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Dodgers 2012 Minor League Countdown: 20 - 11

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Shawn Tolleson being interviewed during the 2012 Winter Development Program
Shawn Tolleson being interviewed during the 2012 Winter Development Program

Here is the penultimate post in my 2012 minor league countdown. With just 10 players ahead of this batch, we are now into the thicket of the Dodger prospects. There probably aren't any huge surprises in this group, although there are definitely a few pitchers that I have ranked lower than most and a few other players I am higher on. Please keep in mind that my rankings are not solely based on a player's ceiling, but rather on a variety of factors including the likelihood that a player will reach that ceiling. As always let me know your thoughts, and get ready for my top 10 that will be posting early next week.

20. Kyle Russell, RF (11 games in AAA, 120 games in AA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2008, 3rd round
6’5”, 195 lbs, 25.75 years old, bats left handed
.255 average, .831 OPS, 20 HR’s, 72 RBI’s, 6 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 17; Pre 2010 Rank: 14; Pre 2009 Rank: 14

Kyle Russell was the Dodgers 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft out of Texas, and after setting home runs records in college he has continued to put on a power display as a pro. He has also struck out at a pretty alarming rate (31.8% for his career), but really that just comes with the territory for Kyle. After earning co-MVP honors in the Midwest League in 2009, Russell made a joke out of the California League in 2010 by hitting .354 in 53 games with 16 homers and a ridiculous 1.140 OPS. That earned Kyle a promotion to AA in June, and while his stats dropped across the board in the Southern League, he still managed to collect 36 extra base hits in just 273 at bats. In 2011 Kyle returned to AA and he continued his trend of hitting for a lot of power while striking out a ton. He ranked 2nd on the team with 19 homers, but K'ed in 32.2% of his plate appearances. The good news is that the everyday right fielder also continues to walk at a good rate which helped him post a .840 OPS despite a .259 average. He finished 2011 with an 11 game stint in AAA (which is where he where he will be in 2012), and after the season he spent some time in the AFL and had decent results (check out his long swing here). At the end of the day you know what you’ll get out of Russell. He’s been extremely consistent with his strikeouts, posting a K rate of between 31.2% and 32.4% in each of his four minor league seasons, and has hit at least 20 home runs for the past three years. If given the chance to play every day at the big league level I think his stats would probably be pretty similar to his final line of 2011 (with a lower OPS). As mentioned above he’ll start 2012 in AAA and could quickly become a fan favorite in Albuquerque with his power potential.

Why #20: While I doubt that Russell will ever get the chance to play every day in the big leagues, I do think he could be a valuable left handed bench player with good power against right handed pitchers. He also plays a serviceable right field so he wouldn’t be a defensive liability if given the occasional start. For that reason I think he deserves to be ranked as a top 20 Dodger prospect. I expect big numbers out of him in Albuquerque this season, and I could see him helping out the Dodgers at some point in 2013 while possibly filling the void left by Jamie Hoffmann (but with more power potential).

19. Angel Sanchez, RHP (99 IP in LoA in 2011)
Signed by Dodgers 7/12/10
6’3”, 177 lbs, 22.25 years old
8-4, 2.82 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 3.46 FIP, 7.64 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #12

Angel Sanchez literally came out of nowhere. Even though he was technically signed by the Dodgers in July of 2010, I would bet that nobody had heard of Sanchez coming into the 2011 season. Even the Dodgers were confused because in their 2011 media guide, they showed that Sanchez had played in the DSL last season which wasn’t true. In reality Sanchez was a rare Dominican player to sign after attending college, and made his professional debut all the way up in the Midwest League. Upon joining the Loons in May he created a lot of buzz, and rightly so because the right hander had a very successful campaign. For the season Angel posted a 2.82 ERA over 99 innings with a WHIP of 1.12. His most impressive stat, however, was that opposing batters hit just .198 against him. In terms of his stuff, Sanchez was equally impressive with a mid 90’s fastball, a sinking 2-seamer, a good changeup, and a developing curveball. His frame is also projectable, and he is still quite young at 22 years old. All that being said, I’m being a little cautious when ranking Sanchez and am not as high on him as most. His less than impressive strikeout rate worries me a bit, and his FIP of 3.46 is pretty average. He was also playing in a very pitcher friendly league and because he burst onto the scene there were no scouting reports on him which helped his cause. I’ll be curious to see how Sanchez performs in 2012, especially since his most likely destination will be HiA. If he continues to post outstanding stats then I’ll be forced to jump onboard the Sanchez bandwagon, but for now I’ll watch and hopefully even catch him pitching in person next season.

