Los Angeles Dodgers Top 30 Prospects

1. Alex Verdugo, OF

Age: 22

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: 2019

.329/.391/.472, 10 HR, .143 ISO, 128 wRC+ 12.4 K%, 9 BB%, 8 SB in 91 games at AAA

.260/.329/.377, 1 HR, .117 ISO, 98 wRC+ 16.3 K%, 9.3 BB%, 0 SB in 37 games in MLB

Few prospects exemplify prospect fatigue more than Alex Verdugo. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft, the sweet-swinging lefty bat has been one of the more consistent players in the minors, wielding his bat with great aplomb thanks to his innate bat-to-ball skills. He’s done it all while being young at every level.

A career .309 hitter in just under 2,000 at-bats in the minors, Verdugo’s hit tool is an easy plus and pushing for more. For the last few years, he’s kept his same upright stance, bat on shoulders, with a pendulum-like leg kick that helps him time his swing. Along with strong pitch recognition skills, he’s shown the propensity to go the opposite way, a trait that helps explain his excellent strikeout rate. Combine this with a lack of split concerns, and you can see why the floor is high.

Despite our recent industry-wide obsession with contact-heavy guys developing more power, Verdugo could be the exception. It’s unlikely that he grows into more than average power because he tends to drive the ball into the ground (expect a GB% in the high 40s, low 50s), and his 16 home runs in 874 PCL plate appearances isn’t encouraging either. Verdugo also has average speed but it’s more instinctual baserunning than anything, so don’t count on double-digit totals.

Defensively, the Dodgers have tried him in all three outfield spots but he’ll likely settle in a corner spot where his above-average arm can be put to good use. He’s about as ready for the majors as any top 100 prospect can be and should have a starting role in 2019.  

2. Keibert Ruiz, C

Age: 20

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020

.268/.328/.401, 12 HR, .133 ISO, 100 wRC+ 8 K%, 6.3 BB%, 0 SB

Despite my inherent bias against catchers, I still recognize a very impressive skill set when it’s presented. Let’s just take a moment to emphasize Ruiz’s season. He started the year in Double-A as a 19-year-old, just one of five teenagers assigned there in all minor league baseball and faced only one pitcher younger than he. He struck out just eight percent of the time and slashed at just above a league-average line. That’s not easy to do, let alone while continuing to develop as a catcher.

A switch-hitter with excellent bat-to-ball skills, Ruiz has the makings of a potential above-average hit tool and like the guy above him, has quick wrists that let him spoil plenty of pitches or get to the ones he wants, limiting the strikeouts. His production is more robust from the left side of the plate (.754 OPS as a LHB in 2018, .638 OPS as RHB). He has one of the more unique stances in the minors from the left side. He crouches low in a wide stance with his right leg extended and his right toe pointing toward the bottom of the home plate, holding the bat near his head. He has a sizeable leg kick as the pitch approaches and waggles the bat one last time before exploding on the ball. All in all, it’s impressive how well he can handle the ball given the moving parts. From the right side, the crouch is less pronounced and his swing path is more linear, explaining his meager six extra-base hits in 92 plate appearances from that side last year.

True to the Dodger MO, he’s an athletic catcher even for his frame (6 foot, 200 lb), and behind the plate his receiving skills have been lauded. His biggest area of improvement will be improving his mechanics on throwing out baserunners. Ruiz is shaping up to be a high floor player with the upside of being a low power, high average backstop that’s solid being the plate. The total package won’t wow you, but the bar for being an effective major league catcher is so low that he should have no trouble clearing it.

3. Dustin May, RHP

Age: 20

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

132.2 IP, 3.39 ERA, 3.67 FIP,  22 K%, 5 BB%, .230 BAA (17 GS in A+, 6 GS in AA)

The aptly named Gingergaard because of his flowing mane of red hair, Dustin May is one of the more underrated pitchers in minor league baseball. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds, May hasn’t had any issues working with his frame (or his Bronson Arroyo-like delivery) to get the results he needs and has even passed requests from the Dodgers with flying colors. In 2017, the team asked him to switch from a four-seam fastball to a two-seam and it completely changed his profile. He gained three ticks on the pitch, living in the 92-95 range and generating strong whiffs and groundballs thanks to its run and sink. It’s a plus pitch that he pairs with another potential plus pitch in his slider. It has a big vertical break, has about 10 mph of separation from his heater and he’s not afraid to use it as more than a putaway pitch. His changeup is the key to his ceiling. It has flashed average but it’s inconsistent.

