And now, the dramatic conclusion of the Dodgers’ top prospects for 2014 preview series.
10. Jose Dominguez, RHP
Signed out of the Dominican in 2007 for $50,000, Dominguez finally made his way to the states in 2011 but didn’t start showing up on the prospect radar until 2012. I saw him that spring and he showed me a fastball up to 97mph with a plus breaking ball. He struggled with the Great Lakes Loons, alternating between the rotation and pen, but the stuff was still very noticeable.
I saw Dominguez again in the spring of 2013, when he pitching in a minor league spring training game. His first two pitches were 99mph and he made a habit of hitting triple digits throughout the season. His breaking ball is slurvy but features hard, late break in the low 80s. He’ll even mix in an occasional changeup.
Jose has been suspended twice for violating baseball’s drug agreement, so he’ll need to keep his nose clean. He also ended last season on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury, though it shouldn’t be a concern going forward. His command could improve, but at 23, he’s not a finished product. He’ll start 2014 in Albuquerque but will be ready for the big leagues when needed.
9. Onelki Garcia, LHP
The Dodgers were planning on selecting Garcia with their first round pick in the 2011 draft, but he was ruled ineligible by MLB before they got the chance. He and the club waited a year and they were finally united, when the Dodgers took him with their 3rd round pick in 2012. The Cuban pitched in just one game in his debut, but showed why the Dodgers thought so highly of him.
Big and strong, Onelki throws a fastball in the low to mid 90s to go along with a good curveball. He cuts himself short in his delivery, finishing too upright which is detrimental to his command and control. Oddly, his walk rate improved from Chattanooga to Albuquerque and he was called up in September to help the big club. He had a rough time, recording just four outs in three appearances. Later in the year, he’d have arthroscopic elbow surgery.
Garcia needs to clean up his delivery to improve his ability to throw strikes and stay healthy. Even though he has a starters’ build, he’s likely destined for the bullpen. However, power lefties are always in demand and Onelki ain’t no LOOGY.
8. Chris Reed, LHP [image src=”http://www.dodgersnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ChrisReed640_u3mkf003_q3c8c5i9.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Chris Reed” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
When the Dodgers found out they couldn’t draft Garcia in 2011, they turned their sights to Reed, Stanford’s closer. But, when they looked at his profile, they projected him as a starter. They’ve developed him as one ever since, though there are many who see an inevitable return to the pen.
Chris was more of a power pitcher in college, able to overpower hitters in short bursts. However, since coming into pro ball, Reed has re-established himself as a groundball pitcher and found success in his new role. In 29 appearances, including 25 starts, he posted a ridiculous 57.8% groundball rate, surrendering just nine home runs in 137.2 innings. His strikeout rate dipped below 7 per 9, but his walk rate dropped to nearly 4 per 9.
All in all, with his new approach, this version of Reed fits the back end of a rotation. If he were to switch back to relieving, I’d imagine he’d regain a few ticks on the fastball and post a healthier K rate. Still just 23, I doubt the Dodgers give up on him as a starter quite yet. He should begin 2014 in Triple A.
7. Alex Guerrero, 2B
A little over a year after making a splash by signing Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers went back to mining Cuba for talent by inking Guerrero to a four year, $28 million deal. The 26 year old infielder had been connected to the Dodgers for months, finally agreeing to a deal in October of 2013.
Alex has a compact build, is very strongly built and projects to hit for at least average power. Clay Davenport, famous for his minor league to major league translations, projects him to hit for modest average with an average OBP but a higher SLG. A shortstop in Cuba, the Dodgers plan on working him at second for the time being. However, Don Mattingly has recently stated that he looks good with the glove and the skipper wouldn’t hesitate to play him at short. There were negative reports on his defense during the Winter League season, so he’ll need to prove himself capable in spring training.
There is a chance that Guerrero begins 2014 in the minors, as was the case with Puig. He hasn’t played a lot of ball recently, with a brief winter league stint his only game-action in the past year plus. The Dodgers don’t have a plethora of available replacements, so it would benefit them greatly if Alex comes out of the gate hot.
6. Ross Stripling, RHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/5/4/4/45746544/cuts/Ross_Stripling_1_19w9tiak_nk5tmwjm.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Ross Stripling” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
When the Dodgers drafted Stripling as a 5th rounder in 2012, some analysts said he was much more than just a “senior sign,” a guy you can underpay because he can’t go back to school. So far, they’ve been proven right, as Ross has cruised through the system and reached Double A in his first full season.
After dominating the Cal League, no small task for any pitcher, Stripling was moved up to Chattanooga to finish out the 2013 season. He pitched very well, allowing just four homers and 19 walks in 94 innings while striking out 83. He has the classic four pitch mix, with a fastball that he can cut and sink, a big curve, a shorter slider and a deceptive changeup. He doesn’t really have a putaway offering, though the curve and change show flashes of being above average.
