Evaluating the Prospects: Los Angeles Dodgers

Evaluating the Prospects: Rangers, Rockies, D’Backs, Twins, Astros, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, Rays, Mets, Padres, Marlins, Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Braves, Athletics, AngelsDodgers, Blue Jays, Tigers, Cardinals, Brewers, Indians, Mariners, Pirates, Royals & Giants

Top 200 Prospects Content Index

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

Draft Rankings: 2015, 2016 & 2017

International Coverage: 2015 July 2nd Parts One, Two & Three, 2016 July 2nd

The Dodgers; system isn’t especially deep, but that should be changing soon. The new regime made a shrewd deal with Miami to add underrated youngsters C Austin Barnes and SS Enrique Hernandez. This illustrates both the focus on value from the top two Dodgers execs’ small market backgrounds (Andrew Friedman in Tampa and Farhan Zaidi in Oakland) but their willingness to leverage the Dodgers’ financial advantage to acquire young players. I wrote two days ago about the latest intel on the Dodgers’ plans to spend big in the international market.

While the depth should be shored up soon, the high level talent is as abundant here as any other system in baseball, with my 4th, 6th and 11th prospects in baseball. This top three offers upside, certainty and a short-term MLB ETA, with Holmes and Verdugo just behind them offering upside in the lower minors from the 2014 draft class. I have the Dodgers’ system as 5th in the game right now, but I’ll give a final answer on that when I finish all 30 lists.

Here’s the primer for the series and a disclaimer about how we don’t really know anything. See the links above for the ongoing series about how I evaluate, including the series on the ever-complicated hit tool.

Most of what you need to know for this list is in the above links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due to injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report. The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (a notch better than the projected tools, or a 75% projection while the projected tools are a 50% projection) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.

Below, I’ve included a quick ranking of the notable MLB players 27 and under that aren’t eligible for the Dodgers prospect list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite. Up next is the Blue Jays.

27 & Under Big League Assets
1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Age 26, FV: 80
2. Yasiel Puig, RF, Age 24, FV: 70 (Video)
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Age 27, FV: 60
4. Kenley Jansen, RHP, Age 27, FV: 60
5. Yasmani Grandal, C, Age 26, FV: 55
6. Enrique Hernandez, SS, Age 23, FV: 50
7. Brett Anderson, LHP, Age 27, FV: 50
8. Paco Rodriguez, LHP, Age 23, FV: 50 (Video)
9. Mike Bolsinger, LHP, Age 27, FV: 45
10. Chris Withrow, RHP, Age 25, FV: 45

Organizational Overview by Dave Cameron

The Dodgers overhauled both their front office and their roster this winter, and the result is now one of the scariest behemoths in baseball. The Dodgers are currently one of the best teams in baseball with a strong young core, have three of the top 11 prospects in baseball, the league’s highest payroll, and a front office that still challenged themselves to find value and spend efficiently this winter. Every team will make mistakes, and the Dodgers roster certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to find an organization in a better position to win both now and in the future. And they have Vin Scully.

50+ FV Prospects

1. Julio Urias, LHP
Current Level/Age: High-A/18.6, 5’11/180, L/L
Signed: IFA at age 16 on August 17, 2012 out of Mexico by LA for $1.0 million bonus
Fastball: 60/65, Curveball: 60/65, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 45/55Scouting Report: The Mexican-born Urias signed when he turned 16 in August 2012, as part of a package deal from his Mexican team, where he was the headline player, signing for $1.0 million (the Dodgers paid another $800,000 for the other players in the package). The Dodgers brass signed Urias on a now-famous trip to Mexico. A group of executives and scouts went to see Urias’ teammate C Julian Leon (a solid prospect listed below), but the 15-year-old Urias sat 90-92 mph with a loose delivery, crisp curveball and good feel to pitch, a couple ticks higher than he had months earlier. Later on that same trip, the Dodgers also signed Yasiel Puig, making it one of the most notable scouting trips of all time.

