Here is the Valentine's Day edition of my minor league countdown. As we move closer to the end of the list you'll see that we are getting into the legitimate Dodger prospects, and this group in particular feature a lot of young talent. This post also brings us right up to the top 30, and in case you want to compare my list to Baseball America's I'll do part of the math for you and let you know that we only differ by 3 players. Our placement of the players in the top 30 is obviously, however, so they are two unique lists. As always feel free to leave feedback, and you can find my other posts from this series in the "Prospect Section" of this site.
40. O'Koyea Dickson, 1B (48 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 12th round
5’11”, 215 lbs, 22 years old, bats right handed
.333 average, 1.005 OPS, 13 HR’s, 38 RBI’s, 1 SB
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
After leading Sonoma State to a Division II championship in 2011, O’Koyea Dickson was selected by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2012 draft. Dickson's 11 homers in were more than double of any college teammates in 2011, and he also hit .341 for the Seawolves. Here is his scouting video from 2011, and here is a music video that was made about him. Dickson signed with the Dodgers for $45,000, and after getting assigned to the Pioneer League he quickly became one of the Raptors best players. His 13 home runs lead the club, as did his 1.005 OPS. He struck out in 20.5% of his plate appearances and walked 8.8% of the time which lead to an OPS of .402. Strictly a 1st baseman, Dickson is going to have to continue to be an offensive force if he wants to make it to the big leagues. He has a wide stance and generates a lot of bat speed with his quick swing, and so far that has worked against younger competition. His raw power only grades out as average, however, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in a less hitter friendly environment. Dickson has definitely earned a promotion for 2012, and he’ll probably move up to LoA where he’ll be the Loons primary 1st baseman.
Why #40: Dickson was an offensive force for Ogden, but college draftees tearing up the Pioneer League are actually pretty common. I’ll have to wait and see what he does in 2012 before I can really judge his prospect status. For now O’Koyea’s ceiling is that of a starting big league 1st baseman with 20 HR to 25 HR’s annually and a .280 average, but I think his probability of realizing that potential are extremely low given the reports on his lack of true power and his small stature. Those low odds of him reaching his potential are why he didn’t rank higher for me.
39. Pratt Maynard, C (25 games in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 3rd round
6’0”, 215 lbs, 22.25 years old, bats left handed
.239 average, .687 OPS, 2 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 0 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Pratt Maynard never caught a game while in high school, but upon arriving at North Carolina State the Wolfpack decided to try him behind the plate. The conversion was obviously a success, and it led to the Dodgers picking Maynard in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. In an interview right before the draft, Maynard said "It's worked out great for me. I wasn't drafted in high school as a pitcher. I came [to NC State] willing to play where the coaches needed me, but I never thought much about catching till they asked me." Pratt didn’t do much during his freshman year of college, but as a sophomore he socked 11 home runs and set a NC State record with 64 walks (vs just 42 strikeouts). As a junior his power number dropped off a bit thanks to the new bats introduced by the NCAA in 2011, but he managed to hit .323 and led his team with 21 doubles. Here he is smacking a double off Jed Bradley, the #15 overall pick of the 2011 draft. Pratt signed relatively quickly with the Dodgers for $315,000 and was sent to the Pioneer League. An ankle injury limited him to just 25 games with Ogden and he never really got in a groove as he hit just .239 with only 5 extra base hits. The Dodgers weren’t too worried about his offensive struggles, however, because the sample size was very small and they know from his college days that he has good pitch recognition and the ability to hit the ball to all fields. In addition, the Raptors were impressed with his defensive skills, and manager Damon Berryhill said “If you're an athletic kid and you have range and flexibility and a good first step and decent hands, catching is a good spot for you. For a kid that's only been catching for a couple years, [Maynard] is pretty polished, which is a pleasant surprise." Heading into 2012, Pratt will be the Dodgers best catching prospect in the lower minor leagues. He’ll almost certainly spend the season with Great Lakes where he’ll be the Loons primary catcher. While I don’t think he’ll ever be a star, I do believe he has what it takes to one day be a starting catcher at the big league level.
