We are finally into the Dodger top 50 prospects. By now, all remaining players should be recognized by most people visiting this site. Also, I was going to provide a recap in this post of all my previously ranked players, but I couldn't get the format to fit in the fan post, so I'll save the recap for the very end after I finish all my posts.
50. Tae-Hyeok Nam, 1B/3B (2 games in Pioneer League, 1 game in Arizona League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers 6/16/09
6’0”, 209 lbs, 19 years old, bats right handed
.250 average, 0 HR’s, 1 RBI, 0 SB’s
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
When the Dodgers signed Nam in June of 2009, he became the first Korean high school player they had ever signed. He was scouted throughout his high school career by Byung-Hwan An, the Dodgers' scouting supervisor in Korea, where he hit 22 home runs and had 43 RBIs in 65 games to go along with a .314 average. After the signing, Logan White said that Nam had “good power and well above average speed.” White also stated that “Nam is strong physically. With the help of our player development staff, I'm confident that he will become a fine player.” The signing seemed to be very exciting for Nam as well as he said “I grew up watching Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite team. I am very excited to be a Dodger and I can't wait to play in a Dodger uniform.” After his signing in June, I kept waiting to see Nam’s name appear in a minor league game. By the time mid August came, I gave up hope for 2009 and just figured that Tae-Hyeok would start his professional career in 2010. Then, in the very last game of the season for the Arizona Dodgers, Nam made his professional debut and went 0 for 3. Because the Pioneer League season lasts longer than the Arizona League, Nam then moved up to the Ogden Raptors and played in two more games, picking up a couple of hits in the process. Nam won’t even be 19 years old until the 2010 season starts, so the Dodgers will continue to take it easy with him. He’ll probably return to the Pioneer League, and the most interesting question I have is whether Nam will play 1st base or 3rd base in the future. He is listed as a first baseman on the minor league baseball website, but in his only on field appearance in 2009 he played 3rd base. He’s obviously more valuable as a 3rd baseman, so hopefully his glove is good enough to play there. We will find out more next season when we get a longer look at him.
49. Daigoro Rondon, RHP (20.3 innings in Pioneer League, 13 innings in HiA, 4 innings in LoA in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers 7/9/04
6’2”, 163 lbs, 23.25 years old
4-6, 4.82 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 9.40 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 106
Daigoro Rondon was signed by the Dodgers as a 17 year old out of the Dominican Republic. After a shaky debut in 2004, Rondon had great seasons in the DSL in 2005 and 2006. He was promoted to the Gulf Coast League in 2007 and continued to shine with a 2.77 ERA. In 2008, however, Rondon finally found out what it was like to face tougher competition. He played most of the year in LoA and ended the season with a 6.42 ERA. Despite his 2008 struggles, the Dodgers pushed Rondon to HiA at the start of the 2009 season, but the results were disastrous. Through 13 innings, Daigoro had a 7.62 ERA and a WHIP of almost 2.00. So the Dodgers sent Rondon back to extended spring training in May and he worked there until the Pioneer League started at the end of June. Rondon played well with the Ogden Raptors (2.50 FIP) and earned a promotion to LoA for the final week of the season, where he pitched 4 scoreless innings and made the Loons playoff roster. In terms of Rondon’s stuff, the one thing that nobody will ever question is Rondon’s fastball. In the 2010 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, they say that he tops out at 95 and sits around 92-93. BA also says that his secondary pitches are a work in progress, which is why he is strictly a reliever. Another important thing to point out is that Daigoro has been said to have a poor attitude and a less than ideal work ethic. So obviously that’s a little disappointing to hear. Overall, while I’m not as high on him as Baseball America is (they have him ranked as the Dodgers #27 prospect), I do think Rondon has the potential to be a serviceable big league middle reliever one day. He’ll probably return to HiA in 2010 with a chance to make it up to AA if he has early success with the 66ers.
