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Dodgers: Positional Prospects to Watch in Spring Training 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Alex Verdugo #61 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his double during the seventh inning against te New York Mets at Dodger Stadium on September 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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.

What differs this year for a high ranking prospect is the chance to break camp with the Dodgers.


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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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  1. They moved Beatty to the 40 man roster so he was not eligible for the Rule 5 draft. He was out most of last year with injury the young man is a very talented contact guy and like Taylor can play most infield and some outfield spots.
    I am hoping he gets a shot this spring.

    Peters is only a little better than Kendal in that he has way too many strikeouts and as reported here terrible RISP averages. Instead of Peters I like Edwin Rios as he makes contact and can hit with some power.

    • tmaxter, food day to you. Dodgers are relatively short on RH bats it appears in the minors, and Lux, Beatty and Rios are just more LHB and honestly Dodgers will eventually need to address this because if not, like last year they will resort to full on platooning if Dodgers still show vulnerability to LHP, which is very possible at the outset this year.

      • Paul I am so confused about the hand wringing about left and right handed batters…The question should be what are each individual player’s splits!! People were lamenting Puig leaving as he is a right handed bat but his left handed average was terrible!! Granted Pederson’s is also bad.
        On the other hand Seager hits either side well and after a sub par split year Turner turned it around last year and hit both. Verdugo has great splits in the minors. I am more concerned about if I guy can hit the ball. If he his splits are good who cares if he is batting left or right

        • Tmaxter, I meant good day to you, lol. I have seen over the years that for various reasons many LH batters struggle against LHP. However, Seager and Bellinger have shown in the past that their splits are good with either side.As far as whether they are LH or RH you are correct. However in the Dodger’s case last year, several players had struggles with LHP which Roberts admitted led to that 2nd half platooning. Remember 2016? Both LH and RH batters struggled big time against them. Pederson now will forever be a platoon player as we know but I would only hope we can avoid teams loading up against us with LHP if we are seen to be vulnerable. I guess when it comes down to it, I would hope not to see either an all LH or all RH lineup and that whoever is in the lineup, can as you say hit the ball and produce. No argument there.

          • Ha yes I figured it was good day…

            Muncy hit LHP well as does Seager and Turner and figure they will have someone playing 2nd base that does also. So Pollock hits them well and Verdugo has the splits in the Minors to project he should. Plus they will play probably Bellinger somewhere and he needs to improve.

            Go around the diamond and I think the constant moaning about being to left handed is not a reasonable thing to be concerned about in 2019. WSS….

  2. Paul and tmaxster. I just read that Kershaw has been shut down for a while possibly with back issues again. Lets hope this is not true!!!! As Joe Torre said, you can never have enough pitching. I think both of you made a great case against the overuse of platooning. I am still worried about Roberts regarding this topic. Also, I bid a fond farewell to Don Newcombe, one of the true legendary Dodger greats – and the first Dodger autograph I ever got (some 40 years ago). May he rest in peace!!!! Go Blue!!!

    • Lou first I agree Newcombe was an amazing Man and deserves to be in the HOF. I also believe Maury Wills deserves to be in the HOF as his speed changed the game.

      Yes I agree with you about the constant platooning it is why I am not a huge Pederson booster as he has become so one dimensional and his defense has slipped.

      Kershaw being not right is a very bad sign for him. We had all hoped with the Winter he had been successful in addressing his physical issues. For the Dodgers going forward until he can be ready the great news is it is the strongest position with the Dodgers. With Striping, Ferguson, Urias and other guys on the farm like Gonsolin, Santana, May and others I believe they have guys to fill the position until he can figure out what is hurting him and safely return.

      Obviously you cannot replace a great pitcher or competitor like Kershaw easily but they can fill the gap for a time without too much loss I believe.

      • Good morning maxster!!!! I concur with your points on Mr. Newcombe. I also agree with your thoughts on Kershaw if he is unable to pitch forr a short or even long duration : our depth at that position. Interestingly, I think Mr. Koufax when he was forced to retire due to a circulatory illness, Reynaud’s phenomena. Much too soon on both counts. We will just have to wait and see how this all plays out!!!! Have a great weekend!!! Go Blue!!!

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