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Jharel Cotton, Kyle Farmer headline Dodgers AFL prospects

Kyle Farmer is the top offensive prospect that the Dodgers are sending to the Arizona Fall League
Kyle Farmer is the top offensive prospect that the Dodgers are sending to the Arizona Fall League
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Likely to be lost in the playoffs hoolah, the Arizona Fall League will kick off its 2015 season next Tuesday, October 13th.  You could be forgiven if you may have overlooked the Glendale Desert Dogs roster, as the Dodgers elected not to send any marquee names to the team this year.  Nonetheless, a few names in the Los Angeles contingent have a solid shot at a big league future, with a present starter though possible reliever highlighting the list.

Jharel Cotton

The player most likely to make a significant contribution to the Dodgers in the not too distant future is Cotton, and he is the most likely Dodger standout in the Arizona Fall League.  Cotton has improved his stock tremendously since being drafted in the 20th round out of East Carolina in the 2012 draft.  Despite losing the early months to the disabled list, Cotton broke out in 2015 in the Texas League by maintaining his solid peripherals from A ball despite being an undersized right hander.

Cotton's size isn't the only part of him that makes him an atypical pitching prospect.  Cotton's delivery is fairly unique and can add deception to his repertoire.  Cotton makes the most of his 5'11 frame with an over the top delivery, but his front side flies open early on his off-speed pitches, with Cotton dragging his arm behind through release.  Cotton is athletic and makes his delivery work for him in throwing strikes, but the overall command profile is just average.

Cotton's fastball has a wide velocity range from 89-95 mph.  It generally has better life at the lower end of the spectrum, but the high straight fastball can be an effective weapon with both off-speed offerings working lower in the zone.  Should he move to relief, he might be able to hold his velocity more consistently in the mid 90's.

Cotton's change-up draws rave reviews, though I question just how effective it might be in the rotation.  The pitch has significant fade and tumbles away from left handers, but often times the pitch movement can be too significant and better hitters will be less inclined to chase it.  You could tell a difference in arm speed and action between the fastball and his off-speed stuff, which might tip the pitch off to more advanced hitters.

Cotton's curveball can also flash above average potential, with late but deep 11-5 break.  Often times though the pitch is more slurvy and likely profiles to average or fringe average at the major league level.

My concern with Cotton is that the command profile looks more like a reliever than it does a starter.  The change-up might be a better swing and miss weapon with fewer looks out of the bullpen, and the ability to redline every pitch might bring more consistent snap to the breaking ball.  Either way, Cotton looks likely to make his Dodger debut at some point in 2016.

Kyle Farmer

The next most likely future big leaguer of the Arizona Fall League group is another 2015 breakout performer in Farmer.  Farmer hit his way to AA and the 2015 Future's Game, giving him national exposure and putting him in line to be a potential trade chip at the 2015 deadline.  Farmer stayed with the Dodgers through the season and showed versatility with starts at third in addition to behind the plate.

The standout tool for Farmer is his bat.  While he won't hit for much power, Farmer has the straightforward approach to hit for average at the next level.  His swing path is short to the ball and long in the zone, and he sprays line drives from the left center gap to straight away center.  He doesn't walk much, but Farmer has a good idea of the strikezone and will be aggressive on fastballs early in counts.

Farmer looked solid behind the plate in the outings I saw.  He is an ok receiver and manages the run game well.  He has an above average arm and a quick release, and he threw out 42% of would be base stealers in 2015.  At third base, Farmer's range is just average, but he has sound footwork honed from his days as the Georgia Bulldog's shortstop, and his arm plays just fine at the position

While Farmer doesn't necessarily profile as an everyday catcher, he has the tools to stick as a backup, and despite his advanced age, he is young to catching and could still see significant improvement in his receiving ability through further experience.  A solid defensive backup backstop with an average or better hit tool is a nice find in a senior draft signee, and Farmer will be ready to take up that mantle as early as 2016, though possibly not with the Dodgers.

Matt West

It might seem odd to give better chances of becoming a big leaguers to the two names above West, considering that West has already pitched in the big leagues, but inconsistencies between outings has made it difficult for West to stick.    West struggled in twenty-three innings for Oklahoma City for the bulk of the season, which saw him move from the Toronto organization to Los Angeles via a waiver claim.

West isn't lacking in arm talent.  An infield convert, West shows plus arm strength in most outings, pumping his fastball in the mid 90's.  The pitch can be a little true, and his command is no better than average, but it can be thrown hard enough to give hitters trouble with timing.

West's curveball is generally inconsistent, but will show plus on occasion.  The pitch has hard break and 11-5 shape when right, but can get slurvy at times too.  Like the fastball, he struggles for strikes with the pitch from time to time.

His delivery is the typical stripped down version you see from infield or catching converts, but he does have a long pause on the leg lift.  In the outing I saw in Tulsa his command simply wasn't there and he had little idea where his pitches were going, but he's turned in decent peripherals in the past.  No longer on the 40 man roster, West isn't imminently due another major league call up until his stuff shows enough consistency to stick.  He's the oldest Dodger prospect heading to the Arizona Fall League.