May has excellent control, owning a microscopic 4.8 BB% in his minor league career, along with a career 22 K%. He climbed to Double-A in 2018, making six starts. There were a couple of 5 ER clunkers, but he held his own as a 20-year-old, which greatly elevate his numbers. In keeping with his thin gangly frame, May lacks, well, he lacks ass. Usually, a big butt is an indication of more projection coming but May is likely to stay thin as he progresses. The overall profile is encouraging thanks to his talent to induce grounders and whiffs and he’s yet to run into serious trouble. We also know the Dodgers love him, which is why they refused to include him in any Manny Machado talks last July. I’m willing to bet he hits his SP3 ceiling and will flash SP2 upside in his prime years.

4. Gavin Lux, 2B/SS

Age: 21

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

.324/.399/.514, 15 HR, .187 ISO, 147 wRC+, 16.8 K%, 10.9 BB%, 13 SB

Lux owned one of the more appealing statistical seasons in the Dodgers organization and like the three names above him, did it all while being young for his levels as he didn’t turn 21 until after the season ended. It was a breakout year for the former 20th overall pick in 2016. Looking at footage from his pre-draft days to his 2018 at-bats, it’s easy to pick out that he started really engaging his lower half more to help add a little more power. He begins in a slight crouch with a medium, open stance. His toe-tap/leg kick hybrid finishes with his hind leg driving hard allowing him to get the torque to his body to finish with his lofted swing. In his best years, he might reach 20 home runs with this new power. His ability to drive the ball the opposite way (he actually hit it oppo more than pull in 404 PA at High-A) also makes me believe he could hover around .275 in the majors.

Along with a good eye at the plate, Lux has some wheels that will add to his offensive package. He still needs some work on his reads (13 for 22 in steals last year), but he stole 27 in 2017, so the speed, which has been rated as high as plus, is there. Lux is also lauded as a defender where his arm plays enough at the six and his reads have improved over the years to the point where he should likely remain there in his prime years. Just note that if he debuts with the Dodgers, he’ll likely shift to second base thanks to Corey Seager.

From a fantasy perspective, Lux is my favorite player in this system. His ability to walk, his emerging power, solid speed and middle infield eligibility all combine to make him a top 50 dynasty prospect.

5. Jeter Downs, SS

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

.257/.351/.402, 13 HR, .145 ISO, 118 wRC+, 19.7 K%, 9.9 BB%, 37 SB

Here is what Ralph wrote about Downs in his Top 30 Reds post:

A quick-twitch athlete without a carrying tool, Downs produced one of the more eye-popping stat lines in the system, stealing 37 bases, while hitting 13 homers, and walking at a 10% clip. Strong numbers for a prep player in his first full season of pro ball. He’s short to the ball with loft in his swing, leading to a high amount of fly balls to the pull side. Not the worst skill for a smaller middle infielder to flash early in his career, as he likely adds more strength as his body matures, leading to more balls clearing the fence. He’s not the fastest player only logging run times in the mid four-second range, but has a good first step and instincts.


There’s some question as to whether or not Downs average arm will move him off the position, I’m definitely in that camp. There were lots of throws he struggled with, and I’m not sure he’ll ever add the type of zip needed to make those tosses consistently. I believe his future home is second base where his good footwork and quickness could make him a plus defender at the position. A sum of his parts player that’s showed production louder than his tools. Are we missing the ceiling?  

6. Dennis Santana, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: 2019

49.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 2.99 FIP,  31 K%, 8 BB%, .200 BAA (8 GS in AA, 2 GS in AAA)

Santana was once tabbed as a bullpen arm thanks to his hybrid three-quarters/crossbody delivery and lack of a changeup, but he’s improved the pitch enough that it helps him turn over a lineup and has slightly tamed the delivery. The changeup joins a duo of plus pitches in a sinking fastball (average 93 mph) and a fall-off-the-table slider that carried him to a 30 K% in 49.2 innings last year in the minors.

He stands tall on the first base side of the rubber and stays closed as he begins his wind up. Because of his posture, he doesn’t get great extension as he opens toward home plate and paired with his crossbody delivery I don’t think the reliever concerns have been completely quelled, and I do see split issues plaguing him. In his limited innings last year he kept his command in check but he’s struggled with it before in the past. However it’s hard to argue against how dominating his arsenal has been recently.

Santana suffered a strained right rotator cuff just nine days after his major league debut which cost him the remainder of the season. As such, we’re still not sure how well he can handle major leaguers. The Dodgers don’t have a spot for him in the rotation but knowing how they play musical chairs, he should see a few starts at some point but likely heads back to Oklahoma City to start the year. I still am encouraged because of his propensity to rack up strikeouts and groundballs, and such a pitcher has a larger margin for error.

