The Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract last June.
After countless seasons under a strict budget, the Los Angeles Dodgers underwent a much-needed transformation in 2012 following their purchase by Guggenheim Baseball Management. Given the new ownership's endless bankroll, they became baseball's biggest spender seemingly overnight and implemented a “win-now” mentality.
However, the change in ownership also impacted the team's already poor farm system. Shortly before the July 31 trade deadline, the Dodgers dealt their first-round draft pick from 2008, right-hander Ethan Martin, to the Phillies in exchange for Shane Victorino.
And then later in the season, they traded another top pitching prospect, right-hander Allen Webster, to the Red Sox as part of the blockbuster deal that landed them Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.
Although both of the aforementioned prospects flashed mid-rotation upside, they were both expendable due to the fact that the organization selected a pitcher with their first pick in each of the last five drafts.
Thankfully, that streak came to end this past June when the Dodgers drafted prep infielder Corey Seager with the 18th overall pick. Additionally, the organization made a big splash in the international market when they signed Cuban defector Yasiel Puig to a massive seven-year, $42 million contract in June. And after placing a winning bid of nearly $26 million to negotiate with South Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, the organization ultimately signed the 25-year-old to a six-year, $36 million contract. (Note: For the sake of ranking consistency, Ryu is not listed in the Dodgers' top-10 prospects list, but, for what it's worth, he'd likely rank as the team's top prospect.)
Even though the team's top-10 prospects list has a vastly different look than it did at this time last year, they still house a solid crop of high-ceiling prospects, especially on the mound.
Here is a ranking of the Los Angeles Dodgers' top-10 prospects along with forecasts for the 2013 season.
DOB: 11/23/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 190
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2012 (Texas A&M)
Scouting Notes: Stripling was impressive last year as part of a talented Texas A&M rotation that included first-rounder Michael Wacha. He would have received a more aggressive assignment to a full-season league after he was drafted last season had he not endured a heavy workload during the spring. Still, Stripling was excellent in his rookie-level professional debut this past season, though it was expected given his experience. He projects as more of a high-floor pitching prospect with the upside of a No. 4 or No. 5 starting pitcher.
Fastball has a wide velocity range at 88-96 mph, though it typically sits in the low-90s; top-to-bottom curveball has nice shape and is located with consistency, and will likely be at least an above-average secondary offering; has average changeup that could potentially improve against more advanced hitters; surprisingly athletic; advanced delivery and feel for the strike zone.
Spring Training Forecast: Stripling will head to minor league camp this spring in anticipation of his full-season debut.
2013 Outlook: After dominating the Pioneer League during his pro debut 2012, Stripling has the stuff and polish to open the year at High-A, and could even reach Double-A by the end of the season.
DOB: 7/19/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009 (Maize HS, Kansas)
Scouting Notes: Another tall (6’4”), projectable right-hander, Gould enjoyed a breakout season last year for Low-A Great Lakes in his full-season debut. Unlike many of their other pitching prospects, the Dodgers have eased the 21-year-old up the organizational ladder along with a team-imposed innings limit. Gould has also cleaned up his mechanics over the last two seasons and eliminated some of his previous injury concerns in the process.
Fastball is slightly above-average in the 88-92 mph range, and he’ll occasionally reach back for a little extra; curveball is, without a doubt, his best pitch, and it continues to receive plus-plus grades given its big shape and sharp bite; changeup gives him a third average pitch, though it pales in comparison to his breaking ball; oddly, the right-hander was far more successful against left-handed hitters (.588 OPS) than righties (.980 OPS) last season.
Spring Training Forecast: Gould will head to minor league spring training with the goal of improving his command and establishing a more legitimate feel for his arsenal.
2013 Outlook: After four seasons in the low minors, the right-hander will finally make the jump to Double-A in 2013.
DOB: 4/1/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 220
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007 (Midland HS, Texas)
Scouting Notes: As the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2007, Withrow has been regarded as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects for what seems like an eternity. The 6’4”, 220-pound right-hander’s pure stuff and deep arsenal can be electric, but the results have never been there. He has pitched at Double-A in each of the last four seasons but has yet to throw a pitch above that level. Despite ongoing struggles, the Dodgers remained steadfast in his development as a starter, as evidenced by the fact that he threw nearly 130 innings in both 2010 and 2011. As a result, his 2012 campaign was plagued by a slew of injuries, including a season-ending shoulder injury in September. The 23-year-old was ultimately moved to the bullpen this past season, and in the wake of his season-ending shoulder injury, it’s likely that he’ll be limited to a relief role moving forward. In my opinion, it’s a move that should have happened years ago.
Boasts a plus-fastball at 94-95 mph and will scrape 97-98 mph on occasion; has struggled to grasp a consistent feel for his late-breaking curveball, although it’s always flashed plus potential; changeup is a fringy pitch in which he tends to slow down his arm, making it nearly impossible for him to locate it well; he’ll also mix in a mid-to-upper-80s slider, although it’s yet another inconsistent pitch.