48. Jeremy Wise, C (39 games in Pioneer League in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 5th round
6’1”, 205 lbs, 23.75 years old, bats right handed
.338 average, 8 HR’s, 23 RBI’s, 0 SB’s
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
When Wise was drafted, it seemed like there were two schools of thought. Some loved the pick, especially after watching him tear up the Pioneer League. Others thought it was a waste of a pick because Wise was already 23 years old when he was drafted and doesn’t have much upside. I’m definitely part of the latter group and am not a big fan of Wise. While I’m not disputing that he was a great college player and had an outstanding professional debut, you have to put everything into context. He was the oldest position player on the Ogden Raptors and had four years of college experience at a major program. Therefore, I would expect him to do well in his first professional season and that is why I’m not ranking him somewhere in my top 30. Even with all those negatives, however, I do still think that Wise is a top 50 player in the Dodgers minor league system. The fact that he is a catcher does increase his value, as do his college awards (2009 Big 12 player of the year, 2009 Finalist for Johnny Bench Award, and 2009 semifinalist for Golden Spikes Award). He is also a fine defensive player and has a good arm. According to Logan White, “he reminds you of AJ Ellis as a defender and the kid is really a good hitter. He stays inside the baseball, he hits to all fields and he's got good power. I think he will develop into a power hitting catcher at the major league level. He plays hard and he is a gamer.” In addition, Wise did give the Dodgers some depth at the catching position, which is something they lacked after the trade of Carlos Santana and the move of Kenley Jansen to pitcher. Given his age, I can see Wise playing in HiA in 2010 with the potential to move up to AA if need be. While I don’t think he’ll continue his offensive pace, he should be able to hold his own against more advanced pitching. My guess is that he’ll be a major league backup catcher at best, but only time will truly tell his story.
47. Yimi Garcia, RHP (54 innings in Dominican Summer League in 2009)
Signed by Dodgers in 2009
6’1”, 175 lbs, 19.5 years old
3-2, 1.67 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.50 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: N/A
I really don’t know much about Yimi Garcia, so I’m basing his relatively good ranking on his stats and a gut feeling. Signed by the Dodgers before the 2009 season, Garcia put together the most impressive pitching season of all Dodger minor leaguers. He led Dodger pitchers (with a minimum of 45 innings pitched) in WHIP, ranked 2nd in ERA and batting average against (.202), and had the 5th best strikeout to walk ratio (3.40). He was also named as the Dodgers Pride Award winner for the DSL for the months of June and July. Of course he did all this while playing in the Dominican Summer League, which is the lowest level of professional baseball, but even still he played almost the entire season as an 18 year old and had no previous experience. In addition, while he’s only 6’1”, he does have a solid pitching frame and definitely has room for growth. I know nothing about his velocity or his pitching repertoire, but I’m sure that we’ll begin to get some scouting reports on him soon if he has another stellar season. The Dodgers have an interesting decision to make with Garcia in 2010. While he did falter a little bit during the final month of the DSL season (he had a mere pedestrian 4.50 ERA in his final 8 innings of the season) and is still just 19 years old, he did get quite a few innings under his belt and should be ready for the slightly more challenging Arizona Rookie League. He has nothing left to prove in the DSL so I think the right decision would be to bring him over to the U.S.
46. Jon Michael Redding, RHP (133 innings in LoA in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 5th round
6’1”, 195 lbs, 22.25 years old
16-3, 4.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.50 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 37
The Dodgers made Jon Michael Redding a surprise 5th round in the 2008 draft. He played college ball Florida Community College, and during his college 2008 season Redding went 8-5 with a 2.02 ERA and a .222 batting average against. He was also a workhorse as he pitched 5 complete games, and struck out almost a batter per innings. He began his professional career in the Pioneer Rookie League, but was limited to just 31 innings in his professional debut due to his heavy college workload. That brings us to 2009, which was an interesting year for Redding because it was filled with mixed results. The good news is that Redding led the Midwest League in wins with 16, proved to be very durable by logging 133 innings, was a midseason All Star for the Loons, and had a respectable FIP of 3.70. The bad news, however, is that Redding was awful when pitching on the road (6.34 ERA in 71 innings), allowed an overall .281 batting average against, and saw his strikeout rate drop from 10.3 K’s per 9 in 2008 to just 6.5 in 2009. So what do we make of Redding after his inconsistent season? Well I personally still like his long term potential, but I’m not as high on him as I once was. He still possesses a low 90’s fastball, which is complimented by a good slider and a hard curveball, but the fact that he seems to be so hittable concerns me. Also, his 16 wins mean nothing to me since they are mostly a function of luck (he went 7-2 on the road this season despite the 6.34 road ERA I mentioned earlier). Before the 2009 season, Baseball America said that Redding has the ceiling of a #3 starter in a big league rotation, but at this point my guess is that he’ll be a #4 or #5 starter at best. Redding is still just 22 years old, so he’s got time to improve his game, although having a better year in 2010 is going to be difficult since he’ll probably be playing in the hitter friendly California League.
