Dodgers: The Young Talented Core of the Dodgers

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Joc Pederson
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Joc Pederson /

The Dodgers have a very young core that should be able to keep the team  championship contenders for a long time to come.

The Dodgers won their division for a fifth straight year this season and look like they will be the favorites again to win it next year. Obviously, this fifth consecutive division title ended in a heartbreaking World Series loss to the Astros but the team looks poised to have many more chances to get back because of their exciting young core. With one of the best farm systems in baseball, the Dodgers continue to develop prospects into high-quality major leaguers.

The Dodgers have already had two of their top prospects turn into major league stars in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. Seager won the 2016 NL rookie of the year and Bellinger who was recently named as a finalist for the 2017 award is the favorite to win it this year. Both players were all-stars this season and already look like they could be on a hall of fame trajectory. These two young studs are still getting better and look like they could be in the middle of the Dodgers lineup for the next decade. Seager is a little more polished than Bellinger and seems to be more of a sure thing going forward to be a superstar.

In the case of Seager he is already one of the best all-around hitters in baseball. He dealt with some injuries in the second half and in the playoffs that hindered his performance, but he still hit 295 with 22 home runs and a 854 ops at the age of 23. In his young career, Seager is a 305 career hitter with a .876 OPS. He has a nice balance of hitting for average and power as well having a great eye for the strike zone. As Seager gets older and continues to fill out he should be able to develop even more power and become more dominant.

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Bellinger has the more natural homerun power. A pull hitter Bellinger tries to swing for the fences a lot more than Seager. Cody hit 39 home runs this season, a NL rookie record. However, his big swing got exposed somewhat in the World Series. Sure Bellinger hit some home runs, but his swing for the fences swing mentality hurt him some, and he was prone to the slider low and in. These are correctable issues though.

Despite his swing and miss rate Bellinger still hit a very respectable 267 this year with a 352 OBP. Even though he has a lot of power, he is not a one-dimensional hitter. He has great plate recognition and has the talent to develop into a better hitter for average while still maintaining his power.

After those two top guys, the Dodgers have a crop of other players who can become stars shortly as well. Top prospects like Alex Verdugo and Walker Buehler made their MLB debuts this year. Buehler could be the next great Dodgers ace after Kershaw starts to decline. He reminds me of former Giant Tim Lincecum. He is tall and lanky with nasty stuff. His high 90’s fastball and above average breaking stuff give him the potential to be a frontline starter one day. Expect him to play a significant role with the Dodgers going forward next year.

Verdugo already is a very advanced hitter for his age. He has great plate coverage and will be a solid hitter for average. The only concern for him is if he will develop enough power to be a great all-around player. We also can’t forget about Julio Urias who is recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered back in June. Urias remains a Dodgers top prospect and a very valuable commodity. Even though he suffered a devastating injury that halted his progression, he is still very young at only 21 years old. He always is a pitcher who has a far advanced skill level for his age. Do not write Urias off from becoming a top ace.

Joc Pederson is another guy who people had written off but after a strong postseason performance looks like a player who could put his name back in the core young group. Remember it was only like two years ago when Joc was an all-star and considered one of the best young talents in baseball. Lack of ability was never a concern with Joc. He always had great power but could never get around his flaws in his swing. In the playoffs, he did a much better job of cutting down on his big swing out and be more patient. If he can mature and carry any of that over into next season Joc might have rejuvenated his Dodger career.

Another guy that people had written off a year ago was Yasiel Puig who had a rejuvenating season as well. Still, a young player Puig had a career-high 28 HR this year and played the best defense of his career. He was a gold glove finalist, and many believe he was snubbed this year when the award went to Jason Heyward. Austin Barnes showed that he could be the catcher of the future. He hit well and season and was solid defensively. Chris Taylor came out of nowhere and had a breakout year. Out of all these players, he was the biggest surprise.

Next: The current state of a very crowded Dodger outfield

All these players will be 27 or younger at the start of next season. I didn’t even mention the rest of the young developing talent the Dodgers got stashed in the minor leagues as well. Yes, the Dodgers lost this year but they showed they can now make it to the World Series. This core young group will keep the Dodgers in contention for years to come.