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2018 top Dodgers prospects: No. 25-31

Note: this list was amended after the trade of Trevor Oaks to the Royals that brought Jake Peter from the White Sox, then again with the waiver claim of J.T. Chargois

Yaisel Sierra had a 3.04 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 71 innings between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2017.
Photo credit: Tomo San | LA Dodgers

Our list of top Dodgers prospects heading into 2018 continues. After last week’s introduction to the list (79 players deep), we delve into the top 30 here.

31. Yaisel Sierra, RHRP

After a rough 2016 that saw him removed from the 40-man roster, Sierra had something of a bounceback year in 2017. Exhibiting better control and stronger peripheral in Double-A Tulsa, Sierra found mixed results in Triple-A. However, with his arm speed and propensity for ground balls, Sierra could enter the big league equation at some point in 2018.

Sierra has one of the quicker arms in the system, with a fastball that can reach the upper 90s, but he finds more success dialing it back a bit to generate more sink, leading to softer contact and more swings and misses. Sierra has a sharp slider that can be a true strikeout pitch, but he struggles to command it consistently.

Sierra will battle with his arm slot and release point on occasion, and probably lacks the overall command to pitch late in games effectively. At 27 on opening day, Sierra is one of the older prospects on this list, and at this point in his career he is strictly a relief prospect. 2018 will be just his third year stateside, and increased comfort and familiarity with the organization could lead to further improvement in Oklahoma City this year, with a possible call up at some point in the season.

Sierra’s 2017 preseason rank: 29

30. Jake Peter, IF

Peter was acquired from the White Sox in the three-team Scott Alexander trade on Jan. 4, 2018 that also sent Trevor Oaks (originally the No. 19 prospect) to the Royals.

Peter’s profile can be seen here.

29. J.T. Chargois, RHP

Chargois was claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Feb. 23, 2018.

28. Tim Locastro, SS/CF

A surprise September call up in the final weekend 2017, Tim Locastro has made the most of his time with the Dodger organization after a 2015 trade from Toronto. The Dodgers have developed Locastro at a number of positions, and his feel for hitting and stolen base acumen has made him a candidate for the Dodger bench in 2018.

Perhaps the most noticeable change in Locastro’s game since coming to the Dodgers has been an increased emphasis on hitting the ball in the air, dropping his ground ball rate from 49% in 2015 to just 40% last season. Given the amount of contact Locastro makes (just a 10.4% strikeout percentage in Oklahoma City), Locastro’s change in approach has made him a weapon offensively.

Additionally, Locastro added more pop last season, almost doubling his isolated slugging with Tulsa from the previous season. Locastro’s power is almost all to his pull side, but he has the quick trigger to attack balls on the inner half. Locastro’s swing has almost no load and he’s very difficult to fool with off-speed.

Athletically, Locastro is more quick than fast, stealing bases with good recognition and jumps more than with pure speed. Center field is a better position for him than shortstop, where his are and range are stretched to their limit. Locastro’s offensive improvements have made him a real sleeper in the system, where he’s turned himself from a non-prospect for me in 2015 to a poor man’s Chris Taylor on the 2018 list.

Locastro’s 2017 preseason rank: 47

27. Ariel Sandoval, RF/CF

Sandoval’s lofty status on the 2017 prospect list (he was 11th) looked quite foolish after his first half, but he teased enough of his loud tools in the second half to hang on to top 30 status. Sandoval was overmatched offensively for much of 2017, striking out 36% of the time in High A. With some mechanical adjustments to a still too noisy swing, Sandoval did recover with a .250/.324/.522 slash line in the second half.

Ariel Sandoval at the plate
Ariel Sandoval at the plate
Photo credit: Craig Minami | True Blue LA

Sandoval ranks ahead of similar high swing-and-miss sluggers Johan Mieses and Carlos Rincon because he flashes some of the better athleticism in the system. A twitchy athlete capable of handling center or right defensively, Sandoval also has the looseness in his body to continue making proper swing adjustments.

