to show a strikeout per inning (41 K) and good control (2.52 BB/9). The question is going to be just how exposed he becomes against more advanced hitters, as his groundball rate took a step back with each stop:
- Single-A – 40.7%
- High-A – 39.2%
- Double-A – 34.0%
Home runs are going to be an issue, and while his 16.0% SwStr% overall was impressive it fell to 11.8% at Double-A. That’s still good, but if opposing hitters are making more contact there are going to be home run problems. It doesn’t knock him off radars, but don’t be surprised if he’s a little bit overhyped heading into 2020.
4) Brusdar Graterol – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B
Graterol had an interesting offseason, as he was part of the Mookie Betts trade but instead of landing in Boston he had to settle for going to the Dodgers due to concerns over his medicals. If that wasn’t enough, the chatter of him ultimately profiling as a reliever grew louder. He does have closer of the future stuff, and he showed it in the Majors (9.2 IP) with 10 K vs. 2 BB courtesy of a fastball that averaged 99.0 mph.
If big time strikeout stuff wasn’t enough, he’s also shown elite groundball rates at each level he’s pitched. Overall in the minors in ’19 he posted a 55.5% groundball rate and during his brief time in the Majors it was 48.1%. With his swing and miss stuff, as well as solid control, he likely figures to be a Top 5 closer before long (eventually being dubbed the heir apparent to Kenley Jansen). While the Dodgers could try to get him to stick in the rotation, ultimately expect a full-time transition.
5) Kody Hoese – Third Baseman
ETA – 2022
Grade – B-
Selected 25th overall in the 2019 draft, Hoese spent a lot of time at Single-A (103 PA) and presented himself well hitting .264 with 2 HR and 16 RBI. The more important number was his 13.6% strikeout rate, and overall he posted a 9.9% SwStr%. For his first taste of professional baseball, and with a somewhat aggressive assignment, that’s a solid mark.
He was “older”, being drafted at 21-years old (he turned 22 in July), but that shouldn’t take anything away from his success. There also should be plenty of power for him to tap into, as he totaled 8 doubles, 2 triples and 5 HR over 171 PA overall. Think of him as a potential .275/25 HR type threat, and while some question his ability to stay at the hot corner the upside would also play at first base if a move is deemed necessary.
The Next Five:
6) Keibert Ruiz – Catcher (Grade – B-) – Ruiz spent time at Double-A (310 PA) and Triple-A (40 PA) in 2019, combining to hit .261 with 6 HR and 34 RBI. There’s no question that he has elite contact ability, posting an impressive 4.8% SwStr% and a 6.3% strikeout rate. He also has yet to develop much power and didn’t draw many walks (8.6%). The belief is that he’ll mature into more power, as he learns to be a little bit more aggressive at the plate. Time will tell, but with Will Smith in place you have to wonder if Ruiz will ultimately try to realize his potential in another uniform.
7) Tony Gonsolin – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+) – Gonsolin spent 40.0 innings in the Majors in ’19, posting an impressive 2.92 ERA. However he benefited from a .208 BABIP, his control was spotty at each level he pitched (4.57 BB/9 at Triple-A, 3.38 in the Majors) and there are significant questions about his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark (35.7% groundball rate at Triple-A, 41.7% in the Majors). If he can figure out his control the outlook would be more in the “B-“ range, though the home run risks aren’t going to disappear.
8) Miguel Vargas – Third Baseman (Grade – C+) – Vargas played 2019 at 19-years old (he turned 20 in November) and split his time nearly evenly between Single-A and High-A, combining to hit .308 with 7 HR and 13 SB. While the powerl isn’t impressive, consider his age and the fact that he added 38 doubles and 3 triples. As he matures and gets physically stronger it’s easy to envision some of those extra base hits starting to carry over the fence. He also brings a solid approach, with a 9.6% SwStr% leading to a 14.8% strikeout rate and 9.8% walk rate. He’s not fast so don’t let the stolen base total impact your outlook, but there’s a lot to like in the profile.
9) Michael Busch – Second Baseman (Grade – C) – No one is going to question his ability at the plate, though there are questions about where Busch will ultimately fit defensively (currently they are trying him at second base, though his future could be at first base or a corner outfield spot). Even in his brief time in professional baseball (10 games), he showed his upside as he drew more walks (7) than strikeouts (5) and there’s some power to tap into.
10) Diego Cartaya – Catcher (Grade – C) – Overshadowed by Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz, Cartaya is a long ways away from arriving (he won’t turn 19 until September) but has the potential to emerge among the elite catching prospects. Signed out of Venezuela, he’s drawn some comparisons to Salvador Perez. At this point that should be enough to put him on all radars.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: