About two weeks ago we began a recap of the Dodgers top prospects. Over the off-season, our Farm-Hand Fridays series was very successful. But as any good fan understands, there’s more to a farm system than the top 10 prospects. So, with that in mind, we covered our #11-20 prospects. Now, we will finish our recap covering our top 5 prospects today. You can find our recaps of the #6-10, #11-15, and #16-20 prospects at those respective articles. Without further adieu, here is the recap of our #1-5 prospects.
"It's amazing what comes out of the body and that arm."@Dodgers top prospect Walker Buehler continued to impress with two more scoreless innings on Friday: https://t.co/hfOoXx7dF9 pic.twitter.com/lukTjd3P7G
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 17, 2018
#5: Mitchell White
Mitchell White starts out our top 5 prospects. Having had an amazing debut 2016 there were a lot of doubts about what kind of success he could have in 2017. But once again Mitchell White exceeded all expectations. Splitting time between High-A and AA this year White compiled a 2.93 ERA overall. Additionally, he struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings while walking 3.8 batters. The control wasn’t as spot-on as it was in 2016 but he still has shown an ability to hit his spots with at least three different pitches. Armed with a low to mid-90s fastball, a high 80s to low 90s cutter, and a low 80s curveball White has the ability to throw three different pitches for strikes at any moment. He also possesses a fairly average changeup that he can use at times. His true bread-and-butter is that cutter, which really came along in 2017. Expect him to at least reach AAA by the end of the year. He may not make his debut this year but he certainly will next year at some point.
#4: Yadier Alvarez
As we stated during our Farm-Hand Friday’s piece on Yadier Alvarez he was a bit tough to rank. He still possesses the amazing raw stuff that saw the Dodgers spend $30 million on, but last season was a bit of a struggle. On the surface, his stats appeared to be very average. His ERA and strikeout and walk ratios all trended in the wrong directions. However, the important thing was that he still retained his pure stuff. What makes Alvarez so exciting is the fact that he throws mid-to-high 90s heat with such ease. Not only that but he has two excellent breaking pitches. His mid-to-high 80s slider is the better of his two, but his curveball is also quite sharp. His biggest hurdle will be to control these pitches. If Yadier Alvarez cannot harness his stuff he may be relegated to more of a bullpen role. Even if he ends up in the bullpen ultimately he will still be an excellent late-inning pitcher.
#3: Keibert Ruiz
Even though Keibert Ruiz was not one of the more flashier International signings in the last few years he has become a tour-de-force in our system. Now after 3 excellent years in our farm system he is not only one of our top prospects but also one of the top prospects in all of baseball. It is not a stretch to imagine that he will become the top catching prospect in baseball by year’s end. He possesses some of the best bat to ball skills in all the Minor Leagues. Right now he projects to be a regular .300 hitter at the Major League level. And as he continues to grow he is continuing to develop a bit of power as well. He is still at least two years away but once he is ready he will certainly take over full-time catching duty. Oh, he also only had 7 hits in 12 at-bats during spring. Not too shabby for your first Spring Training camp.
#2: Alex Verdugo
Double dingers for #Dodgers duo: Alex Verdugo &, DJ Peters both connect on their 2nd #SpringTraining homers in the 8th inning. Nos. 2 & 6 on the @Dodgers Top 30 Prospects list: https://t.co/AnIkFLceXR pic.twitter.com/T57TDijSbi
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 5, 2018
Next, we have the rather unfortunate case of Alex Verdugo. I say unfortunate because he is definitely ready to be a Major League starter. However, he is blocked by no less than three other players on the depth chart. He had one heck of a Spring Training with a triple slash of .324/.361/.618. Compared with some of the others ahead of him, that was actually a better performance. However he is still only 21 years old and because of this along with the fact that he has options, the roster spots were given to others. In fact, you could argue that his situation is pretty similar to Andrew Toles’. Both he and Toles had excellent springs and had great arguments to have a spot on the Major League roster. But both players would be better served to get everyday playing time down in AAA Oklahoma City. Needless to say, you can expect Alex Verdugo to contribute at some point this year. And it is a pretty safe bet he will be an everyday player by the end of 2019.
#1: Walker Buehler
Lastly, we come to the best of the best in our system: Walker Buehler. Since his return from Tommy John surgery Buehler has impressed at every step. Not only has he been able to retain his stuff from before the surgery, but some of it has actually taken a step forward. His fastball sits in the mid-to-high 90s now instead of the low-to-mid 90s. And it still retains its run and sink. He also possesses an excellent cutter and a superb low-80s power curve. He certainly has an ace upside if he reaches his true potential. As of right now though he will have to wait until a spot in the rotation opens up. And believe us, once it does open up, he will make the most of it and become a mainstay in our rotation for years to come.