The defending National League champs have one of the best player development machines over the last decade, producing productive players at nearly every position, as well as some generational talents. 2017 was just another brick in the wall for the Bluebloods, as Cody Bellinger was promoted in late April and took the league by storm with his uppercut swing and upright stance. Despite years of competing in the NL West the Dodgers’ cupboard is not bare, as a cluster of Top 100 types make up the top of this year’s list. As previously stated, that’s hardly a shock to anyone that follows the Dodgers or the minor leagues. The level of scouting, player development, and patience sets the Dodgers on a plain that not many teams can get within shouting distance of. Many out there joke that I’m a Red Sox homer, what they don’t realize is I might be twice the Dodgers fanboy the last few seasons. Los Angeles represents  the often overlooked product of unlimited resources; you have more money to pay scouts, development people, and trainers. All this to say Jeren Kendall isn’t the first player who improved the day the Dodgers drafted him. Not because of anything he did, but my unwavering faith that the team will get the most out of his abilities. Enough of the Doyers tongue bath, it’s the Dodgers top prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

 

1) Walker Buehler, RHP | Level: AAA | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: 3-3 , 88.2 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 125 K, 31 Bb

Don’t read too much into the struggles in his late season callup, Buehler has the ability to pair three above average or better offerings with above average control. The arsenal is led by his plus fastball that touches 99 with sink. He has the ability to locate it anywhere in the zone, and is a deadly combo with his mid-80’s hook. His slider flashes plus at times, but the changeup is fringe at best. He’ll have a nice combination of groundballs and swinging strikes, making him a brand of pitcher I tend to buy. The big question with Buehler is health, putting a future in the rotation in question. He has the stuff to be an elite reliever, but his most value in dynasty leagues is in the rotation. The upside is top of the rotation starter if he can stay healthy. ETA: 2018

2) Alex Verdugo, OF | Level: AAA | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: .314/.389/.436, 6 HR, 62 RBI, 9 SB

There’s just some players that the best way to describe their skillset is “they’re just good at baseball”. I know, deep analysis, but really there’s few players that bring a better understanding of hitting, running, and defense. He looks like a future batting title contender as currently constituted, but could tap into more of his raw power as he matures. A part of the Dodgers future top of the order with Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager, is what dreams are made of, and valuable counting stats. His splits are identical vs. righties and lefties, leading to no platoon questions. ETA: 2018

3) Mitchell White, RHP | Level: AA | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: 3-2, 73.2 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 88 Ks, 31 Bb

After reaching AA in his first full professional season, Mitchell White is one of the more underrated starting pitching prospects in baseball. Long, lean, and athletic, White’s clean mechanics and overhand throwing style are easily repeatable, helping him control the zone when he’s on. Though he is prone to lose his command at times when he loses his release point. His stuff is no joke either; he gets the heater up to 94-97 with sink and run, mixes in a nasty slide-piece, and a curveball with decidedly different break. He still needs to develop his changeup, and there’s lingering health concerns, having already gone under the knife for TJ in college. If White has the reins off that have been limiting his innings, he might see the majors late in 2018. ETA: 2019

4) Keibert Ruiz, C | Level: A+ | Age: 19 | 2017 Stats: .316/.361/.452, 8 HR, 51 RBI, 0 SB

A switch hitting contact machine with developing power and plate approach beyond his years. Sound familiar? No, it’s not me catching a temporary stutter, Keibert isn’t all that different from Francisco Mejia a couple of seasons ago. The Dodgers are the type of organization to take it slow, so Ruiz is still a good three years from any regular playing time. But if his recent track record and production is any indicator, then we could be looking at a peak of a .300 average and mid teen to low 20s homer totals. ETA: 2021

5) Starling Heredia, OF | Level: A | Age: 18 | 2017 Stats: .325/.397/.555, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 10 SB

Let’s just get this out of the way, my name is Ralph and I’m a Starling Heredia truther. I believe in the young thick-bodied Dominican import. He’s prone to swing and miss, and his 26 games sample in the Midwest League wasn’t exactly a “Vladian” showing, but he destroyed the AZL, (1.221 OPS), hits for power, gets on base, and runs better than you expect. “Pitbull” swings big, and is a little stiff in the upper body with a big leg kick, but he gets to his power already, and I have all the faith in the world in the Dodgers player development people. I think we’re looking at a star in the making. ETA: 2021

6) D.J. Peters, OF Dodgers | Level: A+ | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .276/.372/.514, 27 HR, 82 RBI, 3 SB

