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Dodgers 2017 top prospects: No. 18, Johan Mieses

Mieses led Dodgers minor leagues with 28 home runs in 2016

Johan Mieses
Johan Mieses hit over half of his home runs (15) in a red-hot 28-game stretch in July and August.
Photo credit: Craig Minami | True Blue LA

Long considered a toolsy prospect, Dodgers outfielder Johan Mieses started to translate his raw power to game power in the second half of 2016, to the tune of a .300 isolated slugging and 17 home runs in 62 games. The rest of Mieses’ offensive approach remains a work in progress, and excitement over his potential is tempered by the low floor he still maintains. Mieses has been a late bloomer thus far, and should the plate discipline come together in Double-A Tulsa (a tall task), he could be a first division right fielder and blue chip prospect after 2017.

Mieses is a tantalizing package of physicality and tools. Listed at 6’2 and 185 lbs., his body appears more developed and filled out. He’s strong in both upper body and lower, and takes full advantage of his physical strength at the plate and in the field. While strong, his athleticism is a little tightly wound and he doesn’t move with the looseness of Yusniel Diaz or Ariel Sandoval.

Mieses has spent much of his development time in center field, though he will almost assuredly move to right field long term, especially with Diaz and Sandoval on the same development track. Mieses has more than ample arm for right field, and I am anxious to see it in action in Tulsa before calling it a pure plus or double-plus tool. Minor league defensive metrics (as crude as they may be) look favorable on Mieses’ work in right field, and he’s a decent enough runner to have above average range.

Mieses’ calling card is his power, which he tapped into last year for 28 home runs in the California League. His offensive game plan is clearly to pull and lift the ball, those his power can carry to the opposite field. Mieses’ takes a big swing at most everything, with a long high extension and finish designed to get the ball up. While he didn’t post Edwin Rios or Cody Bellinger-type percentages on fly balls, he did manage to keep the ball off the ground save for 34% of the time. Where Mieses falls behind the two premium sluggers is in a rather high rate of pop ups.

Contact bears the cost of Mieses’ slugging, as Johan struck out in 28.5% of his plate appearances. He’s not an overly undisciplined hitter, nor does he lack for bat speed, but his long swing causes him to lose control of the barrel and makes him vulnerable to off-speed pitches. His contact rate has decreased as he’s climbed the ladder and tapped into his pop, and this is the biggest red flag for him heading into Double-A.

The goal for Mieses heading into the 2017 season will likely be minor tweaks to his offensive approach. Rather than hunt to pull everything, he might look to employ a safer approach down in the count or in disadvantageous situations. I won’t be surprised if he struggles in the first half of Double-A next year, where pitcher polish makes a big jump from A ball, and Mieses’ offense is still very much unrefined.

As we’ve seen with Joc Pederson, Mieses can still have offensive value with a high strikeout rate. The concern is that his lack of contact could cause the rest of his offense to unravel at the next level. I can’t prescribe any fix for this, I’m just highlighting why his floor grade is rather low at the moment and continues to hold Mieses back from ranking higher on this list. Similarly, this likely holds his trade value below what his tools would otherwise suggest. He’s probably worth more to the Dodgers in waiting to see how he develops than he would in moving for an asset.

The Dodgers will have a decision to make on Mieses after the season as to whether or not they protect him on the forty man roster. He’s been a late bloomer thus far, with his raw tools gradually transforming to in game skills. How much he cleans up his plate approach could be the difference in being selected or left unprotected next off-season.

Mieses should still take the confidence of a big second half in 2016 with him to the next level, but will be tasked to react quicker to the new challenges he will face in Double-A. His upside is tremendous as a middle order hitter and capable right field defender, and right handed power is in ever short supply right now. He’s not likely to be ready to contribute until at least 2018, and his range of potential landing spots on next year’s prospect list remains rather large.

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