The reason Urias was still available what that he had a serious condition in his left eye (and still does–check out his official photo) after a tumor was removed, and some teams were worried about future blindness, though it doesn’t appear to be a problem now. It’s hard to fathom how good Urias is at such a young age. He’s aged like a young high school senior in the 2014 draft class and Urias steamrolled through the hitter-friendly High-A California League. Urias sits 91-95 and touches 97 mph with three plus pitches and advanced command, and he’s still just 18. Given the background and talent, it’s hard to ignore the Fernando Valenzuela parallels.

Summation: He’ll start 2015 in Double-A and when he’s called up is simply a function of when the Dodgers want to start his arbitration clock. Urias could’ve easily pitched in Double-A last year, while his American age-group peers were in Rookie ball; it’s unclear how aggressive the new Dodgers regime will be with him, but there’s something to saying he needs to be challenged and fail before we know what his upside truly is.

FV/Role/Risk: 65, #2/3 starter, Medium (3 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AA/AAA/MLB, 2016: AAA/MLB

2. Corey Seager, 3B
Current Level/Age: AA/20.9, 6’4/215, L/R
Drafted: 18th overall (1st round) in 2012 out of North Carolina HS by LA for $2.35 million bonus
Hit: 40/55, Raw Power: 55/60, Game Power: 40/55, Run: 45/40, Field: 50/50+, Throw: 60/60

Scouting Report: Seager is the younger brother of Mariners 3B Kyle Seager and, in the last few years, both have emerged as a couple of the best infielders in the world. Corey was identified as such earlier, as he went in the middle of the first round in 2012 out of a Charlotte-area high school, but even the Dodgers were surprised by how much and how quickly Seager excelled offensively. He hasn’t failed in any meaningful way yet, including an impressive late-season run in 2014 at Double-A at age 20.

If you have to nitpick, the strikeouts are a little higher than some would like, but Seager is 6-foot-4 and that’s to be expected if a bigger guy is going to hit for some power in games.The Dodgers think Seager is fringy to average defensively at shortstop and will try to keep him there as long as possible, but he should slide over to third base at some point. Most scouts and I think that’ll be in the next year or two, while the Dodgers are holding out hope that can get some meaningful MLB years of average shortstop play out of Seager until he loses a step. He’ll offer some value with the glove either way, so the real question with Seager is how much the bat is going to play and how much of his power he’ll get to in games and at what age.

Summation: Seager will start the season in Double-A or Triple-A and won’t need to be rushed with Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe, Howie Kendrick and Justin Turner ahead of him on the infield depth chart, with a chance Cuban 2B Hector Olivera joins that group soon. Seager is the most talented of that group but also the least developed. Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi finally don’t have to obsess over service time of top prospects, so Seager should get a chance to play once he’s deemed big league ready, likely at some point late in 2015.

Upside: .280/.350/.460, 20-25 homers
FV/Risk: 65, Medium (3 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AA/AAA/MLB, 2016: AAA/MLB

3. Joc Pederson, RF
Current Level/Age: MLB/22.9, 6’1/185, L/L
Drafted: 352nd overall (11th round) in 2010 out of California HS by LA for $600,000 bonus
Hit: 45/55, Raw Power: 60/60, Game Power: 45/55, Run: 55/50, Field: 50/50+, Throw: 50/50+

Scouting Report: Pederson emerged late in his draft year and wasn’t a consensus prospect out of high school. Pederson wasn’t seen as having much upside, but flashed average tools and good feel for the game. Something clicked in 2012 and the Dodgers sent him straight to High-A as a 20-year-old, where he became a top 100-type prospect. He raked again in Double-A in 2013, then again in 2014 in Triple-A, with only the Dodgers outfield surplus keeping him on the farm so long. The short version of what happened is that Pederson’s tools got a little better and his high-energy approach to the game has allowed hit tools to play up.