The first time I wrote about Peters was following the 2016 Draft, I ranked him 48th in my First Year Player Draft Top 50, and discussed him as one of the potential breakouts of 2017. Based on the above statline, and Arizona Fall League invite, it’s safe to say that was one of the few things I’ve been right about in the last 3 years. He’s an athletically built 6’6 giant, with the ability to play all three outfield positions. He has a long swing, and has trouble with fastballs on the inner-half because of it. He does however, have massive raw power, and makes pitchers pay when they leave anything over the plate. His pitch recognition is above average, and so far in the lower minors his walks rates have stayed above 10%. The struggles with velo on the inside concerns me as he moves up through the upper levels. ETA: 2019

7) Edwin Rios, 1B | Level: AAA | Age: 23 | 2017 Stats: .309/.362/.533, 24 HR, 91 RBI, 1 SB

Since being drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 draft Rios has hit 51 homers, driven in 167 runs while slashing .306/.353/.549. So why the hell is he constantly looked over? I get it, he doesn’t look like a ball player, and his skills don’t necessarily translate to scouting grades, but all he’s done is hit across every level of the minors. Seriously every, single, level. All of them. His raw power is huge, and his game power ain’t too shabby, but he doesn’t walk a ton. Rios gets a lot of AAAA labels, but I refuse to completely dismiss a track record that spans 1,000 at bats. A .270/30/80 peak isn’t out of the realm of possibility. ETA: 2018

8) Yusniel Diaz, OF | Level: AA | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: .292/.354/.433, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 9 SB

There are some that love Diaz as a fantasy prospect, I get it to a certain extent. There are tools there that could translate, but I find it hard to buy in to Diaz as a future fantasy difference maker. That said, there’s a lot to like. He cleaned up his swing from April to the end of the season, has displayed high exit velocities to scouts, and is strong and athletic in his movements. This is a future MLB regular for sure, but he might be more of a 5th outfield type in fantasy. He has speed, but was caught 14 out of 23 attempts. That’s not good BTW. ETA: 2019

9) Jeren Kendall, OF | Level: A | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: .253/.311/.444, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 9 SB

A 2017 first round pick, here’s what I wrote about Kendall in my Top 50 First Year Player Draft Rankings. “Kendall was the best athlete in the 2017 draft, with a enticing power/speed combo, and a big time college resume. What he lacks is plate discipline, and the type of contact ability you’d like to see from a well known college star. Enter the Dodgers and their lengthy track record of player development. He destroyed rookie ball for 5 games before making his full season ball debut with Great Lakes of the Midwest League. Kendall showed some of the enticing power and speed ability, but more often than not was frustrating. The biggest red flag outside his 27% K rate was his success rate on steals. He was caught 8 out of 13 times in A ball! That’s terrible for a first round college player known for his speed. It was totally out of character based on Kendall’s collegiate track record, he was only caught 16 times in 83 attempts at Vanderbilt. Hopefully this was a blip after a long season, and an aggressive assignment, but there has to be some concern. Ranked this late, because someone else might be drafting him.” ETA: 2020

10) Yadier Alvarez, RHP | Level: AA | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: 4-6, 92.1 IP, 4.68 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 97 Ks, 50 Bb

This time a year ago, Alvarez was all the rage in scouting circles, many viewed him as top 50 prospect, and a player that would move quickly through the upper levels of the minors. That however did not happen, in fact the opposite happened in 2017, as his long standing control issues surfaced. That’s not to say he doesn’t still offer an enticing package to scouts. He’s long, lean, athletic, and gets to his velocity in the easiest of ways. Problem is in baseball you need to throw strikes, and despite an upper 90’s heater. His secondaries either aren’t very good (his changeup), or he lacks feel (slider). Might end up a high leverage reliever if he can throw enough strikes. ETA: 2019

11) Dustin May, RHP | Level: A+ | Age: 20 | 2017 Stats: 9-6, 134 IP, 3.63 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 128 Ks, 27 Bb

Another long, lean righthander, May mixes a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s, and touches 97, with a two-seam variation, a plus low-80’s slider, and a very fringe changeup. May’s hair and leg kick, make him quite a sight to see, but also makes him one of the more fun lower minors arms to follow. He shows the ability to develop more bat missing ability as his fastball and slider continue to improve. He shows a good understanding of sequencing, and the art of pitching for a player who spent the entire season at 19 years old. There’s some concern about his thin build, but I tend to poo-poo that when someone is 6’6. He certainly doesn’t have any conditioning issues, and people add mass at different times in their 20’s. His delivery is violent, and I could see it coming back to bite him. The development of a changeup will be paramount to keeping lefthanded hitters off balance and May ultimately reaching his number two starter upside. ETA: 2021

12) Cristian Santana, 3B | Level: A | Age: 20 | 2017 Stats: .363/.390/.563, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 0 SB