Why #19: I’m just not sold on Sanchez, which is why I have him ranked lower than most. I’ve seen him pitch online and he does have quality stuff and a good motion, but again I just don’t see him as a top prospect just yet. He probably does have the ceiling of a #3 starter in the big leagues, but I think obviously a long ways off from reaching that potential and a lot can change over the next 12 months.

Follow the jump for #'s 18 - 11

18. Jake Lemmerman, SS (21 games in AA, 103 games in HiA in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 5th round
6’1”, 192 lbs, 22.75 years old, bats right handed
.283 average, .785 OPS, 10 HR’s, 65 RBI’s, 10 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 19; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #16

Jake Lemmerman is a local kid who grew up in Corona Del Mar, yet he decided to play his college ball at Duke. While he was a Blue Devil, Lemmerman built up quite a reputation for himself both on and off the field. The Dodgers selected “Late Night” in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, and upon signing he was assigned to the Raptors in the Pioneer League. After joining Ogden, Lemmerman had pretty much the best season possible for a first year shortstop. Jake was named the MVP for the entire league, and definitely deserved it with the offensive stats he put up as a middle infielder. Jake hit .363 over 259 at bats and finished the season with 12 homers. He also ranked 1st in the league in runs (69), 1st in doubles (24), 7th in RBI’s (47), 2nd in total bases (158), 3rd in OBP (.434), 3rd in SLG (.610), and 4th in OPS (1.044). That prompted the Dodgers to promoted Lemmerman to the California League in 2011, and while he didn’t tear it up with the Quakes he had a decent season. He batted a respectable .293, but he only hit 8 long balls and had an OPS under .800. I guess that's pretty good for a 22 year old player's first full pro season, and the Dodgers were impressed enough to promote him to AA late in the year and also send him to the AFL. While Late Night was unimpressive in 21 games with the Lookouts and really struggled in the AFL (.156 average over 20 games), I’m going to cut him some slack because this was his first full season of professional baseball so I’m sure there was a fatigue factor. He won’t have that excuse next year, however, so he’ll need to learn to cope with a long season. I'm still surprised the Dodgers haven’t tried Lemmerman at either 2nd or 3rd base since his path to the big leagues seems to be blocked by Dee Gordon, and it couldn’t hurt to have some defensive versatility, but so far he’s spent every inning as a pro at shortstop. In 2012 he’ll almost certainly be the Lookouts everyday shortstop and it will be interesting to see how he handles a full year of AA pitching.

Why #18: Overall Lemmerman seems like the type of player who is going to give you a great effort day in and day out, and will post consistent yet unspectacular stats no matter where he plays. I believe his MVP season in 2010 was a bit of a fluke, as was his terrible performance in the AFL. His ceiling is that of a big league shortstop, and his overall 2011 season stats probably provide a good guide of what he’d post if he played every day in the MLB.

