Now that the signing deadline has come and passed, I wanted to give my overview and opinion of the Dodgers 2010 draft. I didn’t mean for it to turn out as long as it did, but once I started writing I couldn’t stop. As a whole, I think the Dodgers did very well for themselves. They signed 30 of their 50 picks (although 14th round pick Alex McRee already retired for an unknown reason after just 1 inning in the Arizona Rookie League), including several players that I consider solid prospects.
Deals at the Deadline
Let’s begin with the deals that got done at the deadline, starting with our biggest prize. Zach Lee obviously was a huge pickup, and as I’ve already mentioned in the comments, I immediately consider him the top prospect in the system. Some have questioned my ranking, saying that guys like Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson have already performed well in AA and thus should be ranked higher than Lee. My response is this: I don’t rank guys based on their AA stats, but instead rank them on their big league potential. Of course it all still comes down one’s own opinion, but I personally think that Zach Lee will have a much more successful career in the big leagues than anyone else in our system. It’s really all about ceilings and the likelihood that a player will reach the ceiling, and I think Zach Lee has a much better possibly of being a #1 starter than Trayvon Robinson has of being a star in center fielder. Anyways, enough with the rankings and onto a quick scouting report. What I like most about Lee is that he already has 3 pitches that are already considered plus pitches by some, and that he has a very clean delivery. While he might not be able to hit the upper 90’s, I’d rather have a guy who throws 93 with a good changeup and breaking ball. He also already has solid control of his pitches, which is something most of our top pitching prospects lack. According to the MLB.com scouting report:
Fastball: Lee has touched 95 mph on the gun and generally sits in the 90-92 mph range.
Fastball movement: He has plus movement. Everything he throws has depth to it.
Slider: It's nice and short, a plus breaking ball thrown 79-81 mph.
Changeup: It's Major League average now and projects to be a plus pitch in the future. He's not afraid to throw it when behind in the count.
Control: He's got better command and feel for pitching than you expect a two-sport star to have.
The other thing I like about Lee is his athletic build and his multi-sport background. 6’4" is the perfect pitchers height so his velocity is only going to improve with professional coaching. As Logan White said, he could be in the big leagues by the time he is 21 years old, which would be great. Obviously the $5.25M we gave Lee is a big chunk of change, and a lot of that had to do with his leverage, but even still I think he’ll turn out to be one of the better picks in the entire 2010 draft. As Jim Callis said from Baseball America, he would have been drafted much higher had he not had signability issues. He was even considered the 2nd best high school pitcher in the draft by some. When it is all said and done, I think Kershaw will have a better big league career than Zach Lee, but I think it will be a lot closer than people think.
Joc Pederson got the 2nd biggest bonus from the Dodgers despite being selected in the 11th round. Had he not signed, he was going to play baseball at USC, and had even talked about walking on to the USC football team (he was a First-Team All League wide-out at Palo Alto High School). Like Lee, Pederson would have been selected much higher had he not been considered a tough sign before the draft, and had even been discussed as a possible first round pick. Scouts say that has the potential to be a 5 tool player, although none of his 5 tools have a particularly high ceiling. In short, he has ability to one day be a big league regular, but he’ll probably never be a major league star. A comparable player that comes to mind is Ryan Spilborghs, although his frame reminds scouts of Jim Edmonds. A lefty thrower and hitter, Joc has the speed to play center field, although he’s probably better suited for a corner outfield position. Overall, I expect Pederson to rank pretty favorably in my offseason prospect rankings.
Scott Schebler is yet another multi-sport athlete who signed late with the Dodgers. In one article I read, it said that Schebler scored seven touchdowns as a wide out in football and averaged 40 yards per punt, averaged 18 points per game in basketball, scored 24 goals and led his team in soccer, and set school track records in the 55 meters, long jump and 800-meter relay despite running track and field for the first time. And in baseball, he is a talented outfielder that tore up the collegiate Northwoods League this summer. In that league, he hit 10 home runs in 58 games and was named to the league’s all-star team. According to one report from perfectgame.com, "Scott Schebler is a 6'0'', 190 lb. strong very mature build. Excellent runner for his size, 6.52 in the 60. Solid of actions, accurate arm with some carry. tall stance hitting, leg lift trigger, long and strong swing, ball comes off bat hard on contact, gap power, swing will get long at times, but he can really hit." Scott is still just 19 years old, but could move relatively quickly through the system because he’s already played at the junior college level.
