For as long and tedious that this year has been, it has also flown by at a rapid pace, at least for some of us. For those readers who visit our site regularly, they’ll know that we usually compile one prospect list annually, and with just one more day remaining in 2020, there’s probably not a better time for this year’s version.
While most of our audience already knows that we’re huge on prospect insight, we’re not big on rankings at all, as we don’t get many opportunities to evaluate all the organizational prospects in person. However, once every winter we do our own version of player rankings by position, which generally gives us a good idea of the overall organizational depth across the minor league board.
When we assembled this list last year, we saw three of the names proceed to make contributions at the major league level. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, four of the prospects from each list made some kind of impact in the big leagues. In the 2015-16 edition, a whopping six of the 11 players we named were called up to the majors at some point the following 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 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 an opinionated list of the players who are among the best at their respective positions. Admittedly, these rankings seem to be getting tougher with each passing season, primarily because of the versatility philosophy the Dodgers preach—too many players simply play too many positions.
The toughest part about compiling this year’s list is that there was no minor league baseball played, so there was no way to judge the prospects based on performance. However, there were a handful of prospects who graduated from our criteria after turning 25, and there was one huge name—shortstop Jeter Downs—who was sent to Boston in the deal that saw Mookie Betts land in Los Angeles.
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 – Cristian Santana
2B – Michael Busch
SS – Jacob Amaya
3B – Kody Hoese
OF – Luis Rodriguez
OF – Andy Pages
OF – Drew Avans
SP – Josiah Gray
RP – Gerardo Carrillo
In last year’s list, we predicted that Keibert Ruiz would make his MLB debut in 2020, and he eventually did so with a bang, homering in his first big league AB. Looking ahead to 2020, it seems as if Ruiz will be holding down the third spot on the organizational totem pole, barring any injuries. One other name to keep an eye on at the catching spot in 2021—assuming the minor league seasons get back into full gear—is 19-year-old Diego Cartaya.
First base is one of those positions where no true prospects stand out, as it has become a spot lately where players with valuable bats and not the best gloves sometimes end up. At the moment, there’s nobody under the age of 25 who is lighting it up at first base, so we re-selected the 23-year-old Cristian Santana, who was last year’s choice. In 2019, Santana hit .301/.320/.436 with 10 homers, 22 doubles and 57 RBI over 102 games at Double-A Tulsa, logging 14 games at first base and 83 games at the hot corner.
While some minor league players were absent from competition completely last season, others were fortunate enough to be selected to the big league club’s alternate site, thanks to 2020’s 60-man player pool. Infielder Michael Busch was one of those players. According to Kyle Glaser at Baseball America, Busch was one of the Top 6 players across the MLB “who got the loudest and most consistent raves” in camp this year. His time in 2019 was limited after suffering a hairline fracture in his right hand, but he still participated in the Arizona Fall League, logging five games for the Glendale Desert Dogs while going 3-for-13 with one home run.
Currently ranked No. 10 on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top prospects for the Dodgers is 22-year-old Jacob Amaya. He doesn’t have any overwhelming power numbers, but some scouts feel that hitting for contact might end up being his strong suit. Defensively, his glove is solid, and his arm is both strong and accurate. In 2019, Amaya hit .260/.369/.391 with seven homers and 28 doubles in 124 games across two levels of the lower farm.
Like Dodger front-office boss Andrew Friedman, Kody Hoese attended Tulane University in New Orleans. Immediately after the 2019 draft, the Dodgers ushered Hoese to rookie ball in Arizona, where he hit .357/.456/.643 with five doubles and three homers in 56 AB over 19 games. From there, he went straight to Low-A Great Lakes, bypassing Ogden in the Pioneer League. For the Loons, he slashed .264/.330/.385 with three long balls in 22 games. Hoese is currently ranked as the Dodgers’ third-best prospect.
So far this winter, we’ve had several conversations about how lacking the talent is in the outfield. Obviously, the Dodgers are plentifully stocked at the big-league level and on the fringe, but the lack of quality outfielders in the middle levels is quite noticeable. Of course, there are players like DJ Peters, Cody Thomas and Zach Reks, but they’re all over 25 now, as their respective clocks continue to tick as far as big league careers go. Nevertheless, there are a few young outfielders on the lower levels of the farm with much higher expectations. One of those prospects is 18-year-old Venezuelan native Luis Rodriguez, who has already climbed into the Top 10 prospect rankings by most outlets. He still hasn’t competed as a professional, but the quality of his tools has scouts raving.
In a similar mold is 20-year-old righty-hitting Andy Pages. Once believed to be included in the deal that would have sent Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling to the Angels, Pages obviously stayed on the Los Angeles farm, and elevated into the organization’s Top 15 prospect rankings, according to most outlets. Playing exclusively for the Ogden Raptors in short-season rookie ball in 2019, the Cuba native slashed an impressive .298/.398/.651 with 22 doubles and 19 long balls over 63 games.
A new name to our site is 24-year-old outfielder Drew Avans. Selected in the 33rd round of the 2018 draft out of Southeastern Louisiana, the lefty-hitting Avans is making himself known for his ability to capably handle all three outfield spots. Across three levels of the farm in 2019, he slashed .280/.344/.427 with 10 long balls over 112 games. His 24 stolen bases in 2019 indicates an elite level of speed and quickness. Another outfielder to watch is 19-year-old speedster Jake Vogel, who was selected by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2020 draft.
According to most outlets, righty pitcher Josiah Gray is currently ranked as the top prospect in the entire organization. Gray was another one of those players who was included in the 60-man player pool, allowing him to train throughout the season with the best players and coaches in the organization. Prior to the stoppage of 2020 spring training due to the coronavirus, the Brooklyn native made three Cactus League appearances, two of which were starts, tallying a total of five full innings of work. In 26 games—25 starts—combined in 2019 between Low-A Great Lakes, High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, Gray finished with an 11-2 record, a 0.99 WHIP and a 2.28 ERA with 147 strikeouts against 31 walks, eventually earning him the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
Relief pitcher was another difficult slot to fill, as the pattern lately has seen many starters shift to the reliever role for a variety of circumstances. Gone are the true relievers like Shea Spitzbarth, who was picked up by the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft, and Marshall Kasowski, who graduated from our list because of his age. We ultimately selected 22-year-old righty Gerardo Carrillo to fill the relief spot, assuming it’s the likeliest position for which he’ll eventually make his pro debut. In 2019, the Guadalajara native made 23 appearances at High-A Rancho after logging an impressive 1.50 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP across two levels in 2018. Carrillo is a sinkerballer by trade, and his heater has been clocked in triple digits as recently as the 2019 season. Obviously, the reliever spot is a position that could see numerous prospects emerge once the 2021 season begins to progress.