17. Shawn Tolleson, RHP (44.1 IP in AA, 9.2 IP in HiA, 15 IP in LoA in 2011)

Drafted by Dodgers 2010, 30th round
6’2”, 215 lbs, 24 years old
7-2, 1.17 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 1.59 FIP, 13.70 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 54; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #8

By now, most of us know the story of Shawn Tolleson. The former travel ball teammate of Clayton Kershaw was actually considered a better prospect than the Cy Young winner at one point, but a blown out elbow derailed his career and Tolleson went undrafted coming out of high school. He instead headed to Baylor, but he never really returned to form and as a redshirt junior in 2010 he posted a 5.17 ERA. The Dodgers took a chance on Tolleson as they selected him in the 30th round of the 2010 draft, and ever since then he’s been virtually unhittable. He started his career by carving up the Pioneer League in his professional debut, then started the 2011 season in LoA with Great Lakes. Shawn only threw 15 innings for the Loons before his promotion, but those were probably the best 15 innings anyone has ever thrown in the Midwest League as Tolleson got 33 of his 45 outs via a strikeout, picked up 10 saves, didn't allow an earned run, and had a FIP of negative 0.40. He continued his dominance in HiA with the Quakes, and after just 5 appearances he was promoted again up to AA which is where he finished the season. After joining the Lookouts Tolleson finally found a league where he couldn't strike everyone out as his K/9 was "only" 11.2, but in all seriousness he continued to dominate with a 1.62 ERA and a 2.18 FIP in 44.1 innings. In terms of his stuff, Tolleson’s cutter has become famous this year and is definitely his out pitch, but Shawn also added some velocity over the past 12 months and can now dial it up to 96 mph. He also throws a slider and is working on a changeup to keep hitters off balance. Tolleson will almost certainly return to AA to start the 2012 season, but he’s not far away from a big league debut. There isn’t room for him in the current big league bullpen, but at the very least I think we’ll see Tolleson in Los Angeles in September.

Why #17: After an outstanding season in 2010, Tolleson proved he was the real deal as he tore through the minor leagues in 2011. While major league hitters will probably adjust to his cutter, he has enough other quality pitches to succeed. He has the ceiling of a late inning reliever and could be a useful bullpen arm for years to come, but I think the players I ranked ahead of him will have more value to the Dodgers in the long run.

16. Angelo Songco, 1B/OF (131 games in HiA in 2011)

Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 4th round
6’0”, 195 lbs, 23.5 years old, bats left handed
.313 average, .948 OPS, 29 HR’s, 114 RBI’s, 4 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 31; Pre 2010 Rank: 39; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #15

Angelo Songco was born in Granda Hills and played his college ball locally at Loyola Marymount. During his junior season he led the Lions with a .360 average, 15 home runs, and 63 RBI’s in just 59 games to go along with a sizzling OPS of 1.159. Selected by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, Songco signed quickly for $225,000 and continued his torrid hitting in the Pioneer League, whacking 7 home runs in his first 19 games. In 2010 Songco spent the entire season in LoA with the Loons, and while he showed some pop with 15 homers, including one bomb that reportedly traveled an estimated 508 feet, his overall season stats weren’t all that impressive. That changed completely in 2011 as Angelo put together one of the organization’s best minor league offensive seasons in recent memory. Songco led the Quakes in several offensive categories (runs, HR's, 2B's, SLG%, OPS), and also paced the entire California League with 310 total bases. Songco also ranked 2nd in the league with his 29 HR's and 114 RBI's, while his .948 OPS placed 4th. In addition, the lefty wasn't a big swing and miss guy as he struck out in a respectable 20.6% of his plate appearances. Angelo’s only struggles came again left handed pitchers, but even then he showed significant improvement from 2010 as he hit 8 of his homers against southpaws and still had a respectable OPS of .769. Stats aside, the big news for Songco in 2011 was his shift from left field to 1st base. Songco had never been a strong outfielder, and given the Dodgers depth at the position they decided to move Songco to the infield. From a defensive perspective his transition has been relatively smooth, but at the same time it’s going to put more pressure on Angelo since 1st base requires big time power numbers. If he continues to hit like he did this past season that won’t be an issue, but given that his big season came in the hitter friendly California League there are going to be questions surrounding his power until he proves he can hit in AA. He’ll get that chance sooner rather than later because he’s ticketed for Chattanooga in 2012.

