The Dodgers offered a very strong system entering the 2011 season but after trades and graduations the system is in a state of flux. The Dodgers dealt away Trayvon Robinson and graduated Dee Gordon, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands, all top propsects. The current fiscal environment of the Dodgers has forced them to lose their grip in Latin America and Asia, while also forcing their hand in the draft the last several years. The have done a very nice job with limited funds but they will be in need of a talent infusion to rebuild the system to its previous strength.
1. Zach Lee (RHP)
The Dodgers were aggressive in signing Lee – an LSU football recruit – in 2010, signing him for what looked like a huge bonus at the deadline. In reality, because of MLB’s two-sport bonus rules the Dodgers actually paid very little up front and spread the bonus over five years. As for his talent, Lee offers tons of projection with a long, lean frame that already pumps fastballs in the 89-92 mph range and touches 95. Some scouts have seen him as high as 97 mph but that has been rare. Lee has an unusual knack for spinning the ball, showing promise with his curveball, slider and change-up while also imparting spin on his fastball to sink and cut it at different times. With his projectable body, present stuff and ability to manipulate the ball Lee has the potential to develop into a top of the rotation starter.
2. Allen Webster (RHP)
Webster was a later round pick out of a North Carolina high school and he signed for only $20,000 in 2008. He could reach the big leagues in 2012 despite some struggles at Double-A in 2011. His fastball ranges from 90-94 mph with plus sink and he can reach back for 96 and 97 mph when he needs it. While his change-up earns grades as his best pitch at times, some scouts really like his slider and curveball as well. He has shown solid command in the past though it still comes and goes throughout his starts. When everything is working properly Webster shows the potential of a number two starter with both plenty of ground balls and strikeouts.
3. Alfredo Silverio (OF)
A few years ago the Dodgers made a habit of finding talented kids in Latin America and signing them for far less than the big six and seven figure bonuses teams were throwing around. Silverio is one of those players. He offers a quick swing that can punch line drives to both gaps with the potential for fringe-average home run power down the line. Though he showed better plate discipline in 2011 he is still a free swinger that will never be an on-base machine and will have his fair share of strikeouts. He has solid defensive skills and can handle center on a short term basis but fits better in a corner. His offensive potential would fit nicely in center field and come up a little short on the corners, making him a bit of a tweener.
4. Nathan Eovaldi (RHP)
Eovaldi is another power arm capable of reaching the mid-90s consistently and touching as high as 97 in many starts. He changed the release on his breaking ball to make it move of a true slider in 2011 and it became a legitimate swing and miss pitch against both lefties and righties. His change-up is well below-average. Though some scouts still believe he can start long term as a number three or four, more and more scouts are coming to the conclusion that Eovaldi will end up as a late inning reliever with true power stuff.
5. Chris Reed (LHP)
The club’s top pick in June, Reed signed late in the summer for an over-slot bonus. He was a reliever for three years at Stanford though the Dodgers insist they will develop him as a starting pitcher. In the bullpen his fastball will sit from 91-94 mph and touch higher though most amateur scouts I spoke with believe that velocity will drop to an average level over longer outings as a starter. His slider has the potential to be a plus pitch with some work and his change-up shows flashes as an average pitch. Reed is an intelligent pitcher and scouts believe he will be able to figure things out and succeed as a starter if the stuff holds firm. After he finishes his degree at Stanford this spring Reed will start 2012 in High-A.
6. Chris Withrow (RHP)
Withrow has some similarities to Nate Eovaldi in that he is primarily a two-pitch guy with plenty of power in his arsenal. His fastball can reach as high as 97 mph at times though he struggles to throw strikes regularly. Unlike Eovaldi, Withrow offers a true hammer curveball that he also struggles to command. His slider and change-up are both below-average pitches that he throws infrequently. Though he has the pitch diversity and the stamina to remain a starter, his difficulty throwing strikes will likely lead him to the bullpen long term.