7. Will Smith, C/3B

Age: 23

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2019

.233/.322/.455, 20 HR, .222 ISO, 109 wRC+, 27.7 K%, 10.6 BB%, 5 SB (73 G in AA, 25 G in AAA)

One of the hotter names in the trade market over the last few weeks, Smith is another backstop in the organization’s bag of catching riches. And yes, he’s also an athletic one. Smith possesses an intriguing balance of strong defensive skills with the potential for above-average power and a good eye at the plate.

His most impressive skill on defense is his quick feet and mechanics that let him pop and nab runners at an elite rate (42% in ‘17, 38% in ‘18) with his above-average arm. His blocking and receiving are still progressing but make no mistake he’s ready for the majors in that aspect of the game. Because of his athleticism, he logged almost as many innings at the hot corner as he did at catcher last year. His arm lets him survive there and his ability to potentially play both at the highest level makes him very valuable. Could two-way position players (with one position being catcher) be something the Dodgers are quietly exploring?

At the plate, Smith has enough bat speed and loft to support his power gain this last season where he smashed 20 home runs between AA and AAA (.222 ISO), albeit 19 of them came in Tulsa. He has a quiet set up with a minor leg kick and uses his thick lower half well, turning quickly on a fastball. He didn’t pull all his home runs this year but he showed a heavy pull approach (>50%) which left him open to soft stuff on the outside of the plate. With his batted ball tendency Smith likely tops out at .250 in his best years and will run strikeout rates hovering around 25 percent. His saving grace is his ability to rack up walk rates in the 10-11 percent range, so if you’re in an OBP league with a deep farm, he holds value thanks to his proximity. Triple-A proved a very challenging promotion in his limited time there and he won’t earn a major league promotion until he shows he can at least be league average there.

8. Tony Gonsolin, RHP

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2019

128 IP, 2.60 ERA, 3.05 FIP,  29 K%, 8 BB%, .213 BAA (17 GS in A+, 9 GS in AA)

I have a soft spot for pitchers that spit fire and aren’t heralded. And much like when I ranked Jordan Yamamoto seventh in my Marlins Top 30 this will likely be seen as an overrank. Gonsolin, a former ninth-round pick in 2016, had a fantastic year in his first foray of the upper minors.

He has a four-pitch mix led by a plus fastball that explodes out of his hand from his high three-quarters slot (you might even call it over-the-top) and sits 94-96 in games and plays up thanks to his slot and good extension. There is some effort in the finish. He pairs the heater with a slider that sits in the high 80s, is a little more firm than I’d like and doesn’t have wipeout potential, but it’s enough to be an average pitch. His curveball can be a devastating pitch based on his release point and when he plays it off his fastball it’s his best breaker. Just look at Jason Pennini’s video from below from 0:25-0:30. I’m most intrigued by his changeup which scouts have called a split change thanks to its diving action. It’s flashed above average but he doesn’t have a good feel for the pitch yet.

And really, that’s the big red flag against Gonsolin. He’s got good control, especially when he pitches around the knees, but his command wanes. His fastball gets flat when he tries to throw it high. His slider doesn’t break enough from time to time and his split change doesn’t always have the same movement. Because of his success in the upper minors (granted, he was old for the levels, which is important to note), I don’t want to relegate him to the bullpen just yet. This was a two-way player in college who didn’t take on full-time pitching until three years ago. There is more development and maybe a touch more projection on his body. I’d argue that he’s already a success for a ninth rounder. He has a chance to debut in 2019 out of the bullpen as teams will usually do with their rookies who throw gas, but small improvements to his command could go a long way.

9. DJ Peters, OF

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

.236/.320/.473, 29 HR, .236 ISO, 114 wRC+, 34.3 K%, 8.1 BB%, 1 SB

Over the last year or two my philosophy on high-strikeout batters has shifted. Before, so long as you walked at a good clip, the strikeouts were bearable because usually power came along with it. But as the game becomes more specialized with pitchers utilizing video game-like benders with blazing heaters that you just won’t find in the minors, I’m less confident about chasing the profile. Peters fits said profile and is a Three True Outcomes bat, as nearly half his plate appearances finished in a home run, walk or strikeout last year.

He’s a hulking dude, measuring 6-foot-6, 225 pounds and as you might expect from someone that size the usuals perils follow. Peters has naturally long levers and when he connects with the ball in the zone, it’s going to go far. He has 70 raw power and can get it to plus in games when he barrels it. His stance is anything but quiet. He bounces on his left foot, which is almost out of the batter’s box so that his left knee is facing the mound head on and waggles his bat parallel to the ground as he waits for the pitch. As the pitch sails home he brings his left foot more in line with his right and uncorks the swing. He’s strong enough that he can get fooled on pitches and still muscle them out but I noticed he drops his shoulder quite a bit on swings which harms his ability to reach the upper third of the plate. On the field he’ll likely end up as a corner outfield, perhaps in right where his arm will play.

