Dodgers 2012 Minor League Countdown: 120 - 111

Here is the next part of my prospect countdown with another group of borderline players who were not good enough to make the top half of my list. Don't get me wrong there are still some intriguing names in this bunch, but there are also a few guys who have disappointed of late and have dropped quite a bit from previous years. Enjoy.

120. Casio Grider, SS/2B (120 games in LoA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 14th round
6’1”, 165 lbs, 24.5 years old, bats right handed
.230 average, .670 OPS, 2 HR’s, 25 RBI’s, 31 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 114; Pre 2010 Rank: 118; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Drafted out of Newberry College in the 14th round, Logan White called Grider a tools guy who is a bit raw and very athletic. He was named as the faster runner in the Dodgers 2009 draft by Baseball America, and runs a 6.5 second 60. Grider spent his first two seasons as pro in the rookie leagues, and while he didn’t do a whole lot at the plate he did show off his speed with a combined 44 stolen bases. That got Casio promoted to the Loons in 2011 where got a chance to regularly at 2nd base. He also played some outfield and shortstop, but his fielding % at shortstop was atrocious so that’s not really an option for him going forward. That being said I've heard he's an exciting player to watch as he will make the occasional spectacular play on defense, but he simply tends to make too many errors. In terms of his offense performance with Great Lakes, Grider had his worst year yet with a .230 average and a paltry .670 OPS, but he continued to show good speed with a team high 31 stolen bases. It’s going to take more than stolen bases to prove that Casio has what it takes to become a true prospect, however, so the 24 year old is going to have to show some offensive spark soon or risk getting released. He will probably get a chance to play for the Quakes in 2012 where he’ll try in improve in the hitter friendly California League.

119. Leonel Beras, LHP (No stats in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 10/22/07
5’11”, 145 lbs, 20.75 years old
Did not play in 2011
Pre 2011 Rank: 71; Pre 2010 Rank: 96; Pre 2009 Rank: 34

Leonel Beras disappeared in 2011 and I’m not sure why. According to his player page on the milb.com website he has been on the ineligible list for all 2011, but that could mean a variety of things. It’s a shame too because Beras was coming off of an outstanding season in 2010 as he posted a 2.26 ERA over 71.2 innings in the DSL with a minuscule .178 batting average against, so he was all but assured a promotion to a US based league in 2011. In terms of his background, Beras made his professional debut as a 17 year old in the DSL in 2008 and was very impressive. While he only threw 20.2 innings that year, he had a 2.18 ERA as a 17 year old. However in 2009 he was unable to find the plate as he walked 20 batters and was limited to just 14 innings. That led to a 7.07 ERA and a terrible WHIP. Moving ahead to 2010, Beras rebounded nicely in his 3rd season with the DSL Dodgers. He ranked 2nd in the league with 8 wins and also placed among the Dodger minor league leaders in several pitching categories. That brings us up to date given that he didn’t pitch in 2011. I’ve always been alarmed at Beras small stature, but he put up such great stats in 2010 that I couldn’t help but give him a solid ranking last year. I’m still holding out hope that he’ll return to the Dodgers in 2012, and since he’s still just 20 years old he is still ahead of the game if he plays in the Arizona Rookie League next season.

Follow the jump for #'s 118 - 111

118. Lance Zawadzki, SS/2B/3B (91 games in AAA in 2011)
Signed as a minor league free agent in Dec 2011
5’11”, 195 lbs, 26.75 years old, switch hitter
.233 average, .671 OPS, 8 HR’s, 40 RBI’s, 15 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Originally signed by the Padres as their 4th round pick in the 2007 draft, spring training invitee Lance Zawadzki still qualifies for my prospect ranking because he is just 26 years old and has accumulated just 35 at bats in the big leagues. After spending four seasons in the Padres organization and making his professional debut in 2010, Zawadzki was claimed off waivers by the Royals in November of 2010 and played the entire 2011 season in AAA with the Storm Chasers where he hit .233 with 8 homers, stole 15 bases, and posted a .671 OPS. He spent most of the year at shortstop, but also played 21 games at 3rd base and 4 games at 2nd base. That apparently wasn’t good enough for the Royals as Kansas City released him this past October, but the Dodgers though he was worth a shot so they signed him in November. Heading into 2012, Lance doesn’t really have a chance to make the Dodgers big league roster as his OB% over the past two years has been under .300 and he doesn’t offer much speed or power. That being said I’m sure he’ll be a big part of the AAA team in Albuquerque, and given his experience he will probably serve as an emergence insurance policy in case injuries plague Los Angeles.

