2014 Los Angeles Dodgers

C – Julian Leon  –  Rookie Ogden – 18 yo; – (2012 – Int. FA signee/MX) 

  • .332  –  12 HR –  57RBi  – 39R  – .420/.565/.985 slash  –  PAG: 4.03
  • After a 2013 debut where the Mexico native Leon posted a 2.77 PAG for AZL Dodgers, not much was bantered about the young 17 year old.  Au contraire. This past season proved that the tease was on the Dodgers and fans alike as Leon broke out in a huge way. The 18 year old was one of the leading peripheral stat producers in the Pioneer League this season and there isn’t a backstop in the Dodgers system that carries as much upside as the 5’11 – 215 lb. righty.  His natural power can crush a ball to nearly every part of the ballpark. As a teenager though, he must improve his pitch awareness and is showing signs as he’s willing to take his fair share of walks. Leon has above average arm strength and needs refinement in the core fundamentals of catching. (i.e footwork and pop times). His strong showing in 2014 mixed with the rest of L.A.’s catchers (including recent trade acquisition Austin Barnes) give the Dodgers both a promising young prospect and depth for years to come. 

 

1B – Cody Bellinger – Rookie Ogden/AZL Dodgers  – 18 yo;  – (2013 – 4th round) –

  •  .312  – 3HR – 34RBi  – 51R  – 8SB  –  .352/.474/.826  slash   – csPAG: 4.12
  • In an organization that has solid production from the first base position, but not necessarily prospects in the upper minors  –  namely 30 year old Clint Robinson in AAA and 25 year old O’Koyea Dickson in AA  –  Bellinger sticks out as the premiere bat at the position. However, on his heels (and more inside the UTR wheel house) is 2012 – 4th rounder out of Raytown South HS (MO) Justin Chigbogu. Both the lefty swinging Chigbogu and Bellinger ranked close, yet pound-for-pound Bellinger clocked in the better overall season even when considering he logged 40 less games than Chigbogu. The son of former major leaguer Clay, Cody is an above average defender and possesses power. I’m not a fan of player comparisons, yet scouts have compared the 6’4 – 180 lb. lefty to veteran major leaguer Adam LaRoche. My hope is that Bellinger’s 2014 wasn’t a breakout. A 4.12 PAG score is high and it’s only evident to believe Bellinger could regress upon ascending to LoA Great Lakes. But make no mistake, Bellinger, along with Chigbogu and those at the higher levels gives L.A. a core to feel good about having in the fold. 

 

2B – Jesmuel Valentin  – LoA Great Lakes/HiA Clearwater  –  20 yo;  – (2012 – Sup. 1st round)

  • .273 – 24 2B – 9 3B – 7HR – 47RBi – 81R – 25 SB   .336/.489/.824 slash  – csPAG: 3.17
  •  The 20 year old is one of a short handful of prospects that made the UTR O.A.S. lists who spent time with more than one organization during the 2014 season. Let’s get out of the way that I really liked Valentin as a Dodger prospect and was bummed when Valentin was dealt to the Phillies.  Much talked about prospect Alex Guerrero’s top standing in the organization is in question after a bizarre dugout incident with veteran catcher Miguel Olivo last season (Tyson/Holyfield style). Obviously the Dodgers didn’t think Guerrero was ready which prompted the Dodgers to deal for the Angels Howie Kendrick.  None the less, L.A. is sticking with Guerrero and felt the switch-hitting Puerto Rico native Valentin was expendable as he was sent to Philadelphia in a 2014 late season trade for pitcher Roberto Hernandez. Valentin’s value was elevated with a trade to the prospect starved Phillies even though his debut in HiA was rather rough with a 12 game PAG of 1.92 for HiA Clearwater. I liked Valentin as a Dodger, but love him as a Philadelphia Phillie. I think he begins 2015 back in HiA and with a good start, he could see AA Reading in short order. 
 
