The Los Angeles Dodgers are quite the interesting enigma in baseball. They were the first team in some time to outspend the New York Yankees last year by quite a large margin. They have won back-to-back National League West crowns but have gone no where in the playoffs. And now it seems as if the All Star team they put together wasn’t good enough after winning 186 combined games over the last two seasons as they are rebuilding the team.
Lucky for the Dodgers, they didn’t lose a lot of their minor league talent in acquiring the superstars they have the past few years. Gone are names like Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp. Here are the names of Jimmy Rollins and… Joc Pederson?
Baseball America’s list of LA’s 2015 Top 10 prospects should provide much hope for Dodger fans. Their top five prospects seem to be well on their way to becoming household names, while their top two should make an impact this season. Matt Kemp may be soon forgotten, and Clayton Kershaw, the best lefty in the game, may be joined by the best lefty in the minors much sooner than expected.Chris Reed (Photo Credit: MiLB.com)
10. Julian Leon:
Leon is the 18-year old Dodgers catcher of the future signed out of Mexico last season. The 5 foot 10 inch righty has not appeared above Rookie ball just yet, but the progression he made from his age-17 debut season to his age-18 sophomore year was astounding. Leon slashed .332/.420/.565 over 223 at bats while hitting 12 home runs and driving in 57 RBI in the heart of the order. More importantly, his defense went to the next level as he posted a .991 fielding percentage being the plate while throwing out 30 percent of would-be base stealers. Leon has a ways to go, but expect him to test the waters at High-A ball before 2015 is all said and done.
9. Chris Reed:
Reed was the first round draft pick in 2011, selected 16th overall by the Dodgers. He was born in London, but the 24-year old lefty starter played his college ball at Stanford. His four-year minor league career has been anything but eye-popping, but the Dodgers have a way with left-handed pitchers.
Reed is 9-31 to start his minor league career. Wins are often very arbitrary at the lower levels and not always a good indicator of success, however his peripherals are not much better either. He has posted a 4.12 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP over his career with a modest 7.6 strikeout per nine history. He was named a Mid-Season All Star for the AA Southern League, but was absolutely annihilated on his promotion to Triple-A allowing 28 runs and 37 hits over his five starts. Still, at 24 years of age, the lefty could put it together with a full season in Triple-A.
8. Scott Schebler:
Schebler is coming of a solid season at Double-A that ended with an impressive run through the Arizona Fall League. The 6 foot 1 inch, 208 pound left-handed outfielder showed his calling card, by mashing 28 home runs at Double-A in 2014. What’s more impressive is that he is getting better at the higher levels.
Schebler reduced his strikeouts (140 in 2013 to 110 in 2014) and increased his walks (35 to 45) while facing tougher competition in Double-A as opposed to High-A pitching in 2013. This means his on base percentage rose as well. Schebler isn’t a 5-tool superstar yet, but he has ability to do a little bit of everything. He makes good contact and can be relied upon to be a .280 hitter. He has speed and can get both double-digit stolen bases and triples. He has that immense power and can play all three outfield positions rather well. These attributes are what helped Schebler be one of the 22 prospects named to the 2014 AFL All-Prospect team.
7. Chris Anderson:
Anderson was drafted in the first round (selected 18th overall) by the Dodgers in the 2013 draft. The 22-year old righty had an impressive debut at Low-A in 2013, going 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA over 12 starts while striking out 50 in 46 innings pitched. Last season was a bit of a struggle, however.
As Anderson jumped to High-A ball, he was dinged around a bit more, but he still showed solid peripherals to support being named a highly-ranked prospect. He was a bit more hittable allowing 147 hits over 134.1 innings pitched, but his strikeout rate per nine innings (9.8) remained exactly the same as 2013 while his walk rate lowered over more innings pitched (4.7 to 4.2). Anderson has time to work out the kinks. If he can show marginal improvement at Double-A in 2015, the Dodgers are in good shape.
Photo Credit: MiLB.com
6. Jose De Leon:
De Leon is the 22-year old righty drafted in the 24th round of the 2013 draft by the Dodgers. His debut season, De leon looked lost, like a 20-year old would in his first taste of professional baseball. Last season he was simply remarkable.
DeLeon dominated the Pioneer League in Rookie ball. De Leon went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP while striking out 77 batters in just 54.1 innings. He earned 2 PL Pitcher of the Week Awards, was a Post-Season All Star and the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year. All of his accolades earned De Leon a promotion to A-ball where he performed even better. He went 2-0 for the Great Lake Loons, posting a 1.19 ERA and a microscopic 0.71 WHIP while striking out 42 batters over 22.2 innings. The sky is the limit and the Dodgers are excited to see how he develops at the next level.