Sandoval ditched the high-elbow, uncomfortable set up he used previously to a more conventional balanced approach. He still has a propensity to move his hands too much in his load, but his new load and leg kick give him better timing than the previous swing. Sandoval still struggles mightily with pitch recognition and has the tendency to offer at too many pitches outside the zone, but he did show some improvement in the second half here as well.

I still think the Dodgers would like to see Sandoval cut back on the strikeouts and improve his discipline before moving up to face the better pitching in the Texas League, so Sandoval is likely heading for another year in the California League. His second half offered hope for a breakout, but the gap Sandoval needs to bridge in contact rate still looms large over his big league prospects.

Sandoval’s 2017 preseason rank: 11

26. Andrew Sopko, RHSP

Sopko’s prospect status treaded water in 2017, having spent much of the first half pitching with less than stellar command that he needs to survive with his stuff. His command improved in the second half and his performance should be enough to see a promotion to Oklahoma City in 2018.

Andrew Sopko had a 4.13 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Tulsa in 2017.
Photo credit: Matthew Christensen | Tulsa Drillers

Sopko relies heavily on a fastball that hovers in the upper 80s to low 90s, but can be a difficult pitch for hitters to pick up in the upper half of the zone. He struggled with location in the first half and the pitch can be battered when down in the zone. Sopko has a solid curveball that works down in the zone and a change up with solid fade.

Sopko’s delivery is compact and he hides to ball well in back. He relies on that deception because of his fringe velocity. Sopko can work deeper into games when needed, but has the repertoire that likely works best just two times through the order. Sopko did come on in relief in the playoffs and could have a future role as a long man. When he pitches with plus command, Sopko has a shot as a swing man starter capable of filling out the back of a big league rotation.

Sopko’s 2017 preseason rank: 23

25. Matt Beatty, 1B/LF

Though he’s shown a propensity for hitting at each level, Beaty’s prospect status broke out in 2017 with a league MVP performance with Tulsa. Beaty tapped into his average game power more frequently while becoming even more difficult to strikeout. The Dodgers used the Arizona Fall League to try Beaty in the outfield, where a conversion could make a big difference for his big league outlook.

Beaty’s barrel control is near the top of the organization (perhaps only Alex Verdugo and Yusniel Diaz topping him). His contact-centric approach uses all fields, with a shortened up stroke to shoot the gaps against the shift. Beaty keeps his hands low in his set up and employs just a slight leg kick, giving him far less moving parts in his swing. He doesn’t always incorporate his lower half in his swing, and will trade power for contact quite frequently.

Though he hits for average power, Beaty’s power profile comes up short for the typical big league first base prospect. He can handle position just fine defensively, but for a larger major league role, he will need to prove he can handle the outfield with Oklahoma City in 2018. With his consistently high contact rate, Beaty should at least get a major league opportunity as a pinch hitting bench bat. More defensive versatility could lead to a more significant role in 2019.

