We descend from the Rocky Mountains. Our journey now heads westward towards the mighty Pacific Ocean. Just when we thought we’d never make it alive, palm trees appear! We’re in Los Angeles – the city of angles. Or angels, if you’re not into geometry. Look over there! It’s a pack of Trolley Dodgers. Except there are no trolleys, so it’s just a bunch of people in blue dancing around like they’ve taken the wrong handful at a skittles party. Taste the rainbow. Let’s inch closer and see if any of these weirdos are good at baseball. No, you can’t hold my hand.

Grade A

1. Alex Verdugo, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
Verdugo takes top honors in this system with a plus hit tool and above-average power. He accumulated 77 plate appearances with the Dodgers in 2018, but doesn’t seem to have a permanent home in the outfield yet. He hit .329 in AAA last year, so I’m not sure he has anything left to prove in the minors. I guess part time in the majors is better than full time in the minors? Steamer is giving him over 400 plate appearances, so he could just be an injury or a slump away from taking the job and running with it – could even happen in spring training.

2. Keibert Ruiz, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020
There’s always a crop of catchers that have enough offensive potential to be worth stashing. A few years back it was Posey and Santana. More recently, Alfaro and Sanchez. This year, I’d include Ruiz in that group along with the likes of Mejia, Bart, Murphy, and Jansen. Ruiz spent all of 2018 in AA as a 20-year-old, where he hit .268 with 12 homers in just over 400 plate appearances. He also walked in 6% of his appearances while only striking out in 8% of them. Pretty numbers from a switch-hitting backstop.

Grade B

3. Dustin May, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
May possesses two plus pitches in his heater and curve…and the flowing red locks of Gritty. Unlike Gritty, May has advanced command and control (his career BB/9 is 1.8). As a Philly guy, I think it’s about time that I finally come out and voice my true opinion of Gritty. I love him. I think it’s really brave and commendable of the Flyers organization to bring attention to Graves disease and hypertrichosis in such a fun and carefree way.

4. Gavin Lux, SS/2B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
Lux spent most of the 2018 season in High-A, where he hit .324 with 11 homers. He kept it going against better pitching in Double-A, hitting, er, .324 again in about 100 plate appearances. He could be a 20/20 everyday player at middle infield, or a decent utility infielder with offensive upside. I’d bet on the latter due to average tools, but his stock is on the rise and the upper minors will put him on more radars.

5. DJ Peters, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2020
29 home runs will get just about anybody hot and bothered, but they came at a price. Peters hit .236 with a strikeout percentage north of 34, and that’s in AA at 23. It’ll be tough to succeed if those numbers don’t improve. Sometimes it happens though, and there’s more than enough power in the bat.

6. Will Smith, C | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
It’s rare to see two catchers on the same top ten list. Smith reached Triple-A in 2018 (about 90 plate appearances) and struggled (.138 average). Overall he has some pop (20 homers) and can take a walk, but also strikes out too much. I’d expect the Dodgers to let him cook in Triple-A for the entire 2019 season.

7. Jeter Downs, 2B/SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021
Downs went 37th overall back in 2017. He has average tools i.e. 10-12 homer pop and enough speed to end up as a decent table setter. Like Lux, he’s probably bound for a utility/fourth outfielder role. He spent all of 2018 in A-ball, where he hit 13 homers and stole 37 bags. I haven’t seen his speed graded as anything too special, so the 37 swipes could be a result of aggression/developing catchers at the level.

Grade C

8. Jeren Kendall, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2020
Kendall is pretty one-dimensional…double-plus speed is his only above-average tool. He has average power, so based on those grades you’re looking at a 10/30 ceiling. Problem is – and this is kind of a big problem – problem is, he can’t hit. So there’s that. Moving on…

9. Edwin Rios, 1B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2019
You probably noticed this already, but this system falls off an everlovin’ cliff after Lux. So thanks for continuing to read this far into the article. Your reward is Edwin Rios, who is an average hitter with average power (plus raw though…hooray!) and nowhere to go on the defensive spectrum. Since you’re already here, I’ll try to hold your attention for one more slot with this…I’ve hidden a secret message in the next blurb.

10. Starling Heredia, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021
Starling Heredia has plus power. Everyone wants that. Not to mention he has plus speed. Don’t forget he’s still just 19. Nobody wants to see this happen, but an eye injury limited his 2018 season. Unless your league is really deep, you don’t need to sweat him yet. Don’t give up completely, though. Everybody deserves a second chance. Sometimes all you need is a little faith.

2019 Index