It’s always exciting to hear about your team’s top prospects. They’re the ones who really get the blood flowing with anticipation, as we wait for them to progress up to the major leagues, in hopes they fulfill their potential.
However, while those top tier prospects rightfully get the majority of the attention, there’s always other guys to keep an eye on. Think of players like Chris Taylor and Andrew Toles, who were never very high on anyone’s prospect list, yet excelled when they got an opportunity to play.
Here at Dodgers Nation, we’ve broken down the highly regarded Dodgers prospects, counting down the top 10 each week. This is where you’ll find top-tier guys like Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, and Yadier Alvarez.
For this piece though, we’ll focus on five lower level prospects who could contribute to the team as early as this year, even if only as a role player. Because of their age, minor league experience, or production thus far, these guys could get a call-up sometime soon and be that next unexpected player to be a factor for the Dodgers.
- Dennis Santana, P (#12)
2017 stats (A + AA): 8-7, 4.11 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 118 IP, 120 K
Many are a lot higher on Santana then his current #12 prospect rank by MLB (We had him at #10 in our Dodgers Nation rankings.) He has a plus fastball and good secondary pitches that have helped him strikeout batters at a high rate over his minor league career (10.0 K/9.)
Santana will be 22 in April, and will likely start the year in Tulsa. It may be a long shot to expect Santana to make an impact for the Dodgers in 2018, but it’s not out of the question. Walker Buehler started last year at A-ball and was wearing a Dodgers uniform by seasons-end, so depending on how Santana fares in the minors, he could move up the ranks rather quickly.
Higher ranked pitching prospects like Mitchell White and Yadier Alvarez could also be in mix for a call-up, but neither is necessarily ahead of Santana in their minor league progression. All three of them have made exactly seven starts at the AA level. The Dodgers already added Santana to the 40-man roster back in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. If they need bullpen help, a September call-up could be in the cards.
- Edwin Rios, 1B/3B (#15)
2017 stats (AA + AAA): .309/.362/.533, .892 OPS, 24 HR
Rios followed up a very good 2016 year, with another solid 2017 campaign. He’s progressed nicely through his minor league career so far, and his offensive ability seems legit. There’s some questions regarding his defense though and it appears like first base would be his only realistic option in the majors.
With no clear backup to Cody Bellinger at first, the Dodgers could be looking for options there. Bellinger will need a day off from time to time, and God forbid some injury occur, they’ll need someone to fill in. Rob Segedin has some experience, and he could be a candidate for that role. But Rios is about as close to ready for a shot as someone could be, and if he continues to hit, he could force the Dodgers’ hand.
- Kyle Farmer, C (#24)
2017 stats (AA + AAA): .317/.375/.476, .851 OPS, 10 HR
The player on this list that’s probably the most recognized due to his call-up last year, (and a memorable walk-off hit against the Giants) Farmer could see an expanded role this season. It all depends on what the Dodgers do with their catching situation, and whether or not they keep both Austin Barnes and Yasmani Grandal around.
It’s been reported that the Dodgers are willing to listen to trade offers on Grandal. With the emergence of Barnes, they could decide that two very good catchers is a luxury they don’t need. Any return they got on Grandal would likely be significant, and if a trade were to happen, Farmer would probably slide into the backup catcher role for the club. While the Dodgers have a plethora of other catching prospects in the minors, none are ready for a big-league call-up just yet.
- Matt Beaty, 1B/3B (#29)
2017 stats (AA): .326/.378/.505, .883 OPS, 15 HR
Playing the entire 2017 season for the Tulsa Drillers, Beaty had an outstanding year offensively and has continued to improve each year. If he doesn’t start the year at the AAA level, he’ll surely get the promotion to OKC soon enough. He’ll be 25 years old in April, and could be ready for a major-league call-up sooner rather than later.
Similarly to Edwin Rios, Beaty primarily plays first and third base. So, he could fill that Rob Segedin-type role as a reserve, and perhaps backup Bellinger and/or Justin Turner.
- Jake Peter, 2B (#30)
2017 stats (AA + AAA): .279/.344/.417, .761 OPS, 13 HR
The Dodgers acquired Peter in a recent 3-way deal with the White Sox and Royals, and although he’s the lowest ranked here, he may be the most likely player to make an impact for the team this year. With no word on whether or not Chase Utley will return next season, the Dodgers don’t have a clear 2nd base backup to Logon Forsythe at the moment. Chris Taylor could play there, but he seems locked in as the starting center-fielder for now.
Peter, who also turns 25 in April, could fill that backup role. He reached AAA last season and produced fairly well. He also hits left-handed, which would give the Dodgers an option against righties if Forsythe puts up similar splits to last year (.190/.315/.262 vs RHP.) Although he’s played primarily at 2nd base, Peter can play all around the infield, as well as the outfield.