The 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: For my analysis – including Ranking the Top 250 Prospects, Ranking the Farm systems, and in-depth commentary for over 900 minor leaguers – check out my book, The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, now available on Amazon!

 

For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.

 

 

1. Julio Urias, LHP

Born: 08/12/96 Age: 18 Height: 5-11   Weight: 160   B/T: L/L                                                          
Top CALs: Jason Knapp, Tyler Skaggs, Julio Teheran, Roberto Osuna, Trevor Cahill
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 16 A 54.3 2.48 3.01 11.1 31.8% 2.7 7.6% 0.83 85.2%
2014 17 A+ 87.7 2.36 3.36 11.2 30.6% 3.8 10.4% 0.41 80.3%

Background: At a time when most teenage boys are trying to muster up the courage to ask out the homecoming queen, the then-17-year-old Urias spent the season as one of – if not the – top performers in the California League, playing against competition that averaged six years his senior. The Mexican-born southpaw made 25 appearances, tossing 87.2 innings with 109 strikeouts and just 37 walks while posting a 3.36 FIP. For his career, Urias has struck out 176 batters in just 142.0 innings to go along with a 2.41 ERA.

Projection: At this point in time it looks like the only thing standing between Urias and stardom is any potential injury. The organization has done wonders in limiting his innings, both in terms of season total and on a per-game-basis. Of his 43 career games, he has thrown six innings just once and five innings another seven times. Advanced beyond his years with the ability to miss a lot of bats, Urias looks to be following in the steps of the Dodgers’ great left-handers: Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, and Clayton Kershaw. Legitimate ace material.

Ceiling:  6.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA: Late 2015/Early 2016

 

 

2. Corey Seager, SS

Born: 04/27/94 Age: 21 Height: 6-4   Weight: 215   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Xander Bogaerts, Javier Baez, Nick Franklin, Reid Brignac, Addison Russell
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 19 A 312 .309 .389 .529 .918 .221 10.9% 18.6% 155
2013 19 A+ 114 .160 .246 .320 .566 .160 10.5% 27.2% 46
2014 20 A+ 365 .352 .411 .633 1.044 .281 8.2% 20.8% 167
2014 20 AA 161 .345 .381 .534 .915 .189 6.2% 24.2% 154

Background: The younger brother of the newly-richened Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, the lefty-swinging shortstop could eventually surpass his older brother for the best bat in the family. Corey, who already owns the title for the family’s highest drafted ballplayer, split the year between Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga, hitting an aggregate .349/.402/.602 with a minor league leading 50 doubles, five triples, and 20 homeruns. He also continued his torrid ways in the Arizona Fall League, too, topping the league average mark by 26% while adding another 10 doubles in 23 games. For his career, Seager owns a .313/.380/.541 triple-slash line.

Projection:  Seager is the complete offensive package – he hits for average and power, has a strong approach at the plate which leads to solid walk and contact rates, runs well, and shows no discernible platoon splits. Defensively speaking, well, did I mention how promising the bat is? He has a chance to be a star, whether it’s at shortstop or third base.

Ceiling:  4.0- to 4.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2016

 

 

3. Joc Pederson, CF

Born: 04/21/92 Age: 23 Height: 6-1   Weight: 185   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Brett Jackson, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Trayvon Robinson, Joe Benson, Adam Jones
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2011 19 R 310 .353 .429 .568 .997 .214 11.6% 17.4% 148
2012 20 A+ 499 .313 .396 .516 .913 .203 10.2% 16.2% 137
2013 21 AA 519 .278 .381 .497 .878 .219 13.5% 22.0% 155
2014 22 AAA 553 .303 .435 .582 1.017 .279 18.1% 26.9% 164

Background: Joc “Cousteau” Pederson finally navigated his way through the minor leagues and LA’s glut of high priced outfielders to earn his first trip the big leagues last September –  a move that was weeks, if not months, overdue. The former 11th round pick spent the majority of the year battering PCL pitching to the tune of .303/.435/.582 while setting career bests in homeruns (30), walks (100), and Weighted Runs Created Plus (164), and he also managed to swipe the second most stolen bases in his career, en route to becoming the minors’ lone 30/30 player.

Projection:  Now this is where is gets interesting: Pederson has a history of high level performances extending all the way back to his time in the Pioneer League; he’s a career .302/.405/.524 hitter with the rare power-speed combo, and he’s actually increasingly getting better as he moves up the chain. And, yet, CAL doesn’t seem to be too convinced right now, linking him to only one above-average MLB’er (Adam Jones).

The problem? Along with his improving production lines and power numbers, Pederson’s been striking out with higher frequency as he ascends the ladder. And last year’s mark, 26.9%, is a career high. If everything breaks the right way for Pederson he could edge out Jones’ production, but he’s far from being a lock as a future All Star.