Why #39: Pratt is obviously just starting his professional career, but he seems to have the right combination of offensive skills and defensive abilities to eventually make it to the show. He has a nice swing from the left side with occasional power, and like AJ Ellis he really has a good eye at the plate. As I mentioned above I think he has the ceiling of an average starting catcher in the MLB.
Follow the jump for #'s 38 - 31
38. Steve Ames, RHP (32.2 IP in AA, 15.1 IP in HiA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 17th round
6’1”, 205 lbs, 24 years old
2-2, 2.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.22 FIP, 12.94 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 38; Pre 2010 Rank: 53; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Since getting selected in the 17th round of the 2009 draft out of Gonzaga, Steve Ames has moved steadily up through the Dodgers minor league system. He started off his professional career by carving up the Pioneer League, and although his 2010 season got off to a late start due to a hamstring injury, he dominated the Midwest League after joining the Loons and picked up 16 saves as their closer. In 2011 Ames started off the year in HiA, but was only with the Quakes for a short time because he was so good that he forced the organization to promote him to AA. In 15.1 innings for Rancho Steve struck out 28 (16.4 K/9), had a 1.17 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and walked only two batters. Ames' numbers with Chattanooga weren't quite as ridiculous as they were with the Quakes, but he continued his success with a 2.48 ERA and a K/9 of 11.3. Overall, since getting drafted Steve has a career ERA of 2.14, a career WHIP of 0.98, and a career K/9 of 13.5 in 109.1 innings. In terms of his stuff and pitching philosophy, Ames pretty much explained it all to Great Lakes beat writer Hugh Bernreuter in July of 2010 when he said “My fastball is pretty much in the low 90s, so it’s not overwhelming. I pitch to contact and let my defense do its job. The best pitch I throw is a fastball away. Maybe I get a lot of strikeouts because I throw strikes and go after hitters. I’m usually ahead with a 1-2 or 0-2 count and then they have to chase my pitch. I get guys guessing. I’m able to get good movement on my pitches. I can locate my fastball and change speeds pretty well. When you do that, you get some strikeouts.” Ames also said “I don’t know why they moved me, but I feel good pitching in relief. When I started, I would throw fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. But in relief, I basically just stay with fastball and slider. In relief you can stick to one or two pitches.” So there you have it from the man himself. He is mostly a fastball/slider pitcher who gets his strikeouts by changing speeds and using location. After the 2011 season Ames was sent to the AFL where his numbers were completely different than his career numbers (5 HR’s allowed, 8 K’s and 5 walks in 17.1 innings), so hopefully that speed bump was just him being tired from a long season. Here he is picking up one of his K’s with the Salt River Rafters. Overall Ames doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but I love his control and can see him as a middle reliever for the Dodgers one day. He’ll probably return to AA to start the 2012 season but he’s another pitcher who could get the call to Los Angeles at some point should injuries occur.
Why #38: The fact that Ames struggled so much in the AFL scares me a bit because it could mean that top hitters have the ability to exploit his less than stellar fastball, but as mentioned above hopefully his struggles were more due to him being tired and not having the ability to locate his pitches. I still think Ames has the ceiling of a solid big league middle reliever, but I don’t think he has star potential.
37. Brandon Martinez, RHP (73 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 7th round
6’4”, 160 lbs, 21.25 years old
6-3, 4.07 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 4.57 FIP, 7.15 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 32; Pre 2010 Rank: 27; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Brandon Martinez has admittedly been one of my favorite prospects to follow since the Dodgers drafted him in 2009. He has an interesting background, and coming out of Fowler High School Martinez had dominate stats during his senior season as he struck out 85 batters in 45 innings and allowed a .124 batting average against. At 6’4” he also had a great pitching frame, so I really like his ceiling. After the draft, Logan White said “This kid is skinny as rail but I'll tell you he has an outstanding delivery, throws hard and has a fine breaking ball. We'll have to put a little weight on him. He could turn into a really fine pitcher over time.” After a couple of tough seasons in the Arizona League, Brandon earned a spot in the Raptors rotation in 2011 and made a team high 15 starts. He also led the Raptors with 6 wins and opposing batters only hit .237 against him, but his ERA and FIP were a bit high because he struggled with control and averaged 5.4 walks per 9 innings. In terms of his stuff, my most recent scouting report on Martinez is from after the 2010 season, when DeJon Watson told me that Brandon can still reach 93 and 94 mph on a good night, he sits comfortably with a slightly above average fastball at about 90 to 92 mph. Watson also said that his breaking ball is solid average, and his changeup is developing. Still just barely 21 years old, I’m hoping that Martinez will continue his progression through the minors and move into the Loons rotation in 2012. If he can put together a good season in a full season league, that would really get his name on the Dodger prospect radar.
