Los Angeles Dodgers' Prospects Off to the Most Shocking Hot Starts
With Hanley Ramirez, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley and Zack Greinke all on the disabled list and Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers off to slow starts, the Dodgers’ depth has been tested this season. Young, unproven members of the organization will be called upon to fill key roles, and who that will be is dependent on their performance so far.
The prospects covered here are any that appeared on Baseball America’s top 10 list, ESPN.com’s Keith Law’s list, Baseball Prospectus’ rankings, or MLB.com’s top 20. If they did not appear there, they were not judged worthy of inclusion because they are exceedingly unlikely to be relevant at the big-league level.
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Tim Federowicz posted a 1.565 OPS in AAA Albuquerque, albeit in just four games. However, he was recalled to the big leagues on April 17 when Chris Capuano went on the disabled list.
Yimi Garcia is little-known, and justifiably so, as high-strikeout, high-walk relievers are a dime a dozen in the minors. However, in four games his K/9 is 14.1, so his is a name worth remembering.
Finally, Matt Magill threw a gem in his last start in AAA against Omaha, going six innings, striking out seven and allowing just one unearned run.
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Puig set the world on fire with his tremendous spring training, and he’s continued that run with AA Chattanooga. So far this season, he’s played in 13 games and has a 1.010 OPS. He has even walked four times, which isn’t good by any means, but is certainly an improvement from the zero he earned in spring training.
Fans calling for Puig to be called up have to be frustrated that he’s still in Double-A. However, he still isn't ready, and there aren’t any spots available in the Dodgers’ outfield. So in the meantime, the Dodgers will watch Puig and hope he continues to develop his patience and pitch recognition. His raw strength, though, is a huge plus.
Unfortunately, Puig has just been placed on the DL, so his hot start will be delayed for a couple weeks.
Puig’s teammate in Chattanooga, Pederson has gotten off to an even hotter start. In 17 games, he has a 1.052 OPS with five home runs and six stolen bases. He is also quite young for the level, which just puts his achievements more in context. He faces the same problem that Puig does: there are no spots in the outfield in the foreseeable future.
Most impressively for both, though, is that the Southern League isn't a particularly favorable hitters' environment, which means their numbers aren’t as inflated as some leagues (say, the PCL or the Cal League).
Lee’s prospect hype took a slight hit last year, but he’s gotten off to a hot start in 2013. In his last three starts (he only went four innings in his first), he’s allowed just two runs while striking out 16 and walking four.
Lee was a first-round pick in 2010 and is highly touted, but his struggles last year (4.25 ERA) led some to question him. If his performance this season continues, he will be expected to provide always-needed rotation depth in the near future.
Stripling has made three starts in High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and although his ERA of 2.87 doesn’t stand out tremendously, he’s doing it in the high-offense Cal League. He is also striking out over a batter per inning, which is obviously encouraging.
His walk rate (five in 15.2 innings) is a little high, but the fact that he’s still a few years away from the big leagues means that’s not as discouraging as one might think.