Dodgers Prospect Watch: Yadier Alvarez Finally Beginning to Stir

Now that the regular season is quickly approaching its third week, we’re finding out a bit more on a daily basis about why a handful of players in the Dodgers‘ system mysteriously disappeared from their normal roster statuses during the early phases of the 2017 campaign.

Righty phenom Walker Buehler was held back at extended spring training for a little over a week, non-roster invite Josh Sborz spent a little over two weeks in Glendale, and prized prospect Yadier Alvarez hung around Camelback Ranch for almost three weeks before finally making his debut against the Lancaster JetHawks on Monday.

And if the more dedicated fans dig hard enough, they’ll find that there were plenty more beginning their respective seasons in extended spring training, perhaps a ploy by management to utilize a new type of strategy in the development of some of the younger players. All this is happening while 20-year-old southpaw Julio Urias is still taking his turns in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City — something that fans didn’t expect to see until early May, after Urias was able to rest his arm in hopes of saving his fuel for the 2017 postseason.

Rumors were circulating in early spring whispering that Alvarez showed up to camp a bit out of shape and was sent to Glendale to tuneup for a brief time. Regardless, he did what was expected of him early, and finally made it to the bump to start a game for Rancho Cucamonga in the Cal League this week.

In the end, Alvarez’s debut was not pretty at all. He didn’t strikeout a single batter, which is extremely uncharacteristic of the 21-year-old righty. He ended up throwing 65 pitches over 2-1/3 innings, surrendering seven runs on nine hits, with two walks and two wild pitches in the Quakes’ 9-5 loss to Lancaster.

According to J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group, Alvarez’s fastball sat in the 93-96 MPH range in the first frame, and drifted down to the 90-92 range by the beginning of the third inning. Last season, Alvarez was clocked in the triple digits on more than one occasion. Yet while his initial performance of the 2017 season was indeed a bit gloomy, all signs point to the young Cuban regaining his form quickly during his next few turns in the Rancho rotation.

For the fans of the Dodgers who may be unfamiliar with Alvarez, he’s currently ranked as the second best prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. Between Rookie League and Low-A Great Lakes last season, he posted a 4-3 record with a 2.12 ERA and a 12.3 K/9 over 59-1/3 innings of work.

When we initially took a glance at Alvarez in December of 2015, he didn’t have much of a track record in terms of organized baseball, and it remained somewhat of a mystery the exact type of skill set he would bring along with him to the farm. Now that he’s beginning to progress through the lower levels of the minors, reports from many of the scouts have been outstanding.

As far as his repertoire, Alvarez features a four-seamer that varies in velocity in the 94-100 MPH range. His slider is by far his best breaking pitch, often being clocked around 20 MPH slower than his fastest heater. His change and curveball are still in the developmental stages, but were already beginning to show promise with the Loons and in the Arizona League.

People who follow Alvarez closely believe that he could make an impact as a reliever early in his career, yet many of the pundits see his best potential as a starter, so long as he continues to sharpen his command. Some scouts have even uttered a conceivable ceiling of a No. 2 starting pitcher.

Having just turned 20-years-old in March, he’s still in need of some time to fill out his lanky 6’3″ frame, yet if he stays on course and consistently improves his pitching control, Alvarez may zip through the High-A level this year and conceivably see limited time with Double-A Tulsa by season’s end.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Joe Broussard Dealing, O’Koyea Dickson Raking Early

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

On Tuesday afternoon, Andy put together a rather intriguing story surrounding the question of whether or not the Dodgers should consider a roster move or two based on the early performances of some players, most specifically those in utility or bench roles. Ironically, as the club embraces the middle game of the three-game set against the Cubs at Wrigley, we may see the bullpen revamped with the addition of righty Pedro Baez, while the offense could be infused with the presence of Trayce Thompson, if lefty-killer Franklin Gutierrez does indeed find himself on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring problem.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: DJ Peters Rising Quickly

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(Photo courtesy of the Standard Examiner)

If there’s one area of player development that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the management team of the Dodgers have mastered during their tenures in Los Angeles, it’s giving an inflated number of organizational prospects the opportunity to perform on the highest stage of the game. In doing so, it appears as if the crew has created a “fast track” of sorts to the big leagues, especially for the younger players who stand out amongst their peers in terms of skills and baseball savvy.

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Dodgers Prospects: A Quick Look at Keibert Ruiz

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(Mandatory Credit: Michael Grennell)

Up until a few years ago, the catching talent over the entirety of the Dodgers‘ farm system may have been considered downright barren. However, after acquiring Austin Barnes via trade in December of 2014, and selecting the highly regarded Will Smith in the first round of the 2016 draft, the organization took a big step towards being adequately stocked. Yet the catcher who could have perhaps the highest ceiling in the whole system, Keibert Ruiz, is still flying under the radar in terms of his reputation among the fan base.

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Oklahoma City Dodgers 25-Man Roster Projections: March 2017 Edition

Trevor Oaks
(Mandatory Credit: Tony Capobianco)

Not long after the 25-man big league roster is submitted the morning of April 3, the entire management crew of the Dodgers will find itself spinning its wheels drawing up a prospective draft for the Triple-A Oklahoma City squad. Opening Day for OKC falls on Thursday, April 6 at home, so there’s basically just a few days to decide which players remain on the upper fringes of the farm and which players head for the plains of Double-A Tulsa.

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Dodgers Prospects: A Closer Look at Will Smith

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(MiLB.com Photo)

As spring training games for minor league affiliates of the Dodgers are slated to begin on Monday, we thought it would be an opportune time to scatter in a few more profiles of some of the best prospects on the organization’s farm. Today, we turn our attention to 21-year-old Will Smith, who many pundits believe to have the highest ceiling of all the catchers in the entire system.

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Dodgers Prospects: Who Is Henry Ramos?

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(MLB Pipeline photo)

Just about every single year during spring camp, there’s always one or two minor league additions who find their way onto the big league fields and catch the eyes of curious fans. For the Dodgers in 2017, outfielder Henry Ramos is one of those players, and based on his usage early on, may see significant time during Cactus League play over the coming weeks.

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Dodgers Lineups: One Conceivable Batting Order at Triple-A Oklahoma City

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(Mandatory Credit: Michael Spomer/Cal Sports Media)

With all the endless discussions currently in the news surrounding the prospective layouts of the club’s Opening Day 25-man roster, many fans of the Dodgers can’t help but envision the overwhelming amount of depth and skill lurking on the fringe of the bigs at Triple-A Oklahoma City. If the major league squad stays relatively healthy and productive throughout the regular season, the crew at OKC will not only possess some of the best player talent in the Pacific Coast League, but will also be almost untouchable en route to yet another American Northern divisional crown.

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Dodgers Prospects: Trevor Oaks Discusses Early Days of Spring Training

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(Mandatory Credit: Tony Capobianco)

Even though he had the opportunity to suit up in a pinch and sit in the bullpen at one Cactus League game last year, righty pitching prospect Trevor Oaks is still excited for his first official non-roster invite to the big league camp of the Dodgers, and hopes to take advantage of every single moment.

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Projecting the 2017 Starting Rotation at Oklahoma City

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(Mandatory Credit: Kurt Steiss/The Oklahoman)

Even though the best available arms at Oklahoma City will undeniably be called upon more than once during the upcoming campaign, if the big league starting rotation of the Dodgers somehow stays relatively healthy for the majority of the season, the projected Triple-A rotation certainly has both the required talent and potential to be among the most elite in recent history.

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