Los Angeles Dodgers

While there might not be as many famous players in their minor league system as in previous years, the Dodgers system, nonetheless, remains strong.  Diego Cartaya, one of our favorite prospects in the game leads the list.  He’s only in Low-A but the offensive upside points to a Top 5 offensive catcher in the game.  Their top pitching prospect is Bobby Miller, their first-round pick in 2020 who has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.  The younger players are where things get fun.  Wilman Diaz, their top international sign in January has all the tools to be a star with comparisons of Carlos Correa already being made.  Andy Pages could hit 30 home runs.  Miguel Vargas slugged over .500 last year and looks like a full-time regular and it goes on and on.  Again, the players might not look that familiar, but the Dodgers’ ability to identify and develop players sure is.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Diego Cartaya
  • Biggest Mover: Miguel Vargas
  • Emerging Prospect: Carlos Duran

1. Diego Cartaya (C)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 5 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Plus potential future power with an excellent approach at the plate

I’ve been bullish on Diego Cartaya since shortly after the Dodgers signed him in 2018 out of Venezuela.  From a fantasy standpoint, investing in a teenage catcher rarely makes sense but I thought the upside Cartaya brought was worth the gamble.  He’s done nothing to date to dissuade me from that original position.  Before his season in Low-A was cut short in mid-July with a hamstring injury, he was slashing .298/.408/.614 with 10 home runs.  He did this as a 19-year-old.  He has an excellent approach at the plate with plus future power potential.  He will strikeout and has no speed, but he could develop into a .250/.350/.500 hitter with 30 home runs.  I’m happy I made the investment and next season when he gets a late-season promotion to Double-A as a 20-year-old, I’ll be the fantasy manager smiling.

2. Michael Busch (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 2B or Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: Plus power potential with a chance to hit .260, perhaps more as he works on making better contact

While Gavin Lux has struggled to establish himself as a full-time regular, Michael Busch could be the next guy up.  While not as highly touted as Lux, he put together a nice 2021 season slashing .260/.383/.477 with 19 home runs and two stolen bases.  He did strike out 25% of the time but also walked 14% of the time.  However, I do believe he’ll make more contact as he matures as the swing is simple and explosive.  It just gets a little long at times and that’s leading to the strikeouts.  What he does and has always done well is work a walk.  So, the upside is a power-hitting second baseman, or perhaps he moves back to first base, his college position with great on-base skills with some pressure on his batting average.  A slash line of .260/.360/.500 with 25 home runs is not out of the question.

3. Bobby Miller (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Excellent season with a nice sinker-slider combination

Miller was the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2020 (pick #29) and finally got on the mound this spring.  While nobody should be surprised, it looks like they have hit on yet another high-end prospect; even when they pick last.  In 47 innings in High-A (11 starts), he pitched to 1.91 ERA striking out nearly 11 per nine while walking 2.1 per nine.  He also got three starts in Double-A and arguably pitched better, although his ERA was elevated.  He’s a sinker-slider pitcher with a heavy sinker that gets a ton of ground balls.  The slider is his best pitch but the change-up improved noticeably last season. It’s not a great delivery with a lot of stiffness in the landing but it seems to be working.

4. Wilman Diaz (SS)

  • hHighest Level:  DSL ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: With a combination of bat speed and feel to hit, he has all the tools to be a star

Considering everyone on this list, Wilman Diaz has the best chance to be a star.  He’s only 17 and didn’t light it up in the DSL this season, but his feel to hit and tools could make him a star.  He’s athletic with good size at 6-foot-2, and plenty of bat speed and natural strength to hit for future power.  He’s a good runner now but as he fills out, the speed should take a step backward.  There are whispers of Carlos Correra when you speak to people in the Dodgers organization about Diaz.

5. Andy Pages (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus raw power showed up in an impressive season in which he hit 31 home runs in High-A

Andy Pages power is 70-grade and he showed it in 2021 banging out 31 home runs in High-A to lead the league. He might be your classic three true-outcome players as there is plenty of swing and miss in his game but he also walks a lot.  I’m guessing he becomes fodder for the trade market down the road.  Still, he’s a prospect with big power potential and a little bit of speed and should be owned in most Dynasty League formats at this time

6. Miguel Vargas (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: Added power to his game in 2021.  If he can maintain that, the ceiling is a full-time regular, likely at first base

Vargas has always been a hit-over power infield prospect.  However, he added loft to his swing in 2021 and slugged over .500 across High and Double-A, hitting 21 home runs along the way.  The best news is that he kept his strikeout rate well under 20% while maintaining his walk rate.  He’s not the most athletic of prospects and will likely have to move to first base.  However, with the increased power output, he has the upside to stay there, even in Los Angeles.

7. Andre Jackson (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: Made his Major League debut and didn’t look out of place.  Very athletic with good stuff including a double-plus change-up

Andre Jackson made his Major League debut in August and did not look out of place.  He’s got a great arm but hasn’t been pitching that long and is still working on the command of all his pitches.  His fastball and change-up both look like plus pitches, but his slider is flat and still needs work.  He’s already 25-years-old and still needs more grooming to be a starter.  The Dodgers might decide to put him in the bullpen where his fastball will play up a grade which in turn will just make his change-up even more devasting. 

