I'm going to be starting my top 30 prospect list and it will be a little different. Instead of a top 30 that consists of pitchers and hitters, I'm going to be breaking them out. Each day I will alternate a post between a hitter and a pitcher until I've reached 15 for both. In the 1990's this would have been a depressing exercise, but while the farm is hot and Logan White is doing his thing, this should be fun. In the past two years we've seen Loney, Abreu, Martin, Kemp, Billingsley, and Broxton graduate and provide a much needed infusion of youth and talent into the Dodgers. Some farm systems would be depleted after giving up so much talent but we still have plenty to offer. The impact positional prospects may be dwindling at the higher levels, but the pitching is coming on strong.
No 1 Hitting Prospect:
Andy La Roche: Drafted in the 39th Round in 2003, he turned 24 on Aug 13th and is the best positional prospect the Dodgers have.
Headed into 2007, Andy La Roche was rated higher by all three of Baseball America's prospect analyst's higher then Ryan Braun. For some reason Andy does not inspire the same confidence in fans that Loney and Kemp have been able to. As we end the 2007 season he was rated by John Sickels as the number one infield prospect in the NL.
Since the Dodgers came to LA it is probably safe to say that Ron Cey and Adrian Beltre have been the best home grown Dodger 3rd baseman. Billy Grabarkewitz (159 games) and Pedro Guerrero (373 games) have had great seasons at 3rd base, but 3b was never their primary position long enough to qualify for me as a 3rd baseman.
These are the numbers for Dodger 3rd baseman since 1962 sorted by OPS+.
Ron Cey was not the regular 3rd baseman until he was 25 years old in 1973 and his 1st year numbers were rather pedestrain.
Expectations: If healthy he should provide the Dodgers with a solid combination of power, patience, and smooth defense. At 24 years old if the Dodgers were to give the 3rd base job full time to La Roche I expect he'd at least match if not surpass every other Dodger 3rd baseman debut except for Gabby's debut in 1970, which was electric. The future could have La Roche being one of the top 3 LA Dodger 3rd baseman.
Concerns:For me the only concern is his back. Can he control the disk problem through exercise? If so, does he have the discipline to do the exercises everyday for the rest of his career? I don't have the answers to these questions. I think these are legitimate concerns and that Ned has every right to go elsewhere for a solution if he does believe the back will hinder La Roche's dvlp.