With their season starting in just a few days, Rancho Cucamonga released their preliminary roster for the 2014 season on Monday. While the Low A roster didn’t inspire many “oohs” and “aahs”, the Dodgers’ High A affiliate certainly does as three of the Dodgers’ top five prospects headline the roster.
On offense, the biggest name is Corey Seager. The 2012 first round pick won’t turn 20 until April 27. After dominating the Midwest League in his full season debut, Seager hit a bit of a rough patch to end the year, with fatigue setting in over a grueling schedule. He still carries the most upside of any hitter in the organization, as he figures to hit for both average and power if he continues to develop. While he’s not seen by many as a shortstop long-term, he should settle in as a very good third baseman down the road.
The rest of the infield figures to consist of former third rounder Brandon Dixon and Tyler Ogle, as well as super-utility man Adam Law. Dixon, selected in the third round in last year’s draft, struggled in his debut so it’s somewhat surprising to see him moving up a level. Ogle, on the other hand, was an on-base machine for Great Lakes last season, but loses much of his value if he doesn’t catch anymore. Law, last year’s 12th rounder, played almost everywhere on the field in 2013 and offers good speed on the basepaths.
In the outfield, the Loons’ trio of James Baldwin, Jeremy Rathjen and Robbie Garvey will combine for one of the best defensive units in the league. All are capable of playing a good center field and all are fast, combining for a total of 109 stolen bases last season. Rathjen and Baldwin struggled to make contact in 2013, though each has some pop and could hit double digit home runs.
On the mound, the Quakes offers the best rotation in the system, headlined by a pair of top prospects. Julio Urias shocked the prospect world last year after dominating A ball at age 16 and even got an inning with the big league camp this spring, striking out a pair of major leaguers. His innings will be limited this year, but expect big things. Chris Anderson, the club’s top pick a year ago, also pitched well in his debut and got some time with the big club in spring training. A power pitcher, Anderson profiles to have three pitches that are average or better. They’ll be joined by last year’s second round pick, Tom Windle. The southpaw posted a 2.68 ERA in 13 games last season.
Rounding out the pitching staff, Lindsey Caughel returns to Rancho after a successful 2013 campaign. The 23 year old Stetson alum posted an ERA of 4.01 in 20 games with the Quakes last year. Conversion project Blake Smith, drafted in 2009 as an outfielder, will be working out of the bullpen in his first full season as a pitcher. The 26-year-old right-hander looks to continue developing as a late-inning reliever.
The Quakes’ season starts on April 3, so be sure to check back daily for game recaps and more information on all the Dodgers’ minor league affiliates!