MLB Pipeline recently released its first top 100 prospects list for 2020. Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Dodgers once again had plenty of talent on the list. Five Dodgers made the list: Gavin Lux (Ranked #2), Dustin May (32), Keibert Ruiz (33), Josiah Gray (75), and Jeter Downs (87).
2. Gavin Lux – 2B/SS/OF(?)
The former Dodgers first round pick posted a pre-‘roiding Barry Bonds OPS in AAA last year (1.197) before getting his September call-up. Yes, Lux struggled mightily against big league lefties, but his minor league track record shows he can adapt. Lux is a professional hitter who proved he can handle the spotlight and the interviews that come with it.
Lux’s enormously high ceiling continues to be the roadblock for any potential trade for this winter’s round of superstar trade rumors for the Dodgers.
Because Friedman and his staff believe Lux could be as good as those two, plus, in case you didn’t know, Friedman LOVES cost controlled assets! Maybe even too much sometimes, but anyways, back to Lux.
Lux reaching his potential as an elite middle infielder enables the Dodgers to leverage their greatest strength – depth. He’s ready to contribute in an infield that will boast three former All-Stars come Opening Day and super-utility player Kiké Hernandez in their back pocket. The defense at short is in the works, but speed, contact, and power are already on the menu.
32. Dustin May – P
Gingergaard appeared in 14 games with the Dodgers in 2019 in both starter and relief roles. In all four of his August starts, May went at least five innings including a seven strikeout game against the Cardinals. He spent September in the bullpen and did nothing short of impress by not allowing an earned run in ten innings pitched.
This is a Dustin May hair appreciation tweet. pic.twitter.com/ukuhRMJPYy
— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 3, 2019
Based on the Julio Urias experience, it’s difficult to predict exactly how the Dodgers will deploy May in his first full season with the big club. Reaching Walker Bueller’s 2018 mark of 23 games started could be a stretch even for the 6’6” May, but turning May into a full-time bullpen arm seems like a waste of talent.
33. Keibert Ruiz – C
The Venezuelan switch-hitting backstop continues to ascend the prospect rankings. Ruiz will begin the year in AAA and might have the opportunity to join the big club this season if Austin Barnes can’t hit above his weight (again). Additionally, Ruiz gives the Dodgers a backup plan for 2021 if Will Smith’s phenomenal 2019 turns out to be a flash in the pan.
Keibert Ruiz is having an okay day.
?First Triple-A at-bat
?First RBI pic.twitter.com/rYfbDQWdcy
— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) July 21, 2019
Ruiz’s name will continue to come up in every Los Angeles trade rumor involving prospects, but switch hitting catchers don’t grow on trees. Plus, don’t forget, cost controlled assets!
Josiah Gray (75) & Jeter Downs (87)
The immediate reactions to Friedman dealing fan favorites Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer, to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey last year painted the maneuver as a simple salary dump.
The common narratives included the Dodgers making space for Bryce Harper, the Reds pushing for relevancy, and even the Reds winning the transaction. Right handed pitcher Gray and shortstop Jeter Downs were merely cliff notes in most articles and analysis.
Correction: Bailey owed $28M cash ($23M salary, $5M buyout). Luxury-tax number, based on average annual value of his contract, is $17.5M. https://t.co/s19xtIZ2G2
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 21, 2018
Fast forward to the present: the Dodgers have re-signed Wood on the cheap, Puig is still available in free agency, Matt Kemp is on his second minor league contract in as many years, and Farmer is coming off a .279 OBP season with Cincinnati. All the while, the Dodgers have groomed Gray and Downs into Top 100 prospects who could contribute down the road or become trade chips to improve the roster now.
Barring an All-Star appearance or two from Farmer, it’s safe to say the Dodgers won this transaction.
Supplementing homegrown talent with shrewd acquisitions has been the hallmark of the Dodgers success under Andrew Friedman. The Dodgers pipeline will continue to replenish a deep well of talent.