Spring Training Forecast: Withrow is ticketed for major league spring training once again, though his injury history should result in a reduced workload.
2013 Outlook: Provided that he’s healthy, Withrow’s pure stuff could get him to the major leagues as a reliever later this season.
DOB: 8/2/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 220
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Cuba)
Scouting Notes: The 6’3”, 220-pound southpaw defected from Cuba in early 2011 with the hope of becoming an international free agent. He was entered into 2011 draft but pulled his name out of the mix shortly thereafter, but he entered in the draft again in 2012. This time, he was drafted in the third round by the Dodgers. His frame involves little projection and he’s already 23 years old, but he still has a fairly high ceiling. Given his age and the fact that he made his pro debut at High-A, Garcia could have a quick ascent to the major leagues.
Fastball sits at 90-93 mph and noticeably sneaks up on opposing hitters; plus-curveball is a hard downer with a pace that’s difficult for opposing hitters to time, though he struggles to throw it for a strike early in the count; still, it is still a legitimate out pitch and induces lots of whiffs; the development of his changeup is what will ultimately determine whether he’ll be a starter or reliever.
Spring Training Forecast: After a brief professional debut at the end of the 2012 season, Garcia will participate in minor league spring training, but could be bumped up to big league camp for a few appearances later in the spring.
2013 Outlook: Despite his minimal professional experience, Garcia has the stuff and feel to open the year at Double-A. If gets off to a hot start, then the southpaw could hop on the fast track to the major leagues.
DOB: 11/10/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 190
Drafted/Signed: 31st round, 2008 (Royal HS, Calif.)
Scouting Notes: The 31st-round draft pick has already proven to be a steal after turning in his best minor-league season in 2012 at Double-A. The 6’3”, 190-pound right-hander has a lean and durable frame. His pure stuff isn’t overly impressive, but there’s something to be said for his steady improvements and subsequent success over the last four seasons. Magill still needs to refine his overall arsenal and will receive plenty of time to do so next season in the minors. With a more consistent feel for the strike zone, he’ll likely serve as a No. 5 starter, but don’t be surprised if he reaches the majors at some point this season after the All-Star break.
Has a solid feel for his three-pitch mix; fastball sits in the low-90s with sink when he’s consistently throwing it on a downward plane; slider has emerged as a slightly above-average secondary offering that has drawn more swing-and-misses over the last two seasons; changeup is fringe-average but is effective enough to keep hitters off his other two pitches; registered the best strikeout (10.33 K/9) and groundball (1.74) rates of his career, but also the highest walk rate (3.75 BB/9).
Spring Training Forecast: Invited to his first big league spring training, Magill will, in theory, audition for a role with the team later this season.
2013 Outlook: Coming off an impressive campaign at Double-A in 2012, Magill will open the year at Triple-A with the chance to reach the major leagues at some point after the All-Star break.
DOB: 5/20/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 195
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Stanford)
ETA: 2015 (2014 as reliever)
Scouting Notes: The 6’4” southpaw was a closer at Stanford but has been developed as a reliever since turning pro. Despite the lack of mileage on his powerful arm, the Dodgers have been careful not to overwork him but haven’t shied away from aggressively moving him up the ladder. If his slider and changeup develop as the Dodgers hope, Reed’s ceiling of a No. 2-3 starter is realistic. However, he’s progressed slower than expected and is still a ways away from the big leagues, despite spending the entire 2012 season at Double-A. It seems more likely that he’ll return to the bullpen at some point over the course of the next year.
Only plus-pitch is his fastball which registers in the low-to-mid-90s and will occasionally scrape 96 mph; two-seamer comes in a few ticks slower and has lots of late life to the arm-side; throws a hard slider in mid-80s with late, downer bite, though he struggles to throw it with a consistent, tight spin; changeup has the makings of an above-average offering and is especially deceptive when he’s locating is fastball.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in minor league camp once again, Reed will look to iron out some mechanical issues with the hope of improving his overall command.
2013 Outlook: The Dodgers will remain steadfast in their development of Reed as a starter, and will likely assign him back to Double-A to open the 2013 season.
DOB: 4/21/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 185
Drafted/Signed: 11th round, 2010 (Palo Alto HS, Calif.)
Scouting Notes: The 20-year-old possesses quiet strength at 6’1”, 185 pounds, and showcased an all-around impressive set of tools this past season at High-A. While his speed is only average, his hard-nosed, aggressive mentality makes it play up a grade. He has been developed as a center fielder over the last three seasons, though I’m not entirely sure that he sticks there. Both his reads and routes have an element of rawness, but his present athleticism and tremendous work ethic suggest that they will continue to improve. His above-average arm strength is more than enough for the position and will translate if he moves to a corner spot.
