With the deepest class of Dodgers prospects yet in the Andrew Friedman era, the group of players outside the top 30 include many names that would likely be top prospects in other systems. A frequent demographic you will find in the names on this list are young, high-ceiling international players that have yet to cut their teeth in full-season ball. Also populating this section are formerly bright prospects who have seen their star’s luster diminish due to poor performance or a decline in skills. Several of these names are capable of climbing the rankings in the very near future, with surprises like Brock Stewart and Andrew Toles starting in this territory on last season’s edition.
International influx of positional talent
As a general rule, I tend to under-rank incoming international talent in comparison with other outlets, primarily because of their distance from the major leagues and their lack of track record in organized leagues. Unlike America prep prospects, the international talent do not go through an extensive summer ringer of showcases and games that are covered with quite the intensity, and it’s hard to evaluate performances in the Dominican Summer League. This is a long way to say that Carlos Rincon, Cristian Santana, and Starling Heredia are likely to be ranked much higher elsewhere, than they are here.
Rincon came the closest to cracking the top 30, at 33. Rincon’s physicality might stand out in a group of impressive developmental frames, with room to add bulk to his 6’3 190-pound build. Rincon crushed his way through the DSL, and held his own in the Arizona Rookie League. Rincon’s size and bat speed portend to future plus-power, and he’s already producing game pop at 19. His swing-at-everything approach will likely be exposed at the full season level, but Rincon has time on his side. I expect he’ll start next season in Rookie-level Ogden, where his offensive prowess could lead to big numbers.
Santana might be the one I’m most personally excited about in this group. Santana is a square-framed, loose athlete that has more potential to fill a meaningful defensive role, with time spend around the diamond in 2016. If you can look behind the unconventional load, Santana’s bat speed is quite impressive, with the chance for big power as he fills out his frame. Like Rincon, Santana swung at almost everything and will need to refine his offensive tools, but neither had an alarmingly low contact rate. He’s older than Rincon, and may not have as high a ceiling, but I like the looseness in his athletic movements I have seen.
Heredia will likely come stateside in 2017, and remains one of the tougher players to evaluate. Physically, he’s a man among boys in the DSL, and his game defies convention. He has plus-raw power now, though it’s difficult to envision just what physical development he has left. Oneil Cruz is yet another raw, physical specimen that should see time in Arizona next summer, and I will be interested to see where the Dodgers slot him defensively.
I expect Heredia and Rincon to make several Dodgers top prospect lists this offseason, but all four of these names could climb the ranks in short order, and their conservative ceiling scores may climb accordingly.
Notable names slide
A handful of players thought to be potential contributors to the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers now face outside chances of being contributors to the parent club. The one name that saw time with Los Angeles of this group, Micah Johnson, saw a decline in his production across the board. Johnson’s game of speed and and contact both suffered dips, and his already perilous pop underwhelmed. He remains on the 40-man roster but could eventually suffer a crunch this offseason, especially with four names ahead of him needing placement on the roster to avoid Rule 5 exposure and only three current slots available.
Yaisel Sierra was a much ballyhooed Cuban signee that never showed much control or the ability to miss bats despite plus-velocity. The Dodgers exposed him to waivers, watched him go unclaimed, and now is working to rebuild value in the bullpen, while off the 40-man roster. He has a quick arm and can come close to reaching triple digits, but the fastball is a little too true, and the slider isn’t consistent enough for late relief.
Darnell Sweeney returns to the organization two years older but still crowded out in the major league infield picture. His decline in performance doesn’t help his cause, and the organization is much deeper than when he was traded the first time.
Chris Anderson never got on track in 2016. He has not shown the stuff he had two years ago, and his control has deteriorated to the point of putting him at risk of falling off the list entirely. His stint in the Arizona Fall League has not helped restore value, even for a trade. He’s likely to return to the Double-A Tulsa bullpen, where he’ll hope to regain the form of early 2015.
Others to watch
Kyle Garlick is short on tools, but he continues to produce and might realize his fourth-outfielder ceiling. He lacks the foot speed to handle center field long term and the bat speed to handle hard pitching, but he’s a heady player who has a feel for the barrel and made quick adjustments to fit in at the Double-A level.
AJ Alexy received a decent bonus outside the first 10 rounds of the 2016 draft and held his own in the Arizona Rookie League. He has a good pitcher’s frame and present feel for spin, and though he may lack the upside of Imani Abdullah (taken in a similar position to Alexy in the draft a year prior), Alexy appears to be a polished prep product that might be ready for the Midwest League when the temperature warms up.
Cody Thomas showed more power in his professional debut than he ever did in an on-and-off career at Oklahoma. He’s a football-body guy with good overall athleticism and strength, but the short season level performance has likely raised expectations ahead of his tools. His game was still raw as a junior, and there’s upside in his lack of experience, but will be challenged by full-season arms.
Jordan Paroubeck and Jared Walker are physical, toolsy types that just haven’t broken the full-season seal. Contact woes plague both, and age is no longer on their side. I like their tools, but competition for spots at the low levels is increasing.
New minor leauge signee Stetson Allie is a formerly famous name that is still progressing through his transition from pitcher to full-time player, but hasn’t translated his huge raw power as a prepster to consistent game pop. Likely first-base-only given his size, Allie doesn’t make enough contact to reach the high threshold for first base offense, and surprisingly struggles with left-handed pitching, which would rule out a future platoon. He’ll turn 26 before the start of the season, but he’s only spent four seasons as a bat-first player.
Tulsa had a handful of relievers that showed promise. Scott Griggs might be the hardest thrower of the group, with a fastball that reached 95 mph and a power downer breaking ball. Staying healthy has been a challenge to date. Should he elect to return to the organization, Gus Schlosser gave right handed hitters fits with a tumbling side arm sinker. He has specialist upside, but little development left.
Editor’s note: the prospect list at the moment still includes minor league free agents Lisalverto Bonilla (No. 52), Schlosser (No. 56) and Daniel Corcino (No. 65), all of whom ended 2016 in the Dodgers organization. Should the sign elsewhere this offseason, they will be removed from the list.