Don’t look to his High-A numbers as reason for optimism that he can bounce back from relatively disappointing Double-A season. It was the Cal League and even then he still led the league in strikeouts. What you see is what you get with Peters. He’s a 40 hit/60 power player and he’s much more attractive in OBP leagues where seasons of 30 home runs and a .320 on-base clip are certainly attainable.

10. Josiah Gray, RHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: Rookie

ETA: 2021

52.1 IP, 2.58 ERA, 3.07 FIP,  29 K%, 8 BB%, .154 BAA

Here is what Ralph wrote about Downs in his Top 30 Reds post:

This story is just too crazy not to be true, division 2 shortstop/reliever heads to the Cape Cod League for the summer, pitches his keister off, and leaves a potential first day pitching prospect. Sounds absurd, but that’s actually what happened with Gray. Over the last year few players have grown by the leaps and bounds Gray has. At the moment he’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher led by his plus fastball, a nasty offering in the 92-96 range with above average spin. Gray gets lots of swings and misses on the pitch, averaging at least a few whiffs per inning. His slider flashes plus, but is still too inconsistent to project as a future plus offering. At times it can lose its shape, but at its best, it’s a second swing-and-miss offering. He features a changeup, but it’s very fringe at the moment, as he’s yet to master the deceptive arm speed needed.


Gray’s athleticism is on the high end of the scale, giving him the ability to repeat his mechanics. He’s a drop and drive type delivery, pitching from low three quarters arm slot. He extends well and gets excellent push with his lower half, doing a good job of using his entire body to generate velocity. Overall Gray is an intriguing arm, with a limited track record on the mound, substantial growth from Gray is a very real possibility in the coming years. However, it might take a little more time than your average pitching prospect. A mid-rotation upside with a high leverage bullpen floor.

11. Edwin Rios, 1B

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2019

.304/.355/.482, 29 HR, .178 ISO, 115 wRC+, 32.3 K%, 6.7 BB%, 0 SB


Rios’ 2018 was a step back from his strong 2017 season where he had an .895 OPS across AA and AAA. And I know that’s a little odd to say given his slash line, but it came with a .433 BABIP, tied for the third-highest mark in all of minor league baseball. Though it takes one peek at his K-BB% to realize why his slash was a mirage this year. It’s necessary to point out that he missed almost two months with an undisclosed injury before getting going. Could it have hampered him all year? His ground balls spiked dramatically so it’s not unfair to assume something was off.

Once a third baseman who couldn’t cut it, the lefty bat fits the bill of a power-first bat that is subpar with the glove. As such, there’s a lot riding on his bat if he wants to earn a role on a team as a second-division starter. He gets good extension with his bat showing effortless power that can reach plus in games and he loves to barrel pitches down in the zone. His saving grace, however, might be an average hit tool. A season where he hits .270 with 25 home runs and a below-average approach at the plate is not unlikely.

The Dodgers have no space to play Rios and if he’s lucky, he’ll get traded to an AL team where he can carve out a niche as a DH.

12. Miguel Vargas, 3B

Age: 19

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

.330/.404/.465, 2 HR, .135 ISO, 133 wRC+, 15.7 K%, 10 BB%, 7 SB

Vargas signed a $300K contract with the Dodgers in September 2017 after defecting from the capital of Cuba at the age of 16. He didn’t play any professional ball until last year, which made what he did in stateside Rookie ball extremely impressive. In 30 games (8 in AZL, 22 in Pioneer League), he slashed .400/.464/.592 with a 16/13 K/BB. The Dodgers then bumped him to full season ball, still 18, where he finally crash landed back to Earth hitting .213/.307/.253 in 23 games (though with a solid 2-to-1 K/BB ratio).

Despite climbing to Great Lakes, information and video is limited on the 6-foot-3 third baseman. He’s played some first base and even started a couple of games at second base, which points to someone who has a fair amount of athleticism. His arm is characterized as average to above-average. His spray chart reflects that he’s an all-fields hitter and he likes to shorten up with two strikes to increase his chances of barreling the ball.

We still need plenty of information on Vargas and personally I’d like to see better gauge what his power output might be because right now there are some tweener vibes.

