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Dodgers prospect rankings: Dalton Rushing up, Diego Cartaya down

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Dalton Rushing #20 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park on July 08, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.
Dalton Rushing #20 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park on July 08, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

If I may briefly distract you from all things Shohei Ohtani for a moment, we have also reached the portion of the offseason in which various team prospect rankings start to trickle out. The latest came Monday, with Baseball Prospectus unveiling their top prospects in the Dodgers’ system.

It’s interesting to contrast the BP list with that of Baseball America, which released their own top-10 Dodgers prospect list on November 24. Here’s a look at the players named in the top 10 of at least one of those two lists.

Dodgers top prospects for 2024

Player Pos 2024 age 2023 high level BA BP
Player Pos 2024 age 2023 high level BA BP
Dalton Rushing C 23 High-A 2 1
Michael Busch 3B/2B/LF 26 MLB 1 5
Nick Frasso RHP 25 Triple-A 5 3
Jose De Paula OF 19 Low-A 6 2
Andy Pages OF 23 Triple-A 4 8
Kyle Hurt RHP 26 MLB 7 7
River Ryan RHP 25 Triple-A 8 6
Gavin Stone RHP 25 MLB 3 13
Diego Cartaya C 22 Double-A 9 9
Thayron Liranzo C 20 Low-A n/a 4
Payton Martin RHP 20 Low-A n/a 10
Maddux Bruns LHP 22 High-A 10 16

Baseball Prospectus ranked 22 prospects, while the Baseball America list for now only went 10 deep. The top 30 Dodgers prospects at BA will be unveiled later this winter, around when the Baseball America prospect handbook is published.

There’s also the caveat that these prospect lists are especially fluid this offseason, and specifically for the Dodgers, who are definitely in the market for starting pitching. In addition to free agent arms, they’ve been linked in trade rumors for Dylan Cease, Corbin Burnes, and Tyler Glasnow, to name a few, the latter group likely requiring one or a few of the prospects listed here.

On Monday, for instance, Jorbit Vivas was initially No. 17 in the Dodgers list at BP, but he was traded to the Yankees. Trey Sweeney, the shortstop sent to Los Angeles in the deal, was added into the Dodgers list and now ranks 14th in his new system.

There will be more prospect rankings revealed this offseason, but with these two lists we can see a few trends.

Rushing up the charts

Catcher Dalton Rushing, the Dodgers’ first draft pick in 2022 — 40th overall, just after the first round — is the new belle of the ball. He tops the prospect list at Baseball Prospectus and is second behind Michael Busch on Baseball America’s list.

Rushing is seven months older than fellow catcher Diego Cartaya and a level behind, but all the former Louisville catcher has done is hit since turning pro, save for a slump after dealing with the aftereffects of a concussion in 2023. He still hit .228/.404/.452 with 15 home runs and a 146 wRC+ in 89 games for High-A Great Lakes, with a great walk rate (18.9 percent) and strikeout rate (24.4 percent) only slightly higher than the Midwest League average. Baseball America rates Rushing as having the best power in the Dodgers’ system.

He played in the MLB Futures Game in July.

The great fall

Diego Cartaya topped all Dodgers prospect lists before the 2023 season, with an average ranking of the 18th-best prospect in baseball by BA, BP, ESPN, The Athletic, FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline.

But the catcher had a terrible season, hitting just .189/.278/.379 with 19 home runs and 71 wRC+ in 93 games for Double-A Tulsa.

Heading into 2024, Cartaya is rated the No. 9 prospect in the Dodgers system by both BA and BP. Baseball Prospectus even has two catchers ahead of him, including Thayron Liranzo, who hit .272/.400/.562 with a 155 wRC+ for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga and led the California League in home runs, at fourth in the system.

But given that Cartaya just turned 22 in September, and considering he was over three years younger than the average player in the Texas League, there’s still time for Cartaya to turn things around.

“While it might look like Cartaya has cratered by dropping eight spots, this placement is more a testament to the Dodgers system than a scathing indictment on his suboptimal performance in an aggressive assignment,” Ben Zeidman wrote at BP. “Cartaya has slipped from the top global prospect stratosphere after failing to adapt to Texas League pitching, but still projects as a big-league backstop.”

The Dodgers remain bullish on Cartaya’s future, with general manager Brandon Gomes telling reporters at the GM meetings in November, “I think it does get a little bit lost how young he is, especially for (the) level,” per Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic.

Other notes

Last year, FanGraphs was high on then-17-year-old outfielder Josue De Paula, ranking him seventh in the system. De Paula did not disappoint, hitting .284/.396/.372 with a 118 wRC+ and incredible plate discipline in Low-A. He’s second in the system at BP, and sixth in BA this year.

A couple of starting pitchers on the 40-man roster could make an impact in 2024, maybe even in relief. Nick Frasso, who was added to the roster in November, is ranked third among Dodgers prospects at BP and fifth at BA. Says Ben Zeidman at BP: “It’s likely he will be up and productive in 2024, but whether he gets a starter’s leash or punches in from a bullpen stopper role is up for debate.”

Kyle Hurt had a strong year as a starter in 2023 and dazzled in his perfect two-inning major league debut in September. He’s ranked seventh in the system at both BA and BP. In the chat accompanying the BA list in November, Kyle Glaser said Hurt has the potential to be a closer.

“The stuff is there and the newfound confidence and moxie fit the bill,” Glaser said. “Hurt previously struggled with his confidence and composure, which was an issue, but he’s made such big strides you can see a scenario where it happens now.”