 3B –  Paul Hoenecke – LoA Great Lakes – 23 yo;  – (2012 – 23rd round) –
  • .247  – 37 2B  –  15HR –  61RBi  – 59R –   .315/.425/.741  slash   –  PAG: 2.97
  • It almost seems irrelevant to report, then predict the rise of the any Dodgers minor league third baseman. Even though Hoenecke, a 2012 University of Wisconsin draftee, posted a solid season for LoA Great Lakes in 2014 (he led the Midwest League in doubles), it’s the now 24 year-old’s second consecutive go-around in LoA; and with Corey Seager (listed below) in the fold and sitting atop the organization, I’m not sure Hoenecke will advance enough to become anything more than system filler. He’s far off anyone elses radar. Maybe even mine. Aside from (the soon to be major league stud) Seager, there isn’t much in the way of anything remotely noteworthy (yet) as far as Dodger third base prospects. Even us UTR guys have to take a lump or two.  I’ll patiently wait and see how 2015 takes shape and hope someone of note takes the position by the horns. 
SS – Corey Seager  – HiA Rancho Cucamonga/AA  – 20 yo; – (2012 – 1st round) 
  • .349  –  50 2B – 20HR  – 97RBi  – 89R  –   .402/.602/.1.004   slash  – csPAG: 4.39
  • For anyone who remotely follows baseball and/or the fantasy game, there’s not much more I can say about Seager. The lefty slugger out of North Carolina is without a shadow of a doubt, one of THE premiere hitting prospects in the game today. More than likely Seager is the third baseman of the future in L.A. and has the skills to become one of the top overall fantasy stars in the game. 
LF – Scott Schebler  – AA Chattanooga –  23 yo; –  (2010 – 26th round)
  • .280 – 23 2B – 14 3B – 28HR – 73RBi – 82R – 10SB  –  .365/.556/.921 slash  – PAG: 3.57
  • I’m surprised I got through the entire minor league All-Star lists before I ran into a situation like the one surrounding Schebler. From the beginning of UTR, Jim and I made sure we set forth a solid foundation of criteria to follow, but boy I have to tell ya’, sometimes the landscape between the have’s and have not’s is so severe that we have to bend a little. My UTR gut told me to choose third year left fielder Jacob Scavuzzo. However, the discrepancy between Scavuzzo’s 2014 season vs. that of the lefty hitting Schelber was impossible to overlook.  Schebler has made a methodically successful climb through the minors with his lowest PAG (2.89) coming in 2012 with LoA Great Lakes yet he still batted .260 with 46 extra base hits, 67 runs scored and 67 RBi’s. The Iowa native will always have to prove himself. Guys like him aren’t overtly popular in the industry, but he’s gutted his way to top prospect status in the Dodgers system.  In the fantasy league realm, he’s one of those types who eventually fall onto deep sleeper lists. With the Dodgers, this could happen within the next year or two once the major league club clears space with heavy contracts coming off the books. 
CF – Johan Mieses  – DSL Dodgers  –  18 yo; – (2013 – International FA/DR) –
  • .299 – 5HR – 8 3B  –  24RBi – 31R – 29 SB  –  .371/.505/.876  slash  –  PAG: 3.57
  • In the case of my above left field O.A.S., choosing AA’s Scott Schebler over former MLBDepthCharts UTR Breakout Jacob Scavuzzo was a case of stepping out of the box due to player disparity that couldn’t be ignored. With my Dodgers centerfield choice, it was the complete opposite. There were three candidates that stood out. Highly touted Alex Verdugo is as advertised. The 2014 – 2nd rounder out of Sahuaro HS (Tucson, AZ) posted a csPAG of 3.70 for the AZL Dodgers, then with Rookie League Ogden. The 18 year-old batted .353 with 15 doubles, 41 RBi’s and 31 runs scored. Then you have 21 year old Devan Ahart. You’d think logging a csPAG score of 3.53 would earn much deserved love, but the 2014 – 16th rounder out of Akron is simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sticking heavy to the UTR roots, Johan Mieses is my choice. I, too, think Verdugo is a future stud, however, Mieses 2014  wasn’t to be ignored. His second season with the Dodgers was a repeat (sort of) with the DSL. His pro debut in 2013 was a 16 game stint in the DSL, so 2014 was in essence his first true season and he displayed the bat, glove and most notably, the speed that the Dodgers coveted upon signing him out of the Dominican Republic. Mieses was amongst the DSL league leaders in triples, home runs and stolen bases. As long as Verdugo is in the fold, Mieses probably won’t get the love. I’m hoping L.A. gives the 6’2 – 185 pounder a shot at the GCL to open 2015. He has the game that could make serious noise. 
RF – Joey Curletta – LoA Great Lakes – 20 yo; – (2012 – 6th round) –
  • .277 –  7HR – 68RBi – 60R  – 15SB   .333/.380/.713  slash  – PAG: 2.86
  • The Dodgers coveted the Mountain Pointe HS (AZ) draftee as both a pitcher and a power bat. He regularly dialed his fastball into the mid 90’s, but the 6’4 – 235 lb. righty’s bat also carried a second-to-none power and that’s what the Dodgers ultimately fell in love with. He debuted in the AZL and struggled mightily batting .149 with only two extra base hits and 25 strikeouts in 25 games; equaling to a 1.24 PAG score. Heading into 2013, statistically, there wasn’t anywhere for Curletta to look but up and it’s a good thing because that’s exactly where his game went. He posted a 3.52 PAG for Rookie Ogden batting .326 with 16 doubles, 41 runs scored and 42 RBi’s. He also led the Raptors club in hits (75) and RBi’s (42). The 2014 season I can’t say was a let down. Curletta once again received a promotion. This time to LoA Great Lakes and was one of the Midwest League leader in hits (143) and ranked fifth in doubles (30). I expect the Phoenix native to receive another single-step promotion to HiA in 2015.  Hopefully his offensive game can mix the high average from 2013, his power in 2014 and he can place himself on the map as one of the Dodgers top right field prospects.     
 
