Dodgers: High A Rancho Cucamonga Scouting Report

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 22: Left fielder Jeren Kendall
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 22: Left fielder Jeren Kendall /

The Dodgers’ High-A, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, features a talented squad this season.  The Quakes have nine of the top MLB Pipeline 30 prospects in the organization. The group is led by number seven prospect OF Jeren Kendall but runs far deeper than just him. Here is a full scouting report on all nine of those prospects currently staged in High-A.

#7-OF Jeren Kendall, Bats L, Throws R, 22 years old, Date Observed: 04/14/18 – The 23rd overall pick in last years MLB Draft, Kendall brings a dynamic mix of speed and power along with an athletic defensive profile.  He evoked memories of an athletic Joc Pederson when Joc was a player for the Quakes.

His floor of potential is at least Pederson.  MLB Pipeline compared him to Jacoby Ellsbury, which is his likely ceiling.  Kendall has game-changing speed and has the range to play center field and the arm to play right.  He could easily settle into either spot at the MLB level.

Heading into the draft, teams were divided on his potential to hit at higher levels.  Strikeouts plagued Kendall in college and continued to plague him in his first season of pro ball.  And, when the Dodgers promoted Kendall to Low A Great Lakes just after 5 games in rookie ball, he struck out 45 times against 13 walks in just 162 ABs.

Despite that showing, his advanced abilities, and fact that he was a top conference college player, led to his assignment to High A in 2018.  Kendall’s raw hitting ability is aided by his quick wrists and bat which moves the barrel swiftly through the zone and allows him to drive the ball to the gaps.  If Kendall learns to make hitting adjustments, he should be able to hit 15-20 homers a year and steal at least 30  bases a season.  Similarly to Pederson, his ability to make adjustments at the plate will dictate how  successful he will be in the majors.       

#13-SS Gavin Lux, Bats L, Throws R, 20 years old, Dates Observed: 04/14/18 and 04/22/18 

Gavin Lux was selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, 20th overall.  Lux is a big shortstop, though not as big as Cory Seager.  At 6’2, Brandon Crawford serves as a good comp in terms of size.

Lux has really good range and moves well laterally.  He features a  plus arm at short but needs to work on his accuracy as he made the first baseman work fairly often.  As with Jeren Kendall, Lux will go as far as his bat will take him.  His swing seemed long at times and he is a ways away from making the adjustments he needs at the plate to hit at higher levels.

But, with adjustments, Lux has the potential to develop solid gap to gap power.  Although he is in his third year of pro ball, the Dodgers can take their time with Lux since he was a high school draftee.  His 2018 showing in the California League should provide some insight into what his offensive profile will ultimately look like.

#14-1B Cristian Santana, Bats R, Throws R, 21 years old, Date Observed: 04/14/18 and 04/22/18 

Santana was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a third baseman in 2013. But, despite his original position, Santana seems to have settled in at first, where he has the range of a solid third baseman. Santana’s strong arm is accompanied by good hands which should also lend itself to a very intriguing first baseman.

As a first baseman, Santana is very athletic, and compares in athleticism to Wil Myers. As a hitter, a young Hanley Ramirez serves as a good comparison as both have quick hands through the zone, and plus power to all fields.  Despite a perceived lack of patience at the plate, and propensity to strike out, Santana also demonstrated the ability, in my limited views, to hit the ball where it was pitched and put the ball in play.

Santana makes hard, consistent, contact and has the batting eye and natural talent to hit .300 at the MLB level with 30 homers a year.  In my opinion, he is one of the prospects who will make a big jump on this list by the end of the season.    

#15-C Connor Wong, Bats R, Throws R, 21 years old, Date Observed: 04/14/18 and 04/22/18

The other prospect who will likely make a big jump on the Dodgers’ prospect list is Connor Wong.  Wong was a 3rd round pick out of college last year, and played shortstop for the majority of his collegiate career. But, a move to catcher occurred in his sophomore season at the University of Houston.