Beaty’s 2017 preseason rank: n/a

2018 top Dodgers prospects list

19 Kyle Farmer C/3B 27.07 MLB 50 50 45 good feel for hit, offensive profile at C, utility more productive bench bat then starter, age
20 Caleb Ferguson LHSP 21.09 HiA 50 45 50 K production, 3 pitch mix, command, feel for spin upside more mid rotation, maxed out frame
21 Connor Wong C/2B 21.10 LoA 50 45 50 versatile talent, good athlete for a C, solid power prod some swing and miss, build not projectable
22 Josh Sborz RHSP/RP 24.03 AA 50 45 50 high floor, command of three pitches, competitive stuff has backed up this season, likely reliever
23 James Marinan RHSP 19.06 ROK 50 40 55 projectable frame, flashes + SNK, chance for +CH slurvy BB, more middle than upper rotation upside
24 Devin Smeltzer LHSP 22.08 HiA 50 45 50 high pitchability, 3 pitch mix, throws nothing straight fringe avg velo, 4th or 5th starter ceiling
25 Matt Beaty 1B/LF 24.11 AA 50 45 50 excellent feel for hit, career production, game pop limited ceiling, future defensive home
26 Andrew Sopko RHSP 23.08 AA 50 50 45 3 pitch mix, pitchability, command, deceptive velo can be fringy, bottom rotation upside
27 Ariel Sandoval CF/RF 22.05 HiA 50 35 60 livey athlete, raw power, arm, 2nd half production too raw at plate, noisey set-up, high swing and miss
28 Tim Locastro SS/2B/CF 25.09 AAA 50 45 45 good bat to ball skills, high steal rate, versatile fringe pop, stretched at SS and CF, upside
29 Jake Peter 2B/SS 24.11 AAA 50 45 45 fluid LH swing, arm strength, versatile utility/bench upside, ? on overall pop
30 Yaisel Sierra RHRP 27.01 AAA 50 40 50 good velo, SL will flash +, quick arm command, incon. release, FB can be straight
31 Wilmer Font RHSP/RP 27.10 MLB 50 40 50 excellent K production, rise on FB, + SL age, previous command issues, upside
32 Ibandel Isabel 1B 22.09 HiA 50 30 60 ++ raw power, physical build, strength huge swing and miss, poor defender, raw
33 Mitchell Hansen CF/RF 21.11 SS 45 40 55 chance for 5 tools, upside, projectable frame struggling to break full season, swing and miss
34 Errol Robinson SS 23.06 AA 45 45 50 smooth infield actions, throwing arm, solid athlete better long speed than SB threat, off. ceiling
35 Johan Mieses RF/CF 22.09 AA 45 40 55 impressive arm, defensive ceiling, raw power serious swing and miss concerns
36 Omar Estevez 2B/SS 20.01 HiA 45 40 55 added defensive versatility, some feel for hit production stagnated at Hi A, power potential
37 Donovan Casey CF/RF 22.01 SS 45 45 50 twitchy athlete, production, solid bat to ball skills ceiling more 4th OF than starter, power ceiling
38 Edward Paredes LHRP 31.06 MLB 45 45 45 K production, tough on LHH, + SL age, one pitch reliever, LOOGY upside
39 Rob Segedin 3B/LF 29.05 MLB 45 45 45 hit vs lefties, gets most of tools, avg pop bench bat upside, limited defender, upside
40 Drew Jackson SS/2B 24.09 AA 45 40 50 elite athlete, + to ++ speed and arm strength offense improving but limited ceiling, utility upside
41 Wills Montgomerie RHSP/RP 22.10 LoA 45 40 50 spin rate, durable build, flashes + velo and CV uneven production, command wavers
42 Cody Thomas RF 23.06 LoA 45 35 55 great build, good athlete, chance for above avg pop still raw, swing and miss concerns
43 Jesen Therrien RHRP 25.00 AAA 45 45 45 SL flashes +, good command and K production TJ wipes out '18. middle relief/ROOGY upside
44 Carlos Rincon RF 20.06 SS 45 35 55 big raw power, physical upside, bat speed pretty raw offensively, serious swing and miss
45 Kyle Garlick CF/RF/LF 26.02 AA 45 45 45 productive, feel for hitting, avg pop 4th outfielder profile, age, fringe speed
46 Luke Raley LF/RF 23.06 HiA 45 40 50 muscular build, chance for above avg pop just avg bat speed, possible swing and miss
47 Luis Paz 1B/C 21.09 SS 45 40 50 power production, bat speed, strong build ? on ultimate defensive home, avg athlete
48 Riley Ottesen RHRP 23.05 LoA 45 40 50 good velo, will flash + SL, arm speed poor college production, likely reliever only
