The champions enter 2021 with more answers than questions, just as they’ve entered the past few seasons but now featuring the added benefit of some shiny new rings to verify that they are in fact the best as this game.
Their minor league system, as you’d expect after such a dominant run at the top level, is a little less amazing than it’s been the past few years thanks to a flurry of graduations and the big Mookie trade. It’s still incredibly deep, but the name-value isn’t the same.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2021 | Highest level played | ETA
1. RHP Josiah Gray | 23 | AA | 2021
Drafted out of powerhouse Le Moyne College in the 2nd round of 2018, Gray was shortly thereafter shipped to LA in the exchange for Yasiel Puig. He played 72 games at shortstop across his two college seasons but shifted to the mound full-time as a pro and has been incredibly effective in his brief career. At 6’1” with excellent ride on his his four-seamer and two benders he can bury, Gray’s traits are ideal for succeeding in the pitching paradigm that dominates our game now. His athleticism enables plus command that might be elite when all is said and done and has been good enough already to limit batters to just four home runs across four levels of minor league baseball–three of those coming in the hitter friendly California League. The Dodgers didn’t need his assistance this season, but I suspect he was ready to succeed if called upon and will be eager to answer the bell early in 2021. He’s a redraft target for me in deep leagues and someone I’ll be adding in shallow leagues when it seems his time is nigh.
2. OF Luis Rodriguez | 18 | NA | 2024
Rodriguez has everything a coach could dream on in a centerfielder—speed, strength, intuition, hand-eye coordination and physical fluidity—so the Dodgers paid $2.67 million to sign him, the most they’ve ever spent to acquire an international amateur. He’s 6’2” and listed at 175 pounds, though I’d be shocked if he doesn’t check in at least 10-15 pounds heavier than that now. His swing is already geared for loft, giving him a great chance to leapfrog up the public facing lists with a fast start this season.
3. C Keibert Ruiz | 22 | MLB | 2020
Will Smith did not get those memos about Ruiz being the catcher of the future in Los Angeles. Either that or he got them and they pissed him off, so he ignored them. Nobody likes filling out TPS reports.
With the fresh prince in Bel Air, Ruiz could find himself on the slow road to fantasy relevance. Or maybe on the trade block. The universal DH would be a boon for the hit-first backstop with plus plate skills.
4. 2B Zach McKinstry | 25 | MLB | 2020
McKinstry might be the Dodgeriest Dodger on this list. Expectations for the 33rd round pick from the 2016 draft class were never high, but McKinstry has improved in increments every step of the way to the extent that he was unstoppable as a 23-year-old in AAA, slashing .382/.421/.753 with seven home runs across just 26 games in 2019. He’d been mortal at AA in 95 games that season, hitting 12 home runs at stealing 8 bases while producing a 126 wRC+, but he carried over that 2019 success into Spring Training before 2020 happened and could be looking at a semi-regular role now that Kike Hernandez is a free agent. Defense is a strength for the versatile McKinstry, so he’ll be among the options anytime a lefty bat is needed in 2021.
5. 3B Kody Hoese | 23 | A | 2022
With the 25th pick of the 2019 draft, Los Angeles selected Kody Hoese, a plus-hit, 6’4” college infielder with great plate discipline—a theme among Andrew Friedman’s favorite players. It makes sense given their staff’s ability to teach young bats to add loft, something Hoese started doing as a college junior, swinging from five home runs as a sophomore all the way to 23.
6. 2B Michael Busch | 23 | A | 2022
Feels like some kind of existential punishment that I find myself profiling Busch a week after he got traded for Adalberto Mondesi in my 30-team dynasty league. The selling owner preferred Busch and fypd pick 1.6 to my offers, the last of which was Starling Marte and Luisangel Acuña straight up for Mondesi. I’m still reeling from it, to be honest. I’d been trying to acquire him in that league for more than a year.
Anywho, Busch is a six-foot, bat-over-glove prospect with plus plate skills who probably wouldn’t stick at 2B in any other baseball epoch but has a chance in this one. He’s a lefty at the plate, so the 31st overall pick in 2019 will have the platoon advantage more often than not—something that’s becoming increasingly important year over year.
7. 3B Miguel Vargas | 21 | A+ | 2022
Like so many other Dodger prospects, Vargas has always done an excellent job minimizing strikeouts while winning his fair share of walks. He hasn’t produced much power yet but has always been very young compared to his competition. Even after a lost season, he’ll begin 2021 in AA as a 21-year-old with an outside chance to make his big league debut late this year.
8. OF Jake Vogel | 19 | HS | 2024
One of the fastest players in this year’s high school class (with his 6.15 60-yard-dash representing the fastest recorded time I can remember seeing), Vogel could not have asked for a better landing spot to develop his craft. The third round pick already has a plus hit tool and uses his base effectively, but if anyone can find the power to make him a fantasy dynamo, it’s the Dodgers development team. Two arrows way up here, but just for some cold water context, I will always love plus hit plus-plus speed players with power potential. I’d say something like “who doesn’t, am I right,” but experience tells me that plenty of prospectors don’t, or at least they don’t all bake that topside love into their fantasy lists.
9. OF Andy Pages | 20 | R | 2022
Pages was turned over to the Of Anaheims last off-season for a brief spell before Angels owner Arte Moreno got fussy about the money and nixed the deal. I still can’t believe they were the team that balked at sending a meh middle infielder for an almost everyday player in Joc Pederson and an almost starting pitcher in Ross Stripling. The whole mess is but a distant memory blip at this point, but it’s no small boon for Pages, who remains in the organization best suited to maximize his plus power potential
10. A Million Pitchers | Young | All | Forever
High-velocity righthanders Bobby Miller, Landon Knack, and Clayton Beeter were all drafted this year, a truly silly outcome for a team looking to stock up in that area, particularly in the case of Beeter, a top 20 talent that fell all the way to 66th overall. Might make even more sense to drop RHP Michael Grove in the weeds here in case he takes an early-season opportunity and runs with it. RHP Gerardo Carillo has nasty stuff but seems fated for relief due to shaky command. RHP Kendall Williams was a nice pickup from Toronto in the Ross Stripling sweepstakes. That seems strong. This ain’t Supermarket Sweep. Anywho, Williams is 6’6” and so are RHP Jimmy Lewis and the News. The News, in this case, are RHPs Edwin Uceta and Andre Jackson, neither of whom is 6’6” but both of whom could throw MLB innings this year. The point is none of these guys have value until they do, if that fake Yogi-ism means anything to you. They’re all on the verge of dynasty value or have it already, and they’re all nice filers if they’re cheap. The talent here is so stacked up that you don’t want to invest a ton of time and roster space into farming a Dodger arm, but you do want to pounce whenever a nice, near opportunity presents itself, like it did with Tony Gonsolin and seems poised to do with Grove and Andre Jackson.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.