Why #16: Like most people I want to see how Songco performs outside the friendly confines of the California League before getting too excited about him. While I do like his potential, the fact that he’s now limited to 1st base caused me to rank him a little lower than I would have if he had stayed in left field. Some scouts believe that his home run power will turn into gap power as he faces tougher pitching, but based on what I’ve seen (and the reports of the 500+ feet homers) I think he truly has big time power potential. For now I believe his ceiling is that of a big league starting 1st baseman with 25 homer potential, although I don’t see him as a high average guy and I think his defensive will always be limited.

15. Blake Smith, OF (74 games in HiA, 6 games in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 2nd round
6’2”, 225 lbs, 24.25 years old, bats left handed
.304 average, .948 OPS, 20 HR, 73 RBI’s, 3 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 20; Pre 2010 Rank: 20; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #18

Blake Smith was selected in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft out of Cal where he was a two way player for the Golden Bears. During his 3 year college career Smith had a .312 average with 28 homers in 158 games, and a 4.63 ERA in 62.2 innings with a 12.2 K/9. The Dodgers signed Smith as an outfielder, and after the draft Logan White said, “He was highly touted as a hitter and a pitcher. Just like Loney, he has a really nice left-handed swing and he's a power guy with incredible raw power. When he worked out, he almost hit one out of Dodger Stadium -- way up in the seats. Obviously he can throw and if we can work with him to utilize that raw power, he'll be a front-line corner outfielder.” After a terrible professional debut in 2009, many wrote off Smith as a wasted pick. I, on the other hand, expected a rebound season for Smith in LoA in 2010 and that is exactly what happened. Blake led the Loons with 19 home runs and posted a very solid .852 OPS. In 2011 the Dodgers moved Smith up to HiA, and despite missing a significant chunk of the season due to sports hernia surgery Smith ranked 3rd on the team with 16 homers and recorded a ridiculous 13 outfield assists with his cannon arm in right field. Smith also posted an OPS just under .900 for Rancho, and his overall season stats were a bit inflated thanks to a 6 game rehab stint in Arizona where he crushed 4 additional homers. Here’s an interesting video that shows all of Smith’s first half homers from 2011. After the season Smith made up for lost time in the Panama Winter League and continued to tear the cover off the ball as he led his team in virtually every offensive category and was named the league MVP. Heading into 2012 Blake will move up to AA and will be the Lookouts everyday right fielder. If he continues to hit for power and posts a solid average against the advanced pitching of the Southern League, then I think Smith will be a legitimate candidate to be added to the 40 man roster after the season.

Why #15:
Blake Smith has a lot of value because he has the potential to be a powerful outfielder, yet also has options because he throws 94 mph on the mound. If I had to guess right now, I’d say Smith’s ceiling is a big league right fielder who could hit 25 homers annually with an adequate batting average. This upcoming season will give us a much clearer picture as to whether or not he’ll reach that ceiling.

14. Aaron Miller, LHP (34 IP in HiA, 2 IP in Arz Rookie Lg in 2011)
Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 1st round
6’3”, 200 lbs, 24.5 years old
4-2, 3.75 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 3.76 FIP, 8.25 K/9
Pre 2011 Rank: 14; Pre 2010 Rank: 9; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A

Aaron Miller was the Dodgers 1st round pick in 2009 out of Baylor where he was a two way player for the Bears. As a hitter Miller batter .312 during his junior season with 12 homers, and on the mound he posted a 5.12 ERA with a K/9 of almost 11.5. The Dodgers wanted Miller as a pitcher, and after signing him for almost $900,000 he paid immediate dividends with a stellar professional debut. Promoted to HiA for his first full season in 2010, Miller was the easily the best pitcher for the 66ers. He was extremely consistent all season and stuck out almost a batter per inning. During that season, Inland Empire pitching coach Charlie Hough had this to say about Miller: “Sneaky fastball…Easy, easy delivery and the ball kinda sneaks up on the hitters. He has a ways to go throwing some breaking balls. He has good feel with the changeup.” Despite his overall strong season in 2010, there were some warning signs that worried me a bit including a dip in velocity and struggles during a short lived promotion to AA. That brings us to 2011, which was mostly a lost year for Aaron. A groin injury and a sports hernia caused him to miss quite a bit of the season, and when he was on the mound he wasn’t all that effective. His velocity fell into the high 80’s and his secondary pitches were not as sharp. To make matters worse Miller opted for surgery late in the season, and because he waited so long to go under the knife he may not even be at full strength headed into spring training. When at his best Miller can throw in the low 90’s and has a plus slider with a developing changeup. He also has great control and is a smart player. When he does finally heal from his injuries I have no doubt that he’ll be able to return to the pitcher that the Dodgers saw when they drafted. Now 24 years old, Miller will definitely head to AA in 2012 and will try to prove that he’s still in the Dodgers future pitching plans.

