Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Look at the Top 5 Players Stuck in Oklahoma City

locastro
(Mandatory Credit: David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

On Sunday, one of our dedicated readers, the venerable Jeff D., brought up utility infielder Donovan Solano and the fact that he was having an exceptional year at Triple-A Oklahoma City. The 30-year-old Solano is slashing an insane .376/.421/.517 through 54 games this year and would probably have garnered a bit of big league consideration if he was in an organization other than the Dodgers. Solano’s success reminded me of a handful of other players, most specifically several on the Los Angeles 40-man roster, who would likely already be in the majors if they were in a different system.

Alex Verdugo is ranked as the best prospect in the Dodgers’ organization and has already proven that he’s able to contribute at the big league level—with his speed, with his glove, with his arm and with his bat. Amazingly, the 22-year-old Tucson native probably has better tools than most of the outfielders on the big league club right now, yet he still remains harbored at OKC. In 277 minor league AB this season, he’s hitting an impressive .339/.389/.487 and was a mid-season PCL All-Star for a seond consecutive year. Verdugo has already completed several major league stints this season and could be recalled again as soon as Tuesday should outfielder Yasiel Puig need to be sent to the DL due to recurring oblique complications.

Speaking of skills, outfielder Andrew Toles ranks very close to the aforementioned Verdugo in terms of his all-around tools. The 26-year-old, left-handed hitting Georgia native had a brief stay in the bigs this year in July, but was optioned back to OKC when the Dodgers needed to make room for the newly acquired Manny Machado. Tolesy went 6-for-23 with a pair of doubles in his time with the team, but perhaps more importantly, he proved his ability to handle all three outfield spots at the major league level. He missed time at OKC earlier in the year because of hamstring issues; however, his numbers are still impressive—through 188 AB, he’s slashing .330/.364/.473.

Kyle Farmer has also seen a bit of big league action for the Dodgers this year, as he has also proven his versatility on the diamond, despite many believing he still hasn’t earned management’s full trust behind the dish defensively. For Oklahoma City this season, the 27-year-old has seen almost as much time at third base as catcher, hitting a productive .293/.328/.471 with six home runs and 20 doubles. With current backstop Yasmani Grandal conceivably testing the free agent market this winter, many pundits wonder if 2019 will finally be the year that Farmer becomes a mainstay on the Dodgers’ 25-man roster.

Many folks remember Brock Stewart for his frequent flyer miles between OKC and Los Angeles earlier in 2018, in addition to several of his nightmarish big league outings. He was asked to start, relieve, and play long man, often inside very few days of rest. But what those folks don’t realize is that once he was left alone at Oklahoma City and permitted to start exclusively, he began to settle down tremendously. As it stands now, he has a 2.64 ERA in 13 starts for OKC, which isn’t bad at all considering the hitter-friendly climate of the Pacific Coast League. Over his last three starts, he has surrendered just two earned runs while striking out 16 opposing batters.

Tim Locastro impressed management last year to the point that he was one of the final few cuts for the NLDS roster, mainly because of his uncanny ability to reach base, coupled with his skills while on the basepaths. The 26-year-old, right-handed hitting Locastro has a very dependable glove at both middle infield spots, and he has proven that he’s capable at handling both center and left field. Like Verdugo, he was also a 2018 PCL Mid-Season All-Star, and is hitting .291 through 58 games for OKC this year with an extremely impressive .389 OBP.

Of course, similar to Solano, there are a slew of other players like Manny Banuelos, Brian Schlitter, Henry Ramos, Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty who are deserving of major league consideration, but ultimately, it will be the guys already on the 40-man—Verdugo, Toles, Farmer, Stewart and Locastro—who garner the promotions when rosters expand at the beginning of September.

 

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17 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Look at the Top 5 Players Stuck in Oklahoma City

  1. I really don’t think Smith or Ruiz are ready to start 2019 at the major league level, so logic would dictate that Farmer gets his chance next year, but management has repeatedly failed to let him catch up here so I expect the front office to trade for a veteran big leaguer or sign a free agent as a place holder for one or two years. If Farmer is on the 2019 roster it will be as a utility guy who can catch in an emergency. Furthermore, if Barnes doesn’t wake up a little offensively, I think they’re going to have some serious decisions to make about their first string catcher for next year. One thing for sure, Grandal will not be back because he’ll get a better/longer deal somewhere else. Ramos, Lucroy and Suzuki are all free agents but I have no clue if any of them would be willing to sign for one or two years. Of course, there’s always AJ Ellis, but not as a first stringer.

