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Now that we’ve covered all of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stateside affiliates, let’s take a look at the farm system by position.
The positions have been broken down into three groups — up the middle (catcher, second base, shortstop and center field), in the corners (first base, third base, left field and right field) and on the mound (starting pitchers and relievers).
Players have been assigned to these groups based on their current positions, even if they are projected to change positions in the future. So, without further ado, let’s examine the Dodgers’ up the middle prospects.
State of the System – Strong
The Dodgers haven’t had a glut of up the middle prospects in years, with a spattering of top prospects in the past such as Dee Gordon and Ivan DeJesus Jr. However, the organization now sees two of its top prospects at shortstop and center field.
Beyond that pair, there are some legitimate upside players as well as some who could help the team as soon as next season. Here’s how the Top-10 shakes out:
10. Spencer Navin, C
Yet another 2013 draftee, Navin received an over-slot bonus out of Vanderbilt as an 11th-rounder, which is odd for a college player. He was young for his class, turning 21 two months after the draft.
Unfortunately, through just 60 games as a pro, Spencer has sported a .230 batting average and a .623 OPS. The good news, though, is that his defense has looked good. He threw out 35 percent of baserunners with Great Lakes this season. He’ll have to work hard on his offense, but Navin is still young enough to figure things out.
9. Brandon Dixon, 2B
Drafted out of Arizona in the third round in 2013, Dixon was an athletic third baseman who didn’t hit a whole lot in college but had a good swing. In his debut, he struggled mightily on both sides of the ball.
In 2014, Dixon was promoted to Rancho and moved to second base, but still wasn’t hitting. He OPS’d just .396 through April but quickly turned things around in May, putting up a .325/.351/.524 line and continued posting solid numbers until early July, when he went down with a strained oblique.
Dixon came back in mid-August but didn’t hit much to close out the season. However, there’s now hope that he will produce on offense.
8. Kyle Farmer, C
The Dodgers took the University of Georgia shortstop in the eighth round of the 2013 draft and, given his stocky 6’0, 200-pound frame, immediately moved him to catcher. The results have been fairly positive thus far, as he’s shown the athleticism and arm strength you need from a backstop.
Farmer also provided some offense early in the season with Great Lakes, OPSing .798 through 57 games. However, after a promotion to Rancho, his numbers dropped. He hit well for the first three months of the season, then struggled down the stretch, likely tiring in his first full season as a catcher and a professional.
Farmer is older than your average prospect at 24, but his clock started later as he switched positions after being drafted.
7. Darnell Sweeney, 2B
Drafted just two years ago out of Central Florida, Sweeney has hit everywhere he’s been and improved last year despite moving from the hitter-friendly Cal League to the pitcher-friendly Southern League.
Most impressively, Sweeney drastically improved his walk rate, from seven percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2014. He also has good speed but must put it to better use on the basepaths, as he was thrown out attempting to steal more than half the time in 2014.
The Dodgers want Sweeney to have defensive versatility, so they played him at both second base and shortstop, as well as center field.
6. Julian Leon, C
Leon was seen on the same scouting trip in Mexico that netted Puig and Julio Urias; not a bad haul. Now 18, the Mexican backstop is coming off a big offensive season with the Raptors in 2014.
Leon posted a triple slash of .332/.420/.565 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 31 walks in 63 games. He’s a bat-first profile, but should be able to handle catching as he already displays agility behind the plate and threw out 30 percent of attempted basestealers this season.
Still a teenager and not yet out of rookie ball, Leon could be the Dodgers’ catcher of the future.
Next Page: Up The Middle Prospects Nos. 1-5