Now let’s take a closer look at the players who comprise Dodgers Nation’s top prospect list, starting with #51-41.
51. Jairo Pacheco, LHP
While the Dodgers have been very active in the international market over the past few seasons, the organization has still been able to find low-cost diamonds in the rough. Pacheco is a prime example of the Dodgers spending wisely.
Jairo throws an average fastball now, though there may be room for more down the road. His two seamer has natural running life. His breaking ball is slurvy but it has decent shape and depth. He has good feel for his craft and reads swings well. There is some work to be done in his delivery, but when his mechanics are right, he has swing and miss stuff.
The Dodgers want to be aggressive with Pacheco, planning on having him pitch in rookie ball this summer. At 17, it’ll be a challenge for him to hold his own against older competition, but it shows the club has a lot of faith in the teenager.
50. Michael Medina, OF
Medina is just one of a number of significant international signings the Dodgers made in 2012. The team signed the 16 year old Dominican for $275,000 and sent him to the DSL the following year. His first taste of pro ball was more sour than sweet.
Listed at 6’2 and 185 lbs, Medina has power potential and it showed up in games, as he placed second in the league with 10 home runs. But they come at a cost, as he also finished second with 94 strikeouts in 56 games.
Another year in the DSL will be good for Michael, as he can work on shortening his stroke and improving his pitch recognition. There’s plenty of time for him to improve and plenty of projection moving forward.
49. Ariel Sandoval, OF
A little more than two weeks before the Dodgers signed Medina, they inked Sandoval to a $150,000 deal. The two ended up playing together in the Dominican, with Sandoval filling a much different profile than his counterpart.
Sandoval is a year older, having turned 18 in November and has begun in career in center field as opposed to a corner. He has good speed, allowing him to steal 19 bases, though he was caught 12 times. He made plenty of contact but only batted .255 and didn’t homer in 63 games. At 6’2 and 180 lbs, there’s some power in there that simply hasn’t been tapped yet.
Ariel and Michael will likely join forces to account for 2/3 of the DSL Dodgers’ outfield again in 2014. If Sandoval takes a step forward with his development and production, I don’t see why he couldn’t end the season in the U.S..
48. Aaron Miller, OF
The Dodgers didn’t have a first round pick in 2009, but they did have a pick in the supplemental first round. They used it on Miller, an outfielder turned pitcher, out of Baylor. His career started with a bang, as he reached Great Lakes in his debut and dominated. But the southpaw couldn’t overcome his difficulties with Double A hitters, so in 2013, the Dodgers decided to pull the plug on his pitching career and put a bat in his hands.
Miller spent the vast majority of his time at DH with Great Lakes, allowing him to focus almost completely on hitting. He has a good arm, as you might imagine, and moves well enough to cover some ground in right field. He even hit 9 home runs in 78 games with the Loons, an impressive feat for any hitter in the Midwest League. His hands work well in his swing, though he could use some work on his balance through his swing.
At 26, time is not on Aaron’s side. If he wants to be the next Rick Ankiel, he’ll need to move quickly up the ladder. He’ll likely begin 2014 in hitter friendly Rancho Cucamonga before returning to his greatest obstacle, Double A.
47. Blake Smith, RHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/images/2012/06/13/fsd5AYxH.jpg” width=”150″ height=”250″ title=”Blake Smith” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Hey look, another 2009 draftee turned conversion project! Smith was drafted as an outfielder out of Cal and hit extremely poorly in his debut. But he turned it around in 2010, clubbing 19 home runs in Great Lakes with an .852 OPS. He improved his next season in Rancho, posting an .898 mark, but then came Double A. In 2012, his OPS dropped to .790 and the following year it dipped more than .100 points. So the Dodgers put him on the mound.
Blake wasn’t without pitching experience, as he came out of the pen in college. The organization sent him to Rancho, a tough place to pitch for anyone, and he struggled. He walked 19 batters in 19.2 innings and his ERA was 7.78. He has a fastball in the low 90s and a slider that has potential, but he doesn’t get much horizontal movement on his offerings. He’s also 26, but there’s more room for him to work out the kinks since he’s projecting as a middle reliever.
