While the Dodgers endure an early-season slump (before winning yesterday, they had lost six straight games), fans can pin their hopes on the young talent in the minor leagues. Some, like Joc Pederson, continue to absolutely rake in the early going.
Yasiel Puig, who has been the most exciting player down on the farm, has been temporarily sidelined with a thumb injury, but shouldn't miss too much time.
The big question right now concerns the big league pitching staff. Stephen Fife got the call for a start yesterday, and there might be more shuffling with Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano joining Zack Greinke on the DL.
Let's see how the future is faring, and if any new prospects cracked the rankings.
All stats taken from MiLB.com and current as of 4/22/2013.
Stats: 13 G, .333 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 1.010 OPS
Puig's stock is only down because he'll miss a few games with a sprained left thumb after hurting it diving for a ball in the outfield this week. Thumbs can be tricky for hitters, so it'll be interesting to see how he bounces back after letting it heal.
Though he's only on the 7-day DL with the injury, it could affect the great rhythm Puig was in before the bad luck hit. His average and OPS were down slightly from last week, but he did add a home run, three RBI and another stolen base.
No matter what, Puig is going to get a look at a call-up this season at some point. Despite what he's done so far, I'm not convinced he will come up and be Superman for the Dodgers. I'd prefer to get him at least another two months of minor league seasoning first.
Stats: 4 GS, 1.17 ERA, 23 IP, 20 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 21 K
This is the Zach Lee Dodgers fans have been waiting for. He's been good in the past, but not this good. And with the amount of trouble the big league rotation has been going through, Lee's path to a call-up might be getting shorter.
Lee had two starts this week and was absolutely dominant, racking up nine strikeouts in 12 innings, allowing just 11 hits and one run. Lee has yet to allow more than two walks in any start, and has only allowed one ball to leave the yard.
With a minuscule 1.17 ERA through his first four games, it's safe to say that Lee has been one of the better minor league pitchers in all of baseball so far. The Double-A competition is the best he's faced in his young career, which is a very promising sign for the Dodgers.
Stats: 17 G, .318 BA, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 6 SB, 1.052 OPS
You'd think the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts would be dominating with Puig, Lee and Pederson on the team. But at 7-10, they have been underwhelming so far, much like the big league club. There's still plenty of time, though, and if Pederson continues to rake, there's no telling how good the team can be.
Dodgers fans are amped up about Puig, as they should be, but let's not forget about the other minor league slugger. Pederson not only has better power numbers than Puig so far, but he's swiped six bases in six attempts.
All of a sudden, the Dodgers have a plethora of minor league outfield talent and nowhere to put them. This is definitely the most impressive performance of Pederson's career, so I'm excited to see if his stock continues to climb.
Stats: 15 G, .250 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, .712 OPS
Seager is slowly coming around this year, much like Matt Kemp is progressing with the big league team. Last we checked, Seager was struggling mightily with the bat. It still isn't fantastic, but he's definitely trending upwards.
He has raised his average over 60 points in the last week and added a couple RBI to his resume. And it's nice to see Seager swipe a bag, but he has been caught stealing in his other two attempts. Another worry is that the young infielder has struck out 15 times already.
This is to be expected of a 19-year-old. He will continue to struggle a little bit, but it seems as if he's getting into a groove. It's worth checking in on Seager next week, but there's no way he will crack the top three for a while.
Stats: 3 GS, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 10 BB, 16 K
Magill has been toiling at the same point on these stock watches for three weeks, as Dodgers fans just wait for him to put together a completely dominant performance. His most recent start was his best of the season, but he still walked three in six innings.
That's been the biggest thing holding Magill back—the walks. He is striking out quite a few batters every time out (more than one per inning, as you can see), but he hasn't been consistently keeping batters off base.
What he's done so far has been good, but the Dodgers need to see great pitching if Magill is going to get the call this season. Escaping jams in Triple-A is impressive, but those situations will turn into rallies for the opposing offense at the MLB level.