The Dodgers have a talented catching trio at the MLB level, a talented catching duo at the Double-A level, and Wong tearing up the California League at the High-A level.  Granted, the California

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League is known as a hitter’s league, but it is still promising to see Wong hit as well as he has and possess the natural tools that should carry him up the pro ranks.

Wong has excellent bat speed through the zone, and seldom swings and misses.  He appears to have an advanced approach and good eye for pitch recognition at the plate. Wong has dead center, run production power.

Behind the plate, Wong appears agile and flexible.  He blocks the ball well and has a gun of an arm that carries through the bag on throws down to 2nd.  Wong has very good defensive foot speed and the athleticism that will draw comparisons to Austin Barnes, albeit with more power.  Wong should be in Double-A by mid-season unless the Keibert Ruiz/Will Smith logjam remains ahead of him.

#18-SP Jordan Sheffield, Bats R, Throws R, 22 years old, Date Observed: 04/22/18

Sheffield was selected 36th overall out of Vanderbilt (a Dodger go-to institution–See Walker Buehler and Kendall).  The first thing I noticed about Sheffield as he warmed up in the bullpen was his very “normal” look. Sheffield is 5’10, 190, and not imposing at all. But, early in his career, he has proven that size is really just a number.

Sheffield features a fastball that sits in the mid-nineties which bores in hard to right-handed batters.  He flashed a breaking ball with hard, late, bite and it was a very effective pitch when he can command it. The appearance I witnessed ended after just 3 1/3 innings.  He had trouble executing his pitches and commanding them leading to the early removal from his start.

Due to lack of control and other factors, there has been talk of moving Sheffield to the bullpen.  This may be the long term move for Sheffield to be an MLB contributor.  When harnessed, his stuff could play up at the back end of an MLB bullpen.

#19-SP Imani Abdullah, Bats R, Throws R, 21 years old, Date Observed: 04/14/18

Abdullah’s start to the 2018 minor league season has been a disappointment thus far.  He does not appear to have his best stuff and may have had some sort of “dead arm” syndrome going on.

His pitches did not have the consistant velocity he has previously demonstrated when I watched him play.  Abdullah was out of the game after only an inning and a third.

Along with decreased velocity, Abdullah’s command of his fastball and breaking pitches was sorely lacking during this outing.  Since this appearance, Abdullah was moved to the bullpen and has pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings over 3 games.  It remains to be seen how long he will remain in the pen, but rest assured the Dodgers player development staff will want to see some consistency and adjustments before Abdullah rejoins the Rancho rotation.    

#24-SP Tony Gonsolin, Bats R, Throws R, 23 years old, Date Observed: N/A

Gonsolin is a starting pitcher for Rancho and I have not seen him pitch yet, however, the word is the Dodgers see Gonsolin as a reliever long-term.    

#29-OF Donovan Casey, Bats R, Throws R, 22 years old, Date Observed: 04/22/18

Casey was drafted out of Boston College last season. He has a solid bat with playable power and a plus arm on defense.  I did not get to see much of Casey but will try and get a longer look at him in the future.

#30-3B Rylan Bannon, Bats R, Throws R, 22 years old, Date Observed: 04/14/18 and 04/22/18

Bannon, also a 2017 draftee out of college, has sneaked his way onto the Dodgers’ top 30 list in 2018.  He has displayed good power and a strong ability to get on base.  What was most impressive about Bannon in these short looks, was his range at third base. He displayed excellent range and made one highlight reel grab in particular.  Bannon’s arm was strong, but his accuracy definitely left some room for improvement.

Next: Dodgers: Enough is Enough, it is Time to Go for Pedro Baez

All prospects considered, Rancho Cucamonga is fielding an impressive squad this season and should get some more prospects from extended spring training as the season progresses.  Dodgers Way will provide follow up updates on the Quakes’ prospects as well as the Rookie League Arizona League Dodgers once their season begins in June. If you have an opportunity to take in a game at Loan Mart Field to check out the Quakes, do it, you’ll be in a for a treat!