The 2019-2020 off-season has not gone as expected for many fans. However, no matter what has happened or will happen, the Dodgers have an exciting farm system. What would the 2019 season have been without the group of prospects that had their debut that season?
— TheJerryEspinoza (@JEspinoza1634) June 23, 2019
A few of them even got a lot of playing time in the playoffs.
Homer in your first career postseason AB? Youngest Dodger ever, to hit a home run in the postseason? Have a night, Gavin Lux! pic.twitter.com/2LcY7ItnhN
— Diamond Digest (@Diamond_Digest) October 4, 2019
For the 2020 season I expect for there to be some more surprises from prospects throughout the system. Who had even heard of Devin Mann before he broke out in 2019? This article will look at some possible prospect surprise stories for 2020.
1. Josiah Gray makes his Major League debut
The Dodgers acquired Josiah Gray last season from the Reds last December in a big off-season trade. He started the season in Low-A, moved into High-A and finished the season in AA. I am not sure where he will start the 2020 season but I expect him to make his Major League debut before September. It would be a quick trek through the farm system for the Reds 2018 draftee but all indicators are that he is on the fast track. Many might say that it is doubtful that Gray makes it that far but I see a decent chance.
The Dodgers brought up both Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin in 2019 and ended up getting them some starts. For the postseason, May made the playoff bullpen and Gonsolin was close. I see Gray following a similar arc in 2020. He is a hard-throwing right handed pitcher (up to 97 MPH) with a good pitch variety. I’m sure the Dodgers will have him on the same limits they had with May and Gonsolin in 2019. To even take it further, don’t be shocked if Gray is on the post-season roster.
2. Tony Gonsolin becomes an elite reliever
In the 2019 season Tony Gonsolin made his debut with the Dodgers and was used as both a starter and reliever. Two of his best starts were against the Yankees and the Cardinals so he is a legitimate starting rotation candidate. If the Dodgers don’t trade for a starting pitching upgrade then this prediction becomes less likely.
I like his stuff a lot for the bullpen, mostly because he throws a split-finger fastball. As a reliever he profiles like Kirby Yates of the Padres except with a better slider and curve. He could be used as a multi-inning reliever or even become a key late-inning guy. He’s already proven that he belongs in the Major Leagues and it would be a waste of his talent for him to play in the minors. If he isn’t in the rotation he could be in the bullpen. In that scenario, he could excel.
Tony Gonsolin, Nasty 87mph Slider…and Sword. ?? pic.twitter.com/qJw4DhmjPj
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 6, 2019
3. Miguel Vargas becomes a top 50 prospect
Miguel Vargas was signed before the 2018 season as a free agent out of Cuba. He had spent the 2016 and 2017 season not playing so the fact he slashed .330/.404/.465 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 2018 showed some interesting promise. He started the 2019 season in Low-A but was promoted to High-A after posting a .325 average in 280 at-bats. As one of the youngest players in High-A he held his own with a .284 batting average. For the season he showed that he’s not a big strikeout guy with 83 strikeouts in 491 at-bats. Not bad for a 19 year-old.
I expect him to start showing more power as he fills in to his 6’3″ frame. 2020 will be his year 20 year-old season. I’m not sure if he starts the season in A or AA but he should end up spending most of the season on AA. I expect all of his numbers to start climbing and more prospect ratings to continue to rise. For the Dodgers top 10 by Baseball Prospectus, he was rated as number 4. With his projections he very well could become a very well ranked overall prospect, soon.
4. Gerardo Carrillo ends the season in AAA
Gerardo Carrillo had some struggles in his first year in High-A ball. There were some initial inconsistencies and then an injury. With the season seemingly a loss, Carrillo turned it on over his last few starts. His numbers over those excellent starts were 23.2 innings pitched, 14 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 walks and 29 strikeouts. I was able to ask Connor McGuiness, Carrillo’s pitching coach at the time and now the Dodgers Assistant Pitching Coach about the turnaround.
…this is part of the development process. He’s starting to put it all together. Sometimes the development process can lead to immediate results, and other times, sacrifices have to be made on the results end in order to develop players to succeed at the big league level. It’s been very fun for all of us, Gerardo included, to see that his hard work is paying off.
During the season it was reported that Carrillo was topping out at 97 MPH but the Arizona Fall League had a surprise for us.
The first 100 I’ve seen this Fall belongs to Gerardo Carrillo. #Dodgers
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 11, 2019
With the jump in velocity, it looks like the hard work Carrillo has put in to gain muscle (he is still listed at 154 pounds on some sites) is starting to pay off. Now as he enters his 21 year-old season he should be ready to take some big leaps in 2020. Baseball Prospectus already has Carrillo in their top 10 and there should be more buzz about him during the season.
@RCQuakes SP Gerardo Carrillo, Dodgers #23 prospect, headlines his arsenal with a 92-96 FB that touches 98. He supplements that ? with a CB, SL, and CH. This guy has STUFF. Want to see? #Nasty #DodgersOnTheFarm pic.twitter.com/N5EHQ1XcbN
— Dodgers Player Development (@DodgerPlayerDev) July 31, 2019
5. Omar Estevez breaks out
The Dodgers signed Omar Estevez to a nice bonus in September of 2015 as a 17 year-old. He has been brought along slowly but he started showing some power in 2018 and a boost in batting average in 2019. His 2019 started off like Estevez would break out in a big way but he was injured. Before he was hurt he was slashing .333/.412/.456 in 31 games. He ended the season .291/.352/.431 which was still pretty good.
— Gail (@1baseballchick) October 12, 2019
He’ll enter the 2020 season at the age of 22 and I expect him to start the season in AAA. As a second baseman (and some shortstop) he has the potential to have a very strong bat and 2020 might be the season where the offense comes together for Estevez. If he breaks out as expected he could also make his Major League debut in 2020.
Some Final Thoughts
The Dodgers are filled with excellent prospects and there could be a bunch of excellent stories coming in 2020. I am hopeful many of these great stories are with players that play for the Quakes as we will have some eyes-on coverage of them in 2020. In less than two months the Dodgers will start Spring Training. It will be interesting to see who is invited to the Major League camp. I know I am looking forward to the beginning of Spring Training and catching some games in person.