Re-Ranking Dodgers' Top 10 Prospects After MLB Draft Day 1
June has arrived, which means two months of baseball are in the books.
It also means that a new crop of young players have been given hard-earned opportunities as the MLB draft unfolds this week.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers made their first-round selection at No. 22, several of the team's draft picks from years past have been toiling in the minor leagues, waiting for their chance.
Some players have seen their stock rise, while others have taken a step back due to injuries.
The following slideshow features the updated ranking of Dodgers prospects as the 2014 campaign nears its midpoint.
Chris Jacobs, 1B
Double-A first baseman Chris Jacobs is slashing .280/.384/.495 with 10 home runs, 16 doubles and 40 RBI for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The performance so far this year earned the 25-year-old a trip to the California/Carolina League All-Star Game on June 17.
Joey Curletta, OF
Outfielder Joey Curletta will represent the Class-A Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League All-Star Game, which also takes place on June 17. Curletta, a sixth-round pick by the Dodgers in 2012, is hitting .311 with a team-high 70 hits and 93 total bases.
10. Grant Holmes, RHP
Sticking with tradition, the Dodgers took a pitcher with their first pick in the 2014 MLB draft on Thursday night.
Los Angeles selected right-hander Grant Holmes out of Conway High School in South Carolina at No. 22.
Holmes earned Gatorade South Carolina Player of the Year honors after going 4-1 with a minuscule 0.35 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 40 innings this past season.
Holmes’ pitching arsenal features a mid-90s fastball that he can bump up to the high 90s on occasion. The late sinking action on the offering makes it difficult for batters to lift.
According to Mike Rosenbaum's scouting report, Holmes' curveball might be his best pitch. Thrown in the low 80s, the offering is a combination between a curveball and slider due to its sweeping action.
Holmes also throws a changeup on occasion, but it is his least developed pitch.
“We feel fortunate to have gotten a player of Grant’s magnitude at pick 22,” Dodgers draft chief Logan White told Eric Stephen of True Blue LA. “He’s a mature, young and strong-bodied pitcher who throws hard and has a great breaking ball, but what separates him is he is a fierce competitor.”
Holmes, who is committed to the University of Florida, is the first high school pitcher drafted by the Dodgers since Zach Lee in 2010.
9. Scott Schebler, LF
The Dodgers picked Scott Schebler in the 26th round of the 2010 draft, and the Iowa native climbed up the minor league ladder before exploding in 2013.
Last season in High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Schebler smacked 27 home runs and 69 extra-base hits in 125 games. The gaudy numbers earned the outfielder a spot on the California League All-Star team and the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year award.
This season at Double-A Chattanooga, Schebler has leveled off a bit. The power is still there with 11 home runs through 57 games, but the average sits at .256—40 points lower than where he finished 2013.
Schebler has solid speed, but he still fits better at a corner outfield spot rather than in center. Speed aside, his modest arm strength could be what eventually stations him in left field as he advances through the minor leagues.
Still, the Dodgers have reason to be giddy when looking at the power numbers, and a few more years in the minor leagues should help iron out the remaining kinks in his big swing.
8. Onelki Garcia, LHP
Onelki Garcia might be the Dodgers' most prized left-handed pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw or Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The problem is that he is still recovering from two offseason surgeries, which bumps him down a bit in the Dodgers' prospect rankings.
Los Angeles drafted the Cuban native in 2012, and he made his major league debut just one year later.
During that season in the minors, Garcia compiled a 2.90 ERA between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque, including 67 strikeouts, 35 walks and just three home runs allowed in 62 innings.
Garcia's mid-90s fastball sneaks up on batters because of his slow delivery. The southpaw also features two different curveballs—a tighter one in the low 80s thrown as a strikeout pitch and a slower mid-70s version used to achieve called strikes earlier in the count.
He's also working on a changeup, but it is not a reliable pitch yet.
Left-handed batters hit just .149 against him in the minors, but Garcia had a rougher go of things upon his promotion to the big club last September. He walked four of his nine hitters faced in his three appearances with the Dodgers and finished with a 13.50 ERA.
Following the season, Garcia attempted to play in the Arizona Fall League but was shut down after only one appearance and underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his pitching elbow. He then went under the knife again in February to repair torn cartilage in his knee, per JP Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News.
7. Chris Reed, LHP
The Dodgers selected left-hander Chris Reed with the 16th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Stanford University. In 12 starts for Double-A Chattanooga this season, the native of Great Britain is 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
He entered 2014 rated as the Dodgers' No. 8 prospect by Baseball America after having been primarily a reliever in college.
While Reed's fastball touched 96 mph out of the bullpen at Stanford, he has stayed in the low-90s range as a starter in his second full season with the Lookouts this year.
Reed also features a sinking two-seam fastball that he uses to induce ground balls as well as a sharp slider in the low 80s.
The southpaw has elite athleticism, but he'll need to improve his control and command in order to progress up the minor league ladder.
6. 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 turned in a pristine 1.96 ERA in 46 innings while striking out 50 batters.
Anderson has had a rougher go of things this season at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he's 3-4 with a 5.63 ERA in 12 starts.
The right-hander has still been able to strike out 60 batters using an array of pitches including a low-to-mid-90s fastball with heavy life and sharp slider at 82-85 miles per hour. His curveball and changeup are less developed but should improve with more time in the minors.
If Anderson refines his control, he has the capability to be a front-line starter at the next level.
5. Zach Lee, RHP
Zach Lee entered the season as the Dodgers' top pitching prospect, but his stock has dropped due to struggles at Triple-A this year.