8. Ryan Pepiot (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP
  • Tools Summary: Arsenal is rounding out with a chance to have success at the highest level.  The control is still not there but he’s in the Dodgers organization, so I will trust the process there

Ryan Pepiot has a good arsenal with a fastball that sits 94 to 95, complemented with a 70-grade change-up.   He also throws a slider that is starting to get some swings and misses.  He doesn’t yet repeat his delivery consistently and the mechanics of the delivery are not great.  Given that he’s in Triple-A and still having delivery concerns does give me some pause, but the Dodgers are good at this.  So, for now, I’m going to trust him to improve the delivery enough to profile as a #4, maybe a #3 starter.  And remember, with his change-up, he could have some early success once promoted.

9. Clayton Beeter (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: Two plus pitches with his curveball potentially being an 80-grade pitch.  The delivery points to a bullpen role.

Beeter was a supplemental second-round pick by the Dodgers in 2020.  His signature pitch is one of the best curveballs you’ll see at any level.  He complements it with a mid-90s fastball.  So, it’s two plus pitches with his curveball likely grading out as a 70, maybe an 80-grade pitch.  The change-up is still a work-in-progress, but regardless, it’s the stuff of a starter.  However, he’s been hurt a lot, TJ Surgery in high school, missed time in college, although he was healthy in 2021.  His delivery seems to be at the source of his problem.  It’s very up-and-down and the people I’ve spoken with believe that’s one of the reasons he’s had so much arm trouble.  Why don’t the Dodgers change it?  Well, it will likely affect his curveball.  Finally, he’s only 6-1.  Add it all up, and I have to put a reliever ceiling on him.

10. Eddys Leonard (2B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Solid approach at the plate with the chance for above-average power.  He’ll also steal the odd base

Leonard was a low-level sign by the Dodgers in 2017.  He’s been on a slow burn development path but started putting things together last season.  In 107 games between Low and High -A, he slashed .296/.390/.539 with 22 home runs and 9 stolen bases.  He showed a solid approach by walking 10% of the time and keeping his strikeout at a reasonable 24% K/9 ratio.  He’s a big kid with a wide-body and the Dodgers seemed content at playing him at second.  With his approach and power potential, he could be a full-time regular.  Where does he play with the Dodgers?  I’m not sure as there are several players and high-end prospects ahead of him.

11. Jake Vogel (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF with 4th OF risk
  • Tools Summary: He knocked off the rust in 2020 and didn’t look too lost in an aggressive assignment in Low-A.  With his above-average speed and feel to hit, he could develop into a low-end asset on a fantasy team

Vogel was drafted in the third round in 2020 with a lot of fantasy-friendly tools.  He’s a 60 runner who showed a good feel for hitting as an amateur.  While he has solid bat speed, at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, he’s not a big guy, so there have been questions about how much power he would eventually develop.  The Dodgers aggressively assigned him to Low-A to begin the season and he held his own for the most part.  The stat line wasn’t great, but he showed a solid approach and above-average speed; although he only stole 12 bags.  He did strike out too much, but he played the entire season as a 19-year-old after missing the 2020 season altogether.  There is fourth outfielder risk in the profile but if he can make better contact with his speed, he could steal 20 bases annually.

12. Carlos Duran (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer with risk
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing pitcher with size and the makings of a plus arsenal.  The delivery has some issues but there are things to latch onto

Duran is a large man at 6-foot-7 and a listed 230 pounds.  His intimating presence on the mound baffled many Low-A West hitters as he struck out over 13 per nine while keeping his strikeout rate under three.  The delivery is simple but is at a lower three-quarters delivery which could present some split problems in the future.  The arsenal is intriguing with a fastball that sits 93 to 95 MPH with a nasty slider.  The change-up is his third pitch but he does have some feel for throwing it.  He has the stuff and size to be a starter, but he’s more likely a reliever with a chance to be a pretty good one.

13. Maddux Bruns (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Arm strength high-school pitcher that the Dodgers believe has a chance to pitch at the top of the rotation

Picking late in the draft has its challenges, but the Dodgers have been doing it for a while and have done just fine.  Last June, they selected Maddux Bruns, a high school pitcher.  He’s raw, can touch the upper nineties with his fastball and the ability to spin a breaking pitch.  He only threw five innings in the Complex League, but the Dodgers liked what they saw.  I need to stress that he’s raw and it’s going to take time.  He might not see a full-season affiliated ball until 2023.

14. Luis Rodriguez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: His debut wasn’t great.  He struck out too much and didn’t show much power or speed

I drafted Luis Rodriguez in several Dynasty Leagues in 2020 Supplemental Drafts based on reports I heard from the Dodgers and outside scouts on the ceiling of Rodriguez.  When reports about him being overweight and out of shape last fall surfaced, I became worried.  His performance last year didn’t alleviate my worry.  He slashed .216/.326/.367 in 54 games in the Complex League.  So, yeah…not good.  He did hit 8 home runs and had a patience approach (11% BB/9 rate).  He also struck out 31% of the time and from what I was told, he looked overmatched.  Now, before you panic too much…ok before I panic too much, he played the entire season as an 18-year-old, it was his first professional baseball experience and he did show some plate patience.  But, there is a long way to go.  Let’s hope 2022 is better and he can return to the level of player I heard so much about in 2019.

15. Kody Hoese (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B with concern
  • Tools Summary: Down year where he didn’t hit or show any power

It was a down season for Kody Hoese.  The former first-round pick in 2019 only hit .188 in 59 games in Double-A and showed little power (.245 SLG).  He did spend time on the IL midseason but wasn’t good before the injury.  He was a pop-up draft guy and perhaps the Dodgers over-evaluated him because of his stellar junior year in college.  He is already 24, so 2022 will be a critical year for him.

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