Ross is already 24, but he’s nearly major league ready. The organization has a glut of pitching, though they did offer him an invitation to spring training. He’ll likely begin the year in the minors but don’t be surprised if you see him in a Dodgers uniform before the year is out.
5. Chris Anderson, RHP
Some may see Chris Anderson as a sign of change in the Dodgers’ draft philosophy, but I see him as the exception that proves the rule. Considered a possible top 10 pick early in 2013, the Jacksonville coaching staff worked him to death and his stuff took a step back. That caused him to fall into the Dodgers’ laps at pick 18 in the first round. The organization saw someone who was undervalued and jumped on him.
It didn’t take long for Anderson to impress evaluators in pro ball, as he struck out the side on 10 pitches in his first inning with the Loons. He bumped the high 90s and showed a tight slider as well as a changeup that can occasionally be above average. He could stand to improve his command, though it’s not something that’s hindering his development.
The club could be aggressive with Chris, as his stuff will likely overpower underdeveloped hitters. I see him starting 2014 with Rancho and a midseason promotion to Chattanooga wouldn’t surprise me at all.
4. Zach Lee, RHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/images/2011/04/08/9E76RAcO.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Zach Lee” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
People expected Lee to be an ace when the Dodgers gave him $5.25 million out of high school. While he’s never had a #1 profile, Zach gave Dodgers fans and evaluators a lot to celebrate in his 2013 season.
The 21 year old spent the entire season in Double A, facing batters an average of three years older than him, and thrived. He posted a 3.22 ERA in 142.2 innings, seeing an increase in his strikeout rate and velocity. Like Stripling, Lee has the classic starter’s repertoire, with both of his breaking balls occasionally flashing plus, but neither being regarded as an out pitch.
There’s not much left for Zach to prove in the minors, with a full season of Double A under his belt. He could head back there to start 2014 or head to Albuquerque. Either way, he and Stripling will compete to be the first prospect to make their major league debut this year.
3. Julio Urias, LHP
I’m not sure what to do with Urias. He’s a good pitcher with very good stuff. He had a great year with the Loons in 2013. And he’s 17. He’s the age of your average high school junior and he’s likely going to pitch in High A this year. What do you do with a guy like that?
When he signed out of Mexico, Julio sat at 88-92mph with a good changeup. By the time he made his professional debut, he was sitting at 91-95 and throwing three pitches for strikes. He’s not the biggest guy and he doesn’t have the best body, but his mechanics are good for his age and he does a great job of repeating them. His arm is loose and works easily.
Urias struck out 67 in 54.1 innings last year. The Dodgers will limit his innings, which is good because he’s still just a kid. However, seeing how far he came from the time he signed until now, it’s hard to put a cap on his ceiling since it’s possible for him to get taller. He may have the most boom or bust potential in the system, but let’s not start calling him the next Fernando quite yet.
2. Corey Seager, SS/3B [image src=”http://prosportsextra.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Seager.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Corey Seager” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
In ten drafts, the Dodgers took a hitter with their first pick once. It was James Loney in 2002. Then they broke the streak with Seager in 2012. And everyone loved it.
The younger brother of Mariners’ third baseman Kyle, Corey is bigger and projects to be even better. He has a sweet lefty swing, projects to hit for both average and power and will be a strong defender when he eventually moves to third base. That’s right, he’s going to move to third base. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but it’s going to happen. And he’ll be a very good third baseman.
Seager struggled late in the year when his hitting mechanics broke down. I expect him to bounce back completely in 2014, with reaching Chattanooga a real possibility and his major league debut occurring in 2015. He should be a mainstay in the lineup for years.
1. Joc Pederson, OF
Since the Dodgers were allowed to spread Zach Lee’s bonus out when they agreed to a $5.25 million bonus in 2010, they decided to throw some money at some later round picks. The biggest bonus after the 10th round went to Pederson, signed for $600,000 as an 11th rounder. His father, Stu, played for the Dodgers in 1985.
A strong kid with a football mentality, Joc was underrated heading into 2013, when Keith Law called him a fourth outfielder. Not only did he prove Law wrong (who later admitted he’d underrated Pederson), he set the Southern League on fire as a 21 year old. Overall, Joc batted .278/.381/.497 with 22 home runs and 31 steals. He firmly established himself as a top prospect in MLB with five tool potential. He does need to improve his hitting against lefties, who held him to a .200 average last season.
The Dodgers’ outfield is overcrowded, with four guys signed to considerable major league contracts. However, there’s a growing contingent in the bloggersphere that Joc shouldn’t be dealt as spare parts, but guys like Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford should be dealt to make room for Pederson. He’ll likely begin 2014 in Albuquerque, where his production should be hard to ignore.
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