With the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the first game of the 2015 season on Monday, our countdown of the top prospects in the organization has reached the top-10.
10. Zach Lee, RHP
When the Dodgers took Lee in the first round of the 2010 draft and gave him $5.25 million, expectations were set unreasonably high. That type of money, even spread out over five years, was usually reserved for the top players in the draft.
While Lee may not live up to the hype associated with his signing bonus, he’s still a good prospect who figures to have a solid Major-League career. His fastball sat in the low-to-mid 90s as a prep, but the velocity hasn’t stuck with him as he’s gotten older.
Lee now sits around 90 but manipulates the ball to cut or sink to keep hitters off balance. He throws a curveball, slider and changeup, with the curve being his best secondary offering. He knows how to change speeds and setup hitters, usually demonstrating at least average command.
Lee figures to settle in to the back of a rotation after he makes his big league debut, which could be sometime this year. The organization is deep at most positions, starting pitching included.
Changing scenery from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City should be a boon for the 23 year old, so expect a bounceback season.
9. Alex Guerrero, 3B
As was the case with Lee, with a certain amount of money comes a certain amount of expectations. So, when the Dodgers invested $28 million in the Cuban infielder, fans and analysts felt a quick return was in order.
Unfortunately, Guerrero took some time to grow accustomed to his new surroundings and was the victim of one of the more bizarre dugout confrontations in baseball history. Even before he signed, everyone knew Guerrero’s bat was his calling card. He offers plenty of strength from the right side, giving him plus power potential and the ability to spray the ball to all fields.
The big question has been his defense, with a move off shortstop the first order of business once he signed. The club tried him at second, but to no avail. He seems to be more comfortable at third, where he has adequate range and arm strength. Guerrero has even seen time in left field, though his foot speed isn’t a strong suit.
Guerrero’s contract stipulated that he could refuse a Minor League assignment in 2015, which he said he would do. That decision was softened thanks to a strong spring. He’ll have a chance to contribute this season and make his case to take over for incumbent Juan Uribe next year.
8. Chris Anderson, RHP
The Dodgers’ first rounder in 2013, Anderson was considered by some to be a top-10 pick that year early in the spring but watched his stock fall due to being overused by his coaching staff. That allowed the Dodgers to take him with the 18th pick and send him straight to Low-A, where he dominated.
Anderson was tested with a difficult assignment to High-A Rancho Cucamonga in his first full season last year, where he initially struggled with his control. The big right-hander sits in the low to mid 90s with his fastball but sometimes has issues commanding it. He goes back and forth between his slider and curve as his best breaking ball, while occasionally mixing in his changeup.
Anderson spent some time with the big league club in Spring Training and should be assigned to Double-A Tulsa to start the year. He has the size and stuff to start, but could easily find himself in the bullpen if that doesn’t work out.
7. Julian Leon, C
An unheralded signing out of Mexico in 2013, Leon was scouted on the same trip that netted the organization Yasiel Puig and Julio Urias. The club assigned the 17 year old to the Arizona League, where he batted .247/.319/420 and threw out 31 percent of potential base-stealers. In 2014, he moved up to Ogden and dominated, hitting .332/.420/.565 with 12 home runs and 14 doubles.
Leon has a potent bat, generating easy bat speed and leverage by incorporating his lower half in his swing. Defensively, he has room to improve, but is a natural receiver with surprising agility behind the plate in spite of his 5’11, 215-pound frame.
Like many young hitters, Leon will face the shock of moving from Ogden to Great Lakes this season. An offensive drop off is to be expected, so hopefully he can make inroads on his defense. Regardless of his production in 2015, he is the best catching prospect the Dodgers have had since Russell Martin.
6. Jose De Leon, RHP
Along with the aforementioned Leon, De Leon was the biggest riser in the farm system last year. Taken in the 24th round of the 2013 draft, De Leon was considered a hard-thrower without great command or secondaries coming out of Southern University.
However, things came together for him in 2014, leading to an outstanding campaign that saw his stock soar. In 2013, De Leon posted a 12.10 ERA in five starts with Ogden. The next season, he returned to the Raptors and dominated, posting a 2.65 ERA in 10 games with 77 strikeouts in 54.1 innings.
In mid-August, he earned a promotion to Great Lakes, where he dropped his ERA to 1.19 in four starts with an astonishing 44-to-two strikeout-to-walk ratio. De Leon’s stuff is as good as the video game numbers indicate.
His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and he places it on the edges of the strike zone with precision. Not only has he picked up a hard breaking ball, he also throws a good changeup for strikes or as a chase pitch.
Slated to start the year with Rancho, the biggest test for De Leon will be whether his stuff remains at this level over a full season. Health will also be an obvious factor, but if everything comes together, the Dodgers will have one heck of a draft steal on their hands.
CONTINUE READING: Top-five prospects in the Dodgers organization