13. Mitchell White, RHP

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

105.1 IP, 4.53 ERA, 4.34 FIP,  19 K%, 7 BB%, .270 BAA

Injuries and inconsistent velocity bands have prevented White from entrenching himself as one of the better arms in the system, despite flashes of great potential. A Tommy John alumnus before being drafted, White broke a toe in 2017 that cut his season short and missed a month to start 2018 because of “general soreness”.

White’s fourseam, cutter and curveball have all flashed plus but he’s never put it all together. He also has a changeup but it’s lagging behind right now. His fastball and curve are the most advanced of the bunch but I have a couple of concerns about his heater. He sometimes has trouble commanding it and leaves it up in the zone. Inexperienced minor leaguers will still chase it, but an inability to keep it low in the zone turns hazardous. And more importantly, his velocity can range from 90-93 to 94-96. It’s the latter band that landed him on my fantasy radar in early 2017 but I’ve since soured a little as the strikeouts began to plummet. He’s confident enough in his bender to steal strikes up in the zone and bury it in the dirt for the swinging variety.

Health is the key for White, who finally had a chance to log some serious innings last year. He finished strong once he got over his early season nicks and finished his second half of the year with a 3.30 ERA (3.53 FIP), a sparkling 4 BB% and a subpar 19 K%. He’s shown the ability to rack up the strikeouts before so I won’t sound the alarm bells just yet, but he’s currently on an SP4 track.  

14. Edwin Uceta, RHP

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

120.1 IP, 3.89 ERA, 3.62 FIP,  26 K%, 8 BB%, .233 BAA (20 GS in A, 5 GS in A+)

It’s easy to see after one pitch why Uceta is immediately relegated to the reliever camp. He has a very low three-quarters slot with little extension. There’s still some cross body action but the Dodgers have toned it down from when he signed for $10K out of the Dominican Republic in 2016.

I slotted Uceta here because I think he can fight off the reliever label and 2018 was a big step in accomplishing that. Pitching 120 innings was a major milestone as he proved he could handle a starter’s workload. As the season wore on he pitched deeper into games, pitching into the sixth inning in seven of his last 11 starts.

Uceta stands out for his advanced feel for his changeup, a pitch that’s flashed plus and is bolstered by his whip-like arm speed. His 91-93 fastball sets up his changeup and at his release point sneaks up on hitters. He features an average curveball as well. Despite the cross-body motion Uceta hasn’t shown any issues against left-handed batters, though curiously he struggled against righties. Listed at 155 pounds, there’s some filling out to do for the righty. He’ll begin in the year in the Cal League where he admittedly got it handed to him in five starts in 2018.

15. Jeren Kendall, OF

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

.215/.300/.356, 12 HR, .142 ISO, 79 wRC+, 32 K%, 10.5 BB%, 37 SB

Kendall, who turns 23 a month after this post goes live, has had a rough couple of years since the Dodgers drafted him 23rd overall in 2017. His poor 2018 numbers are a carry over from a bad 2017 and they confirm something that we glimpsed in the Cape Cod: he has struggled with wood bats.

Despite sparkling slash lines in Vandy, Kendall’s over agressive nature has been entirely exposed in the pros thanks to a stiff upper body and a near complete lack of lower body use. His front leg tends to stay rigid on foot drop and he doesn’t get the barrel behind the ball as he brings it through the zone, instead he pulls the bat knob, slicing the barrel downward and finishing his swing with his arms straightened out and his wrists turned out, leading to a ton of grounds and balls in play. The balls he does manage to drive with authority end off being pulled because of how his wrists finish. To wit, 11 of his 12 home runs were to right field. Frankly I’m impressed he hit that many home runs given how little he uses his lower half and how his upper body mechanics are.

He still has his double plus speed that he uses well, though he needs to polish his instincts a bit (72 CS%). He’s an overall good athlete that’s capable of sticking in center, but there are legitimate concerns at the plate that he’s yet to rectify, and they’ve been persisting since his college days. He’s a 40 hit/45 game power guy in my book for now.

16. Michael Grove, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: Did Not Pitch

ETA: 2022

The Dodgers signed Grove to an overslot deal with the 68th pick of the 2018 draft, money they could burn after missing out on J.T. Ginn, their first pick of the draft. Grove set himself up nicely for a first-round pedigree as a sophomore during his time in West Virginia but he blew his arm out a month before the season ended and it forced him to miss 2018 as well. However his stuff was so good the Dodgers, who much like the Nationals don’t shy away from Tommy John pitchers, used a second-round pick on him.

Grove features a fastball with run that can touch 96 and settles 92-95 with a reportedly high-spin slider. Both pitches flashed plus and are joined by a changeup that he’s yet to fully develop. He has an over-the-top delivery with great arm speed but it’s not without effort and he’ll lose command of the fastball up in the zone where it can flatten out. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds there’s not much filling out left to do. His stuff and command might take a little while to get back to normal as he works his way back from Tommy John, but there’s a chance he’s a quick mover.