5. Alex Verdugo
Verdugo is young and has a long way to go, but his debut season couldn’t have gone much better. The 2014 second round draft pick is a bit unpolished as a centerfielder but at just 18-years of age, that is to be expected. Verdugo is versatile as he played all three outfield positions in his rookie year.
Verdugo won’t launch many home runs right now, but at 6 feet and 200 pounds, he has the ability to grow into his power. He did hit rather successfully last season, slashing .353/.421/.511 over two levels of Rookie ball. He seems to have a keen eye and a high intelligence on the base paths. He walked (20) more than he struck out (18) and was perfect on stolen bases (11 for 11).Mar 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (84) throws in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
4. Grant Holmes
Yet another very young one makes the Dodgers top ten. Holmes was drafted in the first round of last year’s draft, selected 22nd overall by the Dodgers. The 6 foot 1 inch, 215 pound right hander had an outstanding rookie debut for being just 18-years old.
Holmes was a tad bit hittable but showed pretty consistent control over two Rookie levels. He finished the season 2-3 with an impressive 3.72 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He struck out 58 over 48.1 innings and walked only 13 batters over the same span. Baseball America called his power curve one of the best in the country, despite the fact that his fastball has been clocked as high as 98 MPH. While Holmes’ pitch arsenal seems very polished, his uncanny control at such a young age is what garnered him such a high ranking.
3. Julio Urias:
Memorize this name Dodgers fans. Where do you even begin? Urias was recently named the best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball heading into 2015 by MLB Pipeline. He is a consensus Top 30 overall prospect across the board amongst minor league gurus. At 17 years of age, he was selected to the MLB Futures Game. And he won’t turn 19 until the end of the 2015 minor league season.
Urias was signed out of Mexico at 16-years of age in 2013. He annihilated Class A ball batters with the Great Lake Loons going 2-0 with a 2.48 ER and a 1.10 WHIP striking out 67 batters in 54.1 innings. His second season showed that he still struggles with his command and control, but at 17, that was to be expected. He finished the year 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while striking out 109 batters in 87.2 innings. Simply remarkable.
His three pitch arsenal seems like it is years ahead of Urias. He has a mid-90s fast ball, a breaking curve ball and a fading changeup that he can nail on both sides of the plate. Though the Dodgers want to ease him through the system, he maybe in the bigs by the age of 20.Sep 27, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson (65) singles in the sixth inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2. Joc Pederson:
The Dodgers No. 2 prospect looks like he is set to take over center field in 2015. Pederson’s pop and speed made Matt Kemp expendable and leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the outfield. It’s Pederson time.
What hasn’t Pederson accomplished in the minors? He has been an all star at every level, as well as being a Baseball America Minor League All Star in consecutive seasons. He was an Arizona Fall League Rising Star and has appeared in the MLB Futures Game. Last season he was the Pacific Coast League’s Most Valuable Player for the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Pederson’s MVP season was one for the ages. He slashed .303/.435/.582 while making the 30/30 club slugging 33 home runs and swiping 30 bases. Though he struck out 149 times, he showed he has plate discipline by earning 100 free passes. He is versatile in the field as well, having played all three outfield positions. He still has some growing to do, but at 22-years of age, he mans a solid and steady centerfield.
Carl Crawford has lost a step and with Chris Heisey the only legitimate backup to contend with Pederson, it will be his job to settle into, growing pains and all. While the PCL is known for making players look a bit better than they may be as a hitter’s league, Pederson has the skill set. Don’t worry about his struggles in his September call-up, Pederson is a decent 5-tool player in the making.Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Corey Seager against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
1. Corey Seager:
Seager is only 20-years old and has only three years of professional experience, but he is the third baseman of the Dodgers future. The left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing short stop is one of the finest hitters the minor leagues have to offer. Now it is time to see how versatile he can be.
Seager has been a short stop for his entire career, but with the Dodgers acquiring Jimmy Rollins in the offseason, they showed that they may not have confidence in Seager at short stop. Their concerns are justified as Seager as a career .947 fielding percentage and 4.04 range factor. His arm is not the question, however his range is as he struggles with balls not hit directly at him. This makes him perhaps more qualified to shift to third base and with only Juan Uribe in front of him, puts him on a faster track to Los Angeles.
That is yet to be seen, however. Until then, Seager will continue to light up box scores with his steady bat. He had a fantastic season split between High-A and Double-A, slashing .349/.402/.602. He belted 20 home runs and drove in 97 batters en route to being named the California League’s Most Valuable Player. He then put together a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League, earning AFL Rising Stars honors for the second consecutive season as well as joining fellow Dodger Scott Schebler on the AFL All-Prospect Team. He should see Triple-A rather quickly in 2015 and if he can handle a position change, there is no reason to rule out his major league debut.