 
Jonathan Martinez (11) would have been ranked # 1 in my Mention Points systems with the Dodgers. He was traded to the Cubs as the player to be named in the Darwin Barney deal. Looking back at the Cubs list, Martinez would rank at the #4 spot. The 20 year old right-hander had an impressive season at with LoA Great Lakes (LAD) and Kane County (CHI) putting up a 5.0 K:BB ratio.
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
 1. LHP Julio Urias – (8) cSR/TPS .064
  • 17 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked #3 by Baseball America / #2 MLBPipeline / #1 Baseball Prospectus
  • He’s coming Dodgers fans….Urias is one of the most anticipated prospects for fans awaiting his MLB debut, but we must reign in ourselves and remember that he’s only 18 years old. He made his first Spring outing the other day and received rave reviews from someone who knows all about being a very young prospect in Dodger Blue….Fernando Valenzuela, who stated: “He was relaxed, nice and loose. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He has a good fastball with life and throws a nice curveball and changeup. He got ahead [in counts], but they didn’t chase. He looks like he can be something special.”
2. RHP Jharel Cotton – (8) cSR/TPS .081
  • 22 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
  • 20th round – 2012
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (July 6thJuly 29thAugust 14th)
  • Over the last couple days, UTR pitchers have made my list despite not having the best of seasons while pitching in the California League. The exception is Jharel Cotton who pitched well, but gave up too many runs (57) and home runs (18) over 126.2 innings. The bright spot was, at times, unhittable (113) and the 138 strike outs. If he can make improvements to his breaking stuff, he could make a decent back-end starter.
3. RHP Zachary Bird – (8) cSR/TPS .099
  • 19 years old – (LoA Great Lakes)
  • 9th round – 2012
  • Ranked by #21 Baseball America / #13 MLBPipeline
  • Each year it seems that Zach Bird’s name appears on sleeper lists, as those are just waiting for the right-hander to break out. His stats over the last year(s) have been pedestrian, but his TPS scores (.078/.107/.099) have remained constant. The breakout is eminent, but when will it arrive? That time will come when the 20 year old gains control of his pitches. Remember also that Bird has always faced competition much older since coming out of high school in 2012.
4. RHP Hector Rodriguez – (8) cSR/TPS .123
  • 19 years old – (DSL Dodgers)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (June 7thJuly 24th)
  • Nice debut year for Rodriguez. On his first UTR Mention on June 7th, he threw five perfect innings and six hitless innings during his July 24th mention.  During July he went 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA. He finished going 4-4 with a 1.98 ERA over 14 appearances.
 