17. Connor Wong, C

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2020

.269/.350/.480, 19 HR, .211 ISO, 124 wRC+, 32 K%, 8.8 BB%, 6 SB

Oh, hey, another catcher that can likely cut it around the diamond if being a backstop doesn’t work. Wong is still fairly new to catching as he fully transitioned three years ago after being a shortstop in college. He still has a fair amount of work to do, as basestealers still run wild on him, but he has soft hands and already knows how to steal a strike or two. However, the Dodgers started him nine games at second base and even one at third base, so they’re keeping their options open.

Wong has a simple, compact swing at the plate with few moving parts and it lets him turn on fastballs with relative ease, however, that’s a lot of what he does and it shows up with his heavy pull profile. Even though he was in the Cal League, his 19 home runs are a pleasant surprise and more than the profile indicates he could muster. He finished the final two months on the season on a tear, slashing .331/.404/.590. He’s not a zero on the basepaths either and could be a threat for 8-10 steals in his early years.

Tulsa presents a strong challenge in multiple regards. How much of that hot finish was Cal League aided and how much were improvements he made? How much of that power can carry over? How often will he play at catcher? For now, Wong’s arrow is trending up.

18. Diego Cartaya, C

Age: 17

Highest Level: Did Not Play

ETA: 2023

The Dodgers top international signee from the most recent class was Cartaya, a Venezuelan catcher who signed for $2.5 million. He’s 6-foot-2 and handles himself well behind the plate with above-average pop times and a strong arm to handle the running game. I particularly like his smooth swing that doesn’t have many moving parts. Batting practice footage shows someone who has a great feel for the barrel but a swing with less loft than you’d want for someone his size. A future 50 hit/50 power profile is not out of the question, though to achieve the power projection he’ll need to change his swing path a little. With someone so far away, a bevy of things can change until he reaches the high minors, so don’t get dissuaded (or too hyped up) right now. Reports are that he’s advanced enough to forego the DSL altogether and make the jump to the AZL.

19. Braydon Fisher, RHP

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

ETA: 2022

22 IP, 2.05 ERA, 5.03 FIP,  20 K%, 10 BB%, .253 BAA

The Dodgers lured Fisher out of his college commitment by going about $100K over slot for the 134th overall pick of the 2018 draft. At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, he’s got plenty of projection left and like a typical prep right-hander out of Texas, his feature pitch is his fastball that already sits 92-94 and maxes at 96. Already with some heavy movement, it’s got the potential to be a plus pitch, maybe even better, once he adds strength and ticks up the miles per hour. His best secondary is a slider that has some late bite to it and has flashed above-average. Like many teenagers who spent their high school years dominating with their fastball, he has a changeup but it’s got a long way to go. He has great arm speed and gets on top of the ball thanks to his high three-quarters slot but there is a head whack and effort in the delivery that slightly alters his release point ever so slightly and could affect the control. He’s a good watch list guy and someone I expect to rise over the next two years.

20. Gerardo Carrillo, RHP

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

60 IP, 1.50 ERA, 3.63 FIP,  21 K%, 7 BB%, .189 BAA (1 GS in Rk, 9 GS in A)

Listed at an even six feet and weighing just 154 pounds, Carrillo is going to fight the reliever label for a long time thanks to his physique. Thankfully, his body of work has been encouraging enough that the Dodgers are going to keep running him out there until he proves he isn’t cut out for it.

Carrillo, who signed in 2016 out of Mexico, has a fastball that can touch 96 but hovers 91-94 with good sink. It has the makings of a plus pitch. The most encouraging thing about Carrillo is a diving changeup that’s considered his most advanced secondary. Whenever a young pitcher like this can make a changeup, a pitch that is the ever constant “needs-to-be-developed” pitch for many young hurlers, a true weapon, then the ceiling ticks up a little higher. Add in a curveball that he likes to steal some strikes with or get batters to chase, and you have the makings of someone with at least three above-average pitches. The big thing for Carrillo is being able to show his body can handle a workload.

