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A Q&A with Adam W. Foster about the Dodgers' minor league system

Project Prospect's Adam W. Foster is a well-respected prospect analyst with a catalog of prospect videos that'd make most scouts weep.  He took time out of his pre-draft schedule to talk about the draft and the Dodgers' minor league system.  You can read the full interview here. Questions are in italics.

Just a heads up, he's pretty blunt in his responses.

 

Who do you like most in the Dodgers’ minor league system?

That’s a tough question. It’s a pretty dry system. I still think Ivan De Jesus could turn into a decent regular. Kenley Jansen could make a quick rise through the system as a reliever. But there aren’t many prospects who I’m excited about in the Dodgers’ organization right now.

The Dodgers have had some varying results in the minors to start the year. Dee Gordon can’t take a walk to save is life while Chris Withrow and Ethan Martin aren’t looking too good. Are these struggles temporary or something to get worried about?

The hype Dee Gordon received entering 2010 continues to baffle me. He’s an impatient hitter with well-below-average power who makes a lot of contact — though mainly ground balls. That’s who he was last year and that’s who he continues to be this year. If he can turn into a good defensive shortstop, I think he may become a bench player on a playoff team.

Withrow now has over 100 minor league innings with poor ground-ball rates. He’s also shown below-average command. And it’s concerning that his strikeout rate continues to drop. He has time on his side, but I wonder if he’s on his way toward being switched to the bullpen.

Martin’s walk rate is also something to be worried about.

All of these guys have time to figure things out a little, but it isn’t looking good for any of them right now. I think a lot of MLB fans generally don’t get too excited about prospects because they realize how many of them fail. But people who mainly follow the draft and the minors can lose track of what it takes to become an impact big leaguer. I think a lot people who focus on prospects could do a better job being realistic with their comparisons, hype machines and expectations.

Yeah, it seems like Gordon is still WAY far away from any potential he may have. And that’s what exactly, Juan Pierre at short?

Gordon isn’t as good of a contact hitter as Pierre. I think Pierre is too lofty of an offensive comparison for Gordon. I’ll be shocked if he turns into near the offensive talent that Pierre was.

The hottest area in the organization right now is outfield bats. Jerry Sands, Kyle Russell, Andrew Lambo and Blake Smith have all put up great seasons so far this year. With the possibility of Manny leaving after this season, should the Dodgers FO look inwardly for a replacement? Will they?

Lambo looked solid when I saw him in the AFL. He’s been promoted aggressively and the power he showed last April promising. It’s too bad that he’s going to miss a good chunk of time with his drug of abuse 50-game suspension.

I don’t think the other three guys you mentioned are very impressive when you put their numbers into context: questionable contact hitters who don’t provide much defensive value, are in the low minors, and aren’t young for their level.

So if you were running the Dodgers organization, would you be willing to ditch Withrow/Martin and Gordon for Roy Oswalt/Cliff Lee? Or would you take this time with a completely affirmed major league roster to rebuild your minors?

I’d happily give all three of those guys up for a season of Oswalt or Lee.

Aaron Miller is doing OK in A+, should we be expecting more from him at age 22?

He was off to a promising start. Any time you’re striking out a quarter of the batters you face, you’re doing something right, though the command was looking to be below-average. Hopefully his neck injury doesn’t linger and he can continue to make progress.

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