117. Elian Herrera, OF (116 games in AA in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 5/14/03
5’11”, 190 lbs, 27 years old, switch hitter
.278 average, .749 OPS, 3 HR’s, 35 RBI’s, 33 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 123; Pre 2010 Rank: 89; Pre 2009 Rank: 109

Signed way back in 2003, Elian Herrera is one of the longest tenured Dodger minor leaguers. He moved slowly through the system over his 7 minor league seasons, but in 2010 he finally made into the higher levels as he split the year between AA and AAA. Unfortunately, Herrera didn’t really have a very good showing at either level as he combined to hit just .254 with a .693 OPS. In 2011 Herrera returned to AA and that is where he played for the entire season. The switch hitter improved virtually all aspects of his game in his second go-around with the Lookouts and continued to show off his good speed with a team high 33 stolen bases. He also posted a solid strikeout to walk ratio. In the field he continued to be a super utility man, spending a significant amount of time at shortstop, 2nd base, 3rd base, and in the outfield. That being said, Herrera was one of the Lookouts’ oldest players so his success was almost to be expected. As we head to 2012, I’m really not even sure if Herrera will be back in the Dodgers organization because he has enough years to qualify as a minor league free agent and I’ve yet to see that he’s re-signed with the club. He spent this past offseason in the Dominican Winter League and hit .311 over 38 games with a .799 OPS. Here is a clip of him from November. If he does return to the Dodgers, he should get promoted to AAA where he’ll continue to be a valuable utility man.

116. Alexis Aguilar, SS/2B (45 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 4/8/08
5’11”, 162 lbs, 20.75 years old, bats right handed
.307 average, .789 OPS, 4 HR’s, 34 RBI’s, 14 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 125; Pre 2010 Rank: 123; Pre 2009 Rank: 135

Alexis Aguilar is a young infielder from Venezuela who signed with the Dodgers in 2008. After hitting just .211 in his debut season, Aguilar showed some improvement in the DSL in 2009. That wasn’t enough to warrant a promotion to a US based league as he started the 2010 season back in the Dominican Summer League, but a hot start earned him a rare mid-season promotion from the DSL to the Arizona League, where he spent the rest of the season. Aguilar continued his climb through the system in 2011 as he spent the season in the Pioneer League. He played all over the infield for the Raptors, but got the majority of his starts and 2nd base and posted an ugly fielding % of about .900. At the plate Alexis had his best season to date, posting career highs in every offensive category. He was especially effective against right handed pitchers, and also had a torrid month of July where he hit .380 over 21 games with an OPS of .999. His one downfall was his walk rate, as he took a base on balls in just 2.6% of his plate appearances. The good news, however, is that he struck out in just 13.8% of plate appearances. Overall Aguilar will need to improve his defense, but he seems to be on track to make it to full season league next season as a 20 year old. I foresee him in a Loons uniform for 2012 which should provide him a true test of his offensive skills.

115. Bladimir Franco, 3B/OF (40 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 7/6/07
6’1”, 172 lbs, 21 years old, bats right handed
.211 average, .599 OPS, 3 HR’s, 19 RBI’s, 0 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 69; Pre 2010 Rank: 36; Pre 2009 Rank: 30

Bladimir Franco was signed by the Dodgers in 2007 when he was just 16 years old, and made his professional debut in the DSL in 2008. While he hit just .169 back in 2008, he lead the team with 5 homers as a 17 year old so that is what put him on the map for me. In 2009 Franco had one of the best seasons for the Dominican Dodgers in recent memory with 9 homers, a .282 average, and an .880 OPS; and did all of that as an 18 year old. That earned Franco a promotion for the Arizona League in 2010, but since then his career has stalled. Over the past two seasons, both spent in Arizona, Franco has hit a combined .217 with an OPS of .600 while striking out in over one third of his plate appearances. One positive is that he improved his 3rd base defense in 2011 and also showed some versatility by playing some right field, but overall the negatives outweigh the positives. Still just 21 years old, Franco will probably spend 2012 with the Ogden Raptors where he’ll try and get something going in the hitter friendly Pioneer League. To do so, however, he’ll definitely need to improve his contact rate.

