Ranking the Los Angeles Dodgers' Best Minor League Bargaining Chips
With the July 31 trade deadline fast approaching, the Dodgers are running out of time to make big moves. With rumors linking them to stars such as Chase Utley and the big league club in the midst of a pennant race, the assets for any deals will likely have to come from the farm.
The Dodgers don’t have an elite system by any stretch, but there are some interesting pieces that could certainly be used in big deals.
Honorable Mention: Julio Urias, Onelki Garcia
Urias is a 16-year-old lefty pitching in Low-A for the Great Lakes Loons. He’s gained notice because of his age, but, by the same token, that makes him unlikely to be dealt.
Garcia is a big Cuban lefty who, at 23, is relatively close to the big leagues. Since being converted to the bullpen, he has a 0.45 ERA as a reliever and would be interesting to teams looking for a low-cost left-handed arm.
5: Chris Reed, LHP
Reed is the Dodgers’ fifth-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. He was a college reliever, but the Dodgers have him starting in Double-A Chattanooga. He’s had mixed success, posting a 3.39 ERA but not showing elite peripheral skills (7.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9).
Even if he fails as a starter, though, he will likely have value out of the bullpen. A power lefty with a “nasty slider that can serve as an out pitch” can always find a home.
4: Matt Magill, RHP
Some of the shine is off Magill, as is always the case when someone fails at the big league level (six starts, 6.51 ERA). But he was never supposed to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, and it’s no surprise when young pitchers struggle out of the gate.
Teams trading for Magill would get a solid, proven commodity: a back-of-the-rotation arm that is close to being—if not already—big league ready. Although unspectacular, that does have value.
3: Corey Seager, SS
There’s a big gap between the top three and the previous names. Seager is currently a shortstop with Great Lakes, and at 19, he has an .878 OPS with eight stolen bases.
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus ranked Seager 35th on his mid-season top 50 (subscription required), praising his offensive abilities. As a young talent with a bright future, the only reason he ranks below the next two players is because he’s so young and still far away from the big leagues.
2: Joc Pederson, OF
Pederson showcased his skills in the Futures Game, ripping a base hit off hard-throwing Rays lefty Enny Romero. Coming into the season, there were doubts about what his future would hold. Via Baseball Prospectus and Jason Parks:
Call him a gamer or a grinder or whatever, but Pederson knows how to play the game, with feel and five-tool utility. He doesn’t have impact tools, which is a concern for some, as the bat has to carry the load if he wants to hang in a major-league lineup… Pederson is a future regular to some and a tweener to others, and a heavy dose of Double-A baseball should help bring the real prospect profile into the light.
But Pederson has excelled this year, with a .903 OPS in AA. He has played all but nine of his games in center field this year, hopefully establishing that, at least in the short term, he can pass for a center fielder.
However, the Dodgers have a well-documented logjam in the outfield, and given that the first of those contracts to expire is Carl Crawford’s in 2017, there doesn’t look to be room for Pederson at any point in the near future. Therefore, despite his steps forward this year, it wouldn’t be shocking if he’s included in a trade.
1: Zach Lee, RHP
Lee has been a tease for Dodger fans for years, ever since the Dodgers paid him big money to keep him away from LSU football. He debuted at number 54 on Kevin Goldstein’s 2011 prospect rankings, but he’s been sliding since (70 in 2012, 87 in 2013).
He’s pitched very well this year, though: 2.98 ERA, 8.2 K/9, and just 2.3 BB/9 in AA, and Parks made mention of him at the end of his midseason top 50 as someone who was in the mix for the back half of the list.
In terms of upside and talent, Lee ranks behind Seager and (probably) Pederson. But as a highly-touted pitcher who is getting close to the big leagues, he has a lot of value. Teams are always looking to add young pitching, and Lee is an enticing talent.
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