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Dodgers system still strong after deals

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Willie Calhoun
Willie Calhoun was the prized prospect traded out of the Dodger system today.
Oklahoma City Dodgers

The Dodgers entered today’s trade deadline with baseball’s top team and one of the game’s top farm systems, giving them the potential to deal from their considerable depth. Not only were the Dodgers able to land the top starting pitcher rental in the market, but managed to hang on to the top six players in the system according to my mid-season rankings, and 19 of the top 20 ranked. While the series of trades thinned the third base depth in the system, they avoided dealing from the upper levels of the farm and kept their key prospects that could factor in the second half of this season.

The top player dealt today was my seventh ranked prospect Willie Calhoun. While Calhoun’s bat looked ready for a major league call-up, Calhoun had begun taking turns in the Oklahoma City outfield, and second base at the first division level was always going to be a stretch. Calhoun most likely ends up a diminutive designated hitter, but found a soft landing spot in Texas, where his bat could stand out in the heart of the lineup. With Calhoun’s biggest present value to the Dodgers being his trade value, they did well to make him the centerpiece of an elite rental player.

Going with Calhoun to Texas was rising prep righthander AJ Alexy, who featured in my mid-season top 20 as number 21. Alexy has shown more polish than you would expect given his age and playing prep baseball in the northeast. He has some room to add to his long frame, and the feeling was that he was likely to push his fringe average velocity to at least average levels. Taking a polished youngster with upside is a worthy gamble for the Rangers, but the Dodgers are flush in young projectable arms and moving Alexy is dealing from a position of strength.

Brendon Davis, the third piece in the Darvish deal, was having a promising season that had seen him get over the Great Lakes hump. The spindly infielder was starting to show more pop and some signs of filling out his frame, but was likely to head back to High A to start 2018. Davis’s hit tool looked a little better as a prepster than it does at present, but he has a shot for four of five tools (he’s a below average runner), but will need to continue to be developed slowly.

In dealing for a pair of left handed relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani, the Dodgers gave up no players from my mid season top 30, and none of the three prospects had yet to reach High A. Angel German was the highest ranked of the three in pre-season and was at 39 in my mid-season rankings. The hard throwing relief prospect had started to answer some control concerns in what has been a bounce back year, but is strictly a future reliever. The other player going to the Pirates, SS/3B Oneil Cruz likely stings the most for fans because he showed promise as an 18 year old in full season ball. Cruz has looked overmatched for much of the season, but the XL framed infielder could match Davis with four of five tools at average or better. Like Davis, though, Cruz is several years from seeing the major leagues, and as a prospect is something of a lottery ticket.

The price for Tony Cingrani took even less from the system. The only prospect to move in that trade, Hendrik Clementina, had yet to factor into my rankings, but was having a good season in the Pioneer League. Clementina, though, is already 20 years old and has yet to play a game above the short season level, and as a catcher plays arguably the deepest position in the system.

Taking a flyer on two left handers with late inning experience and nabbing a strong number two in the rotation cost the Dodgers just three top 30 prospects and a pair of low A players with promise. The packages surrendered in these deals not only reflect the nature of the buyer’s market in 2017, but highlight the strength of the system. The Dodgers successfully retained Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Yadier Alvarez, and Dennis Santana, their most promising names in Double A or higher. While the future is now for Los Angeles, today’s moves did little to dampen the excitement for the seasons to come.