The best way to describe the Dodgers system is “an embarrassment of riches”. Not only do they have one of the biggest budgets in MLB, but they’re also the proud owner of one of the top farms in all of baseball. With two top ten prospects in Corey Seager and the newly two eyed Julio Urias, there’s a ton of top level talent. Including top 100 darlings Grant Holmes, Jose De Leon, and Alex Verdugo. Additionally, there’s a good amount of depth in the other tiers boosted by good player development (Cody Bellinger), recent trades (Frankie Montas), solid drafting (Willie Calhoun), and an aggressive approach in the international market. One of the biggest components of the Dodgers recent success, and organizational depth, is their ability to hit on late round picks and develop prep arms. Two areas where most franchises miss the mark. With impact specs on both the pitching and hitting side, the Blue Bloods should be a pipeline of fantasy scrumptiousness for years to come.
By the way a big shout out to my Grandma Betty who turned 100 last week, and grew up not too far from “Da Bums” original home, Ebbets Field.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Corey Seager, SS |Age: 21 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 663 PA, .300/.357/.499, 22 HR, 6 SB, 8.5% BB, 15.8% K
The consensus number one prospect across almost every top 100 list this winter, thanks in large part to possibly the best hit tool in the minors. Seager projects to be one of the top rookie bats in the majors this year, with both power and average all coming at the shortstop position. There aren’t any middle infielders in the game today with higher floors than Seager not named Carlos Correa. The biggest question then becomes will Seager stick at the position? My guess is for the time being yes, but even if he doesn’t a move to third won’t hurt his value much. Particularly if he produces at the level we saw following his late season call up. Congrats Dodger fans you have quite the player on your hands.
Julio Urias, LHP | Age:19 | ETA: Late 2016 – 2017 | 2015 Level: Rk/A+/AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 80.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, 9.9 K/9
Despite surgery to fix the condition with his left eye, and a rough end to the season during his first taste of AAA. The Mexican wunderkin managed to continue to grow his legend amongst eager fantasy baseball managers. Not only did Urias continue to dominate while jumping to AA as a 19 year old, he also managed to improve his control without taking a sizable step down in K rate. The lefty mixes good command, with an arsenal featuring a plus fastball, curveball, and change. He projects to be an impact arm from the moment he touches down in Chavez Ravine. One of the few spec arms I’m more than happy to invest in heavily at the dynasty draft table.
Jose De Leon, RHP | Age:23 | ETA: Late 2016 – 2017 | 2015 Level: Rk/A+/AA
2015 Stats: 114.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 12.8 K/9
One of my favorite parts of following the minor leagues, and prospects in particular, is stories like De Leon’s. A 24th round prospect two years ago, he’s found his way into the conversation of the top 25-50 prospects in the game, and easily one of the top 10 RHP in the minors. With a strong change, and an excellent fastball, it’s easy to see why he’s boasted such absurd K rates throughout his time in the minors. Seriously, dude has a 9.9 strikeout and walk rate differential. A lot of conservative evaluations will tell you he projects as a number three starter, but the minor league numbers thus far scream fantasy sex machine. Actually that might just be hitter-tron, but who knows, I spent the afternoon licking toads and huffing smelling salts.
Alex Verdugo, OF |Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A -/A+
2015 Stats: 663 PA, .311/.340/.441, 9 HR, 14 SB, 3.8% BB, 12% K
The 2014 2nd round pick proved a lot of his doubters wrong, raking across two levels and showing a power/speed combo that created a lot of buzz. Upon his promotion to Rancho Cucamonga, the 19 year old showed an ability to hit, even though he was facing far older competition. Verdugo is a converted pitcher with a rocket arm, not that we care about that for our purposes, but it should help to push his ETA to the bigs. Many are split on him, but I’m a believer. A low k rate combined with speed, the ability to hit for contact, and glimpses of developing power, could make him a mover on prospects list over the next 18 months.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Frankie Montas, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: Late 2016 – 2017 | 2015 Level: AA/MLB
2015 Stats: 112 IP, 4.80 ERA, 3.86 BB/9, 8.68 K/9
The righty flamethrower was part of the Dodgers haul from the massive three team seven player trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Montas is a hard thrower, that features a ++ fastball, which at times touches 100. His secondary offerings are meh, and his control is spotty, and for that reason a lot of people project him to be a high leverage reliever. Though there are still believers holding out hope that he develops into a starter, but a lot of people also believe in angels. Not the team, but actual angels. Montas had a cup of coffee with the Southsiders at the end of the season, but no word on whether or not Piscotty was served.
Willie Calhoun, 2B/OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: RK/A – /A+
2015 Stats: 323 PA, .316/.390/.519, 11 HR, 2 SB, 10.8% BB, 11.7% K
A fourth round pick from Juco Yavapai Junior College in Arizona, Calhoun was one of the bigger gainers from last years draft. So far this season I’ve seen Lil’ Willie go in the first two rounds of every first year player draft I’ve participated in, and for good reason. Calhoun slugged 31 homers in juco, then followed it up with a monster .316/.390/.519 across three levels of pro ball. Besides the obvious power, the most enticing part of Calhoun’s game is his advanced approach, that led to a nearly equal number of walks (35) to strikeouts (38). If he follows up his strong 2015 with another strong campaign in 2016, Calhoun will be a name bandied about quite a bit heading into 2017.
