After a slow start in their first series against the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers offense finally started showing signs of life over the weekend against Pittsburgh. But even if current stars like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are struggling a bit, the future of the Dodgers is in good hands in the minor leagues.
Yasiel Puig has carried over his hot streak from spring training, and Chris Withrow is also off to a good start. So I've taken the top 10 prospects (according to BaseballProspectus.com) in the Dodgers system and gone all NYSE on you.
Keep in mind, this is only based on the first week of games. And it also doesn't include rookies like Tim Federowicz or Hyun-Jin Ryu, who are on the major league roster right now.
All statistics from MiLB.com and current as of 4/7/2013.
Stats: 3 G, .500 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 1.383 OPS
The Chattanooga Lookouts, the Dodgers Double-A affiliate, just started their season. But you wouldn't know by watching Puig, who took the hottest spring on the team right into these three games and continued to mash his way up the prospect rankings.
If not for a Carl Crawford blazing start (and the fact that keeping Puig in the minors a little longer gives an extra year of team control in the long run), Puig might be looking at a call-up in the very near future.
It's hard to believe that Puig's stock can actually rise after what he did in the spring, but for my money, it has. He continues to struggle to draw walks, but if he's just getting on base every time regardless, it doesn't matter. Keep an eye on Puig, to see how he adjusts to an inevitable slump at some point.
Stats: 1 GS, 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
After a slight regression last year, the Dodgers front office must be biting its nails a little bit about Zach Lee. He's still the most talented pitcher down on the farm, but a strong third professional season for the right-hander would go a long way in building confidence.
Puig's teammate in Double-A has made one start and was pretty solid, though he did allow six baserunners in four innings. You have to like the strikeout numbers and that he was only charged with one earned run, but it's not enough yet for me to be sold that he's back to form.
Granted, we are early in the season here. No need to panic. But if he doesn't have a quality start in the next few weeks, there may be a deeper issue.
Stats: 4 G, .077 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .641 OPS
This is one guy I'm not very worried about, playing for the Single-A Great Lakes Loons to start 2013. Corey Seager had a nice rookie season in minor league ball after being drafted in 2012 and has the tools (not to mention the family lineage) to continue his growth this season.
That being said, we are talking stocks here, and if he was on the market, he'd be tumbling pretty hard right now. His one hit in 13 at-bats was a home run, so it's good to see a bit of early power. But he has struck out in five at-bats already and is 0-for-1 on stolen base attempts.
One promising stat is Seager's five walks in four games, helping to account for a .333 on-base percentage in the first set of games. Barring injury, I'm confident that Seager will continue to progress in 2013 and potentially earn a promotion to Double-A.
Stats: 1 GS, 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
The left-handed Chris Reed got off to a rocky start in Double-A this week, allowing four earned in four innings and allowing an average of two baserunners per frame. Reed had a pretty good 2012, so it would be nice to see him continue to progress this season.
Similar to Lee, we'll have to see after five or six starts how Reed is looking, but for this week it's bad marks. As with any pitcher at any level, walks will call. And while Reed didn't necessarily struggle in that department last season, he wasn't great (34 BB in 70.1 IP), so he can work on the control as April progresses.
Stats: 4 G, .214 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, .981 OPS
Last season, Joc Pederson very quietly became the Dodgers' most promising prospect with the bat (before Puig came along), hitting .313 with 18 homers, 70 RBI and 26 stolen bases. Toss in a .396 on-base percentage, and there was no doubt he'd get the call to Double-A to start 2013.
Through the first four games of 2013, Pederson is making good on that potential power he flashed last year with two jacks. The average is down, but he's only struck out twice in 15 plate appearances so far, and looks primed to step up those numbers in the next few weeks.
Stats: 1 GS, 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
In Matt Magill's first-ever Triple-A start, things didn't go exactly as planned. Don't get me wrong—it wasn't terrible. But after striking out an astounding 168 batters in just 146.1 innings last season, Dodgers fans expected a little more than two punchouts in four innings of work.
His stock goes down slightly, but remember that he's at a new level of competition. Magill can be overpowering at times, and I'm excited to see his first dominant performance in Albuquerque, whenever that may be. Like the rest of the pitchers, give him a few more starts before we determine if he's truly up or down.
Onelki Garcia has not yet appeared in any games in 2013. Please check back next week.
Stats: 1 G, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Sure, it's a small sample size, but Chris Withrow's conversion to reliever seems to still be going well. In his first two innings of the season (and of his career) for Triple-A Albuquerque, Withrow was dominant, allowing just one baserunner.
He can really rack up the strikeouts and could be a candidate for a late-season call-up if he continues to pitch very well out of the bullpen. Since it's his first foray into the highest level of minor league ball, I'm curious to see how he adjusts.
Stats: 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
After a rocky 2012 for Rancho Cucamonga, the young righty continues to frustrate. Garrett Gould has a great arsenal of pitches, but he can't seem to consistently pinpoint his spots. The strikeout totals are still fine, but he's allowing far too many baserunners each start.
The Dodgers like Gould a lot, but he's not going to sniff Double-A until he strings together a few quality starts in a row. Even more worrisome is that Gould picked up right where he left off, allowing a home run in his first start (gave up 19 homers last season).
Stats: 1 G, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
This is a soft stock increase for Zachary Bird, because he did walk four batters in three innings in his only appearance with the Single-A Great Lakes Loons. But in 10 starts in rookie league last season, he compiled a 4.54 ERA, so any goose eggs are good.
Bird had pretty solid strikeout numbers in his short stint after being drafted last season, but he will face a more advanced challenge with the Loons in 2013. A couple of more weeks, and a clearer idea if he's adjusting, will go a long way to determine if Bird is really improving or not.