The MLB Pipeline Top 30 Prospect list , topped by Alex Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz and Dustin May, just came out for the Dodgers as they continue to have a great set of prospects, despite trades and graduations. They were ranked as the number 7 organization in terms of prospects. This article will be similar to the one I did in July 2018 where I compared the pre-season list to the update in July. In this article we will compare the pre-season list from 2018 to the new pre-season list and I will debut my top 15 list.
The first column is a note about why a prospect is missing from then until now. The second column is the list from February 27, 2018 and the last column is for the February 27, 2019 list. The ranking number is in the third column.
The player that gained the most was Tony Gonsolin. Of course, I left him off my top 15 (pretty sure I’m going to be wrong about him) despite what I wrote about him in my top 5 starting pitching prospects. He went from a 3.86 ERA in 70 innings with 69 hits, 18 walks and 85 strikeouts in 2017 to 2.60 ERA/128 IP/104 H/42 BB/155 Ks. All his work in 2017 was as a reliever then they made him a starter in 2018. I hope he gets to AAA quickly so we can get more of a feel of how good he might be.
Starling Heredia was signed in July 2015 as a 16 year old out of the Dominican Republic. He clearly has some upside as he slashed .325 AVG/.397 OBP/.555 SLG in 2017. He also struck out 69 times in 209 at bats. In 2018 he collapsed at Great Lakes as he also missed significant time with injuries. His slash was .192/.260/.332 with 92 Ks in 229 ABs. He just turned 20 so there is plenty of time to bounce back. Maybe if he goes to the California League he can use that hitter-friendly league to get some confidence back.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Jacob Amaya at number 12 as I’ve rated him highly also. I spoke about him in December in my analysis of some of the middle infield prospects. He put up some strong numbers at Ogden and took a little dip when promoted to Great Lakes. Overall he slashed .311/.432/.436 while showing he’s a legitimate shortstop. Although he sees time at second base most analysts say he should stick as shortstop as he moves up. This is one that I can’t wait to watch at Rancho Cucamonga.
The first unknown to many is 19 year old Leonel Valera, who signed with the Dodgers in 2019. He is 6’1” and only weighs 165 pounds but analysts feel there is plenty of growing to do. As of now he has good speed and is regarded as a good fielder. He plays all over the infield and some think he could be a utility player if the bat stays at the same level it is at now. If he improves (and physical maturity may help) at the plate then he projects to be a solid middle infielder.
The second unknown is Zach Willeman, drafted in the 19thround in 2017, but didn’t make his debut until July 2018. He had Tommy John surgery after he was drafted. Most of his appearances were in relief but there is still a strong chance he starts in 2019 as his last appearance in 2018 was as a starter. He finished the 2018 season with a 1.42 overall ERA in 19 innings. In that small sample size he only gave up 12 hits, walked 8 and struck out 24. He has a standout fastball that tops out at 100 MPH with a good curve and slider.
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My Top 15
Given all the prospect lists that have been created and reviewed it is time for me to lay out my list. My list will have some high projections of some very young players so there is definitely some built in volatility. I wrote this list before the MLB Pipeline rankings came out so we’ll see how I did.
— Tim Rogers (SD Dodger) (@SDDodger) February 26, 2019
My Biggest Shocker
Miguel Vargas was mentioned in my July article as someone not on the top 30 list. I have him on my list after reading and hearing a lot about him. Vargas basically missed two years of baseball and was able to make a strong showing in 2018 anyway. His spot at number 10 is a risky projection but this guy might be worth it. He did slash .330/.404/.465 after missing more than two years of baseball at the age of 18 so that is a big part of my optimism.
Projecting Physical Growth
Trying to project players who are still physically maturing is a challenge. If you compare Gavin Lux in 2017 to the Gavin Lux in 2018, he physically matured a lot. Projecting guys like May, Cartaya, Downs, Vargas, Uceta and Amaya to mature optimistically is a factory in how I arrived at their spots. It’s a guess that nobody can really predict.
Based on my list the number 15 player in the list is Edwin Rios. He was added to the 40 man roster in the off-season and will probably make his major league debut in 2019. That is a good sign of depth. On my list there are 5 right handed pitchers with all of them projecting as starters. It was great to see Dustin May, Dennis Santana and Mitchell White pitch in the exhibition game on February 24. They all had some good moments and should cause Dodgers fans to be a bit excited about them.
Catching is also a great place of depth as I had to leave Connor Wong off my list. Ruiz and Smith will both debut within the next two seasons and Cartaya is more of a long term projection. It should also be noted that I project 8 of the players to be starting the 2019 season in AAA so they are all on the verge of being ready to make an impact in the Major Leagues soon.
As a confirmed #ProspectHugger I am very pleased with the depth of the farm system even after so many prospects being traded or graduating to the Major Leagues. It is also important to note that, despite so many prospects being traded, none of them are real difference makers. The front office has held onto a lot of the better ones and that is how they’ve helped build a team with some key players being home grown. One guarantee I can make, some of these players will be traded within the next year. Let’s hope it helps lead the Dodgers to a World Series victory in 2019.
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