A quick glance at the current rotation of the Dodgers has me wondering how the make-up would be if the Dodgers stuck with those named on my 2014 UTR-OAS roster. The only worthy arm from that list presently in Blue is the young phenom Julio Urias, who made his MLB debut last May at 19-years old. He should start the 2017 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, but will be the first call-up should adversity strike in LA. Gone due to trades from the 2014 OAS are: Jharel Cotton, Zachary Bird, Grant Holmes, and Jose DeLeon. Cotton and Holmes are both now in Oakland, along with another ex-farmhand Frankie Montas who I also touted in 2014 when he was with the Chicago White Sox. Jharel Cotton will be the #4 starter for the A’s in 2017, Montas should be on-deck in Triple-A, where Grant Holmes should get his opportunity sometime in 2018. There is no doubt that Jose DeLeon would have occupied a back-end spot going into this season, and that’s very frustrating, once holding him in my N.L.-Only Keeper League. DeLeon, Cotton and Holmes all repeated on my UTR-OAS roster in 2015 and got the “Legit UTR” tag, with Holmes as a “Solid Stash”.
Newcomers added to the 2015 roster included Trevor Oaks and Brock Stewart. Both were fast movers within the system, with Stewart making his MLB debut last June. Oaks was “Just Off the Scope” in 2016 and was a 7th round pick in 2014. He posted pedestrian numbers last season (.143 TPS), but my system liked him with this Factor Score (11) ranking him #1. This parlayed into an outstanding 2016 by breezing through three levels going 14-3 with a 2.74 ERA. His TPS (.131) improved somewhat, but it probably won’t see any enhancement, as the sinker/changeup righty doesn’t miss many bats (6.4 K9). He profiles as a #5 inning-eating type. Scott Barlow was also ranked in 2015, but the 24-year old hasn’t seen hitters past Double-A. The only reliever of note was 2-time UTR-OAS Michael Johnson. The now 25-year old hasn’t taken the next leap and figures to be organizational filler. The 2016 edition comes with all new names, with the Dodgers trading away the better UTR pitchers from the organization.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score /TPS
1. RHP Isaac Anderson20 / .097
22 years old – (LoA Great Lakes / HiA Rancho Cucamonga / Double-A Tulsa)
40th round – 2015
This may be the first time you heard of Isaac Anderson. That’s OK, as he was one the last players taken by the Dodgers during the 2015 draft. However, he has been on the radar of other teams, notably the Royals (34th Rd in 2013) and Reds (19th Rd in 2014), but didn’t sign to remain in school. This is somewhat surprising since Anderson hails from Idaho; it being a cold weather state with regards to the baseball season. Teams can find gems in those locations, ala the Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who came from Wyoming. The 6’1″- 190 lb right-hander kept appearing on my daily spreads and provided the shocker of getting the top UTR-OAS spot. I got a chuckle when doing research that Anderson was a Shocker at Wichita State University. His first full season in the minors started at LoA Great Lakes with respectable numbers. He then turned it on after a promotion to HiA Rancho Cucamonga and impressed in just 3 appearances to earn another rise to Double-A Tulsa. In 118.2 innings last season, Anderson posted a very impressive 4.68 K/BB ratio. He has the tools with his four-pitch mix, 94 mph fastball, a curve, slider, changeup. He will be 23-years old through the 2017 season, so expect him to return to HiA for most of the season for refinement.
22 years old – (LoA Great Lakes / HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
13th round – 2015
On some Dodger blogs, Trevor Oaks was in the conversation of being the best right-hander in the system for 2016. For lefties, Boyle got the nod, as the Dodgers are very slim when it comes to southpaw hurlers in the upper levels. Boyle didn’t get the all-star selection by default as he enjoyed a successful first full season at LoA Great Lakes. He received a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga, getting roughed-up with a 5.55 ERA which inflated his overall ERA (3.53) for 2016. It appeared that he had better command of his pitches in the California League with his 4.43 K/BB ratio. He made it through three levels during his pro debut season, which placed him “Just Off the Scope” on the UTR radar prior to the 2016 season.
22 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga / Double-A Tulsa)
2nd round – 2015
Sborz was mainly a reliever in college, but the Dodgers have given him the opportunity to start. He only made 3 starts in 13 appearances during his pro debut season. Given the small sample, the organization installed Sborz into the Rancho Cucamonga rotation in 2016 and he went on to be named the California League Pitcher of the Year. He impressed in the hitter’s league, but denying base hits to the tune of a 6.8 H/9 rate (82 hits in 108.1 innings). He was promoted to Double-A Tulsa and was placed in the bullpen. The right-hander received a non-roster invite to Spring Training and recently was shutdown for throwing too hard, too early in camp. Don’t be surprised that the Dodgers may be watching Sborz closely as an in-season option to plug any middle relief holes in LA.
21 years old – (LoA Great Lakes / HiA Rancho Cucamonga / Double-A Tulsa)
7th round – 2015
With all the pitchers mentioned above being traded away by the Dodgers, the domino-effect of promoting younger arms has benefited Sopko. The strong framed (6’2″ 205 lbs) right-hander made three stops in 2016, with the bulk of his innings at HiA after only 6 starts at LoA the last two seasons. Reaching Tulsa as a 21-year old wasn’t much of a surprise, as Baseball America deemed Sopko as the most polished pitcher taken by LA in the 2015 draft. His ceiling could be as high as a #3 starter with the allure of a five-pitch mix. He has two variations of his fastball with good velocity, curve, hard slider, and changeup. He has proved that he can miss bats by racking up 132 K’s over 135 innings in 2016. Watch him closely when he resumes time with Double-A Tulsa in 2017.
Pitchers inheriting the final ranking position usually can be labeled as sleepers. Abdullah imparts some upside and reports state he has more to offer with his low 90’s fastball. In his first full season at LoA Great Lakes, the big-bodied teenager displayed advance control by posting a 4 percent walk rate (12 BB in 72.1 IP). It will be interesting to see where the Dodgers assign him for 2017. It could be too early to throw him into the California League given that he surrendered 10 home runs (1.2 HR9) at Great Lakes and a 30 percent fly ball rate.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Factor Score /TPS
1. RHP Adam Bray10 / .094
23 years old – (LoA Great Lakes / HiA Rancho Cucamonga)