21. Carlos Rincon, OF

Age: 21

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

.254/.358/.485, 22 HR, .231 ISO, 133 wRC+, 26 K%, 12.2 BB%, 5 SB

Imagine repeating the Midwest league after a very disappointing 2017 where you had a 38 K%. You finally show some progress, getting the strikeouts down to a not-great-but-better-than-38-percent 27 K%. You’re still a pull-heavy hitter with good power and your walk rate jumps to 12 percent. Then the Dodgers promote you to High-A as a 20-year-old for the final 29 games. And you then you hit .327/.427/.818(!) with a pretty neutral BABIP. Let us visualize this:

Carlos Rincon FB Distance

Could all of this be a Cal League mirage? I’m sure some of it is, but he maintained his walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate a touch more to 23 K% and smacked 15 home runs in 29 games. That’s how you finish a season. As you might surmise, Rincon isn’t *this* good, but if you’re gambling for a dynasty lotto ticket in this range, he’s your guy. He has good power, the type that can approach 25 home runs in a year thanks to a big uppercut swing that can send it far when he connects. But there’s still a lot of questions about his hit tool and where the true talent remains. Sometimes he’ll overswing and even in his torrid High-A streak he had an 18 SwStr%, third-highest on his squad. Starting 2019 in the Cal League will once again make it hard to see through the noise but I’ll be watching his swinging strikes, walk rate and spray chart to determine how much of it is real.

22. Julian Smith, LHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: Did Not Pitch

ETA: 2022

Drafted in the 15th round last year out of JUCO, Smith made one appearance all year and it came in instructs where it took one inning to flash his promise. The 6-foot-4 lefty has a fastball with life that touches 94, a curveball that came in at 80 mph and a changeup he’s still getting a feel for. Shoulder soreness paired with previous Tommy John surgery prompted the Dodgers to forego any minor league assignments with him last year. He’s got a projectable frame and the potential to add a little more velocity. I expect him to open the year in the Midwest League where he has the potential to shoot up this list.

23. Jacob Amaya, 2B

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

.311/.432/.436, 4 HR, .125 ISO, 139 wRC+, 17.2 K%, 17.2 BB%, 14 SB

Amaya’s advanced approach at the plate is primarily why he lands here. The former 2017 11th-round pick is selective enough at the plate that when paired with his strong bat-to-ball skills it helps limits his strikeouts and gives him a shot to poke a ball the other way. Despite his controlled set up, he has a tendency to lose himself at the plate and take aggressive hacks that don’t play to his game. He isn’t going to develop much power as he progresses and he possesses average speed. His mid-season jump to A ball went poorly, as he mustered just two extra base hits in 27 games after slugging .535 in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League.

His glove is good enough to stick at shortstop but he’s also played at the keystone. All in all, Amaya has the makings of a solid utility player that should find work thanks to his on base tendencies.

24. John Rooney, LHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

20 IP, 2.19 ERA, 3.17 FIP,  27 K%, 10 BB%, .219 BAA

You’re not going to miss Rooney on the field, I’ll tell you that much. Standing at 6-foot-5 and listed at 235 pounds, (roughly the dimensions of Jon Lester) Rooney left Hofstra as the most prolific pitcher to walk through the university, leaving the university as the all-time strikeout leader and single-season ERA and strikeout leader, the last two of which came in his draft season.

While his dominance there won’t translate to the professional side of things, Rooney is looking like an easy lock for an SP5 role in the future. He has a fastball that sits on either side of 90 mph, an above-average slider and an average changeup with solid command of all three pitches. He has an easy delivery that he seems to repeat well -- no easy feat for someone that size -- which should help alleviate any control issues that might arise. He could be a fast mover.

25. Jordan Sheffield, RHP

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

37 IP, 6.32 ERA, 6.10 FIP,  25 K%, 12.5 BB%, .270 BAA

Sheffield, who’s been surpassed by his younger brother Justus, had a disastrous year. A forearm strain landed him on the shelf for exactly three months. And if you glance at his numbers an inch above, you know his time on the field was even less productive. Despite great raw stuff, Sheffield’s issue has always been the inability to control his pitches. Right before releasing the ball he does slight lean back and then hurls his body forward complete with a head whack. It’s a lot of minuscule moving parts for a 5-foot-10 pitcher and while he gets his fastball up to 98, he seldom knows where it’s going. His slider has flashed above-average and has a very high spin rate curveball. Like I said, the raw stuff is there to induce the whiffs but he’s yet to hone it.

After returning from injury in August, Sheffield made 10 appearances. All but one were relief appearances and the one “start” was just one inning in his first outing back. He still struggled with the command and control, but rust had something to do with it. Overall, considering his size, injury history and wildness, he’s looking like a future reliever with the upside of a late-inning arm if he hones the stuff.

