Los Angeles Dodgers: Ranking the Top 10 Prospects Coming into 2014
Say what you want about the spending spree by Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and Ned Colletti over the last year-and-a-half, but they've done wonders for the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system.
What used to be a tank set on empty is now running strong thanks to better draft strategy and a return to the organization's famed international scouting roots.
Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Dominguez and Chris Withrow are among the names that have already had a huge impact at the major league level, and top prospects Joc Pederson, Zach Lee and Alexander Guerrero aren't far away.
Let's take our first look of the season at how a revitalized Dodgers farm system shakes out with a top-10 breakdown.
10. Tom Windle, LHP (Single-A+)
2013 stats: 5-1, 2.68 ERA, 53.2 IP, 50 H, 16 ER, 20 BB, 51 K
Last year's second-round draft pick dazzled in his first year in pro ball, giving Dodgers fans high hopes for a future with Tom Windle, Zach Lee and fellow 2013 draft pick Chris Anderson anchoring the back of the rotation.
Through the first week of the season, Windle has thrown five innings in relief for Rancho Cucamonga and allowed one run while striking out six. The big lefty was originally projected to be a reliever in the big leagues, but he has been getting the chance to start and has performed well so far.
9. Chris Reed, LHP (Double-A)
2013 stats: 4-11, 3.86 ERA, 137.2 IP, 128 H, 59 ER, 63 BB, 106 K
Chris Reed is just the opposite of Windle—he was drafted in 2011 with high hopes but has had a very up-and-down career thus far. In 2013, Reed started off horribly. He completely fell off my top prospects list. Then, out of nowhere, he turned it around and put together a string of strong starts in the second half.
Reed's future as a regular in the rotation is highly unlikely, but he could see time as a long reliever or a spot starter in a year or two. 2014 will be a massively important season for Reed to prove that he can be a valuable left-handed arm down the road for the Dodgers.
8. Onelki Garcia, LHP (Triple-A)
2013 stats: 2-4, 2.90 ERA, 62 IP, 47 H, 20 ER, 35 BB, 67 K
Onelki Garcia got a quick call-up down the stretch last year and got knocked around a little bit, but the Dodgers are hoping this Cuban lefty can nail down a spot in the bullpen as early as next season. Garcia has been great in the minor leagues since being drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft.
The Dodgers already have lefties Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell in the bullpen, so in that sense, Garcia might have a tough road in front of him. He did start a bit in the minors, too, but seems destined for a future in the bullpen. Look for Garcia to get another call-up for certain spurts of 2014.
7. Alexander Guerrero, 2B (Double-A)
2013 stats: N/A (Cuba)
Dodgers fans are a little bit torn on Cuban second baseman Alex Guerrero. On one hand, he was signed to a generous contract and expected to start the season in the big leagues after a strong spring. On the other hand, he looks completely unprepared for daily big league at-bats and has proven shaky on defense.
Instead, he was beaten out by Justin Turner and Dee Gordon and is now dealing with an injury in the minors. The Dodgers are still hoping Guerrero will be a long-term answer, but he'll need some seasoning before coming up.
6. Chris Anderson, RHP (Single-A+)
2013 stats: 3-0, 1.96 ERA, 46 IP, 32 H, 10 ER, 24 BB, 50 K
Many pundits were unsure about the first-round selection of Chris Anderson last year, but from what we've seen so far, the Dodgers look brilliant. Anderson was incredible in 46 innings last season and could get on the fast track to a promotion with another good season in 2014.
It didn't start as planned, with Anderson getting rocked for three earned in just two-thirds of an inning in his first start. He's a big, strong right-hander who can touch 95 mph with the fastball and has a plus slider. He needs to harness his control a little bit but has a big year ahead of him.
5. Ross Stripling, RHP (Double-A)
2013 stats: 8-4, 2.82 ERA, 1 SV, 127.2 IP, 115 H, 40 ER, 30 BB, 117 K
It pains me to even include Tommy John surgery-bound Ross Stripling on this list. He's lost for the year with the injury, and it's especially a shame because he showed incredible potential last season. When healthy, Stripling was rocketing through the system and might have had a shot at a late-season call-up in 2014.
Last year, before falling off a bit toward the end of the season, Stripling was mowing down the opposition in advanced Single-A and Double-A. We've seen many pitchers return from Tommy John with good results, so the Dodgers have to hope Stripling follows the same path and becomes a valuable asset to them again next season.
4. Zach Lee, RHP (Triple-A)
2013 stats: 10-10, 3.22 ERA, 142.2 IP, 132 H, 51 ER, 35 BB, 131 K
Lee's drop from the top three of this list has less to do with him and more to do with Julio Urias' meteoric rise. Lee is nearly major league-ready, but he might have a smaller impact than originally expected. He's widely thought of as a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter after originally projecting as a No. 2.
In Triple-A this year, Lee had a good first start, going five innings and allowing two hits, two runs and one walk while striking out three. He's been the guy Dodgers fans have been waiting to see for a while now, and he should get a shot in 2014 eventually.
3. Corey Seager, 3B (Class-A+)
2013 stats: 101 G, .269 BA, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, .352 OBP
Corey Seager is widely regarded within the organization as a future starting infielder for the Dodgers. Some see him at third base, and some see him at shortstop. Either way, he could be an impact bat a couple of years away from the big leagues. If he's anything like his brother Kyle (Seattle Mariners third baseman), the Dodgers are in a good spot.
Last year, Seager's average took a bit of a dip, but he showed solid power and even some speed on the basepaths. We'll see how he rebounds this year—if it's a solid campaign, Seager could move his way up to Double-A by the All-Star break. Keep your eye on him this season.
2. Julio Urias, LHP (Single-A+)
2013 stats: 2-0, 2.48 ERA, 54.1 IP, 44 H, 15 ER, 16 BB, 67 K
This guy is going to be something special. The 17-year-old (that is not a typo) lefty from Mexico has already established himself as the Dodgers' best pitching prospect with just a half-season under his belt. Scouts everywhere are buzzing about his potential—and rightfully so.
Urias can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and has a nasty changeup and good curveball to go with it. But the biggest reason for scouts' excitement is an exceptional amount of poise and control from a kid who should still be worrying about prom or college applications. The Dodgers have a gem in Urias, and fans should be ecstatic to see him grow this year.
1. Joc Pederson, OF (Triple-A)
2013 stats: 123 G, .278 BA, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 31 SB, .381 OBP
Pederson really established himself last year and this spring as the Dodgers' top hitting prospect. He had a phenomenal all-around year in 2013 at Double-A and has since earned a promotion to Triple-A. He should be the first outfielder called up in case of emergency and will definitely get another shot down the stretch regardless.
Besides his consistent, powerful bat, Pederson can get on base with the best of them and plays very good defense. I'm not sure how his speed and power combination will translate to the big leagues, but becoming a 20-20 player is certainly not out of the question. If not for such a crowded outfield, Pederson might be on the MLB team already.