Where have you gone, Pedro Baez?
Part 4 of my "State of the Minor League System" focuses on 3rd base, and since you've already read this intro three times before I'll keep it short this time. Just remember that I am providing the preseason rank that I gave to each player within the position (Pre Pos.), their pre-season overall rank (Pre Overall), and their current ranking within the position. An N/A next to their preseason rank means that a player is new to the Dodgers or new to the position since my preseason ranking, and I will only include guys who are under 28 years of age. Players who have been released or are no longer in the organization are also included at the bottom of the chart, and finally I have ranked each player at is the position that I believe is best long term position for the player. It may not be the players' current primary position, but it is where I believe each player will ultimately end up should they make the major leagues.
|Pre Overall||Pre Pos.||Current||Name||How Acquired||Age||Ht||Wt||Bats||Level|
|23||1||1||Pedro Baez||Signed 1/22/07||23.36||6' 2"||195||R||AA|
|N/A||N/A||2||Alex Santana||2011, 2nd||17.91||6' 4"||200||R||Arz Rook|
|37||N/A - C||3||Anthony Delmonico||2008, 6th||24.23||6' 0"||194||R||HiA|
|34||2||4||Russell Mitchell||2003, 15th||26.43||5' 11"||205||R||AAA|
|N/A||N/A||5||Jesus Valdez||2011, 19th||19.32||6' 3"||180||R||Arz Rook|
|57||3||6||Jeffrey Hunt||2009, 15th||20.43||6' 2"||190||L||Pio Rook|
|83||N/A - 2B||7||Travis Denker||Re-signed May 2010||25.96||5' 9"||205||R||AA|
|69||5||8||Bladimir Franco||Signed 7/6/07||20.46||6' 1"||172||R||Arz Rook|
|N/A||N/A||9||Scott Woodward||2011, 7th||22.63||6' 2"||205||L||Pio Rook|
|N/A||N/A||10||Jeffry Rojas||Signed 10/14/10||18.92||6' 0"||170||S||DSL|
|87||6||11||Jesse Bosnik||2010, 13th||22.99||6' 2"||205||L||LoA|
|186||8||12||Jorky Infante||Signed 2009||20.40||6' 0"||155||S||DSL|
|N/A||N/A||13||Jorge Reyes||Signed 5/7/10||20.87||6' 0"||160||R||DSL|
|120||7||N/A||Brian Ruggiano||2008, 23rd||25.11||6' 0"||175||R||Released|
|189||9||N/A||Johan Garcia||Signed 4/19/05||24.87||6' 0"||170||R||Released|
The Dodgers don't currently have a surefire "3rd baseman of the future" in their minor leagues, but they do have several decent prospects at the hot corner who could one day make it to the big leagues. This group was actually pretty tough to rank because there is mix of young players, injured players, players new to the position, and a couple of players who has already made it to the big leagues.
I'll start with my top 3rd base prospect, Pedro Baez, who hasn't played a game since May 10th. To be honest I'm not quite sure what is wrong with him, but I haven't heard anything about him being out for the season. Prior to his injury he was only hitting .210 with a couple of home runs, and actually has never even had a good offensive season as a professional as his career best OPS is only .771 in 2009. Even still, he is quite a physical specimen with solid tools and is still just 23 years old, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt here. At the very least there is always the backup plan of making him a pitcher. I have Alex Santana ranked #2 even though I'm not sold on his talent and for some reason have this gut instinct that he'll be moved off 3rd base at some point in the next few years. That being said I'm a sucker for young, raw players with high ceilings, and I do like the 17 year old's solid frame so hopefully he one day turns out to be a big time prospect for us.
Tony Delmonico lost a lot of value in my mind when he moved off of catcher because even though he is a solid and fundamentally sound hitter, he just doesn't have the power needed to play at the hot corner. He's having a decent season with the Quakes and he's still relatively young so I still ranked him 3rd, but it's questionable if he'll ever make it to the big leagues at this point. Speaking of the big leagues, Russ Mitchell has already been there but has struggled during his limited sample size with the Dodgers and doesn't have a very high ceiling at all. He'll probably make more appearances in the show over the next few seasons but I don't really see him having much of an impact.
Jesus Valdez is a huge wildcard because he was mostly a pitcher in collect and thus I have no scouting reports on him as a hitter. The Dodgers must have seen something in him to make the switch, and he has already hit a couple of homers for the Arizona Dodgers so that's good news. At 6'3" he has a solid frame, and he's just 19 so he has time to learn the ropes at the hot corner. Jeff Hunt has been a favorite of mine since he was drafted back in 2009, but he's moved very slowly through the system and has less than 60 games under his belt. So far with the Raptors this season he's putting up decent numbers, but he strikes out a lot and hasn't shown me the power that he is supposed to possess. Travis Denker is an interesting case because he's bounced around in the Dodgers system a couple of different times in his career, and now at 25 years old is playing with the Lookouts. He's hit a bunch of home runs this season and as most people know he already had a cup of coffee in the big leagues during his time with the Giants, so now it's just a question of if he'll ever get back there. If he does it will be as a backup infielder at best, but it's worth a shot for him to keep trying.
The last couple of guys I want to mention are Bladimir Franco and Scott Woodward. Franco impressed me with a big season in the DSL in 2009, but since then he's been terrible in the Arizona Rookie League. Now 20 years old I don't think he'll ever turn it around. Woodward was the Dodgers 2011 7th round pick, but to me it seems like they wasted a relatively high pick on him. It's not really good when your Baseball America scouting report starts with "Scott Woodward should get picked" because they are referring to the draft as a whole...not just the top 10 rounds. He's got a few OK tools but he's already 22 and has really struggled so far since turning pro.