Why #37: We all know that I like Martinez more than most, but there’s no questioning a guy with a projectable frame and a 3-pitch mix that includes a 94 mph fastball. I still think he’ll add velocity as he fills out and could end up as a middle of the rotation starter at the big league level.
36. Shane Lindsay, RHP (63.2 IP in AAA, 6.2 IP in AA, 6 IP in Majors in 2011)
Signed as a minor league free agent in Nov 2011
6’1”, 205 lbs, 27 years old
3-3, 2.18 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 3.95 FIP, 11.50 K/9 (minor league stats only)
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Shane Lindsay was born in Australia and was signed by the Rockies as an international free agent back in 2003. He burst onto the prospect scene two years later after posting a 1.89 ERA and a 14.4 K/9 over 13 starts in the Northwest League, and then continued his early success with another outstanding season in 2006. Unfortunately a torn labrum caused him to miss the entire 2007 season, but by 2009 he was again tearing it up and had a 2.60 ERA in AA. In 2010 the wheels fell off a bit, however, and he started the year by walking 17 batters in just 13.2 innings. At that point the Rockies placed Lindsay on waivers, and he was scooped up by the Yankees. He never threw a pitch in the Yankees’ organization, however, and was instead claimed by the Indians when New York put Lindsay back on waivers a few weeks later. He finished 2010 with Cleveland, but signed with the White Sox as a minor league free agent before the 2011 season. With Chicago Lindsay had another interesting year in the minors as opposing batters hit just .137 against him, yet he walked 7.5 batters per 9 innings which bumped up his WHIP and FIP. He also made his big league debut in 2011, and while his ERA was 12.00 in four appearances, that was mostly skewed one outing during which he allowed 7 runs. Now to the exciting stuff. Lindsay has a mid to upper 90’s fastball along with a strong curveball that both generate a ton of swing and misses. He obviously has trouble with his control, however, which is why he’s only thrown 6 innings in the big leagues. He’s also injury prone and apparently has a bit of a temper, and has apparently allowed 7 homers in 29 innings this offseason in the Australian Winter League after giving up just 9 homers in his entire minor league career of 366 innings. Overall it doesn’t appear that Lindsay has a shot to make the Dodgers out of spring training, so he’ll probably start the season in Albuquerque where he’ll be a fun one to watch. If he has success with the Isotopes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got to the call to Los Angeles as some point in 2012.
Why #36: I know he’s older and is now with his 5th organization, but he’s thrown just 6 big league innings so he still ranks as a prospect in my book. He obviously has the pure stuff to be a lights out reliever, but to do so he needs to learn to put it all together and maintain control of his pitches. It’s his upside that allows me to rank him this high, but the question marks that don’t allow me to rank him any higher.
35. Derek Cone, RHP (25.1 IP in LoA, 48.1 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg, 18 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 31st round
6’5”, 210 lbs, 21.75 years old
4-8, 5.11 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 4.50 FIP, 9.43 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 36; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
The Dodgers selected Derek Cone in the 31st round of the 2010 draft after he had a great year for Mesa Community College in Arizona. Cone was the team’s ace all year and had a 1.93 ERA in 84 innings to go along with 105 strikeouts. After much deliberation, Derek gave up his BYU commitment and signed with the Dodgers at the deadline for $150K. He explained “I was all moved in and signed a 12 month lease for an apartment in Provo when a couple days before the signing deadline I received a call saying the Dodgers would come up to my asking price.” Because Cone signed late he only pitched 4.1 innings in his professional debut with the Ogden Raptors. The Dodgers were aggressive with Derek in 2011 and put him on the Loons opening day roster, but he was relatively ineffective in his 8 appearances and was sent back to extended spring training in late May. Cone re-emerged with the Arizona Dodgers in late June, then came full circle and was sent to Ogden in mid July which is where he finished the season. Cone stepped right into the rotation and was one of the main starters for the Raptors, and while he struck out about 10.6 batters per inning he ended the season with a 5.03 ERA and a 4.34 FIP. Despite his mediocre season in 2011, the lanky right hander should still be considered a decent prospect thanks to his projectable frame and a promising curveball. As of last year his fastball was only clocked in the low 90’s, but the Dodgers believe he’ll gain velocity as he adds muscle. He also continues to work on throwing a changeup. Cone is someone who has the chance to take a big step forward in 2012 now that he has a year of experience under his belt. Still just 21 years old, he’ll probably return to Midwest League where he’ll try and improve upon his performance from 2011.
