With Spring Training officially underway, the closer it gets to Opening Day. Within weeks the Dodgers will send non-roster invitees to minor league camp while remaining players fight for a spot on the regular season roster. Once again, the Dodgers have one of the top ten farm systems in Major League Baseball and the following prospects will get a taste of the big leagues in Camelback Ranch.
Alex Verdugo (40-man roster, outfielder):
The top prospect in the Dodgers’ pipeline made his debut in September 2017, but Verdugo’s rookie status is still intact for the upcoming season. Per MLB ruling, a positional player exceeds their rookie status after 130 at-bats. In two seasons, Verdugo has accumulated 122 AB’s.
Victim of an overcrowded outfield, Verdugo has roamed the outfield in Oklahoma City the past couple years. The hitting prospect has been used as a trade chip in the few blockbuster acquisitions the Dodgers made in their quest for a World Series title.
Verdugo showed bright spots in his few stints in the big leagues last season with a higher batting average and working the walk. The 22-year-old varies from other hitting prospects: he hits for average, not for power. In his five minor league seasons, Verdugo has 41 home runs.
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Gavin Lux (non-roster, infielder):
The 2016 first-round draft pick was salvaged from the Manny Machado trade that sent several players to the Baltimore Orioles organization. A down year in 2017 with the low-A Great Lakes Loons caused concerns that Lux wouldn’t meet expectations.
But the naysayers were proven wrong with four impressive months with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes blazed Lux to a promotion with the Tulsa Drillers in August. The middle-infielder put up a .324/.396/.520 line with the Quakes with 41 extra-base hits and 69 strikeouts.
The 28 regular season games Lux spent with the Tulsa Drillers set his ceiling even higher. A .324 batting average, along with a higher on-base percentage had Lux as a key member to the Drillers being named Texas League Champions.
But Lux’s slugging took a dip with the Drillers, although that can be pinpointed to playing a different level of baseball where the competition is advanced.
If continuing through the minor leagues as an untouchable prospect, Lux’s major league debut could come as soon as September 2020.
DJ Peters (non-roster, infielder):
Emerging as a power prospect, Peters exemplifies the hitting model that has captured baseball: low batting average, a large amount of strikeouts and high slugging percentage.
In a full season with the Drillers, Peters struckout in nearly 40 percent of his at-bats. The right-handed slugger mashes southpaws by a longshot compared to his numbers against right-handers.
The likelihood of Peters making a debut this season with the Dodgers is miniscule. While the Glendora native has moved at a quicker rate than Lux, Peters isn’t producing in key situations. With the base occupied, and most importantly with runners in scoring position, Peters has a batting average below .160.
Omar Estevez (non-roster, infielder):
Since being signed by the Dodgers in 2015 outside of Cuba, the 20-year-old infielder experienced exponential growth in his second season with the Quakes. Estevez’s numbers his first two minor league seasons mirrored each other (.258/.307/.345), but exploded in the Quakes’ championship season.
The higher batting average also came with a higher amount of strikeouts. As a potential second baseman, Estevez will go into his fourth minor league season but has the opportunity to start in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers.
His path to the majors is yet to be at the halfway point, but the upside is his relatively young age. At 20 years old, Estevez could potentially make his major league debut at 22.
Keibert Ruiz (40-man roster, catcher):
As the third ranked catching prospect within the Major Leagues, Ruiz’s ceiling is high. The Dodgers haven’t had a catching prospect since Russell Martin arose in their farm system. Ruiz is expected to make his debut in 2020, which means he’ll most likely get a promotion to the Triple-A Oklahoma Dodgers this season.
As a possible 22-year-old rookie, Ruiz brings to the plate a high batting average and power. As for the defensive side of the plate, Ruiz still has ample time to hone his skills since he averages eight passed balls per season. Last season, New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez led the league with 18.
Ruiz may get some innings catching during Spring Training games within the next couple weeks, which will offer a glimpse into the player he may be one day for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers open Spring Training against the Chicago White Sox, their Camelback Ranch mates, on Feb. 23 at 12:05 p.m.
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