5. RHP Jose De Leon – (7) cSR/TPS .055
  • 21 years old – (Pioneer League Ogden / LoA Great Lakes)
  • 24th round – 2013
  • Ranked #10 by MLBPipeline
  • De Leon slides in the #5 spot via Martinez being shipped to the Cubs. The true UTR right-hander won’t hold that title much longer, as he is becoming the Dodgers hottest prospect and earned the organizations Pitcher of the Year for 2014. Mid 90’s fastball that will gain more velo as he moves up the ladder. The secondaries of a slider and changeup both rate as above-average.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
 1. RHP Jacob Rhame – (13) RP/TPS .063
  • 21 years old – (LoA Great Lakes)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • UTR Mention (May 24th)
  • Rhame is a hard thrower with a fastball/slider mix with a sound delivery. His arm has been described as “electric” that can hurl his heater up to 99 mph. If he demonstrates his control with HiA Rancho Cucamonga in 2015, he’ll be a quick mover in the system. With the median age of the current Dodger bullpen just north of 30 years of age, developing young arms like Rhame are in needed.
 
 2. RHP Victor Araujo – (12) RP/TPS .074
  • 21 years old – (LoA Great Lakes / HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
  • Undrafted – 2009
  • Ranked #29 by Baseball America
  • Araujo doesn’t have the stuff that blows away hitters like Rhame, but he get the job done. He went 5-3 with 1.73 ERA and struck out 78 over 73 innings. He got roughed up in his promotion to HiA Rancho Cucamonga, where he’ll be assigned in 2015. 
 
 3. LHP Michael Johnson – (8) RP/TPS .054
  • 23 years old – (LoA Great Lakes)
  • 14th round – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 31stAugust 2nd)
  • Three straight relievers from the Great Lake Loons made the list, so the calvary is on the way to Chavez Ravine. Will it be by 2017/2018, the Dodger bullpen could consist of  Rhame (closer), Araujo (set-up) and Johnson as the lefty specialist. Johnson limited left-handed hitters to a .214 BA, but as a bonus, he held righties to .191 BA. Johnson also flashes a fastball/slider combo and struck out 91 over 65 innings  and a 1.83 ERA this past season.
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers  
 
1. RHP Jose De Leon – (7) cSR/TPS .055
  • 21 years old – (Pioneer League Ogden / LoA Great Lakes)
  • 24th round – 2013
  • De Leon slides in the #5 spot via Martinez being shipped to the Cubs. The true UTR right-hander won’t hold that title much longer, as he is becoming the Dodgers hottest prospect and earned the organizations Pitcher of the Year for 2014. Mid 90’s fastball that will gain more velo as he moves up the ladder. The secondaries of a slider and changeup both rate as above-average.
 2. LHP Julio Urias – (8) cSR/TPS .064
  • 17 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked #3 by Baseball America / #2 MLBPipeline / #1 Baseball Prospectus
  • He’s coming Dodgers fans….Urias is one of the most anticipated prospects for fans awaiting his MLB debut, but we must reign ourself that he is only 18 years old. He made his first Spring outing the other day and received rave reviews by someone who knows all about being a very young prospect in Dodger Blue….Fernando Valenzuela, who stated: “He was relaxed, nice and loose, “He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He has a good fastball with life and throws a nice curveball and changeup. He got ahead [in counts], but they didn’t chase. He looks like he can be something special.
 