Why #14:
Miller has the ceiling of a middle of the rotation starter, and also has the added bonus of being left handed. While he doesn’t seem to have quite the upside of some of the players ranked around him, I think he is a safe bet to reach his potential if he can stay healthy.

13. Tim Federowicz, C (25 games in AAA, 90 games in AA, 7 games in Majors in 2011)
Trade with Red Sox for Trayvon Robinson
5’11”, 200 lbs, 24.5 years old, bats right handed
.287 average, .808 OPS, 14 HR’s, 69 RBI’s, 1 SB (minor league stats only)
Pre 2011 Rank: N/A; Pre 2010 Rank: N/A; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #9

A lot has been a made about Tim Federowicz’s prospect ranking this offseason. Some feel he deserves to be among the Dodgers top 10 Dodger prospects, and Baseball America agrees with those individuals as was #10 on their list. Others don’t see how a strong defensive catcher with a questionable bat can possibly be among to the top prospects. I fall somewhere in the middle because I do think FedEx has the chance to be a starting catcher at the big league level, but I don’t think he’ll ever be more than a #7 or #8 hitter with plus defensive skills. Sure FedEx has more offensive abilities than a guy like AJ Ellis, but I don’t see him hitting more than 5 to 10 homers at the big league level with a .250 average. He’s shown some power in the minor leagues, including hitting 6 homers in just 25 games after joining the Isotopes, but against big league pitching he projects more as a gap hitter. As previously mentioned there is no doubt that he has great defensive skills, however, and for his minor league career he has thrown out 33% of would be base-stealers. In 2012 FedEx is slotted to be Albuquerque’s starting catcher, but with just Ellis and Matt Treanor ahead of him on the depth chart he could see quite a bit of time in Los Angeles before the season is up.

Why #13: The fact that Federowicz has already made his big league debut and could be in the mix to be the Dodgers starting catcher as soon as 2013 means he deserves to be ranked in the top 15, but I just don’t think he’ll ever be good enough to warrant a top 10 ranking. I expect more out of the players I ranked ahead of him, but even still FedEx could be a solid player for the Dodgers for years to come.

12. Alfredo Silverio, LF (132 games in AA in 2011)

Signed by Dodgers 11/13/03
6’0”, 205 lbs, 24.75 years old, bats right handed
.306 average, .883 OPS, 16 HR’s, 85 RBI’s, 11 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 40; Pre 2010 Rank: 38; Pre 2009 Rank: 28; TBLA Prospect #13

Signed way back in 2003, Alfredo Silverio always showed potential but never really had a breakout season until 2011. Sure he hit .373 in the Gulf Coast League in 2007, but that was only over 193 at bats and he was playing in a rookie league. He did show some additional signs of life in 2010 with the 66ers, but that was nothing compared to the monster season he had in 2011 with the Lookouts. Silverio’s name was scattered all over the Southern League’s leader board last season, with his most impressive feat being that the lead the league with 289 total bases. He also ranked 1st in the league with a surprising 18 triples despite failing in 12 of his 23 stolen base attempts, and he socked a career high 16 homers. He even showed some improvement in his ability to take a walk, although that is still a work in progress as he only walked in 5.2% of his plate appearances (compared to 4.4% in 2010 and 1.8% in 2008). In terms of his defense, Alfredo has played all three outfield positions throughout his career and was the Lookouts’ main center fielder in 2011, but his below average range will probably limit him to a corner as he moves up. The good news is that he does have a strong arm, so he should be able to handle right field at least on a part time basis. Now 24 years old, Silverio will probably spend 2012 in AAA and could have another big season given the friendly confines of Albuquerque’s stadium. Now that he’s on the 40 man roster he will probably see Los Angeles at some point in 2012 and it will be interesting to see how he handles big league pitching.