Why #35: Cone is a very projectable pitcher who is still quite young, and as mentioned he is still expected to gain some velocity on his fastball. Despite his mediocre season in 2011, I like his strikeout rate and think he has the ceiling of a middle of the rotation starter. He’s still a long way off from reaching his potential, however, but I think he could have a breakout season in 2012.
34. Justin Sellers, SS (89 games in AAA, 36 games in Majors in 2011)
Acquired via trade with Cubs in April 2009
5’10”, 160 lbs, 26 years old, bats right handed
.304 average, .937 OPS, 14 HR’s, 49 RBI’s, 3 SB’s (minor league stats only)
Pre 2011 Rank: 48; Pre 2010 Rank: 75; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Originally selected by Oakland in the 2005 draft, Justin Sellers was traded to the Cubs in February of 2009 for Michael Wuertz. He was then sent to Los Angeles for an undisclosed amount of cash and spent his first season as a Dodger in Chattanooga where he held his own went mostly unnoticed. In 2010, however, Sellers surprised a lot of people with a breakout campaign, hitting a career high 14 homers while posting a .867 OPS for the Isotopes in AAA. That got Justin invited to the Dodgers 2011 big league spring training where he was given a hard look, but eventually he was sent down to Albuquerque for the season. Sellers continued to impress with the Isotopes in 2011 as he crushed 14 more homers in 89 games, posted a .400 OB%, and had a .937 OPS. This of course earned Justin a promotion to the Dodgers when Dee Gordon went down with an injury, and he remained with the big league club for the rest of the season. While Sellers didn’t exactly impress during his time in Los Angeles with a .203 average and a .583 OPS, he became a bit of a fan favorite and showed off some of the defensive skills that originally got him drafted in the 6th round. He also demonstrated versatility as he spent time at 2nd base, 3rd base, and shortstop. While there doesn’t appear to be room for Sellers on the big league roster to start the 2012 season, you never know when injuries will occur and it seems like Justin will be one of the first players up from AAA should an infielder go down. As I mentioned last year his ceiling isn’t all that high, but he’s definitely a cheap insurance option with strong defensive skills who is worth keeping around.
Why #34: Sellers has already made it to the show, and while I think his best days are still ahead of him I don’t think he’ll really ever be more than a backup infielder without much pop. His defense should allow him to stay around the league for a while, but he might be someone who bounces around with quite a few teams before his career is done.
33. Scott McGough, RHP (20.1 IP in LoA, 5.2 IP in Pioneer Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2011, 5th round
6’0”, 170 lbs, 22.25 years old
1-5, 2.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 1.97 FIP, 11.42 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Scott McGough was rated as one of the country’s best relievers heading into 2011 college season, but he didn’t quite live up to expectations during his junior season at Oregon. While he led the Ducks with a team high 31 appearances, he was a little wild and his 3.59 ERA was actually the fourth worst on the entire pitching staff. That didn’t bother the Dodgers, however, and they selected McGough in the 5th round of this past draft. Scott signed quickly for $150,000 and was initially assigned to the Raptors, but after just two weeks he was promoted to LoA. With the Loons McGough was very effective, and even finished the season as the team’s closer. He posted an outstanding FIP had a very impressive strikeout rate. In terms of his stuff, Loons pitching coach Kremlin Martinez told Hugh Bernreuter that “(McGough) throws hard, plus his slider is nasty. He’s been working on a changeup and it’s been really good. He’s used it a few times in games and it’s been effective. It gives him a third quality pitch.” To get a little more specific, Scott’s fastball sits in the mid 90’s and touches 97 mph, while his slider is more of a wipeout pitch that is usually clocked in the low 80’s. Here is a video of him throwing in college (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-1ppbGz7ew). Overall, McGough is not a very big guy but he has a big arm that should move him quickly through the minor leagues. He also has good bloodlines because his dad was a minor league pitcher for the Indians for several years. In 2012 McGough will probably start off in Rancho Cucamonga, but a move to AA at some point during the season isn’t out of the question. Hard throwing relievers with 3 quality pitches don’t come around every day, so the Dodgers will want to watch Scott carefully.
