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Josue De Paula, Michael Busch, and other Dodgers prospect ranking notes

New top Dodgers prospect lists from FanGraphs and Baseball America were released in the last week

Michael Busch (77) takes the plate as the Oklahoma City Dodgers face the Sugar Land Space Cowboys at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Downtown Oklahoma City on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Nathan J. Fish/The Oklahoman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Within the last week, a pair of major national outlets unveiled their top Dodgers prospects lists. FanGraphs provided their top 51 prospects for the team last Thursday, and Baseball America revealed their top ten Dodgers prospects on Monday.

Combined with the Baseball Prospectus team list that came out just before Christmas, a few patters have emerged. On all three lists, catcher Diego Cartaya was rated the top Dodgers prospect, and pitcher Bobby Miller was number two. Miguel Vargas, who got his first taste of the majors last season, is ranked third in the system by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, and fourth at FanGraphs.

But let’s look at a few other notable items with the recent FanGraphs and Baseball America lists.

Josue De Paula signed with the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic last January, and doesn’t turn 18 until June. But the outfielder impressed enough in his first professional season in the Dominican Summer League that Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs ranked De Paula the seventh-best prospect in a very deep system.

Already listed at 6’3, 200 pounds, De Paula hit .350/.448/.522 with 20 extra-base hits in 53 games and more walks (32) than strikeouts (31), all at age 17, which earned him a spot in instructional league after the season.

“The comps that scouts (not just Dodgers personnel, scouts from outside the org) are throwing around here are borderline irresponsible, star DH/LF types who are currently among the most dangerous hitters in baseball,” Longenhagen wrote. “De Paula’s size is likely to push him way, way down the defensive spectrum, maybe even off of it entirely, but the ceiling on his bat is so huge that it may not matter.”

De Paula was not listed on the full Baseball Prospectus Dodgers list, which included 23 players. Baseball America on Monday provided the top ten Dodgers prospects, with the top-30 team prospects coming later, as BA’s annual prospect handbook becomes available.

Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had similar lists, at least at the top, with nine matching players in the top ten of both lists. The missing player in BP’s top ten was Ryan Pepiot, who made his debut for the Dodgers in 2022. He checked in at No. 5 on this year’s Baseball America list, and was tabbed by BA as having the best changeup in LA’s system.

“Pepiot projects to be a hard-throwing starter who goes five innings before handing it off to his bullpen,” said BA’s scouting report. “He has the stuff to be an elite setup man or potential closer.”

Nick Frasso, who was acquired in the four-player Mitch White trade to Toronto in August, was ranked eighth by Baseball Prospectus but was out of the top ten at both Baseball America and FanGraphs, showing at No. 16 at the latter. BA did rank Frasso’s fastball as the best in the Dodgers’ system.

Second baseman Michael Busch was added to the 40-man roster in November, and was ranked seventh in the system by Baseball Prospectus. FanGraphs had Busch as the Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect, and BA ranked him fourth. Even though FanGraphs was highest on Busch, they list him as a designated hitter, calling him a “bat-only player.”

Longenhagen at FanGraphs wrote, “It’s tough to be a 2-WAR DH every year (Bryce Harper‘s 2022 100-game line was good for 2 WAR), but Busch has the hit/power combination to do it.”

Busch is one of seven players ranked among the top ten Dodgers prospects by all three of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and FanGraphs, along with Cartaya, Miller, Vargas, Gavin Stone, and Andy Pages.

The other consensus top-ten prospect thus far is pitcher Nick Nastrini, who was drafted by the Dodgers out of UCLA in the fourth round in 2021. He had a 3.93 ERA between High-A Great Lakes and Double-A Tulsa in 2022, with 169 strikeouts and 55 walks in 116⅔ innings. The 11.4-percent walk rate is high, but not enough to hinder the right-hander’s promise among prospect rankers.

