The Los Angeles Dodgers are flirting with finishing the month of April with a .500 record after all the turmoil they went through to start the season. While the big league team is playing better, it continues to struggle with injuries, making the minor league guys all the more important.
Top prospect Yasiel Puig was arrested and charged with reckless driving last week, but came off his DL stint to continue hitting baseballs very far. Hopefully the driving incident isn't a sign of things to come, character-wise.
Meanwhile, Puig's fellow outfielder, Joc Pederson, is racking up the homers, and Matt Magill made his major league debut in Dodger Stadium against the Milwaukee Brewers (it was a spot start, so Magill will remain on this list until he's up for an extended amount of time).
Who is next? Who is hot and who is not? Did anyone get bumped from last week's list? Read on to find out.
All stats taken from MiLB.com unless otherwise indicated and current as of 4/29/2013.
Stats: 14 G, .333 BA, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, 1.027 OPS
Out of spite, I'm not giving Puig a stock raise. He only played one game this week after returning from the seven-day DL, and he hit a home run and knocked in the game's winning run. But he also showed an unfortunate human side.
I know he's young, newly rich and was on the shelf anyway, but there's no excuse for any player to be arrested for anything. Especially something as stupidly dangerous as reckless driving. Like I mentioned in the intro slide, I hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come.
As for his play on the field, Puig continues to impress and should still top the list of outfielders who will make the jump to the big league team eventually.
Stats: 5 GS, 2.42 ERA, 26 IP, 26 H, 11 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 23 K
The numbers across the board look great—and they are. But if we're talking about week No. 4 in itself, Zach Lee's game was not pretty. He made one start and allowed four earned runs (six total) in just three innings of work.
He's allowed a little lee-way (see what I did there?) because he's been so stellar overall in Double-A thus far. That being said, there's no reason whatsoever for Dodgers fans to continue crying for a call-up on Twitter.
While we could see Lee sooner rather than later, Double-A is a whole different beast from the majors. I love Lee's stuff and hope he gets a few starts this year, but I don't want the whole world expecting Matt Harvey-like dominance right away.
Stats: 24 G, .304 BA, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB, 1.001 OPS
Pederson keeps slowly climbing his way closer to the consensus top two prospects in the Dodgers system. I saw flashes of this kind of potential last season, but Pederson has really impressed me in 2013.
Since we last saw him, Pederson has added a homer, four RBI and a stolen base for a very well-rounded stat line in his first season in Double-A. While Puig gets most of the media attention, Pederson has been the most consistent hitter at Chattanooga.
I'd love to see Pederson in the big leagues this year, but I can't see it happening. Unless there is a slew of injuries, Pederson will stay fourth or fifth in the pecking order for that honor. Either way, it's been a pleasure watching him bloom so far.
Stats: 4 GS, 2.84 ERA, 19 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 14 BB, 23 K
After a brief stint at the No. 5 spot, I bumped Magill back up to the top four after a very good major league debut this past Saturday. I might have moved him up even without that promotion, though, as he put together a good performance at Triple-A before that.
He threw four innings and only allowed one run in his most recent minor league start. Though he walked four guys, he struck out seven. Magill is still struggling a little bit with control, but continues to prove that he can be a power arm at the major league level.
With Ted Lilly potentially hurting his back in Monday's game (per Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com) and the always uncertain status of Chris Capuano, we could see more of Magill for the Dodgers in the near future. He definitely proved his worth and got cheated out of a win by a shaky bullpen.
Stats: 22 G, .282 BA, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, .832 OPS
Since we last checked in on Corey Seager, his swing has really started to click. He's improved across the board in every offensive category and piled on seven RBI this past week. On Saturday, he went 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI.
I'd still like to see Seager balance out his strikeout-to-walk ratio a little bit (currently 10 walks, 23 strikeouts), but I'm not going to complain about his improved numbers. The Dodgers spent a first-round pick on Seager for a reason, and they expect huge progress this year.
I could definitely see Seager moving up to Double-A eventually—especially when Puig gets moved up to the big league club. And that tougher competition would definitely intrigue me. Can he continue to rake against better competition? Hopefully, we'll find out soon.
Stats: 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 9.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 14 K
Chris Withrow just can't be stopped. He's now earned two wins in relief and is still blemish-free in the ERA department. I know less than 10 innings, even this early, is a small sample size to base judgment off of, but I've been very impressed.
