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Los Angeles Dodgers

The World Champion Dodgers finally got their ring.  Their window has been open for several years and given how veteran-oriented the club is, you would think they are at the end of their run.  However, they are so ripe with talent, the open window has many years to go.

The minor league system is strong.  Josiah Grey’s ceiling is a number two, maybe more and could see some time in Los Angeles in 2021.  Keibert Ruiz might not be in the Dodgers’ plans now that Will Smith is developing into one of the best catchers in the league, but other teams covet him and could return a nice haul if they decide to move him.  Further away there is Diego Cartaya and Luis Rodriguez.  Both are elite talents with a chance to become full-time regulars.  Then there’s Clayton Beeter, Andre Jackson, Michael Grove, and others that all could contribute to the Dodgers in the next few years.

The only question I have is…how many championships will they win?

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Josiah Grey
  • Biggest Mover: Luis Rodriguez
  • Emerging Prospect: Jake Vogel

1. Josiah Gray (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP with some upside
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with plus stuff and control

Josiah Gray was drafted in the second round by the Reds and was dealt to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig trade before the 2019 season.  He’s an athletic kid with a plus fastball and rapidly improving secondary pitches.  He has a double-plus fastball that sits 93 to 95 MPH but with great spin.  His best secondary pitch is his slider that plays off his fastball very well as is evident by his 10 K/9 strikeout rate.  He doesn’t yet show a feel for a change-up but reportedly that was his primary focus at the Alternate site.  Assuming the change-up comes around, he has the makings of a number two starter in the big leagues.  It might not be consistent early in his career as he’s still raw, but the upside is indeed high.

2. Diego Cartaya (C)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: A chance to be a complete catcher with plus offensive output

Diego Cartaya brings a lot of offensive and defensive skills to the table.  His swing is short to the ball which should generate a lot of natural power.  He understands the strike zone and with his short swing, he should be able to hit while keeping his swing-and-miss under control.  Defensively, he projects to be a least an average, if not an above-average receiver, including a cannon for an arm. While a lot of Dynasty League owners will not hold an 18-year-old catcher for the time it will take before he sees the Major Leagues, I think Cartaya provides different calculus.  He has a chance to be one of the best catchers in the game and it could come faster than you think.

3. Luis Rodriguez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Potential five-tool talent

It’s bold to rank Luis Rodriguez #3 in a system this good, but as the old saying goes…not guts, no glory.  Luis Rodriguez is only 17 and because of Covid, has not yet made his professional debut.  However, the scouting report is impressive.  He’s athletic with plus bat speed, a feel for hitting, and currently is a plus runner.  As with many players, the speed will reduce as he fills out, but if it all comes together, the upside is the highest in the system.  He’ll likely skip over the DSL and start 2021 in Rookie Ball and could even see some at-bats in Low-A.

4. Kiebert Ruiz (C)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Potential plus hit tool with power.  Will it be in Los Angeles?

Keibert Ruiz is an offensive catcher who should be able to stay at the position long-term.  The problem is the Dodgers already have a potential superstar backstop in Will Smith and Ruiz is losing prospect helium.  The upside though is still there.  He controls the strike zone well striking out only 8% of the time in the high minors.  While he hasn’t shown a lot of power, the bat speed is there.  Once he adds some loft, I expect the over-the-fence power to be in the 15 to 18 range. 

5. Kody Hoese (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: 2019 first-round draft pick who turns 24 in July with only 41 minor league games.  Should provide some power with a chance to hit a little

Kody Hoese was the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2019.  He was nearly 22 when he was drafted and with the Covid season of 2020, he’s now considered an older prospect with little playing time.  He has good power, but it’s born more out of raw strength instead of bat speed.  This could increase his swing and miss as he moves through the system with the power not being as high as many predicted.  The upside is still a Major League regular, but I don’t see a star.

6. Michael Busch (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Excellent approach at the plate with the ability to get on base.  Good power.

Michael Busch was signed in the first round in 2019 after an impressive career at the University of North Carolina.  In his three years at UNC, he was a hitting machine posting a .450 OBP with 26 home runs in 121 games.  He mostly played first and leftfield in college, but the Dodgers started him at second base in his debut.  If he can stick there, and feedback from the Alternate Site was encouraging, he has the upside to be a full-time regular.  For fantasy purposes, there won’t be many stolen bases.