Why #33: McGough’s stats in 2011 were pretty ridiculous, and as mentioned above you’ve got to love a 3 pitcher reliever who throws 97 mph. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he sounds like he has the ceiling of a set-up man at the big league level. Young pitchers with just 27 innings of professional experience are never sure bets, but I really like his potential.
32. Ralston Cash, RHP (Did not play in 2011 due to injury)
Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 2nd round
6’1”, 197 lbs, 20.5 years old
No stats in 2011
Pre 2011 Rank: 16; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A
Ralston Cash was probably a bit of an overdraft when the Dodgers selected him in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, but you can’t blame the team since they spent $5.25M on their 1st round pick on Zach Lee. The Georgia prep eventually signed for $463K, and joined the Arizona Dodgers in July of 2010. Cash, the cousin of 2008 first round pick Ethan Martin, had an interesting upbringing because he was raised by his grandparents after his mother passed away in a freak car accident. Sadly Cash faced even more heartbreak this past offseason as his grandfather/adoptive father also passed away. Ralston himself actually had some trouble of his own in 2011 as he missed the entire season due to a hip injury, splitting the season between his home in Georgia and rehab in Arizona. He plans to come back at full strength in 2012, but he’ll be a year behind in his development. In terms of his stuff, Cash throws a fastball from 88-92 mph with good 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. In 2012 Cash will still be just 20 years old, and given that he missed the entire 2011 season I’m guessing that he won’t be ready for a full season league. He’ll probably spend an ample amount of time in extended spring training, and then will play for the Raptors. Despite his missed season he still has a decent amount of potential, but obviously I’m not quite as high on him as I was a year ago.
Why #32: Cash is a great person with a great attitude toward life, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a great baseball player. He has the upside of a starting pitcher at the major league level (ceiling of a #4 starter), but he’ll need to make up for lost time in 2012.
31. Ivan DeJesus, 2B (100 games in AAA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2005, 2nd round
5’11”, 200 lbs, 24.75 years old, bats right handed
.310 average, .820 OPS, 8 HR’s, 59 RBI’s, 4 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 25; Pre 2010 Rank: 13; Pre 2009 Rank: 5
Is there a more controversial Dodger prospect than Ivan DeJesus? The 2005 2nd round pick was well on his way to Los Angeles after an outstanding 2008 season in AA as a 21 year old, but as we all know a broken leg during spring training in 2009 cost him the season and has never really allowed DeJesus to return to his full potential. Ivan has spent the last two seasons in AAA, and while he’s posted very good stats for the Isotopes the reality is that he’s done most of his offensive damage at home in Albuquerque’s hitter friendly park. He is also mostly limited to 2nd base now, although he did spent some time at 3rd last season (but posted a .818 fielding %) and can play his former position of shortstop in a pinch. He did make his major league debut last season for the Dodgers when Furcal went down for an injury in April, but he was used very sparingly and managed just 6 singles in 32 at bats. He was also excluded from the September call ups, and there have been questions about his attitude and work ethic throughout his career. Overall DeJesus projects to be a gap hitter at the big league level with the potential to hit for a solid average, but he doesn’t have any speed and his defense abilities are more limited than your typical big league utility player. Unless injuries plague the rest of the roster Ivan will return to AAA in 2012 where he’ll again wait for a chance to return to Los Angeles. Given that he seems to have been passed on the depth chart Justin Sellers, however, he might have to wait for while.
Why #31: I never know where to rank DeJesus. He’s put up strong numbers at AAA but I don’t think he’ll be more than a .260 hitter at the big league level with limited power potential. Combine that with his defensive limitations and a historically poor attitude and I’m not sure how much value has to a big league team.