Withrow's strikeout numbers are exciting Dodgers fans, and with the way the big league bullpen looks right now, we may very well be cheering for him at Chavez Ravine soon. Before we crown him the next Kenley Jansen though, I'd like to see him get stretched at Triple-A more.
Either way, this start is promising for Withrow and the Dodgers. Much like his teammate Magill, the guys in Albuquerque must be doing something right. And for a team that is supposed to make the playoffs in 2013 but has encountered injury-riddled turbulence, it's nice to have some kind of safety net down there.
Stats: 5 GS, 3.30 ERA, 30 IP, 26 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 9 BB, 16 K
Chris Reed had a bit of a rough start this past week, but is still putting up admirable numbers overall this season. The lefty posted a quality start, but allowed three earned in seven innings and a season-high seven hits.
You have to like the ERA from Reed, but he is not a strikeout guy and might not find a spot to fit in a big league rotation for quite a while because of it. The Dodgers would likely prefer to use Magill and Lee before Reed, and I doubt more than two of these minor league hurlers will get a shot in 2013.
We'll have to wait and see on Reed after he has a couple months behind him. He didn't really deviate from that mid- to low-3.00s ERA, but never really put up an eye-popping performance either. For a finesse guy, he's done very well for himself so far.
Stats: 4 GS, 2.49 ERA, 21.2 IP, 15 H, 6 ER, 8 BB, 22 K
Ross Stripling debuted at No. 9 on this list last week, and he continues to dominate Single-A and move his way up the rankings. With his most recent performance, he lowered his ERA into the better half of the 2.00s and struck out six batters for the third straight start.
The consistency Stripling has shown in 2013 is very impressive, as he continues to build a case toward a promotion to Double-A. He has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start and has not pitched less than five innings either.
For Single-A, those are much better numbers than you might think. And the fact that he's striking out nearly three batters per walk is another testament to the job he's doing so far. I'd love to see what Stripling can do against Double-A competition later this year.
Stats: 24 G, .300 BA, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB, .795 OPS
Blake Smith also slides up the rankings one spot after debuting last week, but mostly due to a player falling off this list after struggling mightily last week. Smith did improve his numbers slightly, cracking the .300 mark and adding a home run and a couple RBI.
There's a reason many people haven't heard of Smith, and I think that will show when he inevitably slides off the rankings in the near future. It's not that I don't have faith in Smith; he just has been declining a little bit since he hit .304 with 20 homers in 2011.
Hopefully, Smith proves me wrong and continues to hit like he did a couple seasons ago. If that becomes the case, he'll certainly catch the Dodgers' eye (though he might have already). Sadly, the least heralded member of Chattanooga's outfield likely has no shot at a major league stint in 2013.
Stats: 21 G, .323 BA, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB, 1.016
Tyler Ogle has just missed making this list a couple times now, but his solid numbers are getting harder and harder to ignore. He's a catcher in Single-A, meaning there are plenty of players ahead of him blocking the path, but this has to at least boost the kid's confidence.
Over his last 20 at-bats, Ogle is hitting .350 with a homer, seven RBI and five walks in helping to lead the charge for the Great Lakes Loons. Perhaps most impressive is his .500 on-base percentage thus far, thanks to an astounding 20 walks.
I don't fully expect Ogle to become A.J. Ellis Jr. with that eye, but that kind of patience at such a young age (will be 23 in August) is shocking at any level. We'll see how long the numbers persist, but a catcher who can get on base is going to eventually get a shot in the big leagues somewhere.
We saw quite a bit of movement this week, as Matt Magill reclaimed his spot as the fourth-best prospect on my list, and Chris Reed dropped to No. 7. We saw Ross Stripling and Blake Smith take a step forward, and a newcomer drop in at No. 10.
Of course, that means that a couple guys were bumped off the list. Did they remain on the "just missed" list?
- Yimi Garcia, RHP (Double-A)
- Onelki Garcia, LHP (Double-A)
- Michael Thomas, LHP (Single-A+)
- Ralston Cash, RHP (Single-A+)
- O'Koyea Dickson, 1B (Single-A+)
Don't forget to check in next week for another installment of Stock Up, Stock Down.