If you’re guessing that we’re putting together a few extra minor league profiles during the first half of the 2018 season, you would indeed be correct. While there may not an overwhelming number of fringe players who are big league ready right now, there is a multitude of blue-chip prospects on the lower-level of the farm who have plenty of promise and could be there soon enough.
Rancho third baseman Rylan Bannon may be one of those prospects.
For a handful of years, the Dodgers‘ system was void of any true third base talent; however, that has taken a turn in recent seasons. Sure, there are guys like Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, Rob Segedin and the ever-versatile Kyle Farmer, but the absence of outstanding defensive ability may be the biggest factor in keeping players like these from thriving at the big league level. Over the winter, we took a look at one of the most talked about up-and-comers in Cristian Santana, but this year Bannon appears to be one of the hottest infield commodities on the lower-levels of the farm.
Fresh off his second Cal League Player of the Week award this month, Bannon is currently ranked as the 29th best prospect in the Los Angeles system according to MLB Pipeline, but that standing will certainly change soon enough. He was also recently named as a 2018 Cal League Mid-Season All-Star after being recognized as both a Baseball America Rookie All-Star and a MiLB.com Organizational All-Star in 2017.
For rookie-level Ogden last season, Bannon hit an impressive .336/.425/.591 with 10 long balls over 149 AB in the abbreviated Pioneer League season. So far in 2018, he has slashed .300/.404/.587 with 17 HR and 15 doubles alongside 51 RBI. And perhaps even more importantly, besides being a natural third baseman, Bannon has already logged 12 games at the keystone this season attempting to prove his versatility as an infielder.
The right-handed hitting 22-year-old attended college at Xavier before being drafted by the Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB draft, causing him to forego his senior campaign. During his junior season for the Musketeers, he won the Big East Player of the Year honors after hitting .339 and topping the conference with 15 homers, 140 total bases and a .633 slugging percentage.
Besides his offensive prowess, Bannon’s best assets could actually be his glove and his arm. This is what MLB Pipeline had to say about his defensive skills:
“Despite those gaudy numbers at the plate, Bannon may be more impressive with the glove. He has range to both sides and comes in on balls well, and he possesses soft hands as well as solid arm strength. He could be a plus defender with more consistency, and he’s quick enough that Los Angeles is giving him some time at second base this year.”
As it stands right now, Mike Ahmed is sharing his duties at third base with versatile catcher Will Smith for Tulsa at Double-A, but that scenario could change very quickly, especially if Bannon continues to show that he’s worthy of a promotion.