Stats: 4 GS, 3.13 ERA, 23 IP, 19 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 7 BB, 14 K
Reed has been absolutely filthy in his last two starts, recovering from a mediocre beginning to the season. Even though he ended up with a no-decision in both starts, Reed went a combined 13 innings, giving up 10 hits, two earned runs (zero in his most recent start), one walk and seven K's.
The Dodgers have to like what they're seeing from their young southpaw. With three straight quality starts to his name, Reed should be moving up the depth chart rather quickly. With all the pitching issues in the big league rotation, we could at least see Reed promoted to Triple-A in the near future.
Magill and Lee seem to be higher on the priority list for call-ups with the Dodgers front office, but if Reed continues to make quality starts, there is no way they can ignore him. Unless he falters pretty hard, Reed might even get a look at a spot start or bullpen time in the bigs down the stretch.
Stats: 3 GS, 2.84 ERA, 12.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 9 K
Garcia got the loss in his most recent start, despite allowing just one run over five innings. He has been a slow, steady climber on these boards but hasn't shown overpowering stuff yet. Reed's fellow lefty in the Chattanooga rotation has gotten off to a good start, but there are some things he needs to improve.
For one, the walk rate is still too high. If he's not going to be striking out a ton of batters, I presume the Dodgers would prefer he nail down the finesse aspect of his game and avoid putting batters on base for free.
This may just be another case of a young pitcher getting acclimated to better competition, but either way there is a higher ceiling he can reach. Garcia could be a dark horse to move up these rankings into the top five over his next few starts, depending on how he throws.
Stats: 5 G, 0.00 ERA, 6.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 9 K
This may seem harsh, but I'm only giving Withrow a soft "up." He has been fantastic at keeping runs off the board out of the Triple-A bullpen, but I'm worried about him putting more than a runner on base per inning.
No doubt, Withrow has good stuff. He's doing a great job this season and may eventually get a look at a promotion to the big league bullpen. But the walks he's giving up will turn into runs at the big league level—I'm sure of it.
The law of averages tell me Withrow will come down to Earth a little bit and probably see an ERA increase over the next couple weeks, but I'd prefer him look human in that department and superhuman with the walks. Check back in next week, because Withrow has a lot of room to move either way on this list.
Stats: 3 GS, 2.87 ERA, 15.2 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 16 K
Technically, Stripling has pitched a little bit worse than he did at the very beginning of the year, so his stock should be down. But with Garrett Gould and Zachary Bird (No's 9 and 10, respectively) struggling mightily, two spots opened up on the list.
Stripling has still been very, very good in Single-A so far. After an impressive five-inning, one-hit performance in his debut, he has allowed five runs over 10.2 innings in his last two starts, and struck out six batters in each.
The Dodgers really like his make up and potential, but it won't be enough to get him any higher than Double-A this year. I want to see how he handles going deeper in a game before I jump on the bandwagon, but early returns show a lot of promise for Stripling.
Stats: 16 G, .283 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, .751 OPS
Smith makes his debut on this list, barely edging out Single-A catcher Tyler Ogle. Smith has been very consistent with the bat in Double-A thus far, providing a nice bit of insurance to the heart of the order with Puig and Pederson.
Considering the logjam in the outfield ahead of Smith, he likely won't sniff the majors unless a catastrophe strikes, but he can continue building his resume for an eventual shot. At the very least, if he continues to hit this well, the Dodgers may have scored a nice trade chip around the All-Star break.
Smith hasn't shown a ton of power yet, but he's hit as many as 20 in a season before and has swiped nearly 15 bags. He may not be as toolsy as Pederson or powerful as Puig, but the guy is definitely one to keep an eye on.
We saw two pitchers drop out of the top 10 after having bad weeks, but they remain on most official lists of the Dodgers top 10 prospects. If they throw well this week, they could jump right back into the top 10 and see their stocks rise.
But for now, we have four guys—those two included—who narrowly missed out list:
Yimi Garcia, RHP (Double-A)
Tyler Ogle, C (Single-A)
Garrett Gould, RHP (Single-A+)
Zachary Bird, RHP (Single-A)
Check in next week for the fourth week of Dodgers prospect watch to see whose stock is up, and whose is down.