46. Carlos Frias, RHP
Chuckie Freeze has been in the Dodgers’ system since 2007 and he’s only 24, but 2013 was the year when it looked like he took a step forward. After breezing through Low A, he made eight starts in Rancho and held his own before heading to Chattanooga. With the Lookouts, he worked primarily out of the pen, and it seems he’s destined to be a reliever.
He’s filled out his 6’4 frame and looks like he now carries a strong 200+ lbs. His fastball generally works in the low to mid 90s and the move to relief will help the velocity play up. He throws a tight slider that should be his primary breaking ball out of the pen.
The Dodgers invited Frias to spring training, so he has a chance to impress all the right people. Since the pitching staff is already overflowing, look for Carlos to return to Chattanooga to open the season.
45. Lindsey Caughel, RHP [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/9/5/2/53891952/cuts/Caughel480_afoofqbr_nbmpfne1.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Lindsey Caughel” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Caughel was another productive late-rounder the Dodgers found in the 2012 draft. A 23rd rounder out of Stetson, Lindsey has average stuff across the board but throws strikes and changes speeds effectively. He moved up to Rancho in his first full season, where he did well enough given the environment and his limited stuff. Pitching in Double A as a 23 year old will be the true test to see if he can hold up against advanced competition.
44. Brandon Trinkwon, SS
The first 2013 draftee to grace us with his presence, Trinkwon was selected in the 7th round out of UC Santa Barbara. He’s rangy for an up-the-middle guy, at 6’1, but moves well enough to not need to end up on a corner. Brandon destroyed rookie league pitching in his debut but hit the Great Lakes Wall in Midland after a promotion, batting just .168 through his final 26 games of the season. He’s likely slated back in Michigan to start 2014, where he’ll hopefully hit a little better than he did in 2013.
43. Jharel Cotton, RHP
Another 2012 draftee, Cotton was taken in the 20th rounder out of East Carolina. He cruised through Great Lakes in his first full season before skipping Rancho altogether and heading to Double A. Unfortunately, in eight games, Jharel got hit hard and ended up being sent down to Rancho. He made just two starts with the Quakes before suffering an elbow injury that required surgery.
Before the injury, Cotton featured a fastball with some run and sink that would touch the mid 90s, a changeup with a lot of movement and a curveball with decent shape but not a lot of depth. He has a starter’s repertoire but a reliever’s body, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Dodgers bring him back from his injury.
42. Adam Law, 3B
A 2013 12th rounder out of BYU, Law had a great debut in rookie ball. Between the Arizona League and the Pioneer League, Adam hit .343/.405/.415 with 40 steals in 44 attempts. The problem, though, is that Adam was drafted as a 23 year old. He’s now 24 and hasn’t played in A ball. The tools aren’t very loud and his ceiling isn’t too high, so he’ll need to prove himself against competition that’s closer to his own age before he can be dubbed a real prospect.
41. Tyler Ogle, C/1B [image src=”http://www.milb.com/assets/images/0/7/0/44804070/cuts/480_Ogle_Emily_Jones_MiLB_x9em5odj_cskwx1fx.jpg” width=”240″ height=”135″ title=”Tyler Ogle” lightbox=”yes” align=”center”]
Ogle was one of three catchers taken in the Top 20 rounds of the 2011 draft. After playing just 49 games in his first two years, Tyler established himself as an on-base machine in 2013 by drawing a league-leading 96 walks, leading to a .401 on base percentage.
This would be great news were Ogle a full time catcher. However, he’s caught just 40 games since signing and spent most of 2013 at first base. Moving from the most demanding to least demanding defensive position on the diamond devastates his value. If the Dodgers move him back behind the plate, he would rank much higher on this list.
ICYMI: The Dodgers signed infielder Justin Turner to a minor league deal