Ceiling:  3.5- to 4.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2014

 

 

4. Grant Holmes, RHP

Born: 03/33/96 Age: 19 Height: 6-1   Weight: 215   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Shane Dawson, Felix Sterling, Lenix Osuna, Eucebio Arias, Will West
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 18 R 18.3 4.91 3.16 12.3 32.1% 3.0 7.7% 0.49 65.0%
2014 18 R 30.0 3.00 3.60 9.9 28.0% 2.1 5.9% 0.60 68.7%

Background: Every year there’s a player – or a couple of players – that, for whatever reason, falls in the draft. A few years ago it was Michael Wacha, who, injury issues notwithstanding, already established himself as one of the game’s better young arms. Last year’s draft saw Holmes, a fire-balling prep hurler last until the 22nd pick, where the Dodgers inked him to an over slot $2.5 million bonus. And let’s just say the initial results – 48.1 IP, 58 strikeouts, and just 13 free passes – were impressive.

Projection:  Plus arm strength that will play in either the rotation or the back end of the bullpen. Holmes showed impressive command of the strike zone during his brief stint. He’s years away from the big leagues, but he could vault up among the game’s best prospects as soon as next season.

Ceiling:  Too soon to Tell

Risk:  N/A

MLB ETA:  N/A

 

 

5. Chris Anderson, RHP

Born: 07/29/92 Age: 22 Height: 6-4   Weight: 215   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Alex Torres, Dustin Lidyard, Zack Wheeler, Blake Snell, Luke Jackson
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 20 A 46.0 1.96 2.79 9.8 26.9% 4.7 12.9% 0.00 73.7%
2014 21 A+ 134.3 4.62 4.26 9.8 24.3% 4.2 10.5% 0.74 69.9%

Background: Anderson finished the year tied with Kansas City’s Sean Manaea, a fellow 2013 first round pick, for the third most strikeouts in all of High Class A, with 146. The big right-hander out of Jacksonville University finished the year with a 4.26 FIP in 134.1 innings of work. For his career, he’s whiffed 196 in 180.1 innings.

Projection:  Prior to his selection as the 18th overall pick two year ago I wrote,

“Something to be wary of: this is largely the first time in his [collegiate] career that he’s shown this particular combination of strikeouts and solid control/command. Still, though, Anderson has the ceiling of a mid-rotation-type starter, capable of chewing innings and posting an ERA in the upper 3.00’s or lower 4.0s”

I marked him down as a potential 2.5-win player. Given what we know two years later, the analysis still seems quite reasonable.

Ceiling:  2.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA: 2016

 

 

6. Joe Wieland, RHP

Born: 01/21/90 Age: 25 Height: 6-3   Weight: 210   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Zach Putnam, Javier Solano, Johnny Cueto, Matt Wisler, Liam Hendriks
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2011 21 A+ 85.7 2.10 2.26 10.1 28.8% 0.4 1.2% 0.74 82.2%
2011 21 AA 70.0 1.80 3.02 6.9 19.1% 2.2 6.0% 0.26 78.2%
2014 24 AA 9.0 2.00 3.56 6.0 17.7% 1.0 2.9% 1.00 79.0%
2014 24 AAA 23.7 3.42 3.07 7.6 20.8% 1.5 4.2% 0.38 69.1%

Background: Part of the package received for the fragile Matt Kemp. Wieland, who was acquired along with Zach Eflin (who would be dealt to Philadelphia as part of the Jimmy Rollins deal) and Yasmani Grandal, was just one of several promising arms San Diego once touted that underwent Tommy John surgery over the past couple of seasons. Weiland would miss most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Finally healthy, the former fourth round pick made brief appearances in the Arizona Summer League, Texas League, and PCL before getting called back up to The Show in early September. For his career, Wieland’s averaged 8.4 punch outs and just 1.6 walks per nine innings.

Projection: One interesting thing to note: Immediately prior to succumbing to injury Wieland’s fastball was a smidgeon over 89 mph during his time in San Diego; after the injury, however, it averaged nearly 92 mph. The 6-foot-3 right-hander’s always been a bit overlooked because he succeeds with more guile than power, but outside of wonky stints in the Sally and High Class A he’s been lights out. Very savvy acquisition by a very savvy front office, Wieland has a #4-type ceiling. Whether he gets a chance with the big spending Dodgers is another question.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2012

 

 

7. Alex Verdugo, CF

Born: 04/15/96 Age: 19 Height: 6-0   Weight: 200   B/T: L/L                                                          
Top CALs: Jose Osuna, Demetrius Washington, Oswaldo Arcia, Fabel Filpo, Roderick Bernadina
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 18 R 196 .347 .423 .518 .941 .171 10.2% 7.1% 165

Background:  The club’s most recent second round pick, 62nd overall, Verdugo transitioned to wood quite well last season, hitting .347/.423/.518 in the Arizona Summer League before earning a five-game stint in the more advanced Pioneer League. Overall, he finished the year with a .353/.421/.511 triple-slash line with 15 doubles, three triples, three homeruns, and a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases.