Pederson has average to above average tools across the board, with only his raw power showing plus, though that’s with effort in batting practice, so it isn’t really usable game power. He can play a decent center field for now and the Dodgers will do everything they can to let him play there, but most scouts assume Pederson will settle as a right fielder by his mid-to-late-20’s, similar to Seager at shortstop/third base. Pederson’s offensive projection will come down to what kind of hitter he wants to be–the 55 future hit/power tools grades is a bit of a hedge, but he should post high OBPs either way.

Summation: Pederson looks like the Opening Day center fielder, so the Dodgers will need him to be at least fringy in center field; his combination of speed and instincts should allow that to work in the short-term.

Upside: .280/.370/.460, 20-25 homers
FV/Risk: 60, Low (2 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB

4. Grant Holmes, RHP
Current Level/Age: SS/18.9, 6’1/215, R/R
Drafted: 22nd overall (1st round) in 2014 out of a South Carolina HS by LA for $2.5 million bonus
Fastball: 55/65, Curveball: 55/60, Changeup: 45/50+, Command: 40/50, FV: 50

Scouting Report: Holmes emerged as a top prep arm in the 2014 class while an underclassman, when he ran his fastball into the mid-90’s. He held that position wire-to-wire regularly hitting the mid-90’s, then getting as high as 100 mph at the beginning of his draft spring. Holmes is maxed-out physically, there’s a little effort to his delivery and his velocity settled at 91-95, hitting 96 mph in most outings, but his feel for pitching and health track record are excellent for his age. In some outings, Holmes will cut his fastball so much that it looks like a separate pitch and could morph into a regularly-used weapon.

Holmes hard, low-80’s curveball flashed 65 in many of his outings last spring and his changeup flashed 55, but not regularly. I’ve hedged a bit here given the risks with prep arms, but Holmes had the best combination of now stuff and feel in the draft, even ahead of #2 overall pick Marlins RHP Tyler Kolek. If the 100 mph version of Holmes from the early spring comes back, he could be a top 10 prospect in baseball, but the above-average-across-the-board version that we see more often still offers a solid mid-rotation upside.

Summation: Holmes could perform well enough to warrant be a quick mover, but it’s unclear how the new Dodger regime will handle prep arms. He’ll start in Low-A and I’d guess he spends the whole year there, but could either skip High-A or get a quick Double-A promotion in 2016 if all goes to plan

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter, Medium (3 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: Low-A, 2016: High-A/AA, 2017: AA/AAA, 2018: AAA/MLB

45 FV Prospects

5. Alex Verdugo, RF Video: Verdugo was a famous prep prospect, standing out on travel teams as an underclassman and showing early round upside on the showcase circuit as a hitter and pitcher. I preferred him as a hitter, with most of the industry preferring him as a pitcher, so I was surprised to see the Dodgers take him in the 2nd round last summer and announce him as an outfielder. It wasn’t just to let Verdugo do what he wanted to do in pro ball, the Dodgers preferred him there, but also knew there was a solid backup plan on the mound, as Verdugo flashed three above average pitches at times. Verdugo was outstanding in his pro debut, akin to his standout performance in last August’s Area Code Games showcase where he flashed above average power potential and speed, along with a plus arm and advanced feel for contact.

He has above average to plus bat speed and the Dodgers said he hit a ball off a tee with an exit velocity of 98 mph before the draft, further proving the quickness of his bat. Some scouts were hesitant due to some maturity issues, but the Dodgers see a confident, good kid that just needs to grow up a bit. There’s a lot of Joc Pederson parallels here, as a kid that’s a tweener defensively that’s average to above across the board and has a high-energy, instinctual style that gets the most out of his tools.Verdugo will head to Low-A this year and with more performances like this will find himself on everyone’s top 100 next summer.

