Scouting the Highest-Upside Dodger Pitching Prospects at Spring Training
With pitchers and catchers having reported to camp, it’s time to take a look at the Dodgers’ pitching prospects with the highest potential. This list would have been much more impressive last season, before the Crawford/Gonzalez/Beckett trade decimated the top end of the farm system.
In addition, the consensus top pitching prospect in the system right now—Zach Lee—is not on the 40-man roster, so he won’t be in big league camp. However, there are still several intriguing arms that we will get a chance to see.
Ryu Hyun-jin is one of the Dodgers’ biggest acquisitions this offseason. He was a highly-touted pitcher in Korea, coming over from the Hanwha Eagles for a combined (posting fee plus salary) cost of around $62 million. He is expected to fill in somewhere in the back half of the Dodgers rotation, behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Per SBNation and TrueBlueLA, “many scouts see Ryu as a mid-rotation starter at best in the Major Leagues,” and the Dodgers certainly hope he will turn out that way. He will be given an opportunity to showcase his stuff, and MinorLeagueBall.com says that he has “an excellent changeup, along with an average slider and curveball.”
It’s also worth noting that ESPN.com’s Keith Law believes that Ryu would fit better in the bullpen long-term, but the Dodgers will allow him to try to start before resorting to the pen.
Chris Withrow was the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2007. He showed flashes of potential over the past several years, but he ultimately was never able to gain control of his pitches and posted a career 5.0 BB/9.
He was ranked number eight in this season’s Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings and ninth in Minor League Ball’s on the basis of his strikeout ability. In Withrow's six minor league seasons, he has an elite K/9 number of 9.3.
Unfortunately, though, his command issues caused him to be pushed to the bullpen at the end of last year, and the Dodgers announced recently that the move would be permanent.
This will hopefully allow his strikeout ability to thrive while limiting the exposure that batters get to him. He should be able to worry less about pitch sequencing—as guys do when they’re moved to the bullpen—and thus will be better able to harness his electric stuff.
Matt Magill was a 31st-round pick by the Dodgers in 2008. He has developed relatively slowly, spending two years in rookie ball. However, he impressed enough in spurts last season (1.64 ERA in April, 2.36 in July) to be added to the 40-man as protection against the Rule 5 draft.
TrueBlueLA’s Brandon Lennox was “unimpressed with his stuff, and…can see why scouts think his stuff will get exposed against more advanced hitters.”
Magill had a breakout 2010, posting a 3.28 ERA and a 9.62 K/9. He has a relatively low-upside, but the Dodgers added him to the 40-man with the idea that he can be a fourth or fifth starter at some point soon.