26. Devin Mann, 2B

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2020

.240/.348/.332, 2 HR, .092 ISO, 101 wRC+, 19.6 K%, 13 BB%, 7 SB

Mann is your typical infielder that fights through a count, spoiling pitch after pitch, until he can poke something through a hole on a line drive. The Louisville draftee has a very quiet set up at the plate with a clean, short swing that lets him get to pitches up and down the zone. He’s shown good bat-to-ball skills early on and has a strong eye at the plate. There are mixed reports about his defense and his ability to handle even second base, but for now the Dodgers are sticking him there and hoping he doesn’t end up in left field where the already mediocre offensive profile will play down. Mann’s role is likely that of a utility player at the major league level.

27. Yadier Alvarez, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

55.1 IP, 4.23 ERA, 4.44 FIP,  25 K%, 17 BB%, .223 BAA

There was a time when Alvarez was the top prospect in the Dodgers system. With the most effortless delivery of someone who sits in the high 90s I’ve ever seen in person, I envisioned him dominating batters with ease using a plus-plus fastball and plus slider. And then, the control and command issues cropped up.

Few former top pitching prospects have seen a demise like Alvarez, who’s 17 BB% was 19th worst of 2,343 minor league pitchers who logged at least 40 innings. He’ll constantly leave his fastball up in the zone and the shape of his slider morphs from start to start, along with a changeup so firm that it ends up playing like a BP fastball. A left groin injury forced him to miss two months of the season and cap him at 55.1 innings. He’s yet to pitch more than 92 innings in a season since his debut in 2016. The Dodgers already used him as a long reliever at times last year, likely to build his innings up and avoid injury, but long term it’s looking like that’s his role. He’s still 22 and it’s fair to criticize Los Angeles for rushing him, but the outlook is not good.

28. Omar Estevez, 2B/SS

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2020

.278/.336/.456, 15 HR, .179 ISO, 111 wRC+, 23.9 K%, 7.8 BB%, 3 SB

Estevez is a diminutive middle infielder that signed out of Cuba for $6 million in late 2015. Originally billed as a second baseman, his glove improved enough to start manning shortstop and he’s now started more games at shortstop than at the keystone. However his arm is still better suited at second base and it’s likely where he’ll see the bulk of his starts at the highest level.

At the plate Estevez improved significantly over his first stint in the Cal league but that should happen when you repeat. I’ll throw him a bone though, he was two years younger than the average competition. The jump in power from four home runs to 15 didn’t come without a completely different, and negative, change. His pull rate went from 44 percent to 56 percent. That’s a recipe for disaster and one that’ll hurt him in Tulsa this year if he retains it. He has fringe speed and the power we saw this year had more to do with the league. While Estevez has a chance at an above-average hit tool, the total package will max out as utilityman.

29. Matt Beaty, 1B/3B

Age: 25

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2019

.284/.378/.404, 1 HR, .120 ISO, 110 wRC+, 14.2 K%, 10 BB%, 0 SB

Sometimes you project a guy as a utilityman when you know they’re not going to quite cut it in one position. Beaty already *is* a utilityman. He started games at 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF. He missed two months with a torn UCL in his thumb and it sapped what little power he already had, but he’s always been a hit-first dude anyways, and a pretty good one at that. He owns a career .309/.366/.445 slash line in 342 games, maximizing his gap-to-gap power with his above-average contact skills and is great at limiting the strikeouts. He unlocked some late power in 2017 that’s intriguing but the injury robbed us of a chance to see if it was legit. The big concern is his inability to hit lefties, an issue that’s cropped up in the last two seasons. In 2017 he had a .651 OPS and in his limited Triple-A play this year it was a paltry .584. He’s in danger of being labeled a platoon player at this rate and his options at the big league level, especially in Los Angeles, would dwindle significantly.

30. Cristian Santana, 1B/3B

Age: 21

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2021

.274/.302/.447, 24 HR, .236 ISO, 98 wRC+, 24.7 K%, 3.4 BB%, 2 SB

Santana quite enjoyed the Cal League, driving in a league-leading 109 runners, 20 RBI more than teammate Cody Thomas and tied for the league lead with 24 home runs. If this were 1992, I’d shoot him to the top 10 of this list and call it a day. Alas, we’re in modern times and there are glaring issues that places Santana near the end of this post.

Santana has a very noisy stance, bobbing up and down on his left foot while wagging his hands near his heads, then finishes with a toe tap back followed by a leg kick. It’s a lot of moving parts that inhibit his swing. He tends to overswing and is fooled often by breaking pitches low in the zone. As the season wore on he started selling out for more power and pulling pitches more. He’s a naturally strong batter with good bat speed, though, which makes his current approach to the game unnecessary. His approach has remained very, very poor in his career and it’s going to limit the role he plays as he climbs. Expect the org to leave him at the hot corner where he can use his strong arm.