3. RHP Grant Holmes – cSR/TPS .074
  • 18 years old – (AZL Dodgers / Pioneer League Ogden)
  • 1st round – 2014
  • Holmes was the first pick in 2014 by the Dodgers coming out high school. He proceeded to plant his prospect flag by having an outstanding debut year pitching through the two rookie leagues. He simply overmatched the hitters in both leagues and should get the assignment to LoA Great Lakes to start 2015. The young arm already throws a mid-90’s fastball, a curveball that some say could be better than his heater. Though considered a polish arm, Holmes need to work on his command and control.
4. RHP Jharel Cotton – (8) cSR/TPS .081
  • 22 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
  • 20th round – 2012
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (July 6thJuly 29thAugust 14th)
  • Over the last couple days, UTR pitchers have made my list despite not having the best of seasons while pitching the California League. Exception is Jharel Cotton who pitched well, but gave up too many runs (57) and home runs (18) over 126.2 innings. The bright spot was, at times, unhittable (113) and the 138 strike outs. If he can make improvements to his breaking stuff, he could make a decent back-end starter.
 
5. RHP Chris Anderson – cSR/TPS .087
  • 21 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga)
  • 1st round – 2013
  • Ranked #5 by Baseball Prospectus / #5 MLBPipeline
  • Anderson went 7-7 with a 4.62 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 134.1 innings. He has plus stuff, but lacks control with a 4.2 BB9 rate. The right-handers fastball sit in the low to mid 90’s and can touch 97 mph but lacks movement which makes it hittable. He gave up 147 hits while with Rancho Cucamonga in 2014. If he is unable to improve his command or develop his secondary pitches, he could make it quickly to LA to help the bullpen.
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP Michael Johnson – RP/TPS .054
  • 23 years old – (LoA Great Lakes)
  • 14th round – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (July 31stAugust 2nd)
  • Three straight relievers from the Great Lake Loons made the list, so the calvary is on the way to Chavez Ravine. Will it be by 2017/2018, the Dodger bullpen could consist of  Rhame (closer), Araujo (set-up) and Johnson as the lefty specialist. Johnson limited left-handed hitters to a .214 BA, but as a bonus, he held righties to .191 BA. Johnson also flashes a fastball/slider combo and struck out 91 over 65 innings  and a 1.83 ERA this past season.
 2. LHP Daniel Coulombe – RP/TPS .059
  • 24 years old – (HiA Rancho Cucamonga / Double-A Chattanooga /MLB)
  • 25th round – 2012
  • September Call-up
  • Another good looking lefty specialist that advanced through 2 levels in 2014 and was called-up in September to make 5 appearances. His stuff isn’t overpowering, but he did mange to strike out 92 batters over 65.1 innings.
 3. RHP AJ Vanegas – RP/TPS .062
  • 21 years old – (Pioneer Ogden / LoA Great Lakes)
  • 11th round – 2014
  • Of the relief arms list, Vanegas is the furthest away to LA. He had a respectable debut year that ended at LoA Great Lakes and should repeat there to begin 2015. He has the upside to move quickly with a 95-97 mph fastball and a 11 to 5 slider that can miss bats. Vanegas just needs the innings to hone his pitches and command.
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
 SP Victor Gonzalez –  I expected the possiblity might be there for Gonzalez to begin 2014 at Great Lakes, but instead was held back with Ogden in the Pioneer Leagues. Gonzalez has a decent 3-pitch mix that played well last year with the AZL Dodgers, but not at Ogden, finishing with a 6.09 ERA. Grade D
 
RP Billy Flamion –  Flamion also spent the year at Rookie Ogden and  struggled with his command and control. He issued 24 free passes over 27 innings while striking out 34. Grade D
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