An aggressive swinger with a ton of raw power, Santana had a nice full-season debut at Great Lakes this year slashing .322/.339/.460 with 5 homers in 44 games. His strikeouts didn’t bloat to an extreme level (23.3%), but his 2.8% Bb% is concerning. Perhaps Santana develops some on base skills, but right now he’s “see ball-hit ball. This approach has worked due to his above average hit tool. His swing is compact, quick, and lofty. There’s a lot to like with Santana, but I can see him going two ways next season; blowing up and breaking into the top 100, or going the way of Travis Demeritte. ETA: 2020

13) Dennis Santana, RHP | Level: AA | Age: 21 | 2017 Stats: 8-7, 118 IP, 4.11 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 129 Ks, 45 Bb

Sinkerball pitcher with the ability to sit mid to high 90’s with the pitch. The movement on his fastball is a sight to behold, but at times it can impact his strikethrowing. He improved his changeup in 2017, allowing him to be more effective against lefthanders, while using his slider to keep righties off balance. His violent delivery, and effort in his mechanics gives Santana the appearance of a reliever even if he has the stuff to start. ETA: 2019

14) Will Smith, C | Level: AA | Age: 22 | 2017 Stats: .231/.358/.446, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 7 SB

There are many in the prospect world that prefer Will Smith to Keibert Ruiz, I think they’re cray-cray, but they have their reasons. And what the hell do we know, really? Smith is a very good defensive catcher, which raises his floor, as I think a major league career is certain. At the plate he’s historically been a boring contact/approach type with a line drive geared stroke. He showed up in the Arizona Fall League looking to add loft and game power, so perhaps he can add enough power to be fantasy relevant. ETA: 2019

15) Gavin Lux, SS | Level: A | Age: 20 | 2017 Stats: .244/.331/.362, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 27 SB

A defensive first shortstop, with enough fantasy upside that he should be on dynasty manager’s radar. His approach is above average, he’s a threat on the basepaths, and the defensive ability to buy him time to polish his hitting. I’m not knocking down any doors to own Lux, but he should not be written off for lack of power and contact. ETA: 2021

The Next 6: 16) Matt Beaty, 1B/3B, 17) Jordan Sheffield, RHP , 18) Caleb Ferguson, LHP, 19) Romer Cuadrado, OF, 20) Carlos Rincon, OF, 21) Drew Jackson, SS   

Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus

  1. Olay says:
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    Got a prospect feeler trade. Roto dynasty leaague. Keep players forever for free. 6 X 6 OPS.

    Trade my:
    Machado
    Moncada
    Tatis JR

    For his:
    Blackmon
    Robles
    Brinson
    Eloy

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Olay: Yeah, not a bad deal I could accept that.

  2. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    When do you think / hope Verdugo will see regular PT?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      June! Say June Ralph. C’mon, June!

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Grey: June!

  3. Sweatpants Nation says:
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    Where do guys like Verdugo and Ross find at bats? Pederson’s a platoon so there? Or does Bellinger get some games in the OF again?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Sweatpants Nation: Verdugo is their everyday centerfielder sooner rather than later. Ross is Toles?

      • Sweatpants Nation says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I guess that pushes Taylor to right or maybe 2B

  4. Swfcdan says:
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    The Shitz returns!

    Had to make an offer to get Degrom in my contract keeper where ace SPs go for crazy amounts in auction, can keep 1yr $21 so solid price. But had to downgrade Eloy to K Tucker in the process , not much of a downgrade though right? Also sent a 2019 1st round prospect pick but they have limited worth (look at Moniak, Rutherford, Ray this year). With speed at a premium is it a reach to think Tucker could be of equal value to Eloy in their primes?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Swfcdan: Good moves, but don’t trade away too many picks next year, that draft is stacked. The counter to the Moniak, Ray, Lewis, and Rutherford is Benintendi, Bregman, Rodgers, and Tucker etc.

      Tucker totally could be, particularly if he breaks into Houston in the next two seasons. That’s a top 20 offense all time.

  5. armcurls says:
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    I need a power bat for my minor league system, maybe ready this year but for sure next. Should I take Austin Hayes or are there better guys out there? Guys like Calhoun, Vladdy, and Tucker are already taken.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @armcurls: Hays is a good option.

  6. Son

    Son says:
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    Good stuff Hay-Soos! Viva Los Doyers!!!!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @Son: Viva!

  7. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    I forgot if I asked you or Grey this already (apologies if I did!), but in a 12 team keep 7 forever (+$3 annually) . . .

    Would you trade your $3 Bellinger for an $18 Altuve or $12 Bryant?

    Slightly concerned about a sophomore slump . . . but I feel like it’s Bellinger there, no?

    Other keepers are Goldy ($18), JDM ($13), Blackmon ($26), Devers ($11), Schoop ($15), Robbie Ray ($10).

