This is the second part of my interview with ESPN.com senior baseball writer Keith Law. In this part, Law talks about some his top Dodger prospects. For the first part of the interview that went over the 2014 draft, click here.
Each season, Law puts out a top ten prospect list for each team as well as an overall top 100 prospect list. Five Dodger prospects made Law's 2014 top 100 prospect list: No. 14 - Julio Urias; No. 18 Corey Seager; No. 41 Joc Pederson; No. 75 Zach Lee and No. 96 Chris Anderson.
Law updated his top 50 today (ESPN Insider subscription needed) and Joc Pederson moved into the top 25.
Law flipped his top two Dodger prospects by moving new Chattanooga Lookout shortstop Corey Seager ahead of his former Rancho Cucamonga Quake teammate pitcher Julio Urias. "Corey Seager has emerged into a legitimate superstar," Law said. "[Seager] will move to third base, that is not really a question, he is going to hit, he is going to hit for power and he will play great defense at third."
Law mentioned that in 2013, Seager was showing a platoon split (.247/.330/.495) and that continued into the Arizona Fall League. "He was having mechanical issues, Law said, he was rolling over his front leg and that was leaving him wide open where he could not pick up the spin." That was making it difficult for Seager to stay on pitches going away from him.
"The Dodgers saw this was an issue in the fall league," Law said, "identified it, and fixed it. And that says a lot about [the Dodgers] and a lot about [Seager] to be able make a tangible mechanical adjustment in one off-season."
"Obviously Kyle, no where near as physical or as athletically gifted as Corey and yet has turned himself into a really good big leaguer," Law said, "and a lot of that is [Kyle's] makeup and his aptitude, work ethic. Corey has all of that plus four inches and 30 pounds on his brother."
Law thinks the Dodgers will have to make some tough decisions regarding when Julio Urias is ready to pitch in the majors and will that happen before he has logged enough innings to be an effective pitcher in Los Angeles.
"The problem the Dodgers are going to have with [Urias] is managing his innings cap and his level," Law said. "Urias is on track to be in the majors at 18-19 years old and that point he may only be built up to 100 innings a year." "In terms of command, in terms of polish, he is going to be ready soon, very soon, stuff is ready to pitch in the big leagues."
Julio Urias and 2014 No. 1 overall pick pitcher Brady Aiken were born weeks apart and even if Aiken signs by the July 18th deadline, no one expects Aiken to be in the majors two years from now. But Law thinks that will be open question for Urias.
"[Urias] spends all of next year in AA," Law said, in 2016 "you can't send him to Albuquerque." "The Dodgers have to face a decision, do you send [Urias] back to AA, they probably will." After that, is Urias next step the big league bullpen? He will still be only 18-19 years old.
"I don't know the right answer," Law said, "I don't think anybody does, [Urias] is such an unusual case."
Urias' Quake teammate pitcher Chris Anderson had a solid June (22.2 IP, 6 runs, 22 hits, 10 walks and 20 strikeouts). The Quakes staff has worked with Anderson to get him to throw down in the zone and also to realize that he cannot no longer count on just throwing fastballs by hitters.
"[Anderson] was a college guy but much less advanced than a typical college guy," Law said. "He was a power guy, he wasn't a polished pitcher than let's say Michael Wacha."
Law also said you also have to account for Rancho Cucamonga and other road parks in the California League being tough places to pitch. Law didn't mince words saying that "those parks are terrible places to pitch and terrible places to develop pitching."
The other two prospects in Law's top five, Joc Pederson and Zach Lee, may have different paths to the majors.
Law doesn't think Zach Lee is going to start for the Dodgers because the Dodgers are in a win now mode. Law noted that Lee has not met his projection, despite his overall athletic ability, his fastball velocity didn't reach the mid-90s, instead it is average.
Will a change of scenery help Zach Lee? Lee cited Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi as an example. Odorizzi learned a new grip to his changeup after he was traded from the Royals. Law said Lee may need some new voices to listen to and perhaps help Lee with his biggest problem, missing bats consistently.
PCL All-Star Joc Pederson has had an excellent first half (.324/.445/.572) but he is playing in Albuquerque and Isotopes Park is one of best hitting locales in all of baseball.
Law thinks that Pederson is a good athlete, has power and he can probably play center and certainly a corner.
Law is still concerned with Pederson's platoon splits against lefthanded pitching but that doesn't detract from his overall ability. "[Pederson] may be one of the Dodgers three best outfield options on Opening Day next year, if he isn't one already," said Law. "Maybe he just needs to face more lefthanders in the majors because he doesn't face that many right now, the Dodgers may just have live with that."
Law named converted catcher Kyle Farmer as his No. 10 Dodger prospect. "Farmer is just a backup," Law said, "he is already is an asset. The word after he was converted last year is that he is going to stick."
Farmer has struggled at the plate since his promotion to Rancho Cucamonga but Law said you have to remember that Farmer is primarily working on his move to catcher and that his offense may suffer.
Finally I asked Law how would he approach trading David Price if he was the Rays' GM. Law said you tell the league give me your best offer.
If the Dodgers call, you say "I want Corey Seager even though you have a third baseman, because he is the best thing the Dodgers have," Law said, "after that maybe you settle for something less, Pederson, Urias or Pederson, Lee and keep going down the line."
"You ask for the best guy, you should be asking for the best guy, you ask the Cardinals for their best guy. You have your own rankings of every team's prospects and when they call, you ask for their top three prospects and hope somebody blinks."