Austin Barnes, C | Age: 26 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 323 PA, .315/.389/.479, 9 HR, 12 SB, 10.4% BB, 10.7% K
Quick everyone a get excited we have a catching prospect in his mid-20’s! Yuppers, totally a lower case yay on this one, but Barnes has shown some ability to hit for average, and get on base, making him an interesting catching option in deeper dynasty formats. The power is pretty middle of the road, but he’s shown above average base stealing ability for a backstop, swiping double digit bases in consecutive seasons. If there’s another injury to Yasmani Grandal, don’t be shocked if Barnes finds his way to regular at-bats.
Trayce Thompson, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 552 PA, .268/.318/.519, 18 HR, 12 SB, 6.5% BB, 19% K
(Insert obligatory comment about being Klay Thompson’s brother). Another piece in the Dodgers get from the Todd Frazier trade, Thompson is an athletic toolsy outfielder with 20/20 upside. He showed flashes of fantasy brilliance in his 44 game audition with the White Sox last season, which led many to believe the Chi-Sox sold high on the former 2nd round pick. In a perfect world Thompson would have a chance to break camp with the Dodgers and earn some regular playing time, but the Dodgers have the undead zombie combo of Either/Crawford/Van Slyke all vying for time in the outfield beside Puig and Joc Pederson.
Micah Johnson, 2B | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 465 PA, .295/.360/.420, 8 HR, 31 SB, 8.6% BB, 19.6% K
Johnson was the final prospect heading the Dodgers way in the Todd Frazier trade. He’s a player that generated quite a bit of buzz heading into last off season but failed to deliver on any of it in 2015. He’s more than likely a AAAA player destined for utility and pinch running duty in the majors. His value took another hit this off season with Howie Kendrick resigning. Johnson has speed for days, but upside for minutes. He’d need an injury at this point to find himself in line for playing time with the Dodgers.
Jharel Cotton, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A-/A+/AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 95.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 10.7 K/9
A 2012 20th round pick out of East Cakalak with a four pitch mix that is reliant on a mid 90’s fastball, and a nasty change. Cotton has 3rd or 4th starter potential, but his smaller frame, wonky control, and mechanics led many to believe he’s destined for the bullpen. If the Dodgers’ pen repeats last years struggles, Cotton is an arm to keep an eye on in holds leagues.
Yasiel Sierra, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: N/A
2015 Stats: N/A
A polished righty that projects as a mid-rotation starter that attacks hitters with multiple arm angles. Scouts that saw him pitch in a late 2015 showcase in Florida confirmed earlier reports of an advanced player that should take minimal seasoning stateside to make an impact. The comp I’ve heard thrown around is Raisel Iglesias. Signed a 6 year deal worth $30 million back in mid-January. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in the bigs sometime this summer.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Grant Holmes, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 103.1 IP, 3.14 ERA, 4.7 BB/9, 10.2 K/9
This Lolita is already a top 100 darling only two short years into his professional career. In fact Holmes might have the greatest upside of any of the LA arms not named Urias. The Dodgers have shown an innate ability for hitting on high school arms in the first round. In fact they’ve taken 7 since 2000 with 6 making the majors, including some guy named Clayton Kershaw. Holmes is lucky number 7, and with a big fastball, and a neat curve he should follow in the bloodlines of his forefathers and make his way to the majors.
Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A +
2015 Stats: 544 PA, .264/.336/.538, 30 HR, 10 SB, 9.6% BB, 27.6% K
After putting up monster power numbers in the hitter friendly California League last year. Bellinger shot up prospect lists, with many considering the 20 year old among the elite of the first baseman presently in the minors. It will be interesting to see what his power looks like once he matriculates to Tulsa. Even if the power drops some, he has a polished enough tool set mixing in unique athleticism, a sweet swing, solid approach and speed. The strikeout rate spiked last season, but so did the power, and that’s a trade off us fantasy prospecters will take every time. He’s been described as student of the game who’s adjustments late in the season led to a decreased strikeout rate of 19% in August. Bellinger is a big 2016 away from top 50 lists and spec on beach status, daddy likey.
Yusniel Diaz, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2015 Level: N/A
2015 Stats: N/A
Signed for $15.5 million out of Cuba in November, Diaz was a much heralded youth player. On the island he moved through the youth ranks quickly and actually replaced Yasmany Tomas in Serie Nacional club Industriales’ outfield. He mixes good hand eye coordination with speed and athleticism, but has yet to show any sort of pop to be excited about. He’s a ways a way but certainly a player to consider in the second rounds of your first year player drafts.
Yadier Alvarez, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: N/A
2015 Stats: N/A
Another Cuban for the Rothchilds of the international market. Alvarez is a high ceiling righty with a vicious fastball and an ace level ceiling. The problem is he also has a high risk factor, making this one not for the faint of heart. It will be interesting to see what Alvarez does in his first term stateside.