Dodgers Represented In MLB Prospect Update
By Alex Campos
MLB.com released an updated top-100 prospect list, and to no surprise, the Dodgers are well represented.
The Dodgers have had a great combination of unwillingness to move key prospects, smart drafting and willingness to spend international money over the last few years (since well before this front office was in place).
MLB Pipeline released their midseason updated top-100 overall prospect rankings, top-10 position rankings and top-30 organizational rankings. Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers were well represented on the overall and position rankings.
Before the season, Corey Seager and Julio Urias were both top-five overall prospects. Seager has lost prospect status, but despite that the Dodgers have five in the top-100.
The top prospect in the Dodger organization is now Urias. Urias barely qualifies as a prospect on MLB Pipeline. Their criteria for eligibility disqualifies anyone with 130 or more ABs or 50 or more innings pitches in the majors. Urias has thrown 40 for the Dodgers.
Despite remaining on the list and having a decent showing in the minors before showing he can hold his own in the majors, Urias slipped two spots. He entered the season as the fourth-best prospect in baseball, but is sixth on the midseason update. He’s the second-highest rated pitcher only behind Lucas Giolito, and the other four ahead of him are infielders (Alex Bregman, Yoan Moncada, J.P. Crawford and Dansby Swanson).
Cody Bellinger wasn’t listed on the pre-season list, but is now the second-highest rated Dodger prospect and the number 43 prospect in baseball. The 21-year-old lefty is the third-highest rated first baseman on the list. In 2014, Bellinger hit .312, but only socked three homers in rookie ball. He was promoted to Rancho and his average dipped to .264, but he found his power with 30 homers. Bellinger’s average has dipped a little more (.255), but he’s almost matched his walk total from last year (41 in 321 PAs compared to 52 in 544 PAs last year). His hitter profile is still not certain, but he’s said to have a tremendous glove at first and his timeline should match perfectly with Adrian Gonzalez‘s free agency in 2018.
Jose De Leon was number 24 prior to the season, but while he remains the third-best Dodger prospect, he’s dropped 20 spots to 44th overall. He started the season on the DL and after one start was placed back on it, but when he’s pitched he’s been mostly great. In 10 starts, De Leon owns a 3.83 ERA and 65 K’s/16 BB’s. Most of that ERA came from his last start, where he allowed seven runs in 1.1 innings. In his previous 43.1 innings, De Leon had allowed 12 runs.
Alex Verdugo also wasn’t listed on the pre-season list, but he jumped up to 58th on the mid-season list. The 20-year-old outfielder has just raked at every level he’s been at, and he definitely has the bat to make it. Verdugo slashed .311/.340/.441 in his first full year in the minors last year, and while his average has dipped to .289, he’s already walked more and hit more homers this year than he did last year (in nearly 200 fewer plate appearances). The former pitcher has plenty of arm to play in the outfield and showed spurts in Spring Training, so if he sticks around he could be a guy that keeps rising up these prospect lists.
Grant Holmes was 62nd on the pre-season list and is now the final Dodger in the top-100, 84th overall. Holmes has struggled at Rancho with a 3.86 ERA and 40 walks in 100.1 innings, but he just turned 20 in March. He’s still young enough to think he’ll improve his control and pitch better in a less-hitter-friendly league.
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Willie Calhoun and Austin Barnes both missed the overall top-100 list, but ranked on their respective position top-10 lists. Calhoun is the fourth-best second base prospect and has been dropping bombs in Tulsa, with 22 homers in 97 games. His defense could keep him from making a big impact (at least at second), but his bat just keeps getting better and better.
Barnes was the 10th-ranked catching prospect and could be a perfect backup catcher if/when A.J Ellis chooses to hang up his cleats. He’s considered a great framer behind the plate, but his ability to play second and third would make him incredibly valuable off the bench with a team that loves mixing and matching lineups. Barnes has had a few stints in the majors but his phenomenal minor-league bat hasn’t translated to the majors yet, but if he can figure that out he could be a great catching option.
Overall, the Dodgers have one of the best farm systems in baseball. That could change in the next week, the Dodgers are expected to be active in the trade market, so there’s a decent chance one or two of these guys rate highly in the Chicago or Tampa Bay farm systems.
The Dodgers are known for drafting and developing pitching, but surprisingly only 13 of their 30 top prospects are pitchers. Three of them are in the top-5, six in the top-10 (Urias, De Leon, Holmes, Frankie Montas, Yadier Alvarez, Walker Buehler), so it’ll be interesting to see if the Dodgers prefer to deal from their high-end pitching prospects rather than high-end position prospects (Bellinger/Verdugo/Calhoun).
Next: How the Chapman Deal Impacts the Dodgers
If the Dodgers’ front office has taught us anything in the last year and a half, it’s that the farm will look different in a week. The Dodgers might pull off another trade in which they get the best major-league talent and a top prospect back, but it’s probably wise to not get too attached to any of these names just yet.