In 12 starts at Albuquerque, Lee's record stands at 5-5 along with a poor 4.71 ERA.
The Texas native's name has been tossed around the organization ever since Los Angeles pried him away from Louisiana State University with a record signing bonus after the team drafted him 28th overall in the 2010 draft.
Despite the lucrative signing bonus, Lee has not stood out during his three-plus years in the minors (30-27 combined record, 3.82 career ERA).
Lee, who projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, features four pitches. He complements his low-90s sinking fastball with two breaking balls and a changeup. Although none of these is considered a plus pitch, Lee's easy delivery helps him maintain solid command.
The team had a chance to bring up the 22-year-old for a spot start last month in Minnesota, but opted to go with fellow prospect Red Patterson instead. This decision showed that the Dodgers are still not completely sold on Lee's big league readiness even though they continually hold him in high regard.
4. 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.
Two years later, the potential is turning into reality, and Urias has leapfrogged Zach Lee to to become the team's top pitching prospect.
When the Dodgers first gave him a contract, Urias was pitching for Mexico City in the Mexican League. Los Angeles immediately threw the teenager into the fire, sending him straight to the Single-A Great Lakes Loons in May 2013.
Urias quickly showed what he could do.
Despite being the youngest player in the league, Urias punched out six batters over three shutout innings in his debut for the Loons.
He went on to make 18 starts for the Loons in 2013, going 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA. The more impressive statistic was his 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Since then, Urias has added velocity to his fastball, and it now sits in the mid-90s. His curveball and changeup are also both still developing and have the capabilities to become above-average offerings at the highest level.
In nine starts at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga this season, Urias is 1-1 with a 3.82 ERA. He has fanned 39 batters in just over 37 innings pitched, good for a rate of 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Still just 17 years old, Urias has an extremely bright future if he continues to progress at the current rate.
3. Alex Guerrero, SS
The Dodgers saw a lot of potential in Cuban defector Alex Guerrero over the winter, signing him to a four-year, $28 million deal with the hope that he could step in as the team's everyday second baseman.
What they didn't see coming was the emergence of Dee Gordon and another teammate biting off Guerrero's ear.
One week into June, the prized infielder is currently on the mend after since-released veteran catcher Miguel Olivo went Mike Tyson on Guerrero and chewed off a chunk of his ear during an altercation in the minor leagues.
The timing could not have been worse for Guerrero, who finally seemed primed to receive a long-term opportunity with the big club following the injury to third baseman Juan Uribe.
Before the bizarre incident, Guerrero was batting .376 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 33 games at Triple-A Albuquerque. Those are the kind of numbers the Dodgers envisioned when they effectively made the 27-year-old one of their top prospects with the lucrative contract.
The original plan for Guerrero to play second base did not come to fruition, as Gordon won the job in spring training and has maintained a firm grip on the position.
There's still no timetable for Guerrero as he recovers from ear-reattachment surgery. But as long as Uribe remains out and shortstop Hanley Ramirez continues to struggle defensively, there should be a big league opportunity for Guerrero when he returns to the field.
2. Corey Seager, SS
Corey Seager is one of the Dodgers' most highly touted farm hands, a designation that usually accompanies any first-round selection.
Los Angeles drafted Seager as a shortstop out of North Carolina's Northwest Cabarrus High School in 2012, and the younger brother of the Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager is off to a great start at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
The 20-year-old is slashing .338/.390/.586 with 21 doubles, nine home runs, 38 RBI and 33 runs scored in 51 games so far this season.
Those numbers earned Seager a trip to the California/Carolina League All-Star Game on June 17. He leads the California League in doubles and ranks third in both batting average and OPS.
At 6'4", 215 pounds, Seager is fairly large for a shortstop, and the Dodgers may decide to convert him into a third baseman so he can take over in Los Angeles after Juan Uribe's two-year contract expires in the fall of 2015.
At least one scout believes Seager has the potential to become a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman, per Hall of Fame baseball columnist Peter Gammons.
Offensively, Seager has a smooth swing that gives him the ability to spray line drives to all fields. He has shown modest power, which should improve with continued development.
1. Joc Pederson, CF
Joc Pederson was considered the Dodgers' top prospect heading into 2014, and the label has only been solidified halfway through the year.
Heading into Thursday's MLB draft—where the Dodgers selected him in the 11th round four years ago—Pederson has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League competition.
The 22-year-old is batting .337 with 15 home runs and 36 RBI to go along with 13 stolen bases.
The numbers are staggering, but Pederson continues to wait for his chance. As an outfielder, it will be tough for him to crack the 25-man roster.
With Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier already stationed at the major league level, Los Angeles' outfield is already over capacity.
However, management's patience may be over capacity as well. The star-studded Dodgers are just one game over .500 and have been treading water all year long.
If fortunes don't change quickly, Pederson realizes his opportunity may arise sooner rather than later.
"Realistically, the way I see it, something has to happen where they have to make a move," Pederson told Sports Illustrated's Albert Chen. "They might have to make a deal. I know they have some problems with their infielders, who knows what they need. But they might make a deal.
After all, Pederson almost got the call one year ago when the Dodgers were scuffling in a similar fashion. The team ended up promoting Puig instead, and the Cuban sensation helped turn the season around.
For now, the 6'1", 185-pound left-hander continues to dominate the PCL as the league's fifth-youngest position player.
Pederson has even shown a marked improvement against left-handed pitchers—a past weakness of the outfielder's. His .292/.378/.492 slash line against southpaws has helped his stock rise as fast as any other prospect's through the first two months of the season.
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