The Dodgers gave 31st round pick Derek Cone $100K to sign just days before the deadline. Cone was the ace of the staff for Mesa Community College (Arizona), and recorded a 1.93 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 84 innings. His most impressive performance in college came when he threw 11.1 innings in a playoff game, no hitting the other team for 9.2 of those innings. Derek is a big guy at 6’5" and was going to attend BYU had he not signed with the Dodgers.
21st round pick Noel Cuevas signed right around the deadline as well for $100K, but his signing went unnoticed by most. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realize that he signed until I read a little blurb on dodgers.com. Cuevas is an outfielder from Puerto Rico who is just 18 years old. According to Baseball America, he has intriguing raw power, and although it doesn’t always translate into home runs during games, he can put on a show in batting practice. He’s apparently destined for left field because of his below average arm, but he is strong runner with good makeup. I actually watching a video of him and he does have a very weak arm, but I liked his swing which does seem to generate a lot of power. Still raw in terms of baseball, Cuevas will likely benefit from playing every day in the minor leagues and could have some success once he adjusts to more advanced pitching.
Finally, Andre’s brother Devon Ethier signed around the deadline, but I really don’t think he is anything special. Even though he plays outfield like Andre, he is a very different player in that he doesn’t have much power. However, he can hit for a decent average and has the ability to steal bases. Overall, I don’t think he’ll amount to much in the Dodgers system.
Notable 2010 Signees Already Playing in Our System
More than 20 players signed with the Dodgers well before the deadline and have already been playing with Dodger minor league affiliates. Most have already been discussed several times in my minor league reports, but I’ll mention the players drafted in the top 10 rounds who signed, as well as other guys who have potential to be legitimate prospects in my opinion (in the order they were drafted).
Ralston Cash – The Dodgers probably could have drafted a player with more upside with their 2nd round pick, but instead went with Ethan Martin’s cousin because they figured they could sign him for a decent price. Turns out they inked the 78th overall pick on June 20th for $463K, which is a pretty good deal for the Dodgers. Ralston has a low 90’s fastball with sink, and he has touched 94 mph. Some scouts describe his secondary stuff as fringy, while others believe his changeup and slider can one day become plus pitches. Cash just turned 19 years old, and has performed well so far in the Arizona Rookie League. Hopefully he’ll move up to the Loons rotation in 2011, although he may join the team late after an extended stay in spring training.
Leon Landry – The Dodgers took the athletic Landry in the 3rd round, and have gotten their $284,400’s worth so far. Leon has put up very strong stats in the Pioneer League and plays very solid defense. The Ogden Raptors announcer compared him to Andres Torres, and said that he is a gap hitter who can drive the ball. He’ll definitely play in a full season ball next year, but whether it’s in Lo-A or Hi-A I’m not sure.
James Baldwin – I was excited about Baldwin as a 4th round pick because he is a very athletic player with good bloodlines. While he started off slow in his professional debut, he has been much better over the past month and leads the Arizona Dodgers in stolen bases. On the downside his strikeout to walk ratio is pretty poor, but I’ll give him a pass this year since he’s just 18 years old.
Jake Lemmerman – The Dodgers 5th round pick signed very quickly, and has been hitting for the Raptors ever since. Jake boasts an .350 average and even has 5 homers on the season. The 21 year old has proven to be a solid defender at shortstop, although Baseball America predicts that he’ll eventually move to 2nd or 3rd because of his below average speed. If he is able to stay at shortstop, he could be very strong Dodger prospect in the future.
Ryan Christenson – Little was known about Christenson when he was drafted, but he has proven to be a solid selection for the Dodgers thus far. After dominating the Arizona Rookie League in 4 starts, Ryan has been more hittable in the Midwest League, but his FIP with the Loons is still an impressive 3.16. At South Mountain Community College, Christenson struck out 59 batters in 58 innings and allowed just one home run.
Blake Dean – Dean was definitely as a safe and cost effective pick for the Dodgers as he signed for just $35K. While he had over 50 home runs during his 4 seasons with LSU, I’m not sure how valuable he’ll be in the Dodgers system since he doesn’t have a ton of power, yet plays 1st base. He’s had a couple of big games since turning pro, but his overall stats are pretty disappointing when compared to his teammates, most who are younger than him.
Steve Domecus – Domecus provides the Dodgers with depth at the catching position, and luckily he can swing the bat a little bit. However, he is already 23 years old and scouts predict an eventual move to the outfield. So far with the Raptors he hasn’t been very good, and only has 2 walks in over 100 at bats.
