One of the most impressive things about the Dodgers is how management finds a way to give at least a handful of prospects a decent amount of playing time each season, despite the team’s depth.
Sometimes there are no other options than to use prospects, but the Dodgers typically have a lot of choices on the minor league fringes, from veterans trying to restructure their careers to journeyman who have been on the farm for years to 19-year-old youngsters looking to get their first sip of coffee.
One of the biggest differences between current front-office boss Andrew Friedman and his predecessor Ned Colletti is that when Colletti brought a prospect up from the minors, you knew they had excellent tools and were ready to play — at least most of the time. This led to some middle-of-the-road minor leaguers lingering in the system well past their mid-20s, but it also assured the parent club would be getting the best players when they needed a replacement.
Friedman has a little bit more leeway because the talent on his teams over the past several years has been so incredible that it balances out any poor performances by a farmhand who has been recalled too soon, at least to a degree.
The 2022 season has saw a handful of decent youngsters making contributions to the club, from Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove picking up their first big league wins to James Outman and Miguel Vargas hitting their first career long balls to Andre Jackson notching his first save. One of the most interesting things to note is that this current crop of top minor leaguers might be more talented in the position-players spots, a huge change from seasons past when blue-chip pitchers represented the highest rated prospects in the system.
If you’re a fan of the Dodgers who doesn’t see too much minor league action, you still haven’t had a chance to see 24-year-old Michael Busch swing his bat. The lefty-hitting second baseman leads the entire farm with 31 long balls, 106 RBI and 117 runs scored. Even though he plays a position that’s a bit logjammed at the moment, there’s probably a really good chance he’ll see some big-league action in 2023.
A few weeks back, the Dodgers named catcher Diego Cartaya and righty pitcher Gavin Stone as their 2022 Branch Rickey Players of the Year. While Cartaya is still only 20 years old and has a few years of development remaining, chances are pretty good that Stone might take to the major league bump in 2023.
Of course, if we’re being picky, most of us would say that we’d like to see a little bit more higher quality pitching on the top tier of the minors right now. However, with Julio Urias, Walker Buehler, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin under control for the next several years, there’s still time for some new faces to emerge.
Right now, the Dodgers are in really, really good shape in all aspects of player talent and development.