Dodgers: This young star will be LAD’s No. 1 prospect by next year

Adam Weinrib
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 06: A detail of a Los Angeles Dodgers hat during batting practice prior to the game against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on July 06, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 06: A detail of a Los Angeles Dodgers hat during batting practice prior to the game against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on July 06, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Only the Los Angeles Dodgers could possibly trade the likely second-best catching prospect in MLB behind the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman, only for another, possibly better catcher to slide in directly behind him in the team’s prospect rankings.

The existence of Diego Cartaya, as well as incumbent Will Smith (who just might hold down the position Buster Posey-style eternally), were the two reasons we long advocated for the Dodgers to find the right trade for Keibert Ruiz, who desperately needed to play more of a role elsewhere.

Luckily, the “right deal” came along to the extreme, and Andrew Friedman managed to play his Ruiz card at the perfect time.

Hard to imagine a better use of a blocked prospect than as a conduit for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Ruiz will be missed, but something had to be done, in the interest of fairness.

If Friedman had held onto Ruiz any longer, there’s a chance his value would’ve decreased, after all.

Rivals might’ve realized just how desperate the Dodgers exec was to unload the middle man in this whole process, considering the 19-year-old Cartaya has come on so strong this year that there’s a good chance he’ll be the organization’s No. 1 prospect when such things are re-ranked next year.

Dodgers top prospect Diego Cartaya’s rise is only just beginning.

Though currently on the short-term IL, Cartaya’s first season in full-season ball has been mind-blowing. He’s torn the cover off the Single-A baseball, racking up 10 homers, a 1.023 OPS, and a .409 OBP at Rancho Cucamonga, and will likely begin at Double-A next season as a 20-year-old.

Sure, the tippy top of the Dodgers’ prospect pool has thinned out slightly with the departure of Ruiz and Josiah Gray, meaning Cartaya only has to beat out a few lower-ceiling standouts like the much older Michael Busch and Bobby Miller to make it to the top of the mountain. Prospect lists love projectability, after all, making Cartaya’s rise all the more likely.

He’s certainly earned the praise, though. Breakout candidates don’t usually break out this quickly, especially after a year entirely devoid of baseball. Cartaya’s first taste of full-season American ball has included unmatched stretches of dominance and early mastery of the level.

And, not for nothing either, but Ruiz clearly sees a path to a monster payday in his future, based on Friday’s update.

Ruiz will likely be one of the league’s top catchers in Washington, don’t get us wrong.

But he flew a bit too close to the sun by advancing so quickly through the minors. The Dodgers putting their eggs in Cartaya’s basket delays their need to make a decision on the position by a year or two.

It helps that he can mash, too, and possibly even to a more impressive degree. No. 1 prospect next season, and a top-20 man in all of baseball. That’s our guarantee.

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