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  2. I think Puig may need more than 10 days. Kemp could use a vacation and so could Muncy. Are we that much worse off with Verdugo, Toles and Locastro for the month of August?

    We are going to need to be at full strength in September and October. We will be rotating pitchers on and off the DL the rest of the way, why not do it with position players too? After all, we are incredibly deep, right? I’ve read that in several places. We have Izu-Ogasawara depth in this organization. (look it up…. I had to) We’ve got enough depth we could field 3 teams in NL West and only 2 of them would finish below the Padres.

    If this group of MASH players is going to have a shot at playing in late October they are going to need some time off. Turn on the jacuzzis and fire up the blender. It’s spa time.

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  3. Locastro’s always been one of my closet favorites. Like Toles and Verdugo, he has no reason to be in AAA anymore and would greatly benefit from some big-league action for a change. Kind of player that usually comes alive during postseason time, too.

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    1. Indeed, maybe now the Dodgers can finally send Scavuzzo back up to AAA OKC to finish out the season. I should’ve mentioned him in my minor-league write-up for this week, but I only knew of the Texas League POTM honor after I was done with it. Still, he’s having his best year in pro-ball by far so congrats are in order. Same goes for Lux as well.
      🙂

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  4. Indeed, maybe now the Dodgers can finally send Scavuzzo back up to AAA OKC to finish out the season. I would’ve mentioned him in my minor-league write-up for this week, but I only knew of his Texas League POTM honor after I was already done with it. Still, he’s having his best year in pro-ball by far so congrats are definitely in order. Same goes for Lux as well.
    🙂

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  5. Just announced that Seager is having arthroscopic surgery on his left hip tomorrow but is expected to be OK for Spring Training.

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    1. That is no small thing. From a Vanderbilt School of Meducine article on arthroscopic hip surgery on athletes:

      “In general, for properly selected cases, hip arthroscopy has a high rate of improvement, but does not always assure returning to the rigors of athletic activities. Among a heterogenous group of athletes, 93% were improved, but only 76% returned to their sport symptom-free and unrestricted or at an increased level of performance. Eighteen percent either chose to not return or were unable to return to their primary sport. Among a group of elite athletes, 96% were improved, but only 85% were able to successfully return to their sport.“

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      1. I figure the odds are in our favor because the article mentioned 76% returned symptom-free or at an increased level of performance. That’s 3-1 in favor of a positive outcome. The other number states 85% were able to successfully return to their sport. That’s about 5.5-1 in our favor. Yes, I suppose there is a chance that Seager never plays again or never gets back to the Corey we know and love, but I’m going to be a glass-half-full kinda guy here.
        And yes, the vote for re-signing Machado was partially due to the slight chance that we won’t have Seager. The rest of it is just because of how good a player Machado is.

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      2. Sound reasoning Jeff.

        Of course there are variables. Much depends on the severity of the damage. My concern is simply this: he’s too young for this sh*t.

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  6. 20 year old pitcher Edwin Uceta promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. Recently rated our #15 prospect on one of the ranking services. Spent last year at Ogden, started this year at Great Lakes and now Rancho. OK Manuel, I’m turning him over to you. And to add to what Manuel wrote about Brock Stewart recently, as I write this he has pitched 6.1 innings tonight, 0 runs, 2 bb, 8 k. Really happy for him and glad to see that he didn’t suffer permanent damage from the way the totally mishandled him by shuttling him back and forth between OKC and LA and between starting and relieving earlier this year.

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    1. Update – I managed to jinx Stewart. Immediately after my post he gave up two homers, but still pitched a very strong 6 innings before running out of gas.

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  7. Barnes has been plain awful offensively this year. I thought he should have been sent back to AAA on 1 August to try to get his stroke and aggressiveness back. And it would have been a good opportunity for Farmer to see if he could catch at the MLB level.

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