6. Chris Anderson, RHP Video: Anderson popped up in his draft year (2013) out of Jacksonville U. in Florida, going in the middle of the first round after delivering on his physical projection by flashing a plus fastball and slider with starter traits.  Anderson’s changeup was average in most outings in his draft year, but it’s coming and going in pro ball. His command also wandered a bit and it showed in his numbers, but getting out of the hitter-friendly Cal League for 2015 should help in that regard.  Anderson made a mechanical change late in 2014 to revert back to his pre-draft mechanics and it looked to help both issues. There’s #3 starter upside if it all comes together and a 2015 campaign in Double-A could be the place that happens.

7. Jose De Leon, RHP Video: De Leon is the success story you’re hoping for when you read a report about a low minors power arm that flashes big stuff at times but has trouble with consistency. De Leon exploded in 2014 with ridiculous numbers, better stuff and better command after an okay pro debut in 2013. De Leon’s profile has raised in a big way (he signed for $35,000 as a 26th rounder out of Alabama State in 2013) and he now sits 93-95 mph with life, hitting 97 mph, his slider is a 55 and his changeup is at least average on most nights.

The stuff got a notch better in 2014 with help from a smoothed out delivery, but there’s also some deception and outstanding makeup and smarts helping everything play up. De Leon is now 22 and has only made four starts in full-season ball, with the Dodgers saying he should be at multiple levels this year, possibly even three.

8. Austin Barnes, C Video: Barnes is a unique prospect that had industry value and, when the Dodgers acquired him in the Dee Gordon trade, it had many executives mad that Friedman beat them to the versatile Barnes. He’s a bit of a late-bloomer as a 5’9/185 catcher that signed for $95,000 out of Arizona State in 2011. Barnes emerged in the upper levels as an advanced bat with feel for the strike zone, but below average power that’s most unique because he can catch at a big league level and also is a 45 runner that plays second base and third base to keep fresh and keep his bat in the lineup.

He’s the third catcher for the Dodgers right now, starting in Triple-A, and will continue to play in the infield. That said, he’s apparently an excellent framer, with one exec telling me he’s top 25-30 in the minor leagues, so the plan is to develop him as a potential everyday catcher but know that he can also be a utility guy if needed.

9. Zach Lee, RHP Video: Lee was a super high profile prep prospect as a four star quarterback recruit for LSU that skipped out on the gridiron to sign with the Dodgers as a first rounder in 2010 for $5.25 million. After signing, the 19-year-old Lee headed to Low-A and sat 92-94, hitting 96 mph with a plus slider and the athleticism you expected to see, but all three attributes have backed up since then.

Lee now sits 88-93 mph with an average fastball from a less athletic, east-west delivery designed to create deception but that also stresses his shoulder more than his former free-and-easy delivery. His slider is solid average at it’s best, his changeup has improved to flash above average and his fourth pitch curveball is also average at times, but the stuff is no more than a 4th starter at this point; he should get a big league look this year.

10. Chris Reed, LHP Video: Reed also has pedigree as a first rounder out of Stanford in 2011 where he was a reliever, but the Dodgers drafted him to develop him as a starter. While the stuff is there, four years later it looks like Reed’s best fit is in relief and that may happen at some point in 2015. As a starter, Reed sits 91-94 and hits 96 mph with an above average slider but a changeup and command that are often below average.

In relief, scouts think he’s sit 93-96 mph and his slider may play up to plus, so the upside is there to try it and you’d think it would’ve happened last year with the Dodgers bullpen imploding.  The 6’4/195 lefty will get a big league look at some point this year, almost definitely in relief, and if he has some success, he may stick in the big league bullpen for awhile.

40 FV Prospects

11. Zach Bird, RHP Video: The athletic 6’4/205 righty is looking to buck the trend of Mississippi high school prospects busting in pro ball. He signed for $140,000 in 2012 and has made a lot of progress in his few years in pro ball. Bird sat 88-91 mph when he was drafted and he now sits 91-95, hitting 97 mph often, with reports of 100 mph. Scouts laud his makeup and smarts for pitching, but his delivery, command and off-speed will determine if his big league future is as a starter or reliever, with some calling a LaTroy Hawkins-type relief career a median outcome. The delivery isn’t the most natural and he’s still working on control/command, but he’s still just 20 years old, his curveball flashes 55 and there’s flashes of a changeup and feel to pitch.

