Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.
All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.
Other Prospects of Note
Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.
Some More Pitching Depth
Jeronimo Castro, RHP
Juan Morillo, RHP
Marshall Kasowski, RHP
Jamie Schultz, RHP
Shea Spitzbarth, RHP
Guillermo Zuniga, RHP
Braydon Fisher, RHP
Morgan Cooper, RHP
Riley Otteson, RHP
Orlandy Navarro, LHP
Stetson Allie, RHP
Castro throws hard, gets great extension, and he hides the ball really well. His changeup has movement and his slider plays up because of the deception. He’s got some helium. Morillo is a standard fastball/slider projection arm. He has average stuff but is 20, the age of a college sophomore. There’s disagreement about Kasowski, who struck out 111 in 64 innings last year. He sits 92-93 with life/rise and misses bats with the fastball, but some teams think that’s it, and that the secondaries are just okay. He’s 24 and did most of his damage at Low-A last year. Schultz is a fine big league middle reliever with three pitches — 95-97, plus curveball, and hard slider. He’s 27. Spitzbarth is a plus athlete with a plus changeup. The fastball plays a little better than its velo and he’ll probably be a solid middle reliever. Zuniga was throwing really hard last year, at times up to 99. He also has a monster curveball and some feel, but he’s a thick, 3 athlete, and his velo is down this spring. Fisher, Cooper, and Otteson all have good stuff but have dealt with injuries. Fisher had Tommy John within the last two weeks, so we won’t see him until late next year. Cooper still hasn’t pitched in pro ball and Otteson has been very wild when he has. Navarro has a below average fastball but a good split and curveball. Allie throws really hard and is still quite wild.
Joe has bounced around after being a Rule 5 selection, but is back with LA. He made substantive changes to his swing while there originally, and is a viable bench bat without a real position. Lao has power and somehow makes quality contact even when he takes awkward swings. His future position is also unclear but he has a shot to stay at third. Chiu has tumbled down the defensive spectrum a bit and is seeing time at first and third rather than the middle infield, but he has some pop, too. Heredia is tooled up but is striking out almost 50% of the time. Walker and Hulsizer have goofy, strength-driven power.
You can’t talk about this system without talking about player development, which has not only helped prospects you knew about turn into stars, but also contributed to breakouts from late-blooming big leaguers like Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, and Max Muncy. Driveline Baseball recently attempted to quantify the effectiveness of player development. The Dodgers are at the top of their list, and we’d have guessed they were at or near it (the same goes for most of the teams in the black).
The type of hitter in this system is fairly monochromatic — they all have big power, lift the ball consistently, and strike out a lot — which is a sign that the player dev group is successfully installing what it wants to, since most of the big league Dodgers look like that as well. Might there one day be a biodiversity problem in LA’s hitting population that enables opposing pitching staffs to solve all their bats? People with teams we’d consider to be at the forefront of understanding the interaction between hitters and pitchers as it’s currently constituted don’t think so.
How about all the injured college arms? Walker Buehler, Jose De Leon, Morgan Cooper, Michael Grove, Mitchell White, Zach Willeman, and Jordan Sheffield all had stock-altering injuries as amateurs but were good values where they were drafted if you just care about stuff. You could argue only Buehler has become anything from that group, but binary, pass/fail thinking is too narrow when considering this stuff.
The discourse surrounding the club’s 2015 International signing class — and that general era of Dodgers international scouting — haunts LA in several ways. Yes, some of the names are ugly. Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Hector Olivera, Yaisel Sierra, Yadier Alvarez, and Starling Heredia have fallen short. But Ronny Brito, Yusniel Diaz, and Oneil Cruz fetched something in trade and Sauryn Lao, Carlos Rincon, and Omar Estevez are still around and of note. The top international brass from this era is gone (more on that in a second) and the new group (Dave Finley, Ismael Cruz, Francisco Camps, etc.) has started to get their feet in the major markets (the late signings of Pages, Duran, Vargas in 2017, Cartaya in 2018) while continuing to do well in Mexico.
Let’s talk about the timeline of the DOJ’s investigation. Andrew Friedman was brought on as the Dodgers’ president of ops in the fall of 2014, when most of the 2015 July 2 agreements had likely already been agreed upon by the international scouting staff Friedman inherited. Shortly after the Dodgers spent all that money on players like Alvarez, they let go of many of those international scouts. Who knew what, when they knew it, and what they did once they became aware of potential illegal activity during that 10 month span could be a problem for individuals who weren’t involved in the initial dirt.