Dodgers Top Prospects by Position: 2018-19 Offseason Edition

ruiz

While most of our regular readers already know that we’re huge on prospect insight here at TBPC, we’re not big on rankings, though, as we don’t get many opportunities to evaluate all the organizational prospects in person. However, once every winter I do my own version of positional player rankings, which oftentimes gives us a good idea of the general depth of the Dodgers across the minor league board.

When we assembled this list last November, we saw four of the 11 players named make some type of contribution to the big league squad during the 2018 campaign. The same can be said of our 2016 rankings when another four players made some kind of impact in the bigs in 2017. In 2015, six of the 11 players we named were called up to the majors at some point of the 2016 season.

As far as our parameters go, we define a prospect as a player who is under the age of 25 years and who hasn’t played more than a half a season in the majors. The final determination is based on which prospects have the highest ceilings and which players were the most MLB-ready among each position’s groupings. This is by no means a list of the best prospects in the entire system, but rather a list of the players who are among the best at their respective positions.

There are a few returning players this year, but there are also quite a few departures. Tim Locastro, Drew Jackson and Yusniel Diaz were on the list last winter, but Locastro and Diaz were eventually traded to American League clubs while Jackson was claimed by the Phillies in this year’s Rule 5 draft. Consequently, Joe Broussard and Matt Beaty have graduated from our rankings because they are older than 25 years. Finally, Walker Buehler and Caleb Ferguson are gone because of their extensive amount of playing time in the majors last year.

All that said, these opinions are mostly subjective and original and aren’t sanctioned or endorsed by any group or entity other than us at this site. Without any further rambling, here is an overview of our top Dodgers prospects by position:

  • C – Keibert Ruiz
  • 1B – Edwin Rios
  • 2B – Omar Estevez
  • 3B – Cristian Santana
  • SS – Gavin Lux
  • OF – Alex Verdugo
  • OF – DJ Peters
  • OF – Cody Thomas
  • RHP – Dennis Santana
  • LHP – Leo Crawford
  • RP – Marshall Kasowski

Even though Will Smith may be a few ticks ahead of Keibert Ruiz in terms of being MLB-ready, Ruiz is believed by many to have the superior skill set. The 20-year-old native of Venezuela spent all his time at Double-A Tulsa last year, where he hit .268/.328/.401 with 12 long balls in an extremely pitcher-friendly Texas League. He was named to the club’s 40-man roster in November, which means he’s almost guaranteed big league action in September of 2019. We took an in-depth look at the switch-hitting backstop as recently as last March.

Defensively, Edwin Rios has appeared at several positions over the past few years, but first base may very well be his natural spot. In 2018, Rios spent the entirety of his campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma City where he played some third base, a little first base, and 17 games in left field. Injuries held him back during the early stages of the season, but the 24-year-old lefty hitter still rebounded to slash .304/.355/.482 with double-digit home run numbers. We profiled Rios thoroughly back in the summer of 2017.

While it seems like Omar Estevez has been around forever, the right-handed hitting Cuban infielder is just 20 years of age. Scouts still believe his ceiling to be high on offense, especially if he can learn to be patient at the plate. At Single-A Rancho last year, he hit .278/.336/.456 with 15 homers and a whopping 43 doubles.  He has a solid glove, but scouts believe he’ll settle in at the keystone, mainly because of his lack of arm strength in the hole at short.

Speaking of the Quakes, Cristian Santana was one of the team’s most successful sluggers, hitting 24 long balls and driving in 109 runs, all while sporting a .274/.302/.447 slash line. Santana played all over the diamond last season, but he’s probably better suited for the hot corner, as his arm is by far one of his best assets. We put together a concise profile of Santana last December.

Gavin Lux, the 2018 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year, started last season with Rancho, batting .312 (72-for-231) with eight home runs and 35 RBI and was named a Mid-Season All-Star.  The 21-year-old continued his dominance in the second half of the season, slashing .346/.396/.528 and was selected as a post-season California League All-Star, ranking among league leaders in average (.324, 3rd), OBP (.396, 2nd), SLG (.520, 3rd) and OPS (.916, 2nd).  After 88 games with the Quakes, the Wisconsin native was promoted to Double-A Tulsa where he hit .324 (34-for-105) with four home runs, nine RBI and a .408 on-base percentage in 28 appearances. We took a very close look at Lux just four weeks ago.

Alex Verdugo has appeared on this list since its inception three years ago and with Buehler having relinquished his prospect status, has elevated to the top spot in the Dodgers rankings. The Tuscon native is just 22-years-old, but many feel his days of being a prospect have run their own course, as he’s about as big league ready as he’ll ever be. He can capably handle all three outfields spots, and he has one of the best arms in the entire system. He tallied 77 AB in the majors last year, slashing .260/.329/.377 with six doubles.