12. Darnell Sweeney, CF Video: Sweeney signed for $100,000 in the 13th round in 2012 out of UCF. He’s slid down the defensive spectrum from shortstop to second base to center field due to his spotty hands. Sweeney is a plus runner with an average arm, more pop than you’d expect from his skinny 6’1/180 build and feel for contact and the strike zone from both sides of the plate. He’ll be big league ready by the end of 2015 in Triple-A and fits as a 2B/CF/LF utility guy that may end up hitting enough to be a low-end starter in the Frank Catalanotto mold.

13. Julian Leon, C Video: Signed from the same Mexican club at the same time as Urias and on the same trip that netted the Dodgers Puig, Leon has symbolic value but he’s also a very good prospect in his own right. The stout 5’11/215 righty has above average raw power, good feel for the strike zone and advanced feel to hit, so the bat should profile almost anywhere. He’s still a work in progress behind the plate and his solid average arm is just enough to stick back there if the glove comes along. He’s bilingual and smart, but there are still questions if he has the quickness, range and energy to stick behind the plate long-term.

14. Scott Schebler, LF Video: Schebler signed for $300,000 in the 26th round in 2010 out of an Iowa junior college, then followed up a breakout 2013 in the hitter-friendly High-A Cal League with another outstanding stat line in 2014 in Double-A. One scout put a Brandon Moss comp on Schebler and a bat-first, lefty-hitting outfielder with a fringy to average bat and above average raw power. Schebler is listed at 6’1/208 but will actually flash plus speed at times, though his arm and instincts are below average, limiting him to left field. He doesn’t have big bat speed, so some scouts are still wart, but he fits the bill of an under-the-radar performer who could surprise. Schebler could be knocking on the door of the big leagues as early as late in 2015.

15. Joe Wieland, RHP Video: Wieland was acquired this winter from San Diego in the Matt Kemp trade. He missed the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery and returned late in 2014, showing the same stuff from before surgery. Wieland sits 90-93 and hits 94 mph with an above average curveball, fringy slider and average changeup. He had solid feel to pitch before surgery and that’s usually the last thing to come back, so that will the the thing to watch in 2015 as he’ll likely get some big league innings while waiting for a rotation spot to open up.

16. Ross Stripling, RHP Video: Stripling signed for $130,000 as a senior sign from Texas A&M in the 5th round in 2012 and looked big league ready in Double-A in 2013 before he needed Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for all of 2014. He should be back at some point in the first half of 2015 and some in the organization had him above of Zach Lee before he got hurt. At his best, Stripling sat 91-93 and hit 94 mph with an above average slider, average curveball and changeup along with at least average command. He projected as a 4th starter then, but expectations have shifted down to a 5th starter until we see how he looks coming off surgery.

17. Alex Guerrero, 2B Video:  The Dodgers signed the Cuban infielder before last season for four years and $28 million. Guerrero, along with SS Erisbel Arruebarrena, who signed for $25 million and is listed in the others section below, represent an over-correction to the recent success of many Cuban hitters, with the Dodgers essentially setting over $50 million on fire in search of the next Puig. Guerrero isn’t completely worthless as he has big league tools and some positional versatility, but 2014 was a rough start to his career. Guerrero will be 28 this season and, despite his salary, barely got a cursory big league look last year.

He hit in Triple-A but he was older than his competition and was hitting around the ball with a pull-heavy approach that many scouts don’t think will work in the big leagues. Guerrero is fringy defensively at second base and third base, his best fits, and there’s some stiffness to his actions on both sides of the ball, but he has 55 raw power that easily profiles in either spot. If Guerrero can figure out a way to make some contact and hit a few out, he can salvage a career as a solid contributor.