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: Yeah the salary relief of Belly’s contract make it a easy choice for me. He won’t cost as much as Bryant for several years. Take the discount, the career, and the risk too.

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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        @Ralph Vegas: good stuff all around! Thanks

  8. Cactus says:
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    Is Lewis Brinson the Marlins opening day center fielder?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @Cactus: Yea

  9. Cactus says:
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    Is Lewis Brinson the Marlins opening day CF?

    • The Eye of Horus says:
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      @Cactus: Possible, but from what I have read, it seems more likely that he would be up in June.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Cactus: Depends what they do. I think he does break camp. But they could play games, at this point Brinson needs MLB at bats. He’s not proving anything in the PCL. Obviously the Marlins could play service time games.

  10. Another Dan says:
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    Excellent stuff Ralph,

    It’s a good system no doubt, there’s some talent in it. I own a few of them in different leagues. And I was all over Bellinger last year thanks to you. It’s nice having a couple of guys in your team that you added from FA when they were under the radar minor leaguers.

    You mentioned in a comment further above that the 2018 draft class is stacked. Any suggested reading ? I have more than my fair share of good picks next year.

    Best wishes,

    Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @Another Dan: Hey Dan! I’d take a look at BA, but Lance and myself should do a lot of work on it starting in April.

  11. David says:
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    Enjoy your work Ralph, thanks. Please rank these pitchers for dynasty: Buehler, Gohara, Sixto, Hansen, Baez. Thanks

    • The Eye of Horus says:
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      @David: Buehler, Baez, Sixto, Gohara, Hansen.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @David: Buehler, Sixto, Baez, Gohara, Hansen.

  12. Miketron says:
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    Will Smith is what Austin Barnes was a few years ago. Athletic guy and while not offensively better than Ruiz I think he can be a fantasy worthy starter. Also I just have a feeling Ruiz looks good then tops out at AAA like Vogelbach or Jesus Aguilar.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Vegas says:
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      @Miketron: I agree on Smith. You think Ruiz fizzles after AAA? Or Rios?

      • Miketron says:
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        @Ralph Vegas: ah yes Rios is a AAAA not Ruiz. Like you say in your blurb some of it is just how he looks(large and unathletic), but some guys like the ones I mentioned just hit until they don’t.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Miketron: It’s possible, he doesn’t have a ton of approach to fall back on. Good bat to ball.

  13. Rich says:
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    Are you buying the Puig comps on Heredia or do you think his ceiling is higher?

    I’ve been wanting to add Rios everywhere, but he is so blocked, it’d take a rash of injuries for him to get a chance. Dodgers need to trade him tomorrow so us fantasy players can be happy.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Rich: I’d like to see Rios get dealt to a team with some opportunity. He’s an interesting bat.

      I do, I like Heredia’s upside, kid can mash. He’s hyper-aggressive.

  14. Lou says:
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    I’ve been in a dynasty for a year and I’m still gun-shy on trades. So hard to weigh the values. Considering a trade for Bryan Reynolds, Vladimir Gutierrez and George Kontos and giving up Paul DeJong and Dakota Hudson. It feels like a wash but I’m not sold on DeJong. Cards picked up Munoz and still have Perez and Sosa floating around in the system and look what happened to Aledmys Diaz! Is this trade worth it?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Lou: I think DeJong is better than Diaz. Not to say he won’t regress in 2018, he will, but the kid can hit. I don’t like what you’re gettkng back. DeJong still has more value than both those guys.

  15. Nightpandas says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    Good stuff as always ….

    Partial Keeper league trade : My Sale for his Kluber and Bauer. I would not keep Salazar if I did this. 3 year age diff to Kluber a concern?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Nightpandas: I’d hold.

  16. J-FOH says:
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    I can’t remember the last time you wrote about the Dodgers and didn’t mention me. Yes this is all about me. It sound like you’re goo goo for Verdugo …me too

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @J-FOH: Well of course, you’re my Dodger insider.

      He’s going to be one handsome centerfielder!

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: those flowing locks of golden wheat and moonshot dongs that smell of jasmine on a crisp summer night….wait I’m thinking of DJ Peters. Verdugo, yes the man that I doubled down on in one league where I feel can be that Lindor type player that is just great at baseball and will show us more than we could project as a minor leaguer.

  17. Notorious D.A.N. says:
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    If Julio Urias had 50 less innings and was still retained his rookie eligibility like Alex Reyes where would he rank out?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Notorious D.A.N.: Does he still have the injury in this scenario? If so he’d be closer to 50. On talent he’s just behind Ohtani, I’d take him over Whitley, Honeywell, and Kopech if he’s 100% healthy

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