45. Gorman Erickson, C (55 games in Pioneer League in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2006, 15th round
6’3”, 205 lbs, 22 years old, switch hitter
.305 average, 5 HR’s, 36 RBI’s
Prior Year Ranking: 103
Gorman Erickson is a switch hitting catcher who was drafted in the 15th round of the 2006 draft and finally signed with the Dodgers in May of 2007 as a draft and follow player. Better known as Griff, he didn’t do much of anything in his first two professional seasons, nor did he get much playing time. In 2009, however, Erickson made huge strides offensively and hit very well from both sides of the plate. He finished the season with a .378 on base percentage, a .860 OPS, and a .305 batting average (which ranked 10th among Dodger minor leagues with a minimum of 175 at bats). In addition, Erickson only struck out in 16% of his plate appearances, and was named to the Pioneer League post season all star team. According to Baseball America, Griff is also a solid defensive catcher who has a “fair amount of power.” Since Carlos Santana has been traded and Kenley Jansen is now a pitcher, there are not many catching prospects ahead of Erickson on the prospect depth chart. 2010 will bring a significant challenge to Erickson since he will most likely play in LoA, yet has never played more than 55 games in a season. He’ll have to adjust to catching a full season, and hopefully he’ll be able to do so without losing much offensive ability.
44. Matthew Magill, RHP (72 innings in Pioneer League in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 31st round
6’3”, 175 lbs, 20.25 years old
6-3, 4.00 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.88 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 78
Matt Magill was picked late in the 2008 draft due to his strong college commitment to Cal Poly. The Dodgers were able to sign him by early July, however, and he paid immediate dividends by having a good debut in the Gulf Coast League. In 2009 Magill moved up to the Pioneer League and had another successful season. He proved to be very durable and ranked among the Pioneer League Leaders in several categories including wins, WHIP, ERA, and innings pitched. His most impressive stat, however, was that he allowed just a .224 batting average against. After the season, Magill was invited back the Arizona to take part in instructional ball. He also did an interview a Venture County local paper where he talked about how he enjoyed being a starting pitcher “because you know when you are pitching instead of sitting in the bullpen waiting until they call on you. Sometimes relievers don’t pitch for seven or eight days, but starting you know you are going to pitch every fifth day.” He also said that “I used to be really jerky and all over the place with my mechanics, but pitching coach Chuck has helped make it smoother this year. It looks better and feels better and I am able to throw more strikes and keep my walks down.” At 6’3”, Magill has a very projectable frame that is ideal for a pitcher. In high school he only hit around 90 mph, but scouts projected that he’d throw a little harder when he fills out. He also has a great slider, which is currently his best pitch. 2010 will most likely bring an assignment to LoA where he’ll probably be one of the 5 starting pitchers for the Loons. Even though he is just 20 years old, Magill is moving quickly through the system and hopefully he’ll continue to put up good numbers as he faces tougher competition.