114. Gregory Pena, OF (61 games in DSL in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 11/1/09
6’0”, 175 lbs, 20.25 years old, switch hitter
.303 average, .830 OPS, 3 HR’s, 31 RBI’s, 23 SB's
Pre 2011 Rank: 132; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Gregory Pena was apparently born in New York, but must have moved out of the USA at some point because he wasn’t subject to the MLB draft. Instead, he was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent and made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2010. During his first season Pena severed as the Dodgers main center fielder, but he didn’t do much at the plate as he hit just .212 for the season. He did show some positive qualities, however, which led me to write last season that “he’ll be one of the players I watch closely in the DSL next year because I believe he’s a candidate to move up to the Arizona League in 2012.” Pena proved me right during his sophomore campaign as he led the Dominican Dodgers in almost every significant offensive category. His 31 RBI’s were tops on the team, and he ranked 1st in average (.303), OB% (.389), SLG (.441), and OPS (.830) among players with at least 75 at bats. He also showed off his speed with 23 stolen bases and 5 triples while demonstrating a good eye at the plate. The switch hitter proved to be a valuable defensive player as well as he played all 3 outfield positions and made just 2 errors all year while recording a team-high 4 outfield assists. I don’t think there’s any question that he’ll make his US debut next season, and with another good season he could really get his name on the Dodger prospect radar.

113. Craig Stem, RHP (12.1 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 15th round
6’5”, 215 lbs, 22.25 years old
0-1, 3.65 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 2.39 FIP, 8.03 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Selected by the Dodgers in the 15th round of the 2011 draft, Craig Stem is a 6'5" righty who had a solid season for the Traveca Nazarene University Trojans after spending two years at Western Kentucky. He was used as a starting pitcher in 2011 and threw 5 complete games, including 1 shutout. His ERA was 3.93 through 73.1 innings, and he struck out 75 while opposing batters hit .222 against him. On draft day Stem said "We had been waiting, hoping to be picked earlier, but weren't really paying attention when the Dodgers called my name because they didn't call ahead of time. We had heard from several other teams today, but each time they picked someone else.” But when he did get selected, Stem said “After a short pause, everyone began to hug and celebrate. It was great to have my family there and is just a special day, one I'll never forget." I don’t know much about Craig’s pitches or his velocity, but he did he does seem to be a hard worker because he was quoted as saying "This wouldn't have happened without coach Burton giving me a chance to put the innings in on the mound. Coach Brown worked with me all fall looking at video and becoming crisp with my mechanics. He has such a gift with teaching pitching mechanics." I’m guessing that Stem had trouble repeating his delivery due to his tall lanky frame, but it sounds like he’s improved significantly over the past year which is what got him drafted in the 15th round. Upon signing Stem joined the Arizona Dodgers and appeared in 11 games out of the bullpen. While he allowed he allowed way too many base runners in his professional debut, he still managed to put together a solid season with a 3.65 ERA and a 2.39 FIP. Given his age an experience Stem could be a fast mover through the system, and with a good spring training he could spend 2012 with the Loons in the Midwest League.

112. Luis Meza, RHP (64.2 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 5/6/09
6’4”, 170 lbs, 21.75 years old
5-3, 4.59 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 4.16 FIP, 6.96 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 134; Pre 2010 Rank: 173; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Luis Meza is a young player from Venezuela who debuted with the Dominican Dodgers in 2009. He struggled in his professional debut to the tune of a 6.37 ERA, but he really turned things around in 2010 which earned him a promotion to the Arizona Rookie League in 2011. While Meza’s overall stats with the Arizona Dodgers weren’t all that impressive, he did have a solid US debut and actually led the league in games started and innings pitched. Luis is another guy whose pitching repertoire is a mystery to me, but I expect that he generates some decent velocity based on his great 6’4” frame. Given that he’s still just 21 years old I expect Meza to play with another short season team in 2012, but this time I believe he’ll be with the Ogden Raptors.

111. Jan Vazquez, C (27 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 6th round
5’10”, 165 lbs, 20.75 years old, switch hitter
.253 average, .674 OPS, 1 HR, 10 RBI’s, 1 SB
Pre 2011 Rank: 84; Pre 2010 Rank: 61; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Jan Vasquez is a young switch hitting catcher who was selected by the Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2009 draft. He is from Puerto Rico, and scouting reports prior to the draft suggested that he has a plus arm behind the plate. According to Logan White, “This kid is a real athlete. He shifts, blocks, has perfect size for a catcher. If we don't need him behind the plate, he could play second base because he can really hit from both sides of the plate.” After spending two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League with ugly offensive results, Vasquez was promoted to Ogden in 2011 where he was one of the team’s main catchers. He continued to show solid defense by throwing out almost one third of would be base stealers, but his offensive production continued to be below average as he collected just 6 extra base hits for the season. He also struggled significantly against left handed pitches with a .167 average, so you have to question if he is really even has value as a switch hitter. Overall, I keep waiting for Vazquez to break out as a hitter, but it just hasn’t happened yet. That being said, Vasquez is still just 20 years old after playing 3 minor league seasons so he is definitely young enough to turn around his career. I actually think he’ll get promoted to the Loons in 2012 where he’ll be a part time player, and hopefully he’ll improve his offensive output as he matures.

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