It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Dodgers. Not only does the team have the best record in the Major Leagues, but their farm system is one of the strongest in baseball and has become even stronger with the addition of their 2017 draft class. In the past week, four highly rated pitchers were promoted to a higher level and made their debuts. In addition, four of their most touted prospects made their professional debuts this week to mixed results. Today, we are going to hand out early grades for the debuts of these players.

Walker Buehler

Calling Buehler’s AAA debut in Oklahoma City a disaster would be an understatement. He faced 5 batters, allowing 2 hits and walking 3 batters before being pulled without retiring a batter. Although his command was clearly lacking, the start would appear to be more of an outlier as his walk rate has been under 8% this year. On Wednesday night, he had his first crack at redemption when he took the mound for OKC a second time. After allowing a leadoff triple that eventually scored on a ground out, Buehler settled in and was absolutely dominant finishing 5 innings allowing only the 1 hit, 1 run, and striking out 9 batters. He has been the subject of many trade rumors as the deadline approaches but don’t expect him to go anyway.

Grade: C+

 

Mitchell White

Similar to Buehler, White struggled with his control in his first start after being promoted to AA Tulsa. Here is a more detailed look at White’s first start. White is a name to keep on eye on for the next few days as he will be coveted by other teams at the trade deadline.

Grade: C

 

Yadier Alvarez

Alvarez followed White the next day and came out throwing hard. He was clocked on the stadium radar gun as high as 102 mph. Like the two previous entrants, Alvarez struggled with his control and his box score showed quite an up and down affair. In 4 innings, he allowed 6 hits and walked 4 batters, but he also only allowed 2 earned runs while striking out 5 batters. He is as exciting of a prospect as the dodgers have, but he will need to improve his control/command if he is going to be a starter long term.

Grade: B-

 

Dennis Santana

Of all the players on this list, Santana is the one that has made the biggest leap this year. On the most recent edition of the Dodgers’ top 30 prospects on MLB Pipeline, Santana was up to #14 after starting the year outside the team’s top 30 on many preseason lists. Santana was solid in his first appearance for Tulsa. He finished 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out 6 batters. Santana is a converted shortstop that has only been pitching for a few years but he is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Grade: B+

 

Connor Wong

Wong was selected by the Dodgers in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Houston and after appearing in a single game and collecting 1 at bat in Rookie League Odgen, he was promoted to Low A ball in Great Lakes. He has accumulated 17 plate appearances for the Loons, reaching base 7 times with 4 hits and 3 walks. Wong is an athletic catcher that can play all over the diamond using his athleticism in a similar manner to Austin Barnes. Wong is another member of a deep catching unit in the Dodgers’ farm system.

Grade: B-

 

James Marinan

Marinan is a hard throwing right handed starter that the Dodgers took in the 4th round out of Park Vista High School in Florida. His fastball has been clocked in the mid to upper 90s and made his debut in the Arizona League this past week. In two appearances totaling 2 innings, he has allowed 2 hits, 1 unearned run while striking out 4 batters and walking 1. Marinan is a pitcher that has a similar repertoire to Mitchell White but the Dodgers will be slow moving with his development.

Grade: B

 

Jacob Amaya

Amaya was taken in the 11th round out of South Hills High School in West Covina, CA. As a high school shortstop, it is easy to assume that his glove will be more advanced than his bat initially. And this is true for Amaya who has struggled out of the gate in the Arizona league collecting just one hit in his first 22 at bats. But the Dodgers have high hopes for Amaya, evidenced by the $247,500 signing bonus they gave him to keep him away from his commitment to Cal State Fullerton. It will be a few years before we see much of Amaya however as his development will be slow moving.

Grade: C-

 

Jeren Kendall

To the surprise of many, Kendall dropped out of the top 10 all the way to the Dodgers at the 23rd pick of the first round. Concerns about his strikeout rate at Vanderbilt along with potential signability issues led to this drop but the Dodgers pounced on the option of drafting him and gave him a 2.9 million dollar signing bonus. He has already proven to be quite a steal. The athletic center fielder has already graduated from two levels and was set to make his debut in Great Lakes on Wednesday night before the game was postponed due to rain. In 22 plate appearances, he already has 10 hits for a .455 batting average while striking out only 3 times. Kendall is an intriguing player that could make a splash in LA as early as 2019 if he keeps progressing.

Grade: A+

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