Ranking the 5 Most Underrated Los Angeles Dodgers Prospects Heading into 2014
When the Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Yasiel Puig to the majors last season, it dealt a major blow to the team's farm system. Puig was widely regarded as the best prospect in the organization, and the Cuban defector proved he was worth the investment after helping turn around the Dodgers' 2013 season.
Heading into 2014, Los Angeles still has reason to be excited about its prospects. Although it may be awhile before we see them in Dodger blue, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Zach Lee round out the cream of the crop down on the farm.
But there are several other players who have the potential to play key roles for the Dodgers down the road. The following slides take a look at the less-publicized prospects, the ones who aren't getting the same attention as the Pedersons and Seagers but are also very intriguing.
Julio Urias, LHP
The Dodgers signed Julio Urias in the summer of 2012, just days after his 16th birthday. Whenever a team takes a chance on a kid that young, it's clear it sees huge potential in him.
Urias joined the Single-A Great Lakes Loons in May of 2013 and quickly showed his capabilities. Despite being the youngest player in the league, Urias struck out six batters over three shutout innings in his debut for the Loons.
The Mexico native went on to make 18 starts for the Loons in 2013, compiling a 2-0 record and a 2.48 ERA. The more impressive statistic was his 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
His record would have been much better than just 2-0, but the Dodgers had imposed strict innings limits on the youngster, and he often would not pitch the required five innings to qualify for a win in his starts, per Ron Cervenka of Think Blue LA.
Still only 17 years old, Urias has an incredibly bright future if he continues to progress at the current rate. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti also told Cervenka that Urias will have his innings limited again in 2014.
Scott Schebler, LF
With Joc Pederson and Corey Seager stealing most of the limelight when it comes to the Dodgers' offensive prospects, Scott Schebler has been able to fly under the radar with a lot of success the past few years.
In 2013, the former 2010 draft pick smacked 27 home runs and 69 extra-base hits in 125 games at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Schebler's numbers earned him a spot on the California League All-Star team and the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year award.
With an outfield logjam at the big league level, it may take some time for Schebler to break through. But the Dodgers have every right to be excited about the outfielder's potential. His 27 home runs this past season were more than double his previous high of 13 in rookie ball.
Schebler was also part of a select group of Dodgers prospects to receive an invitation to the team's Winter Development Program in Los Angeles.
Chris Anderson, RHP
The Dodgers selected Chris Anderson out of Jacksonville University as their first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2013 draft.
He immediately reported to the Great Lakes Loons and was a teammate of Julio Urias. Anderson turned in a pristine 1.96 ERA in 46 innings while touching the upper 90s with his fastball.
In 12 starts, the right-hander also struck out 50 batters using an array of pitches including a sharp slider at 82-85 miles per hour. His curveball and changeup are less developed but should improve with more time in the minors.
The Dodgers already have a solid six-man starting rotation, so Anderson probably won't make it to Los Angeles this season. 2015 might be a more realistic estimate.
Ross Stripling, RHP
Another one of the Dodgers highly touted pitching prospects, Ross Stripling, 24, made some moves up the minor league ranks last season.
The former 2012 draft pick out of Texas A&M began the season in High-A but was promoted to the Chattanooga Lookouts at the Double-A level. Stripling went 6-4 for the Lookouts with a 2.78 ERA and 83 strikeouts compared to just 19 walks.
He finished the season as the No. 10 prospect in the Dodgers organization and will likely get a chance to prove himself in big league spring training.
But Stripling is in the same situation as Chris Anderson. With so much depth in Los Angeles' big league starting rotation, it may be another year or so until we see Stripling at Chavez Ravine for more than just the Winter Development Program.
Look for Stripling to improve his numbers as one of the Lookouts' most important pitchers in 2014.
Miguel Rojas, 2B
The Dodgers' roster doesn't have many holes at the major league level, but one of the biggest question marks heading into 2014 is at second base.
Los Angeles signed Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero over the winter, but the 27-year-old is unproven and suffered a debilitating hamstring injury in November.
Besides Dee Gordon, the other name that has surfaced in recent weeks regarding second base is Miguel Rojas.
A career .234 hitter over eight seasons in the minors, Rojas is known more for his slick glove and was invited to the team's Winter Development Program. The issue is that, like Guerrero, Rojas is a natural shortstop.
But the Dodgers seem to be serious about Rojas, as they already have him trying out the new position at the club's spring training complex in Arizona.
Rojas, who turns 25 next month, will be one of the few prospects with a legitimate shot at cracking the Opening Day roster in 2014.