Brandon Dixon

Dixon spent another year hanging on the fringes of prospect-dom, but may have finally found a defensive home in the outfield.  He's listed as an infielder on Glendale's roster, but Dixon had been converted to the outfield while in Rancho Cucamonga, and returned to Tulsa in the same role.  It remains to be seen just what the Dodgers plan for him to do in Arizona.

Dixon flashed moments of coming around at the plate throughout 2015.  He started the year hot in Tulsa before running into contact issues that saw him sent to Rancho Cucamonga.  A .299/.358/.575 slash line in 45 games in High A was enough to give him another tour of the Texas League, where he continued to struggle.

Dixon showed more pop this year than any year to date professionally.  His useable power grade is no better than average, and may not be enough to stick in left field.  Dixon can be aggressive at the plate, but still has trouble with pitch recognition.

Defensively, Dixon struggled with footwork at second base, but seemed better equipped for the outfield.  He's a better athlete than you might expect, with above average times from home to first and 26 stolen bases in the 2015 season.  His arm is just average, but his range will improve with experience in the outfield.

Dixon will likely repeat Double A next season, but he will be 24 and time is ticking for him to reach the major leagues with the Dodgers.  The best case scenario for Dixon is a Chris Coglhan-type role, but he's not shown enough offense to envision a path to the major leagues at the moment.

Ralston Cash

A fan favorite in Tulsa, Cash turned in a solid season at the back of the Drillers' bullpen before a brief cameo in Oklahoma City.  He's progressed slowly up the ladder since being drafted in the second round in 2010, but may have finally found his home in relief.

Cash's fastball isn't remarkable in terms of velocity, but he can cut or sink the pitch to give himself multiple looks.  He'll often sit 90-92 in relief appearances, pitching primarily off the fastball.  His breaking ball is just fringe average at low to mid 80's velocity.

While he maintains a K/9 close to 9. Cash has had trouble with walks in his career.  He isn't necessarily lacking in control, but he lacks the typical stuff of a late reliever to challenge hitters, and instead must work around the black, so he can get in trouble when he nibbles too much.

Cash may not measure up to the relief standards that a World Series contender might hold, but like Farmer, he might find the pastures greener elsewhere, and could be seen as a potential trade chip in the off-season, especially if he turns in a solid Fall performance.  He's a fun character and is sure to carve a legion of fans wherever his career might take him.

Brandon Trinkwon

Trinkwon spent the first half of the 2015 season building his resume as a utility prospect, but he struggled to maintain the momentum in the Texas League.  The path to playing time in the Arizona Fall League will likely come in a job share at second, as J.P. Crawford (SS) and Trey Michalczewski (3B) expect to take the bulk of the reps on the left side of the infield.

Trinkwon primarily played second in Tulsa, where he showed solid hands and footwork for the position, but no particular standout traits.  He struggled to match the offensive numbers he had put up at the start of the season, but has a reputation for contact and could grow into a fringe average hit tool.

Trinkwon will likely stay in Tulsa in 2016, and is still a couple of years from being able to realize his big league dream.  His ability to play multiple positions will give him several opportunities to prove himself at the Double A level, and could see him climb higher on the back of an offensive hot streak.

Jacob Scavuzzo

After an inauspicious couple of seasons, Scavuzzo finally broke through the full season ball barrier and ended 2015 with a bang as a key member of the California League champions.  Scavuzzo joins a Glendale outfield full of ballyhooed talents (Austin Meadows, Derek Fisher, Courtney Hawkins) and might be limited in playing time, but the additional exposure may help him continue his momentum into the 2016 season.

Considered a toolsy yet unrefined talent when he signed out of the 21st round in the 2012 draft, Scavuzzo was going to need time to improve his skills to meet the demands of full season ball.  He was one of the better performers in the Great Lakes lineup at the time of his promotion, and enjoyed the offensive bump from the California League environments when promoted.

I haven't seen enough of Scavuzzo to give my own evaluation of his tools.  He's a solidly built athlete that is starting to fill out his long frame and will probably need to move to a corner spot full time soon, especially if he stays on level with Alex Verdugo.  The Fall League will give Scavuzzo the chance to show the development staff he's ready for Double A to start 2016, but I wouldn't be surprised if he begins back in the California League next season.

Rob Rogers

The highlight of Rogers season might have been the gem he twirled in his Double A debut filling in for Julio Urias.  Rogers pitched five innings of one run ball, striking out five and only walking one.  He spent the bulk of the year pitching out of the Rancho Cucamonga bullpen, with decent peripherals for the level.

I have not seen Rogers to be able to evaluate his stuff or pitching acumen.  The biggest number that stands out from last season might be his 60% groundball rate he pitched to in the California League.  Outside of that, he's an undersized, overaged right hander, but a productive one at that with one hallmark skill.