18. Pedro Baez, RHP Video: Baez was on some prospect lists as a toolsy third baseman short on results as recently as 2010. He converted to the mound in 2013, something the Dodgers knew was an option when they signed him for $200,000 as a hitter (as a late-blooming 19-year-old) because he threw 94 mph from third base in his pre-signing workout. Baez had all the tools as a hitter but simply couldn’t hit; as a reliever he has a lot of the raw tools as well, headlined by a fastball that sits 93-97 and touches 99 mph.

He backs that up with a slider that flashes above average, a rarely changeup and command that’s improving but still limits him to the bullpen. Baez shot to the big leagues with just 100 minor league innings, so he’s still learning, but his cleaner and more compact arm action with more arm speed give him the edge over Frias, despite not as impressive numbers.

19. Carlos Frias, RHP Video: The 25-year-old Frias got extended big league innings last year, along with a couple spot starts, so he barely qualifies for this list. He’s 6’4/170 and sits 92-95, hitting 97 mph with heavy life and his sinker is his primary pitch. Frias’ slider flashes 55 and he also throws a fringy curveball and changeup. His arm action isn’t as clean as you’d like and the command could be better, so there’s no telling how long this will last, but he has solid makeup and he’s already contributed at the big league level.

20. Cody Bellinger, 1B Video: Cody is the son of former Yankees 3B Clay Bellinger and the key for the Cody is how much he can fill out his 6’4/180 frame and tap into his power potential at the plate. Clay’s strong build gives some hope that more bulk is coming for Cody, but there’s already the expected polish for the son of a former big leaguer. Bellinger is an advanced defender at first base that’s already big league quality and has a plus arm that had him sitting 88-92 mph on the mound in high school.

Right now, Bellinger has a line drive approach with advanced feel to hit and draws James Loney comparisons for both his likely upside and amateur background as a Dodgers prep selection with a two-way background and limited raw power.  Bellinger will head to Low-A next year, but is still growing into his frame and is more of a multi-year project to see how his frame and power develop.

21. Joey Curletta, RF Video: Physical monster (6’4/245) is compared to Mark Trumbo for his frame, plus raw power and plus arm that helped him hit 94 mph in high school, all similar to Trumbo’s two-way amateur profile. Curletta is still working on getting to the power in games but there is feel to hit and easy upside as an everyday player if he can put it all together.

22. John Richy, RHP Video: At his best while at UNLV, Richy would show a 55-60 fastball and curveball with a changeup that flashed average. He sits 90-95 mph and commands all three pretty well despite a head whack in his delivery. Richy threw a lot in college, so after the Dodgers took him in the 3rd round last summer, they limited his innings. The org is optimistic he can be a quick-moving #4 starter type prospect with a solid 2015 season.

23. Kyle Farmer, C Video: Farmer was a college shortstop at Georgia, but has taken well to being converted to a catcher, with a solid average arm and a chance to be a solid average defender. One Dodgers exec compared him to A.J. Ellis as a guy without huge tools that has feel for the game. Farmer doesn’t have much offensive impact, which is why he lasted until the 8th round as a senior sign that got $40,000 in 2013, but the backup catcher profile gives him big league upside.

Cistulli’s Guy

Jharel Cotton, RHP
The difference both in age and arm speed render them different sorts of prospects, but the right-handed Cotton nevertheless produced the same strikeout- and walk-rate differential (about 20 points) as the top-ranked Julio Urias at Rancho Cucamonga last year. Nor ought Cotton’s appeal suffer because of Urias’s precociousness: last year represented Cotton’s age-22 season, a very reasonable age for a propect at High-A. As McDaniel notes below, the velocity is of some concern for the Virgin Island native. What doesn’t appear to be of any concern is his changeup.