Baseball America ranks Nastrini ninth in the Dodgers system, noting, “Nastrini’s loud stuff and improved control give him a chance to be a No. 4 starter if he can maintain his strides.”

“He’s already 23 and in the upper levels of the minors, but because Nastrini was only drafted in 2021, the Dodgers have the next two or three years to try to get the strike throwing in a better place before they truly have to consider moving him to the bullpen,” wrote Longenhagen at FanGraphs, who ranked Nastrini eighth. “If they do, he has late-inning stuff.”

Here’s a look at every Dodgers prospect rated in some fashion by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, or FanGraphs. We’ll update later in the offseason as more national rankings come out, and after BA unveils its top-30 lists.

Dodgers 2023 team-specific prospect rankings

Player Pos 2023 age On 40-man? 2022 highest level BA BP FG
Player Pos 2023 age On 40-man? 2022 highest level BA BP FG
Diego Cartaya C 21 Yes High-A 1 1 1
Bobby Miller SP 24 No Triple-A 2 2 2
Miguel Vargas IF/LF 23 Yes MLB 3 3 4
Michael Busch 2B/OF 25 Yes Triple-A 4 7 3
Gavin Stone SP 24 No Triple-A 6 4 6
Andy Pages OF 22 Yes Double-A 7 9 5
Nick Nastrini SP 23 No Double-A 9 5 8
Ryan Pepiot SP 25 Yes MLB 5 11 9
Dalton Rushing C 22 No High-A 8 6 13
Nick Frasso RHP 24 No Double-A 8 16
James Outman OF 26 Yes MLB 10 10 26
Emmet Sheehan RHP 23 No Double-A 12 17
Jorbit Vivas 2B 22 Yes High-A 14 14
Maddux Bruns LHP 21 No Low-A 15 11
Jose Ramos OF 22 No High-A 16 19
Josue De Paula OF 18 No Dominican 7
River Ryan RHP 24 No High-A 10
Rayne Doncon SS 19 No Low-A 12
Eddys Leonard SS 22 Yes High-A 13
Alex Freeland SS 21 No Low-A 17 37
Ronan Kopp LHP 20 No High-A 18 32
Accimias Morales RHP 18 No Dominican 19
Andre Jackson RHP 27 Yes MLB 20
Peter Heubeck RHP 20 No Low-A 21 36
Yeiner Fernandez C 20 No Low-A 22 18
Carlos Duran RHP 21 No High-A 23 21
Jake Amaya SS 24 Yes Triple-A 15
Edgardo Henriquez RHP 21 No Low-A 20
Michael Grove SP 26 Yes MLB 22
Landon Knack SP 25 No Double-A 23
Justin Wrobleski LHP 22 No Low-A 24
Jonny DeLuca OF 24 Yes Double-A 25
Thayron Liranzo C 19 No Arizona 27
Mairoshendrick Martinus 3B 18 No Dominican 28
Luis Valdez LHP 19 No Arizona 29
Samuel Munoz OF 18 No Dominican 30
Maximo Martinez RHP 19 No Arizona 31
Joel Ibarra RHP 20 No Low-A 33
Owaldo Osorio SS 18 No Dominican 34
Jesus Galiz C 19 No Arizona 35
Kyle Hurt RHP 25 No Double-A 38
Ben Casparius RHP 24 No High-A 39
Carlos De Los Santos RHP 22 No High-A 40
Chris Campos RHP 22 No Low-A 41
Payton Martin RHP 19 No DNP 42
Alvaro Benua RHP 20 No Dominican 43
Reynaldo Yean RHP 19 No Arizona 44
Madison Jeffrey RHP 23 No Low-A 45
Nick Robertson RHP 24 No Triple-A 46
Nelson Quiroz C 21 No Low-A 47
Wilman Diaz SS 19 No Arizona 48
Ryan Ward OF 25 No Double-A 49
Damon Keith OF 23 No High-A 50
Robinson Ortiz LHP 22 No High-A 51
Sources: Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and FanGraphs