Projection:  The best news of Verdugo’s debut: he sported a 20-to-18 walk-to-strikeout ratio. It was pretty clear he overmatched the Arizona Summer League competition, so it’s a bit odd the Dodgers, not known for bringing prospects around slowly, waited so long to push him up a level. The initial numbers couldn’t have been better.

Ceiling:  Too Soon to Tell

Risk:  N/A

MLB ETA:  N/A

 

 

8. Scott Schebler, LF/RF

Born: 10/06/90 Age: 24 Height: 6-1   Weight: 208   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Angelo Songco, Steve Murphy, John Shelby, Kyle Waldrop, Tyler Colvin
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2011 20 R 315 .285 .324 .529 .853 .244 4.1% 30.8% 105
2012 21 A 560 .260 .312 .388 .700 .128 5.4% 17.7% 96
2013 22 A+ 534 .296 .360 .581 .941 .285 6.6% 26.2% 140
2014 23 AA 560 .280 .365 .556 .921 .276 8.0% 19.6% 154

Background: Schebler, a tremendous find in the 26th round out of Des Moines Area Community College in 2010, dispelled any concerns about his potentially Cal League-inflated 2013 production by mashing the Southern League to the tune of .280/.365/.556. The lefty-swinging corner outfielder slugged 23 doubles, 13 triples, and 28 homeruns, the latter two being career highs. His overall production, per wRC+, was a whopping 54% better than the league average.

Projection:  A poor man’s version of Joc Pederson, Schebler has continued to defy the odds at each stop along the way. The hit tool is below average, the plate discipline is so-so, and he doesn’t run nearly enough to suggest that his 27 triples the last two seasons aren’t some sort of mirage, but the power potential is definitely intriguing. The best case scenario, according to CAL, would be a Tyler Colvin-esque player. Fringy regular/solid role bat on a championship squad.

Ceiling:  1.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2015

 

 

9. Zach Lee, RHP

Born: 09/13/91 Age: 23 Height: 6-3   Weight: 195   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Gaby Hernandez, Jason Adam, James Parr, Tim Alderson, Will Roberts
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 20 A+ 55.3 4.55 4.65 8.5 22.2% 1.6 4.3% 1.46 68.5%
2012 20 AA 65.7 4.25 3.83 7.0 18.2% 3.0 7.8% 0.82 65.8%
2013 21 AA 142.7 3.22 3.08 8.3 22.5% 2.2 6.0% 0.82 74.6%
2014 22 AAA 150.7 5.38 5.16 5.8 14.5% 3.2 8.1% 1.08 62.3%

Background: Famously signed for a mindboggling $5.25 million as the 28th pick in the 2010 draft, Lee witnessed a downturn in nearly every meaningful category during his first foray into the PCL last season. Among the lowlights were: ERA (5.38), FIP (5.16), walk rate (3.32), and strikeout rate (5.79). Just for added measure, his homerun rate, 1.08 HR/9, was the second highest in his career. Oh, on a positive note, Lee did set a career best with 150.2 innings. Ummm…yay?

Projection:  Even before the large step backward Lee wasn’t exactly locked in as a long term big league rotation answer. His strikeout numbers have always fluctuated, the homerun numbers have been iffy, and the overall performances (sans his 2013) were questionable. Fringy big league starter/middle reliever.

Ceiling:  1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  2015

 

 

10. Pedro Baez, RHP

Born: 03/11/88 Age: 27 Height: 6-2   Weight: 230   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Jesus Araiza, Alejandro Flores, Sean McCauley, Jose Ovalles, Miguel Del Castillo
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 25 A+ 34.7 3.63 4.69 8.3 19.6% 3.9 9.2% 0.78 77.1%
2013 25 AA 23.3 4.24 3.64 8.9 22.6% 3.1 7.8% 1.16 70.5%
2014 26 AA 19.3 2.79 2.88 8.4 22.0% 4.2 11.0% 0.00 72.0%
2014 26 AAA 22.7 4.76 5.02 7.9 20.6% 1.6 4.1% 1.59 76.6%

Background: After posting a .248/.309/.392 triple-slash line in more than 2,000 plate appearances, the organization gave up on the idea that Baez had a future with the bat and converted him to the mound. Less than two seasons later, Baez made his big league debut. Sporting a mid- to upper-90s fastball, the 6-foot-2 right-hander has averaged 8.4 punch outs and 3.2 walks per nine innings. The club called him up to the big leagues for a couple cups last season and he tallied a 2.63 ERA in 24.0 innings of work.

Projection: Huge fastball with solid-average control. Baez hasn’t missed an enormous amount of bats yet, though that’s likely to change as he polishes his craft. Eight-inning ceiling.

Ceiling:  1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted 2014

 

 

 

**All Statistics Courtesy of FanGraphs**

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.