Top 15 Prospects: Los Angeles Dodgers

Once upon a time the Los Angeles Dodgers organization was the envy of all the land… Oh, how times have changed. We all know about the controversy that has been swirling around the club for what seems like far too long and it may be some time before the Dodgers’ system once again receives the attention that it deserves. Ownership needs to commit to rebuilding the organization from the inside out and it has one of the best scouting directors in the business, Logan White, to lean on. The Dodgers organization does have some impressive arms but things fall off quickly after them.

1. Zach Lee, RHP
BORN: Sept. 13, 1991
EXPERIENCE: 1 season
ACQUIRED: 2010 1st round (28th overall), Texas HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 2nd

No one expected the hard-to-sign Lee to actually become a Dodger but the club got a deal done and he sits atop the prospect list just one year later. He spurned Louisiana State University where he would have played baseball while also possibly quarterbacking the football squad. Lee’s first season in the minors was a success. He posted a 3.68 FIP in 109 low-A innings while also striking out 7.51 batters per nine innings. Lee showed above-average control with a walk rate of just 2.64 walks per nine. His repertoire includes an 89-94 mph fastball, good curveball, slider and changeup. He could develop into a No. 1 or 2 starter if he continues on this path. The organization could make the bold move to jump Lee all the way to double-A if it wants him to avoid the California League. More likely than not, though, he could spend a short period in high-A before taking the leap.

2. Nate Eovaldi, RHP
BORN: Feb. 13, 1990
EXPERIENCE: 4 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 11th round, Texas HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

Prior to 2011 Eovaldi had not pitched above A-ball so few, if any, people expected him to reach the Majors. The right-hander posted solid numbers in double-A, though, and earned himself a 34.2-inning audition at the MLB level and held his own despite inconsistent command and control. Eovaldi features a 93-97 mph fastball and a plus slider that can touch 90 mph. He also has a developing changeup and his pitches show good sink. The hard-throwing Texan could eventually find his way into a high-leverage relief role but he’s developed quicker than expected leading some to think he has a future as a No. 2 starter. He’ll battle the likes of Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang in spring training in an effort to win a spot in the club’s starting rotation. Chances are good, though, that he’ll begin 2012 in Triple-A.

3. Chris Reed, LHP
BORN: May 20, 1990
ACQUIRED: 2011 1st round (16th overall), Stanford University
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: NA

A closer at Stanford, Reed displayed a three-pitch mix that had more than one team eying him as a potential pro starter. The southpaw pitched just seven innings after turning pro but he’s expected to jump on the fast track and could return to high-A ball in 2012. His repertoire includes an 89-95 mph fastball, slider and changeup. The big question mark for Reed this coming season surrounds his durability and ability to maintain his peak stuff late into games.

4. Allen Webster, RHP
BORN: Feb. 10, 1990
EXPERIENCE: 4 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 18th round, North Carolina HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 7th

Webster has surprisingly good stuff and it has seemingly gotten better and better as he gains more experience on the mound. The right-hander still shows inconsistent command but, when he’s on, he gets good sinking action on his fastball and can touch the mid-to-upper 90s. He also features a curveball, slider and changeup but some feel he’d be better off scraping one of his breaking balls to allow him to focus more on developing three pitches. Webster split the ’11 season between high-A and double-A and he’s been very durable over the past two seasons. He’ll likely return to double-A in ’12 but will likely see time in triple-A – and quite possibly the Majors.

5. Garrett Gould, RHP
BORN: July 19, 1991
EXPERIENCE: 3 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2009 2nd round, Kansas HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 10th

Pitching depth is certainly the key to this organization and Gould is yet another impressive arm – even though he may be a little lesser known the first four. Gould possesses a big, strong frame and he displayed his durability in 2011 when his innings total jumped from 57.2 in ’10 to 123.2. The right-hander posted a 3.31 FIP in low-A ball and showed improved control, as well as better fastball command. He’s still a work in progress, though, in need of better consistency as well as added maturity. Gould fires his fastball at 89-94 mph. He has a potentially-plus curveball and a solid changeup. He’ll move up to high-A ball in 2012.

6. Chris Withrow, RHP
BORN: April 1, 1989
EXPERIENCE: 5 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 1st round (20th overall), Texas HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: 9th

A former top draft pick, Withrow’s career has stagnated to a degree due to control issues. He’s spent parts of the past three seasons in double-A as a result. The right-hander has good stuff, though, including a fastball that can touch the upper 90s. He also has a curveball that could be a big league out-pitch, as well as a slider and changeup. Despite the deep repertoire, the organization may be better off focusing his efforts on two pitches as a high-leverage reliever. Withrow has the potential to be a closer and the move could help jump start his career. With any luck, a strong spring training will vault him over the hump to triple-A.

7. Alfredo Silverio, OF
BORN: May 6, 1987
EXPERIENCE: 8 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2003 international free agent
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

The first non-pitcher on this list Silverio has always swung the bat well and has hit below .280 just once in his five year career in North America. He makes solid contact but is overly aggressive and walked just 5.2% of the time in 2011. Silverio has seen his power output increase steadily over the course of his career. His annual ISO rates have risen from .141 in ’08 to .173 to .194 to .236 in ’11. Although he hit just 16 home runs this past season in double-A, Silverio slammed 42 doubles and 18 triples. Despite the triples total he’s really not a great base runner after getting caught stealing 12 times in 23 attempts. In the field, he’s played all three outfield positions with solid results but he profiles best in right field, especially if he can maintain 20+ home run power.

