The folks at Baseball Prospectus unveiled their midseason top 50 prospects on Thursday, and three Dodgers made the cut. Cody Bellinger almost certainly would have made it four, but he’s busy preparing for a trip to his first major league All-Star Game this weekend.
The three Dodgers in the Baseball Prospectus top 50 are pitcher Walker Buehler (19th), outfielder Alex Verdugo (27th) and pitcher Yadier Alvarez (28th).
Buehler is the big climber here, up from 94th on the preseason top 101 list. The Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt, Buehler missed nearly all of 2016 after Tommy John surgery, pitching only five innings at the end of the season. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts between Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, with 83 strikeouts (34.4% strikeout rate) and 17 walks in 61⅔ innings.
“You can make an argument Buehler has the best raw stuff in the minors right now,” wrote Jeffrey Paternostro and the Baseball Prospectus staff. “The fastball can touch 99, and he complements it with two advanced breaking pitches, both of which are potentially plus major league offerings.”
Buehler made the Texas League All-Star Game with Tulsa, and Verdugo made the Triple-A All-Star Game after his stellar first half for Oklahoma City.
Verdugo, another riser after he was ranked 66th, has excelled as one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League at age 21. The Dodgers’ second-round pick in 2014, Verdugo is hitting .347/.417/.467 with 18 doubles, four triples, three home runs, and more walks (35) than strikeouts (31) in 77 games for Oklahoma City this season.
Verdugo had a 20-game hitting streak snapped last week, but has a current 30-game streak of reaching base, hitting .415/.473/.593 during that span.
Alvarez, 21, is down five spots from his preseason ranking, after a so-so first half for Rancho Cucamonga. Alvarez has a 5.37 ERA in 55⅓ innings, with 56 strikeouts (23% K rate) and 21 walks.
Paternostro and staff love Alvarez’s raw stuff, but also noted, “The control and command are loose enough, and the changeup far away enough that he might not be a starter if it one or more of those aspects don’t take a significant step forward.”