Here’s an example of that same — or, at least, a similar — changeup from 2013, when Cotton was in the Midwest League:

Cotton Change
And largely identical footage, except in slower motion:

Cotton Change Slow
Others of Note

Four arms from the upper levels to keep an eye on: RHP Jharel Cotton (5’11/195 righty is an enigma that sits in the mid-90’s at times and sits 90-91 other times; he’s a starter now that fits in relief long-term and flashes a solid average curveball), LHP Danny Coulombe (5’10/185 lefty got a quick big league look last year and fits as a situational lefty; he sits 90-93 and hits 94 mph with a curveball and slider that both flash above average at times), RHP Yimi Garcia (Video sits 90-93 and hits 95 mph with an average slider, fringy changeup and solid average command that allows his stuff to play up, though the delivery is just okay) and RHP Ralston Cash (2010 2nd rounder finally got healthy after breaking his pelvis, sits 92-94 mph with a slider that’s a 55 at times, but who knows how long it’ll last)

Six arms from the lower levels to keep an eye on: RHP Jacob Rhame (sits 94-96, hits 98 mph and mixes in average slider; quick worker should move through system fast in relief role, but is more middle relief than late innings), RHP M.J. Villegas (sleeper righty sits 88-92 with an average curveball and fringy changeup, but has youth, athleticism and projection to see more coming), RHP A.J. Vanegas (Stanford product turned down seven figures out of high school then long college medical led him to take $100,000 as a senior in 2014; 6’3/205 righty has hit 97 mph with an above average to plus curveball but will be built up in short stints), RHP Jeff Brigham (premium athlete had TJ as an underclassman, then popped up last spring at U Washington, running his fastball up to 97 mph with a slider that he’s working back into his repertoire that flashes solid average at times; likely a relief fit), LHP Victor Gonzalez (Mexican teenage lefty has some pitchability and sits 89-92, but is more control over command right now with three average pitches to project in the rotation) and RHP Kam Uter (Video Wake Forest wide receiver recruit signed for $100,000 last summer and is very raw, but is big, athletic, projectable and flashes two solid average pitches, with shades of Zach Bird).

Two bats from the upper levels to keep an eye on: SS Erisbel Arruebarrena (slick-fielding Cuban shortstop signed for 5 years and $25 million a year ago and was compared to Tigers SS Jose Iglesias, but has been far worse than that so far; average runner has plus plus glove and plus arm but turns 25 later this month and has little offensive impact) and C Chris O’Brien (Video the son of long-time MLB catcher Charlie O’Brien is an advanced catch and throw guy with a little bit of offensive ability; he’s a decent bat to carve out a career as a backup with a few more offensive adjustments).

Five bats from the lower levels to keep an eye on: 1B Justin Chigbogu (pronounced chi-BAGO, Justin has the most raw power in the organization, easy plus juice to all fields from the left side, but is still raw and has some trouble dealing with the K’s that will come with an aggressive power approach), 3B Jared Walker (2014 5th rounder from an Atlanta-area high school flashes average raw power from the left side, some feel to hit and a chance to stick at third), RF Michael Medina (18-year old Dominican right fielder flashes above average bat speed, power potential and arm strength, but is predictably raw skills-wise), 2B Lucas Tirado (Video Dominican got $1 million last July 2nd and has smooth lefty swing, but can’t stick at shortstop and struggled at the plate in the AZL at age 17 last year) and RF Romer Cuadrado (Dominican got $750,000 this past July 2nd, so he hasn’t played a pro game yet, but is the classic projectable-framed right field type with power potential).

Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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9 years ago


9 years ago
Reply to  ANGRY FAN

Dee P. Gordon probably ranks somewhere in the 30FV range. Although he would get an 80-grade for durability, I would assume.

9 years ago
Reply to  Lenard

*would have gotten

I think his 80 grade is probably now with a 60 future value.

9 years ago
Reply to  Lenard

May that post never fade into obscurity.