Why #12: Silverio definitely put himself on the Dodgers’ radar with a big season in 2011, but I’m not sold on him being a top 10 prospect for Los Angeles. While he does show some potential for all 5 tools, he doesn’t seem to have any skill that stands out. He has the ceiling of a starting big league outfielder and seems likely to make it to the majors as soon as this season, but I personally don’t think he’ll be more than a .260 hitter with 10 to 15 homer potential.

11. Jonathan Garcia, OF (130 games in LoA in 2011)

Drafted by Dodgers 2009, 8th round
5’11”, 175 lbs, 20.25 years old, bats right handed
.228 average, .710 OPS, 19 HR’s, 63 RBI’s, 2 SB’s
Pre 2011 Rank: 12; Pre 2010 Rank: 10; Pre 2009 Rank: N/A; TBLA Prospect #11

The Dodgers selected Jonathan Garcia in the 8th round of the 2009 draft out of Puerto Rico, and so far the pick has looked like a steal. In his professional debut Garcia did very well in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .305 with a .862 OPS as a 17 year old. Sent to the Pioneer League in 2010, Jonathan was a full two years younger than any other position player on the Raptors yet ranked 3rd on the club with his 10 homers and .527 slugging percentage. In 2011 Garcia was promoted to LoA and he started the season with a bang despite playing in the cold Michigan weather. Jonathan tore out of the gate with 7 April homers while posting a .945 OPS, and was atop the Midwest League leader boards as the month came to a close. Garcia couldn’t keep up his sizzling pace, however, and as the weather warmed up he actually cooled off considerably. Overall Garcia had a very hot and cold season, leading the club by a sizable margin with 19 big flies but also finishing the year with a .228 average and an OPS of just .710 while striking out in 25.9% of his plate appearances. It should also be noted that he wore down as the season progressed, and ended the year in a terrible slump as he posted an OPS of just .380 over his final 10 games. The good news, however, is that Garcia played the entire 2011 season as a teenager, and outside of Joc Pederson’s 16 game cameo he was the youngest player on the Loons. In addition, after the season Jonathan was sent to the instructs in Arizona and was actually named the Dodgers most improved player in camp. In terms of a scouting report, Garcia is not a big player at 5’11” but he has above average raw power. He struggles with offspeed stuff which leads to his inconsistent stats, but hopefully he’ll learn to make adjustments with age and experience. Here’s an old video of him from back in 2010, but it’s the best footage of him that I could find ( When it comes to defense his speed is average at best, but he has a great arm and profiles well as a right fielder (his 12 outfield assists in 2011 were more than double anyone else on the Loons). Heading into 2012 Garcia will most likely move up to HiA where he’ll again be one of the youngest players in the league.

Why #11:
I’ve always been a fan of Garcia, and I do look at his 2011 season as a success despite his ugly average and OPS. He showed his power potential with 19 homers and played great defense in right field. After playing in just 102 combine games from 2009 to 2010, Garcia participated in a team high 130 contests in 2011 so obviously he wore down in his first full season. He’s also just 20 years old, and if he continues to move up one level at a time he’ll reach AAA by the time he is 22. My only concern is the fact that he struggles with offspeed stuff because even if he makes adjustments, he’s going to be facing more advanced pitchers as he moves up through the system. Overall I think Garcia has the ceiling of a solid big league right fielder with 25 homer potential and the ability to hit for a decent average, so even though he’s a long way off from reaching the big league I think he ranks as one of the Dodgers top offensive prospects.