Los Angeles Dodgers: 10 Prospects Who Will Surprise Us at Spring Training
The Los Angeles Dodgers added some much needed depth to their minor league system this winter, and with spring training now in session, here's a look at the 10 prospects who will surprise us.
Last year's crop of top prospects managed to break into the majors this past season. Among the highlighted players were Javy Guerra, Nathan Eovaldi and Dee Gordon.
Guerra shocked the organization when he took over for the injured Jonathan Broxton and eventually earned the closer job with 21 saves.
Eovaldi dazzled in Double-A and when he was called up to the Dodgers he held his own through six starts and got some work out of the bullpen. In fact, Eovaldi is a leading candidate to find a home in the starting rotation this upcoming season.
Finally, Gordon had quite the shoes to fill when Rafael Furcal was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals during 2011, but the young shortstop made quite the effort and he should be a regular in the lineup this season.
This year's crop of prospects are very talented, and the Dodgers could experience a repeat of last season if these 10 players step up in spring training.
10. Michael Antonini
Michael Antonini spent some time in the Puerto Rico baseball league this offseason and got lit up by hitters, giving up 36 hits through 37 innings. But this left-hander was a midseason all-star for his minor league team in 2011.
Antonini has struggled with his hits-per-inning ratio, and his record in past seasons has been lucky to get past .500. But the Dodgers haven't given up on him yet.
The competition for a spot in the starting rotation is a heated one with five pitchers already and Eovaldi closely bringing up the rear as a possible sixth starter, but Antonini could be a big surprise in spring training after his Puerto Rico experience.
Pitching in the offseason should have prepared him to come out strong this spring.
9. Shawn Tolleson
Shawn Tolleson won the organization's minor league pitcher of the year award and he's another reliever looking to break into the Dodgers' bullpen.
In 57 games last season, Tolleson posted a 1.17 ERA and struck out 105 batters in the minors, picking up seven wins along the way. Tolleson's stock is quickly rising through the organization, and if he gets an opportunity to pitch in spring he could very well land a spot in the Dodgers' bullpen.
8. Chris Withrow
Chris Withrow had an okay year in Double-A with a 6-6 record, but his 130 strikeouts through 128.2 innings really impressed the Dodgers and led to his invite this spring.
Withrow had his moment to shine in 2010 when he made a jump to the majors, but he struggled to make a name for himself at the big leagues and was sent down to develop.
The former first-round pick has made progress in the minors and it looks like he's ready to take another shot with the Dodgers this spring.
Withrow has the potential to be a starter in the future, but with so much depth in the starting rotation already he could get some playing time out of the bullpen.
7. Josh Wall
Josh Wall has started to come on as a relief pitcher. In 2011, he had 3.93 ERA through 68.2 innings of work. Then in the Arizona Fall League, Wall had more success in relief picking up four saves in eight games with a 2.16 ERA.
Wall has pitched well this spring and he really impressed the Dodgers during a March 6 exhibition game, holding the San Francisco Giants scoreless in the eighth inning while allowing just two hits.
The Dodgers have some solid veterans in their bullpen right now, but if Wall continues to pitch well during spring training he could compete for a spot on the roster.
6. Allen Webster
Allen Webster is highly regarded as a top pitcher in the Dodgers' minor league system and he could be another surprise starter in spring training.
Webster throws for strikes at the plate, and other than his 135 strikeouts, an 11-6 record just made him an even more intriguing prospect in spring.
Again, the starting rotation is already filled but Webster will put forth a strong effort anyways. The veterans in the rotation may need an occasional extra day of rest and Webster could be just the player to provide that.
5. Gorman Erickson
Gorman Erickson has been a big surprise so far in spring, and given the fact that the Dodgers are in need of catchers this season, he has the potential to compete for a spot on the roster.
Erickson is hitting .750 in spring and is making good use of his few at-bats. Scouts aren't sold on his defensive skills behind the plate, but playing behind veterans like A.J. Ellis and Matt Treanor could help him develop those skills.
Erickson was a late invitee along with Matt Wallach, which means the Dodgers are looking to possibly add another catcher.
4. Stephen Fife
Stephen Fife came to the Dodgers in a trade with the Boston Red Sox. His 14-4 record in the minors this past season could be the reason he surprises us this spring.
However, Fife had a harsh offseason in the Arizona Fall league going 1-6 with an 8.06 ERA and opposing batting average of .363. The rough patch leading up to spring could hurt Fife's chances of making the big-league roster, but he could change all that with a good spring performance.
3. Scott Van Slyke
Scott Van Slyke definitely has some power in his bat and his 20 home runs in the minors last season were proof of that.
Aside from being the organization's player of the year, Van Slyke hit for a .348 average and had an on-base percentage of .427. Van Slyke took his talents to the Venezuelan baseball league this season and didn't enjoy the same type of success, unfortunately. He had just one home run and an average of .194.
Van Slyke is hitting .333 this spring and already has one home run in nine games. He could be an option in the outfield as fill-in player when starters need rest or as a replacement in left field if Juan Rivera struggles.
A good spring could really make that dream come true and the momentum from the minors could continue.
2. Alfredo Silverio
After suffering injuries from a car accident in January, Alfredo Silverio is physically a long-shot to make the roster. If he can recover from his injuries, though, he's likely to be added with the talent he possesses.
Silverio has the tools to become an all-around player for the Dodgers and he could impress the Dodgers in spring despite a late start due to his injuries.
The outfielder has power, speed and great presence at the plate. Silverio had a .306 average to go along with 16 home runs and 11 stolen bases last season. Playing in spring will further help his chances of a roster spot, but either way he'll surprise us.
1. Alex Castellanos
Alex Castellanos came over from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Furcal trade. If he can play second base for the Dodgers this season then he's the prospect with the biggest impact.
After spending time in the outfield for the Cardinals, Castellanos will be focused on making a transition to second base and possibly replacing current second baseman Mark Ellis.
Castellanos has previous experience playing the infield but re-learning the position won't be easy. If he can make the plays on defense, then Castellanos and his big bat could be just what the Dodgers are looking for to fill their second-base needs.
Castellanos is hitting .333 this spring through eight games already and his two home runs are proof he hasn't lost his outfielder power.