7. Michael Grove (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Power arsenal with some delivery issues

Michael Grove was selected in the supplemental first round of the 2018 MLB Draft.  While he didn’t pitch great in 2019 posting a 6.10 ERA in High-A, the stuff points more to a mid-rotation starter, maybe more.  His fastball sits 93 to 95 MPH with a high spin rate and a boring slider that misses plenty of bats.  The delivery isn’t great as there is some effort, but the Dodgers should be able to help with that.  I like the upside a lot and he’s not a kid that is being discussed much.

8. Andre Jackson (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: He turns 25 in May, is still very raw but the arm is electric

Andre Jackson was drafted in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft.  He dropped in the draft after missing his junior year recovering from TJ Surgery.  He’s new to pitching as he was an outfielder in college but has a fastball that can touch the upper 90s with a feel for both a curveball and change-up.  He doesn’t throw many strikes, but the stuff is electric and given his athleticism, he should eventually be able to repeat his delivery.  He turns 25 in May and there is still a lot of work left for him to be a viable Major League pitcher – but the upside is there.

9. Andy Pages (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Plus bat speed and raw power could point to an impact player in the mold of Yaisel Puig.

Andy Pages is incredibly tooled up with elite bat speed.  In 2019 in the Pioneer League, he slugged .651 with 19 home runs in 63 games.   He also stole seven bases.  The swing can get long, so strikeouts will likely be a problem.  When you watch him play (on video only for me), it’s filled with enthusiasm, bat flips, and some out of control play.  That said, there is a potential impact performer here. While it’s lazy to compare Andy Pages to his fellow countryman Yaisel Puig, the more I spoke with people who had seen him play, the more it felt like a legitimate comparison. 

10. Bobby Miller (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: Big fastball with effort in his delivery

Bobby Miller was the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2020.  He was a three-year starter at Louisville posting a 3.48 across 36 outings.  His strikeout rate improved in each of his seasons as did his stuff.  By the time he was drafted, his fastball was touching the upper-nineties with a wipeout slider.  He also shows a feel for a change-up.  The delivery has some effort so a bullpen role might be in the cards if that isn’t corrected. 

11. Clayton Beeter (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing combination of pitching arsenal and polish

The Dodgers drafted Clayton Beeter in the second round last June.  He pitched at Texas Tech, first as a closer in his freshman year and then as a starter.  He’s a Tommy John survivor having had the surgery in high school.  That may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective.  What is a good thing is the arsenal.  His fastball sits 93 to 95 MPH with good spin and a double-plus curveball.  He shows a feel for a change-up but it lacks consistency.  He also throws strikes, walking less than two per nine in 2019.  Throw-in the Dodgers ability to develop pitchers and I find Beeter extremely interesting as a potential mid-rotation starter, if not more

12. Miguel Vargas (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Has done nothing but hit since signing. There are questions about how much power will develop

The Dodgers signed Miguel Vargas out of Cuba in 2017 and he’s done nothing but hit since starting his professional career.  In 176 games (highest level is High-A), he’s hit .312 with a .385 OBP while striking out 15% of the time and walking 10% of the time.  Vargas has not shown much power yet.  There is plenty of bat speed, and he’s 6-foot-3, but the swing plane is very flat.  As he matures, the Dodgers will likely work with him to add loft to his swing, so I think eventually he’ll hit for at least average power. 

13. Jake Vogel (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: Athletic, toolsy outfielder

The Dodgers drafted Jake Vogel in the third round and paid him an over-slot $1.6 million signing bonus last June.  He’s tooled up with the double-plus speed and plenty of bat speed.  There have been questions about his hitting ability as he demonstrated plenty of swing and miss in showcases over the past couple of years.  However, my source tells me that those were more born out of him trying to hit everything 500 feet and not a problem with ball-strike recognition.  So, I’ll bet that the Dodgers fix the swing and have included him on the list.

14. Wilman Diaz (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l player likely to be signed ETA: 2023+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Five-tool potential

The Dodgers are expected to sign Wilman Diaz on January 15th.  He’s one of the top Latin players in the International market and has five-tool potential.  First and foremost, he shows a feel to hit with an approach that should allow him to progress more quickly through the system than most International signees.  There’s plus bat speed and he can run.  Other than that, there’s not much there…

15. Mitch White (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP but likely a bullpen arm
  • Tools Summary: Premium arsenal who can throw strikes, but injuries have slowed his development.

I’ve long been a fan of Mitch White, but injuries have slowed his progression and he’s gone from a potential number two starter to something less and perhaps, even a reliever.  He finally got a chance to pitch in the big leagues and looked good.  His fastball sat 94 MPH with a high spin rate with nice stats on his curveball.  But, he’s 26 now and I don’t see a path as a starter unless the Dodgers decide to trade him.

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