Seemingly, DJ Peters has racked up almost every possible offensive award in the minors. He was named Player of the Week six times across three levels, he garnered about a dozen All-Star nods, and he was even named the Cal League Player of the Year in 2017. Like Verdugo, Peters can handle all three outfield spots, and his speed is deceptive, giving him exceptional range on defense and making him a threat on the bases. Last year, he earned a big league spring training invite, and eventually slugged 29 homers and 23 doubles. We took a detailed look at Peters back in March of 2017.

While we haven’t talked about Cody Thomas much here, he certainly made a lot of noise in Rancho last year. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter was selected in the 13th round of the 2016 draft, and it took him no time flat to start making a name for himself. In 2018, he hit .285/.355/.497 with 19 HR, 35 doubles and 87 RBI for the Quakes over 127 games. For his efforts, he was named as a Cal League postseason All-Star.

The right-handed starting pitcher spot was the toughest to decide on this list, especially when considering the types of seasons that Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May had. However, I still chose 22-year-old Dennis Santana for this spot, as his ceiling is among the highest in the entire organization. The Dominican native made his major league debut last June, but was shut down shortly thereafter with severe rotator cuff problems. Before his promotion, the righty flamethrower posted an 11.8 K/9 and a 2.54 ERA over 10 starts between Tulsa and OKC. Santana was kind enough to sit down with us for an interview in the fall of 2017.

The lefty starting spot was another difficult choice to make, not because of the overwhelming number of candidates, but because of the lack thereof. We ultimately settled on Leo Crawford, primarily due to how well he threw for the Quakes in the hitter-friendly confines of the Cal League last year. After being promoted to Rancho from Low-A Great lakes in July, the 21-year-old southpaw posted an 8-0 record with a 2.77 ERA with 61 punchouts over 11 starts.

Finally, Marshall Kasowski was one of the most impressive relievers on the farm last season, having emerged pretty much out of nowhere. The 23-year-old righty threw across three levels in 2018, but garnered the most attention at Rancho in the Cal League. Over 16 appearances for the Quakes, he registered a microscopic 1.14 ERA with a 0.887 WHIP alongside an absolutely ridiculous 16.7 K/9. Over his two years in the system, the West Texas A&M product has tallied an overall 14.6 K/9. We took a close look at Kasowski last June.

 

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56 thoughts on “Dodgers Top Prospects by Position: 2018-19 Offseason Edition

  1. You should take another look at this list on opening day. I wonder how many of these prospects will still be in the Dodger system on that date. Andrew still has work to do and it may very well involve some of the above names.

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      1. Yup. Already voted here and on Twitter. Does voting twice make me a bad person? I’m pretty surprised at the lead that the yes votes have. Would have thought it would be closer to 50-50. Not that anyone cares but I voted neutral. I think both the yes and no arguments have lots of good points. I suppose I would have voted undecided rather than neutral had that been a choice.

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      2. I would be my house that Andrew won’t sign Harper to a 10 year contract. He may eventually wind up as a Dodger but it won’t be on a 10 year contract. If he comes it will be on a shorter, higher value contract. Maybe something like 5/190 or 6/220 with a couple of opt outs. And you don’t have to worry about my making a bad bet Dennis (I know you worry about that kind of stuff). My bank has advised me numerous times that I’m not allowed to bet the house.

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      3. I’m surprised by the Santana pick. I don’t know that much about him. May is the easy choice. I got Gonsolin and his 13 K/9 as #2.

        I don’t tweet, or is it twit, (which seems appropriate) but I’d be surprised if more weren’t in favor of Harper. His at bats are all must see. You can run to the head when Barnes is up, but not when Harper steps in the box. A star in his prime? Hell yes. They can make the $ work.

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  2. Mets just signed Ramos to 2 years $19 million. I predicted. 2 years $16-18 million would be his market value instead of the projected 3/$39. I can’t believe Friedman didn’t jump all over that. Completely dumbfounded.

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      1. I sure hope so for what they are asking for him. I’m calling it now; Barnes will hit .267 14HR 66RBI and 10SB with above average defense as the Dodgers starting catcher next year. If you were guaranteed that production next year from our catcher who wouldn’t take that right now?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. If the marlins don’t trade him now they’re crazy, his value will keep dropping, and if he gets hurt they end up with nothing. They need to back off of their ridiculous asking price, make the best deal they can, and move forward.