43. Steven Caseres, 1B (113 games in HiA in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 9th round
6’4”, 220 lbs, 23 years old, bats left handed
.260 average, 15 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 1 SB
Prior Year Ranking: 61
Steven Caseres was selected by the Dodgers in the 9th round of the 2008 drafted, and so far he has proven to be a very solid pick. Even though he hasn’t posted any eye popping numbers since turning pro, he has shown that he does have a lot of power, which is something the Dodgers seem to lack in their minor league system. Back in college at James Madison University, he had a great 2008 season where he hit .342 with 21 HR’s and 70 RBI’s. He also finished his college career in the top 10 of James Madison’s career home run list with 32 long balls, despite playing just two seasons. Steven made his professional debut in the Pioneer League and hit relatively well. Because of his previous success and the fact that he was already 22 years old, the Dodgers skipped Caseres up to HiA in 2009. After a mediocre April and an average May, Caseres really broke out during the month of June. He batted .418 with six homers and 15 RBI in 21 June games, and was named as the Dodgers HiA Pride award winner. Unfortunately, things went downhill after June and Caseres hit just .232 after the all star break with just 4 HR’s over his final 181 at bats. In addition, Caseres failed to hit left handed pitchers throughout the entire season, batting just .155 against them in 103 at bats. When it was all said and done, Caseres ended the 2009 season with a .260 average, but he also had 15 HR’s in just 113 games, so the power is obviously there. However, at 6’4”, another thing Steven has to worry about is his strikeout numbers as he struck out in 25.2% of his plate appearance in 2009. Ideally, Caseres would return to HiA in 2010 to work on his weaknesses in a more hitter friendly environment, but the Dodgers seem to have a log jam of young first basemen in the lower minors. Therefore, he’ll probably spend 2010 in AA, so hopefully he is up to the challenge.
42. Roberto Feliciano, LHP (24 innings in Arizona League, 6.7 innings in LoA in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 24th round
6’0”, 214 lbs, 19.5 years old
1-2, 1.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.39 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 50
Even after Roberto Feliciano posted solid numbers in 2008, most people didn't pay much attention to him due to his size and the fact he was drafted in the 24th round. However, this teenager out of Puerto Rico continued to shine in the Arizona and Midwest leagues and showed that 2008 was not a fluke by putting up even better numbers in 2009. He was absolutely lights out in the Arizona League as demonstrated by his 1.50 ERA, 1.83 FIP, and .195 batting average against. He was named as a post season Arizona League All Star and earned a promotion to LoA in mid August. He went on to post an ERA of 2.70 during his time with the Loons, although his FIP during that time was 4.01, so he was actually hit pretty hard. That isn’t something to be concerned with, however, because he was limited to less than 7 innings in LoA, so the sample size is too small. A stocky lefty, Feliciano is best suited for the bullpen and will ascend through the Dodgers system quickly as long as he continues to put up good numbers. He strikes guys out, has good control, and is still very young. He should return to LoA in 2010 as a 19 year old, and will hopefully be up to the challenge of taking on a bigger workload. As I mentioned last year, I expect that he will continue to grow into a legitimate prospect.
41. James Adkins, LHP (138.7 innings in AA in 2009)
Drafted by Dodgers 2007, 1st round
6’6”, 230 lbs, 24.25 years old
6-10, 4.48 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 5.26 K/9
Prior Year Ranking: 18
For a supplemental first round pick, James Adkins has definitely struggled. However, he put together a fairly decent season in 2009 while playing in AA, and even though his stats were not overpowering by any means, I still think he has potential. He’s a big kid and comes from an athletic family, so Logan White must have seen something in Adkins that caused him to draft James 39th overall in the 2007 draft. In college at Tennessee, Adkins left the school as their all time strikeout leader with 380 K’s, and as a junior in 2007, he went 7-7 with a 2.80 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 122 innings. So while his strikeout rates as a professional have been pretty bad so far, the ability is there. Going back to his 2009 season with the Lookouts, Adkins continued to struggle with his control as he walked almost as many batters as he struck out. That caused him to have an inflated ERA and WHIP. Adkins was also surprisingly ineffective against left handed hitters as five of the eight HR’s he allowed during 2009 were to lefties. In terms of his stuff, James has a good slider, but his fastball generally only sits at around 89 to 90 mph. The one good thing about Adkins is that he has proven to be durable by pitching a lot of innings each year, but I don’t think that will help him at the next level as it is unlikely he’ll ever make it as a starter in the big leagues. He’ll be 24 next year, and while I still think that Adkins has a chance to make the big leagues, he’s going to have to improve dramatically and reinvent his game, most likely as a bullpen arm.