8. Joc Pederson, OF
BORN: April 21, 1992
EXPERIENCE: 2 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2010 11th round, California HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

Pederson is a solid prospect that doesn’t really have any one standout tool. The left-handed hitter dominated his Rookie league in 2011 by posting a wRC+ of 153. He displayed the ability to hit for average and power – and also showcased a solid eye at the plate and even some speed. His tool suggest he’ll develop into an average ball player with good gap power and enough speed to steal 15-20 bases if motivated to do so. He has a good idea at the plate and isn’t afraid to spray the ball around. Pederson projects to settle in left or field although he’s play all three outfield positions.

9. Tim Federowicz, C
BORN: Aug. 5, 1987
EXPERIENCE: 4 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 7th round, U of North Carolina (by Boston)
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off (Boston)

Acquired last season from the Boston Red Sox, Federowicz is a defensive whiz behind the plate showing strong leadership, excellent receiving and a powerful arm to help control the running game. On the downside, the right-handed hitter is an average hitter (for a catcher) at best. He doesn’t have the best bat speed but he can go yard when he makes solid contact on mistake pitches. He produced respectable numbers at double-A in ’11 but his wRC+ of 158 in triple-A was a result of a small sample size and the favorable hitting environment in the Pacific Coast League. With the likes of A.J. Ellis and Matt Treanor ahead of him on the depth chart, Federowicz has a solid chance of opening 2012 in the Majors.

10. Josh Lindblom, RHP
BORN: June 15, 1987
EXPERIENCE: 4 seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 2nd round, Purdue University
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

After a lost year in 2010 after he completely fell off the prospect radar, Lindblom was left in the bullpen on a permanent basis in ’11 and he thrived – both in double-A and the Majors. In the minors, he struck out batters at a rate of 11.48 batters per nine innings and showed solid control. Those numbers continued to be impressive in the Majors when he appeared in 27 games. He’s a fly-ball pitcher but he’ll be pitching in a home ballpark that’s tailored to that type of hurler. Lindblom has a big, strong pitcher’s frame and should be capable of pitching often out of the bullpen where he projects to be a high-leverage reliever, likely protecting the lead in the eighth inning before handing the ball over to Kenley Jansen (the club’s eventual closer). Lindblom’s repertoire includes a low-90s fastball that can touch 95 mph and an improving slider that can be an out-pitch. He also has a curveball and a changeup that are less important in his new role.

The Next Five

11. Alex Santana, 3B: The son of former big league infielder Rafael Santana, the younger Santana was selected in the second round of the ’11 draft and had a slow start to his pro debut by posting an OPS of just .636 in 50 games. Just 18 years old he has a big frame (6’4” 200 lbs) and is loaded with raw power potential. Santana needs to tighten up his approach at the plate after walking just 4.9% of the time with a strikeout rate of 31.2%.

12. Shawn Tolleson, RHP: If Josh Lindblom doesn’t settle into eighth-inning duties for the Dodgers it could be because of this man. Tolleson does not have the same pedigree that Lindblom does but he has posted outstanding pro numbers since signing as a 30th round pick out of Baylor University. His stuff is nasty at times as his heater can touch 95 mph and he also possesses a cutter that is a true strikeout pitch.

13. James Baldwin, OF: A three-sport star in high school (baseball, basketball, football), Baldwin is raw but flashes four or five tools. He has plus speed and could develop into a plus defender in center field as he displays outstanding range. At the plate flashes above-average left-handed power (.230 ISO rate in Rookie ball) but he struggles to hit for average because he swings and misses so much (32.6 K%). If he can tone down the strikeouts and improve against left-handed pitchers (.183 average), he could become a very nice ballplayer.

14. Ivan De Jesus Jr., 2B/SS: Another son of a former big leaguer, De Jesus’ career was derailed by a nasty broken leg in 2009, which caused him to miss all but four games. He doesn’t run as well as he used to but the infielder has produced two solid seasons in triple-A since returning. De Jesus hit .328 recently in the Puerto Rico Winter League and has nothing left to prove in the minors. He should be a solid big league starter at second base.

15. Aaron Miller, LHP: A hernia ruined Miller’s season in 2011 but his stuff remains impressive for a left-handed pitcher. His repertoire includes an 89-94 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup. All three could be at least average pitches for him. After pitching just 34 innings at high-A ball in 2011 he should return there briefly in ’12 but could spend much of the year in double-A. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.

SLEEPER ALERT: Angel Sanchez, RHP: Sanchez did not pitch professionally until 2011. He attended college in the Dominican Republic and turned down a number of professional contract offers prior to attending school. He has a 90-95 mph fastball, as well as a curveball and changeup. Sanchez has a tall, thin frame and could fill out even more. He posted a 2.82 ERA in low-A ball and could move quickly through the system, which is good considering he’s already 22 years old.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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12 years ago

I hope the Dodgers worked this offseason with Zach Lee on how to properly wear a baseball cap.