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  4. He wouldn’t be the first FA that had to go back to his old team because of the QO. Seems like Andrew is just sitting back waiting for teams and players to blink on offers he is willing to do at his price.

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      1. I bet Yaz is kicking himself for not taking that fat $17.9 mil paycheck . His market isn’t what he figured it would be. At this rate he could sign a 2 year deal for close to what he would have made if he just accepted the QO for next year.

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  5. White Sox are happy with today’s Ramos signing. They’ll probably wind up with Grandal now for something like 2/25 or 3/36. I still don’t expect him back in L.A.
    Realmuto – anyone think they’ll settle for Smith, May, Peters? Their options are shrinking rapidly and I think that’s a fair deal at this juncture.

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      1. Friedman’s M.O. is subject to change. He’s a smart guy and could always go down an unforeseen path if he thought it would get him where he needs to go. Wieters – my first inclination is to ask how you can come back from some place you’ve never been, but that would be rude. He’s certainly an option and should cost next to nothing. The old Friedman would jump at that. The new (and as yet unrevealed) Friedman will manage to get Realmuto and Kluber/Bauer and will use your poll to determine if he should sign Harper.

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      2. Hey, a few days ago you wouldn’t let me use that reason for Strip. Now, I’m calling you on it. Steve Garvey is a former All Star. Would you trade for him today? How do you like that for turning the tables on you? 🙂

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  6. Anyone who lives in So Cal around the LA area should treat themselves to a Quakes game. Lots cheaper then Dodger Stadium and you get to see some of those names you are reading about up close and personal. The last few times I have gone to California to visit family, we have gone to see the Quakes. We sit in the box seats behind home and they only cost 13 dollars. You spend that on a beer at Dodger Stadium. I have seen Sborz, and Rios, May, and a few others on the list. This year when we went, Kendall was playing. Not to impressed with the bat, but the boy can run. I saw Dixon play there before he was traded to the Reds. Drew Jackson was picked by the Phillies in the rule 5, but he was immediately traded to the Orioles for international slot money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree completely Bear. I live about 60 miles from Rancho Cucamonga and my son and I try to get to a couple of Quakes games every season. We’ve seen Bellinger, Santana and Ferguson pass through there, just to mention a few. Always fun to see those prospects before they get to the Big Show.

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      1. Another thing, their garlic fries are far better than the ones at the stadium, and 4 bucks cheaper! Last year we were about 5 seats away from the visitors dugout, and I saw a familiar face over there. One of the coaches was Joe Thurston who was a Dodger for a while. I got his autograph on my program after the game. Have seen a few former Dodgers over in the Quakes dugout too.

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  7. Kluber and Bauer look to be off the market. One thing about signing Harper, in order to do that the Dodgers need to clear some space on the roster. Kelly is not even officially on the team yet. So, the plan has been to move Kemp and Puig and those pretty much are the main names I have heard. Verdugo was a hot name when they were talking about Kluber or Bauer, but Kemp and Puig were the main targets. I get it, you clear space and you sign Scoop’s player of the century. But, Harper makes the Dodgers left handed heavy on power. The only real RH power threat if you trade Puig and Kemp is Turner. I do not count Taylor or Hernandez because neither is an everyday player right now. They suck against lefty’s as it is and now you are loaded with them as hitters. Seager, Pederson, Bellinger, Muncy, it just makes the roster so unbalanced in my book. But I must be honest. I dislike Harper. Every one seems to think that becoming a Dodger will dial back his attitude and his ego. I tend to lean the other way. And like I have said in many posts these last couple of weeks. He does not address the obvious holes on this team. …My new gravitar is a picture of Willie Mays playing 1st base against the Dodgers. He is getting ready to take a throw as they try to pick off Willie Davis.

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      1. Possible Dennis. I still think they will DFA Gale. He is about the most expendable player on the roster. But it is mid December now, 9 days til Christmas. I really do not think there will be much player movement after the next couple of days and there is really not any chatter about impending trades so far. Most of the news has been guys like Matt Adams and McCann the catcher who was with Detroit last year signing. Alonso got traded by the Indians. He is Machado’s brother in law..

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      2. Although I agree with you on the Quakes, I disagree about upcoming activity. I expect this coming week to be busy. I think a lot of teams will want to lock up players before New Years and I do expect the period between Christmas and New Years to be pretty quiet. I don’t know if Machado or Harper will happen but I think a number of bullpen guys will sign along with various other free agents. Also wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of trades this week, including Realmuto, although I really have no idea if we’ll be the ones to get him.

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      3. Anybody know if there is a deadline in terms of the Dodgers announcing the deal and having to create that roster spot? Or maybe Kelly hasn’t actually signed the contract yet and they just have a verbal understanding. Don’t want to drag that out too long or somebody might make him a better offer.

