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Three Dodgers prospects who are trending down

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MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Kansas City Royals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As highlighted in my look at prospects trending up, the Dodgers have a multitude of young players who have risen their stock throughout the season, deepening what is already a strong system. But, as deep and potent as the Dodgers farm system is, there are naturally going to be some players who regress from last season’s production, thus clouding their future prospect pedigree. Down below we are going to look at three Dodgers prospects who have seen their stock take a tumble this season.

C Diego Cartaya

Double-A Tulsa

2023 stats: .188/.266/.356, 62 wRC+, 8 HR, 30-percent K rate

It’s weird to say that a consensus preseason top-30 prospect is trending down, but here we are. Cartaya has been terrible this year as highlighted by his triple slash line and really his numbers across the board. His walk rate is nearly half of what it was last season, sinking all the way to 7.5 percent in 2023, after two consecutive seasons of 13.1 percent or higher. In addition to that, his 30-percent strikeout rate is his highest to date. His wRc+ of 62 not only tells us he is 38 percent worse than an Double-A average hitter, but additionally it is 76 points lower than his 2022 number in High-A ball. Furthermore, his ISO (isolated slugging percentage) is 56 points below his High-A mark last season.

A potential change in approach might be the culprit of some of these issues as his pull percentage has dipped from 50.6 percent last season to 43.2 percent this season. Traditionally only good things happen when a young player starts to use the entire field, but Cartaya might be the rare exception to that. This almost feels like a lost year of development for the 21-year-old because of how bad he has been thus far.

Cartaya has already plummeted on top-100 lists in midseason updates. At Baseball America, the catcher dropped from No. 18 preseason to No. 72 now. Baseball Prospectus had Cartaya 19th overall before the season but he’s now outside of the top 60 prospects. The drop at The Athletic was less steep, from sixth overall preseason to 19th now, but Keith Law wrote, “Cartaya’s 2023 season has been a modest disaster, if we’re being candid here.”

SP Gavin Stone

MLB, Triple-A Oklahoma City

2023 stats (OKC): 6.03 ERA, 5.13 FIP, 77 K, 31 BB, 65 IP
2023 stats (LA): 12.75 ERA, 5.03 FIP, 8 K, 8 BB, 12 IP

After what was a really strong 2022 season where he pitched to a 1.48 ERA across three levels, the 24-year-old has been bad this year in both Triple-A and the majors. Excluding his MLB numbers, his walk rate of 4.25 batters per nine this season would be the highest mark in his career, Stone’s ground ball rate of 40.2 percent would be his lowest and his strikeout rate of 10.55 per nine would be his second-lowest. Now there are a few numbers that point to some bad luck like his BABIP of .335, left on base percentage of 63.5 percent and home run/fly ball rate of 15.6 percent. All of those are numbers that are near impossible to sustain over the course of a full season which does indicate that there are better days ahead for him. However, his FIP is 5.03 and his xFIP is 5.06, so whilst he has had some bad luck this season, he’s still been poor to put it nicely.

SS Eddys Leonard

Double-A Tulsa

2023 stats: .251/.324/.417, 96 wRC+, 11 HR, 20 doubles,

The most concerning statistic for Leonard is his 96 wRC+, meaning based on league and park factors as well as hit type he’s four percent worse than the average Double-A hitter. For a 22-year-old prospect who’s largely taken steps back at every level he’s played at, it raises a red flag to say the least. His walk-to-strikeout ratio has taken a slight step back and there isn’t a single stat that indicates bad luck. His BABIP of .303, 52 points higher than his batting average indicates a slight amount of good luck if anything.

The one thing that I think is leading to the regression in Leonard’s game is he seems to be becoming a home-run-happy hitter (he hit two of them on Thursday). His infield fly ball rate has gone from 28.9 percent to 45.1 percent this season. A jump of that level indicates to me that he’s added more of an uppercut in his swing causing him to work under pitches he’d normally be driving. So, whilst it is nice to see improvement in the power department (only four fewer homers this season in 40 fewer games) his overall profile as a hitter feels as if it’s taking a step back.