49 Rylan Bannon 3B 21.11 SS 45 45 45 college/pro production, good feel for hit, game pop skills over tools, ceiling, possible utility upside
50 Leo Crawford LHSP 21.01 LoA 45 40 50 solid production, command of 3 pitch mix fringe velo, not as projectable, likely back end
51 Zach Reks LF/RF 24.05 HiA 45 45 45 feel for hit, on base skills, productive - power, age, 4th OF profile
52 Romer Cuadrado LF/RF 20.08 SS 45 35 55 excellent frame, chance for + raw power development lagging behind age, swing and miss
53 Ryan Moseley RHRP 23.06 LoA 45 40 50 chance for ++ snk, big groundball potential struggles with command, results don't match stuff
54 Jared Walker 3B/RF 22.02 LoA 45 40 50 + size/athleticism combo, chance for hit/power, + arm raw, buggy whip swing, error prone in IF
55 Zach Pop RHRP 21.06 NA 45 40 50 good life/velo combo on FB, solid build, poss. CH mid relief profile, SL loses shape in low slot
56 Corey Copping RHRP 24.03 AA 45 45 45 good SL, bulldog mentality, decent production FB velo avg to fringe, middle relief ceiling
57 Shea Spitzbarth RHRP 23.06 AA 45 45 45 agressive mound demeanor, arm strength, CV middle relief upside, maxed out frame, size
58 Layne Somsen RHRP 28.10 AA 45 45 45 tough overhead BB, production, athletic limited mid relief ceiling, age, avg FB velo
59 Tony Gonsolin RHRP 23.11 HiA 45 40 50 arm speed, flashes + SL, solid K production lithe build, not quite late relief upside
60 Alfredo Tavarez RHSP/RP 20.04 LoA 45 35 50 king sized frame, arm strength, K production still raw mechanically, repeating arm slot, command
61 Aneurys Zabala RHRP 21.03 LoA 45 40 50 will flash ++ arm strength, some feel for spin relief profile, command, limited physical upside
62 Michael Boyle LHSP 23.11 HiA 45 40 45 pitch movement, pitchability, 3 pitches no plus pitch, fringy velo, #5 starter/swingman
63 Jefrey Souffront 2B/3B 20.11 ROK 45 35 50 some feel for hit, quick bat, mature plate approach distance from the majors, build not projectable
64 Jacob Amaya SS/2B 19.02 ROK 45 35 50 chance to stick at SS, good athlete, some feel for hit distance from majors, offensive ceiling
65 Ronny Brito SS 19.00 SS 45 35 50 infield actions, long athlete, chance to hit ? on overall offensive potential, far from majors
66 Logan Crouse RHRP 21.04 LoA 45 35 50 size, projectability, athleticism in delivery, arm action Fringy present velo, lots of projection left
67 Chris Mathewson RHSP/RP 21.10 HiA 45 40 45 SNK/SL mix, solid production, command back of rotation, middle relief upside, fringe velo
68 Adam Bray RHSP 24.11 HiA 45 40 45 durability, feel for spin, good command fringe starter upside, upside, avg K potential
69 Brian Moran LHRP 29.06 AA 40 40 45 funk in delivery, tough in LHH, K potential limited ceiling, fringe velo, age
70 Nolan Long RHRP 24.02 HiA 40 40 45 long frame, athletic for size, FB flashes + long levers to control, command, likely reliever
71 Mike Ahmed 1B/3B 26.02 AA 40 40 45 productive in '16, swing plane, avg pop bat speed, age, limited upside
72 Nathan Witt RHRP 21.11 ROK 40 35 50 good build, projectable, arm strength project arm, distance from majors, relief upside
73 Travis Taijeron LF/RF 29.02 AAA 40 40 45 good career power production, physical build age, defensive upside, swing and miss concern
74 Jacob Scavuzzo LF 24.02 AAA 40 40 45 solid tool profile, still a chance for upside game going backward, struggling hit tool
75 Max Gamboa RHRP 22.04 ROK 40 35 50 excellent arm strength, + to ++ velo, good frame production does not match stuff, incon. SL
76 Dean Kremer RHRP 22.03 HiA 40 40 45 decent athleticism and frame, K production, sink on FB was hit hard in HiA. Homer prone, no + pitch
77 Moises Perez 2B 20.08 LoA 40 40 45 loose athlete, some feel for hit offensive ceiling, lower on defensive spectrum
78 Isaac Anderson RHSP/RP 24.07 HiA 40 40 45 versatile arm, some SNK on FB, avg SL no plus or above avg tool, low ceiling, taxi arm