Bobby Coyle – Coyle is a local boy from Chatsworth who put up solid numbers during his junior season at Fresno State. According to Baseball America’s scouting report, "He has good pitch recognition skills, which means he has a chance to be a high on-base percentage hitter, but needs to exercise more patience and plate discipline, which is also reflected in his stats. He is not a burner, but an above-average runner and projects as an average left fielder." Coyle has been pretty good in his professional debut, and actually leads the Raptors in RBI’s. However, I’m not sure what kind of a future this 21 year old has with the Dodgers organization.
Matt Kirkland – I was excited when the Dodgers signed Kirkland because I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. He has a lot of raw power, and has the body to play a solid 3rd base. He hit 17 homers as a junior in high school and 11 HR’s as a senior. He had been committed to Tennessee, but the Dodgers were able to sway him to sign with an undisclosed figure. While he’s a little older than most players coming out of high school, he is still just 19 years old and has a lot of time to improve his game. He hasn’t gotten a ton of action in the Arizona Rookie League since signing, but he has at least shown a good eye at the plate.
Jesse Bosnik – 13th round pick Bosnik was a shortstop in college, but he plays 3rd base as a pro. He got off to a quick start with the Raptors in June, but has slowed down considerably over the past month and a half. Even so, the 6’2" lefty will most likely get a chance to prove himself in a full season league next year.
Andrew Pevsner – 16th round pick Pevsner has very good stats so far with the Raptors, but I was disappointed when I heard he only threw in the mid 80’s. He does belong in the Dodgers organization, though, because he was born on the day Kirk Gibson hit his famous home run in 1988.
Logan Bawcom – 17th round pick Bawcom has been beat up a bit recently on the mound for the Raptors, but still sports a strong K/9 and throws in the low 90’s. According to the Ogden announcer, he also has a hard 83 mph slider and a changeup.
Red Patterson – I didn’t consider the 29th round pick Patterson a Dodger prospect when he was first drafted, but his stats in the Pioneer League may be changing my mind. The 6’3" right has an ERA right around 2.50 and has a solid K/9. Sure he’s 23 years old, but those stats are pretty impressive for the hitter friendly league.
Shawn Tolleson – Much like Patterson, Tolleson was just an after though when he signed with the Dodgers. However, he has been spectacular in his professional debut. The 30th round pick has a very solid cutter which has translated into an ERA below 1. A Tommy John surgery survivor, Tolleson’s performance might just be the most surprising thus far out of all the picks in the draft.
Beau Brett – Beau is significant because he is the nephew of George Brett and wasn’t expected to sign after barely playing last season at USC. However, the 21 year chose to sign and has been pretty disappointing so far. The fact that he plays 1st base doesn’t help.
Steve Matre – The 39th round pick actually signed pretty late, and only made his professional debut about a week ago. He had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and didn’t play his senior season at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. There has got to be a reason the Dodgers signed him, so we’ll just have to wait and see if he turns into anything.
Notable Players who Didn’t Sign
Kevin Gausman – Gausman was the only pick in our top 14 that didn’t sign, and he really is the only one of significance in the entire draft. I never expected the Dodgers to sign both Gausman and Lee, so I wasn’t too disappointed to he hear that he wasn’t going to sign. Sure he throws hard, but his secondary pitches are currently below average and don’t ever project to be better than mediocre. He will be a draft eligible sophomore in two years, so it will be interesting to see how high he gets drafted in 2012.
Jake Eliopoulos – Eliopoulos was the Blue Jays 2nd round pick in 2009, but obviously didn’t sign and has gone downhill since. It was rumored that the Dodgers were going to announce a deal with Eliopoulos at the deadline, but it didn’t end up happening and it was probably for the best. Jake has attitude issues and had an awful season in 2010. I really don’t think we missed out on much here.
Ben Carhart – I don’t know much about the 19th round pick, but one of the members here at TrueBlueLA said that he had a solid offensive season in 2010 for Palm Beach CC, and was also able to hit 94 mph from the mound. He sounded like an interesting player, so I’m a little disappointed he didn’t sign
Chad Wallach – There was no chance that the 3rd son of Tim Wallach would sign out of high school with the Dodgers as a 43rd round pick, but it was fun to hope. He’ll attend Cal State Fullerton and will most likely be a two way player. Don’t be surprised if we draft him again in 3 years.
Nick Baker – Steve Garvey’s son played on the same team as Baker, and Garvey was so impressed with Nick that he lobbied that the Dodgers watch him pitch. Tommy Lasorda ended up going out to watch him pitch, and told the Dodger scouts to keep an eye on him. The Dodgers selected him in the 44th round, but he quickly chose to go to Chico State. Again, don’t be surprised if you hear his name on draft day in 3 years.