Power numbers were inflated last season thanks to hitter-friendly California League, but he should be good for average power by the time he reaches the big leagues; tracks the ball well and fires hands at the last minute; bat enters the zone on a nice downward angle which results in backspin carry to all fields; potential for slightly above-average hit tool thanks to mature plate discipline and line-drive oriented swing.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in minor league spring training, Pederson will work out a few kinks in his swing while familiarizing himself with all three outfield positions.
2013 Outlook: After posting big numbers in the California League (High-A) last season, the 20-year-old is in store for healthy challenge with a jump to Double-A.
DOB: 4/27/1994 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Northwest Cabarrus, N.C)
Scouting Notes: At 6’3”, 205 pounds, Seager has present physicality with room to tack on additional strength. In my opinion, he is far more projectable than his brother, Kyle of the Seattle Mariners. He played shortstop exclusively in professional debut despite his larger frame, and I like that the Dodgers are willing to develop him there because it gives his bat even more value.
Has a highly impressive left-handed bat with the potential for above-average hit and power tools; exhibits all-around good habits that are uncommon in an 18-year-old, and has an easy, direct swing that allows him to sting the ball from line-to-line with impressive power to the opposite field; noticeably employs a consistent approach at the plate and doesn’t get himself out; selective but it doesn’t impede his ability to attack and drive the ball; possesses average speed on both sides of the ball that tends to play up due to his instincts; range is only average but enough to remain at shortstop for the time being; plus arm is suitable for either left-side-of-the-infield position; there’s a good chance he outgrows the position as he matures and shifts to third base.
Spring Training Forecast: The lone infield prospect on this list, Seager’s first spring with the Dodgers will be spent in minor league camp.
2013 Outlook: Seager has the bat, plate discipline and defensive chops to make the jump to Low-A for his full-season debut.
DOB: 9/13/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (McKinney HS, Texas)
Scouting Notes: Lee possesses a highly projectable and durable frame at 6’4”, 190 pounds, and he is an excellent athlete who was poised to be Louisiana State’s quarterback before the Dodgers offered him a $5 million signing bonus after he was drafted out of high school. The 20-year-old has performed well at higher levels (relative to his age) following multiple aggressive promotions, and he's an intelligent right-hander who’s adept at slowing down the speed of the game.
Hasn’t showcased the mid-90s fastball that was present in the months following the 2010 draft; fastball usually sits 88-93 mph and doesn’t shy away from attacking both right- and left-handed hitters on the inner-half; mixes in both a cutter and two-seamer that come in a few ticks slower but feature late sinking action to the arm-side; deep arsenal consists of both a curveball and slider, with the latter serving as the better breaking ball; changeup has nice fading action in the low-80s and projects to be an above-average-to-plus secondary offering.
Spring Training Forecast: Despite a pair of aggressive promotions last season, Lee will be eased back into action this spring in minor league camp.
2013 Outlook: After finishing the 2012 season as a younger player at Double-A, Lee stands to benefit from a second tour of the level, and could also see some time in the Triple-A rotation later in the year.
DOB: 12/7/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215
Drafted/Signed: June, 2012 (Cuba)
Scouting Notes: Puig’s bat will likely always be his calling card and gives him the highest-ceiling in the organization, but he needs substantial refinement in all aspects of the game. He should steadily improve with much-needed experience, and his first real test will come upon reaching Double-A Chattanooga, presumably in mid-to-late-2013.
Muscular and physical frame at 6’3”, 215 pounds; lots of lean and quick-twitch muscles despite thicker appearance; strong wrists and forearms help generate plus bat speed to whip the barrel through the zone; impressive hand-eye coordination allows him to barrel tough pitches and suggests the potential for an above-average hit tool.
Possesses a relatively lofty swing with plus raw power to all fields, though it may take some time for him to truly tap into it; there’s some swing-and-miss to his game caused by a hyper-aggressive approach and inconsistent load; tends to get out on his front side too often which hinders his pitch recognition; lack of experience is evident in his propensity to chase breaking balls out of the strike zone; needs to learn to work more counts in his favor and employ a consistent approach.
His defense in right field is currently his weakest attribute; struggles to get consistent reads and, at times, seemingly lacks the necessary instinctual first stop; more experience and reps should lead to more direct routes with less of a need to track to the ball; even if he gets bulkier, his athleticism should keep him in the outfield; prototypical plus arm strength for a right fielder but lacks accuracy; speed is presently above-average and plays up a grade once he hits full stride; has the potential to lose a grade as he matures and adds strength.
Puig’s bat will likely always be his calling card and gives him the highest-ceiling in the organization; needs substantial refinement in all aspects of the game, but should steadily improve with much-needed experience; his first real test will come upon reaching Double-A Chattanooga, presumably in mid-to-late-2013.
Spring Training Forecast: Headed to big league camp, this will be the first opportunity to evaluate Puig relative to more advanced competition.
2013 Outlook: After finishing his professional debut at High-A, Puig will likely return to level this season with the potential to reach Double-A later in the summer.