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      4. Maybe Friedman created some sort of delay with Kelly’s physical. If the deal isn’t official, there wouldn’t be a deadline. I’m sure it will be in the books soon. Friedman really loves going against the grain for some reason.

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  8. “Joel Sherman of the New York Post likes the Ramos signing, calling it “the right move” for the Mets rather than trade young players for someone like Realmuto “

    No sh**. It is a right move. That’s pretty much the deal I wanted to do, but I figured it would take 3,years. We could have done this….. but maybe not if we’re signing Harper.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t see the rush to overreact and possibly pay up for frontline starter right now. I’d be just fine starting the year with the guys we have and if we wanted to add someone in July from a team that is in sell mode then go ahead. Maybe the Mets tank and want to shop Sydergaard or DeGrom.

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  10. I’ve never been to a minor league game in my life, you guys have me talked into it, I’m going to go to a quakes game this year, maybe we can meet up for a game this season. I’m with Jeff, I think a lot more stuff is going to happen, I just don’t know what. I would be okay if they decide to go the cheap way at catcher, with a guy like Wieters, as long as they spend the money elsewhere. If they try to fill all our holes with cheap has been or never was I’ll be disappointed.

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    1. Glad to see we’ve convinced you to visit RC next season Keith. Not only will you get to take an early look at some prospects and have some great garlic fries, but you’ll also get to see the Quakes’ mascot, Tremor the Rallysaurus. Ain’t life grand!

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      1. Jeff, they actually have 2 mascot’s. The have Tremor and his little buddy, Aftershock. The ball park it self which used to be called The Epicenter is a really nice ballpark. Parking is not a problem and there are plenty of nice places to eat after the game if you like. It is a good place to bring your glove to. I really like sitting in the box seats there. Affordable and really close to the action. I have been to a lot of minor league games. When I was in the army and stationed in El Paso, I went to see their team a lot. Especially when it was an Angel AA team. I saw Ron Jackson, Frank Tanana, and a few other Angel players who made it to the majors. The manager was former Dodger Norm Sherry. He used to live on my block when I was living in Highland Park. He and his brother Larry. I also saw Kurt Russell, yeah, that Kurt Russell play when he was with the Angels AA team. He was a really good player, but an arm injury ended his baseball career.

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      2. I think I go back even a few more years than you do Bear. I spent my youth going to Hollywood Stars games at Gilmore Field where I got to see future major leaguers Bill Mazeroski and Bob Purkey. It was a Pirates farm team at the time. Let me add to your holiday wishes and wish all who comment and read at this great site a terrific holiday season. Our family never wastes a good reason to celebrate. We’ve finished Chanukah and are now gearing up for Christmas. The members of my clan don’t all share the same religion or political views but all manage to gather and enjoy one another. I’m a lucky guy.

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      3. Nice. Are you still in touch with him? Does he know anyone in the Pirates front office? Can he get us Cervelli? 🙂

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      4. Well, we lived closer to Wrigley Field and went there to see the farm team there. Not sure who the parent team was but I saw Steve Bilko play there. He could really crush a ball. When I was driving cross country I got hung up one time waiting for a load in Maryland. There was a minor league ball park across the street from the truck stop, and I went over on Sunday and caught a game. It was the home park of the Orioles A team. They were playing a Pirates squad. It was pretty fun to watch.

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      5. The Angels were a Cubs farm team as far as I remember. I certainly remember Bilko. As a Stars fan I hated him but definitely respected him. He was quite the home run hitter, at least in the minors.

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      6. I can’t post it on here, but I have a 1959 Steve Bilko baseball card and he is with the Dodgers….He played in 47 games as a Dodger and was selected by Detroit in the rule 5 draft that winter. He came to L.A. in the trade with the Reds that sent Don Newcombe to Cincy. Traded with him were Johnny Klippstein and Art Fowler.

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      7. I remember feeling really good for him that he finally got to come back to LA, where he’d had so much success as a minor leaguer, and finally play here as a major leaguer. Am I correct that he also spent some time with the major league Angels before he was done?

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      8. He spent 61 and 62 as an Angel. He was actually pretty decent. He hit 20 homers in 61. He also had a decent BA. He retired after the 63 season. He played that year in the Orioles system. He finished with 220 career homers in the minors.

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    1. Yeah, I miss baseball that’s for sure, and the lack of any real action at the meetings last week did not help…I do not have much in the way of ho ho ho spirit going either. I did get a few new look baseball cards from ebay, so that was cool. Our Christmas dinner is on Tuesday. So things are picking up a little. I do want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

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