Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Los Angeles Dodgers

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Hunt takes a look at some of the top fantasy prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

Over the coming weeks, Jason and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.

Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.

Previous Reviews

NL West: Arizona, Colorado
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati
NL East: Atlanta, Miami
AL East: Baltimore, Boston
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles

System Overview

The Dodgers farm system has been a great source of talent for a very long time, but in recent years the system has been a bit behind the rest of the league. However, their higher draft picks of late have yielded some very good pitching prospects, and the addition of top draft pick Corey Seager along with top international signee Yasiel Puig, and the system has become stronger than it has been in a few years.

Graduates in 2012

Nathan Eovaldi (traded to Miami), Josh Lindblom (traded to Philadelphia)

AA in 2012

These are players who reached the Dodgers' Southern League affiliate in Chattanooga in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.

Zach Lee (BBRef Statistics)

The Dodgers' top draft pick from the 2010 draft started his season in High-A Rancho Cucamonga and his underlying numbers looked much better (52 K, 10 BB in 55 IP) than his ERA (4.55) or home run total (9). He was promoted to AA in late June, and performed solidly there as well (51 K, 22 BB in 65 IP).

Lee was a big overslot signing when he was drafted, signing for $5 million. He was given that bonus in large part to the upside of Lee to potentially be a #1 starter in the long term. He features four pitches, all of which have the potential to be at least average, including an excellent fastball and curve ball, and has shown excellent command in his time in the minors as well. In addition, Lee has received rave reports about his makeup, which for me tends to be the biggest difference between a true #1 and the top of the rotation starting pitcher. I could see him start the season back at AA, with AAA Albuquerque being on the radar by midseason.

Chris Reed (BBRef Statistics)

Reed was the Dodgers' top draft pick from the 2011 draft, and has been going through the conversion from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He started his year in High-A, striking out 38 and walking 14 in 35 innings before being promoted to AA. He finished the season with a 67/34 K/BB ratio in 70 innings. Reed pitched in the Futures Game this year for the World Team, and finished his year in the Arizona Fall League as well.

The scouting reports on Reed point toward a pitcher who could turn out to be a #3 or #4 type starting pitcher in the long term. He features both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, both of which have good movement, as well as an excellent slider. Reed also continues to work on a changeup, which could potentially move him into the range of a #2 starter if it can become at least more than a "show-me" offering. Realistically, I still believe he is at least 2 seasons away, as he looks to improve his offerings as well as his endurance.

High-A in 2012

These players reached the Dodgers' California League affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, and are at least 2 full seasons away from contributing in the Major Leagues.

Joc Pederson (BBRef Statistics)

Pederson came off a great 2011 season, and posted even better numbers in the 2012 year. He spent the full season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and finished with a .313/.396/.516 slash line, along with 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases. Pederson appears to have the ability long term to stay in center field, which could make him even more valuable for the Dodgers.

Pederson may be the most advanced position player prospect in the system right now, as he will likely be in AA to start the 2013 season. The scouting reports on Pederson appear to confirm the performance, in that he will be an above average hitter, and it sounds like his baseball instincts allow him to perform better than his tools might otherwise suggest. Either way, Pederson could be a very interesting fantasy outfielder in the long term, with the potential for a high batting average and both decent power and speed numbers.

Yasiel Puig (BBRef Statistics)

The Dodgers were able to get Puig signed before the new international free agent rules kicked in, giving him a 7 year, $42 million contract. Puig was only able to appear in a total of 23 games this season between the Arizona League and the California League, hitting 5 home runs and stealing 8 bases to go with a .354/.442/.634 slash line.

Puig sounds like he has the potential to be a true 5-tool player in the outfield, and reports so far seem to agree that he already has excellent raw power. Reports on the other four tools seem to be inconsistent at times, but it sounds like he has the potential to be an above average hitter in terms of both average and power. I will be extremely interested to see where he is sent for the start of the 2013 season, as there have been indications that he may be ready to contribute in the Majors at some point in the 2013 season. However, with Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier all under contract until at least 2017, there isn't a really large reason to rush Puig to the Majors. We could be looking at a top 25 prospect at the end of the 2013 season potentially.

Short Season in 2012

These players made it to one of the Dodgers' short season affiliates in the Arizona League or Pioneer Leagues. They are likely to be at least 3 or more seasons away from contributing at the Major League level.

Corey Seager (BBRef Statistics)

The top draft pick of the Dodgers last year, and the brother of current major leaguer Kyle Seager, Seager hit .309/.383/.520 in 46 games in the Pioneer League with 8 home runs and 8 stolen bases. Currently a shorstop, Seager is expected to have to move off of the position in the long term, but the reports on his bat are that his bat will play at third base, the most likely destination.

Seager is anticipated to provide excellent offensive production regardless of the position in the long term, and while he is a long way from the Majors, many of the reports point toward a player who could be a 5 category contributor at times, and a very solid one at that.

Others of Note

Paco Rodriguez (RP)

Rodriguez was the Dodgers' 2nd round pick this year, and moved quickly through the system as a reliever. After stops in the Midwest League and the Southern League, Rodriguez finished the season with the Dodgers, working as a situational lefty for the team with 6 strikeouts and 4 walks in 6 2/3 innings pitched. He seems likely to be at least given a shot to be a part of the Dodgers' bullpen this year, but it could be either as a situation lefty or a 6th/7th inning guy in the long term.

Chris Withrow (SP/RP)

Withrow was sent to AA for a third straight season, and ended the year working out of the bullpen for the team there. It's a bit hard to see him as a starting pitcher in the long-term at this point, given his difficulties with limiting walks (he has never posted a BB/9 below 4 as a professional), but his offerings sound like they could play well out of the bullpen.

Garrett Gould (SP)

Gould was given an assignment in the California League this year, and his numbers really reflect some of that. With a 5.75 ERA and 19 home runs allowed, Gould's value may have dropped this year. It will be interesting to see if he can rebound in AA in 2013, as he could be a back-end of the rotation type if he can return to the form he showed in Low-A in 2011. He seems to me like a deep-league type for dynasty leagues right now, but he is still a long way away.

Matt Magill (SP)

Magill was a 31st round draft pick by the Dodgers back in 2008, and really jumped onto radars this year with 168 strikeouts in 146 innings at AA. Magill has posted above average walk rates each season in the minors (3.4 per 9 or higher in each of the last 4 stops), but he was added to the 40 man roster by the team last week, and could see time in the Majors as a spot starter as soon as 2013.

Angel Sanchez (SP)

The numbers by Sanchez this year in the California League don't appear to tell the whole story, as he had a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 130 innings, but also had a 6.58 ERA and 26 home runs allowed. The scouting reports on Sanchez indicate a pitcher who has a much higher ceiling than the performance would indicate, and he is worth watching what he can do in AA next year.

Statistics from Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, and Fangraphs

You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball

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