7. Garrett Gould (RHP)
Gould was the Dodgers’ second round pick in 2009 out of Maize High School in Kansas. His profile stands more as a number four starter with a very slim chance to be more than that. He has a low-90s fastball, a curveball and a change-up with his breaking ball rating as the best of the three. He fills the zone with all three pitches but he must locate within the zone better as he climbs the ladder. His delivery can become messy at times and he will have to clean that up to improve his command.
8. Alex Santana (3B)
Plucked by the Dodgers in the second round, Santana has big league bloodlines and a good feel for the game. A shortstop in high school he profiles best at third base where he will show good hands and reactions along with an above-average arm that could improve with better footwork. He has a strong swing that is a bit flat and doesn’t lend to power now. With a little added loft he could have average power down the line with solid ability to hit and get on base. He is a below-average runner and will likely slow down as his 6-foot-4 frame fills out.
9. Josh Lindblom (RHP)
Many scouts would like to see Lindblom start because of his four-pitch mix, but he prefers pitching out of the bullpen and the Dodgers have allowed him to shift back there long term. In short bursts he can run his fastball into the 92-94 mph range with a sharp slider that can be a bat misser. His curveball and change-up lag behind the other two pitches but are both usable. Without a truly elite pitch most scouts see him as more of a setup reliever capable of bridging the game for more than just one inning at a time.
10. Joc Pederson (OF)
Pederson is a grinder that plays above his raw tools, but that doesn’t mean he lacks the tools to be a quality player. He should hit for average and he owns a solid approach that helps his power play well despite his inexperience. He has the strength to hit for average power down the line and could be a doubles hitter with 15-homer pop. Though the Dodgers had him play all over the outfield in 2011 he profiles best in left field with solid instincts and an average arm. Pederson is going to take time to develop but he could be a solid regular in left or a very nice high energy fourth outfielder.
11. Angel Sanchez (RHP)
A late, budget conscious signing, Sanchez made his professional debut as a 21-year old in the Midwest League in 2011. Though considered a sleeper by some, he looked like a potential fourth or fifth starter when I saw him last summer. His fastball sites at 92-93 mph and he can reach back for 96 when he elevates for a strikeout. His change-up is already an average pitch that he relies on heavily against left-handers and he will show it as a plus pitch at times with excellent arm speed and good fade. His curveball needs to be improved to round out his arsenal.
12. Shawn Tolleson (RHP)
Tolleson could see big league action in the Los Angeles bullpen in 2012 after he breezed through three levels of the system last year. Tolleson is a unique bullpen arm with a low-90s fastball that has good late life and a filthy mid-80s cutter that runs away from righties and in on lefties. Some scouts are concerned that Tolleson will have some trouble long term as both of his pitches remain on the same plane the entire time. He has the ceiling of a seventh or eighth inning arm.
13. Tim Federowicz (C)
Federowicz came over from the Red Sox as part of the three-team trade that sent Eric Bedard from Seattle to Boston. He is a solid catcher in many respects but he stands out defensively. He is a good receiver and calls a quality game. He blocks balls well and has above-average to plus catch and throw skills. He has an aggressive approach at the plate that limits his offensive ceiling but he should post a solid average and some doubles power. He profiles mostly as a backup catcher but his glove work will give him a chance to start.
14. Jake Lemmerman (SS)
Though he struggled upon being pushed to Double-A in his first full season, Lemmerman still shows a good glove and decent offensive skills. He is a fringe-average runner but has tremendous instincts and reactions in the field that gives him a chance to play shortstop. His hands and arm are very good. He makes contact at a good clip and has the knowledge of the strike zone to get on base aside from his hitting. He has the strength to drive the ball to the gaps with regularity. He is a max effort player that plays above his raw tools and he has an outside shot to be a regular at shortstop with a backup option of being a very nice offensive and defensive utility player.
15. Scott Barlow (RHP)
The Dodgers picked Barlow in the sixth round out of a California high school last summer, signing him for $150,000. Team officials were extremely excited about his future after the fall instructional league where he showed a two-tick improvement in his velocity form the spring along with wonderfully clean mechanics. His curveball has plus potential and he also throws a slider and change-up that could be quality pitches down the line. Barlow is a projectable arm right now with the potential to be a mid-rotation starter if everything breaks properly.