Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Dalton Rushing

While the Los Angeles Dodgers have had one of the league’s best overall farm systems for decades, their stronghold on blue-chip pitchers and catchers has been among baseball’s elite. There always seems to be at least a handful of pitchers and several catchers ranked in MLB’s Top 100, and there isn’t anything right now that suggests the trend will stop anytime soon.

Catcher is often one of those spots that’s highly challenging to draft and develop, but the Dodgers have done amazing job over the last several seasons with players like Will Smith, Hunter Feduccia, Carson Taylor, departed names like Keibert Ruiz and Connor Wong, and most recently, Diego Cartaya, who sits atop the organization’s overall prospect list.

Despite all this talent, Los Angeles selected another blue-chip backstop in Dalton Rushing in the 2022 draft. Although he has some significant work to do on defense, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder has already shown that he has the potential to be a juggernaut at the plate.

Louisville Catchers Galore

The irony with the 21-year-old lefty-hitting Rushing is that he attended the University of Louisville for three seasons before turning pro, the same school that produced Smith. Although Smith was about five years ahead of Rushing, they both had time to work together and chat during Rushing’s time as a Cardinal.

“Yeah, we’d spoken a few times before and I’d worked with him a little bit,” Rushing told Baseball America of his relationship with Smith. “Obviously, he knows everything. He’s one of the best catchers in baseball right now. Learning from a guy like him was something I really took pride in, and I was able to grow as a player going into my junior year.”

Last season, Rushing got his feet wet in the Arizona Rookie League for a few games, but he was quickly ushered to Low-A rancho Cucamonga, where he hit an insane .424/.539/.778 with 19 extra-base hits and an even more impressive 21 walks in just 128 plate appearances. At the end of the year, he was promoted to High-A Great Lakes just in time to join the team for the playoffs.

“We think he’s an extremely talented player,” said Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino upon drafting Rushing. “We love his strength; we love his athleticism. We thought he could hit with power and not chase outside the zone. We’re excited to get a left-hitting catcher with power.”

Looking Ahead to 2023

With Rushing’s perfect build for a backstop, the Dodgers remain committed to developing the Memphis native at catcher, although he spent some time as a first baseman at Louisville. While his arm strength and release are decent, he still needs to develop his ball handling skills, which he thinks will come by getting to know his fellow battery mates better.

“Creating bonds with my pitchers [is the key],” Rushing added in the Baseball America interview. “I’m not worried about my throwing. My biggest thing is I want to create a relationship with every single arm that’s coming out of the bullpen [and] every arm stepping on the bump to start the game. I think that’s what really sticks out as a catcher. That’s what separates good from the great — being able to work with every single guy and knowing how to talk to them.”

Although they’re both nearly the same age, Cartaya is currently light years ahead of Rushing on the MLB depth chart. While there’s a good chance Rushing starts his 2023 in High-A ball, there might be chance he earns his way to Double-A Tulsa by the end of the season, particularly if he shows more maturity on the defensive side of things.

Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller and Miguel Vargas Selected to Participate in MLB Futures Game

Three of the organization’s highest-ranking prospects will be making their Dodger Stadium debuts much sooner than anticipated.

Although Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller and Miguel Vargas won’t be competing at the major league level, they’ll be representing the Dodgers in the MLB Futures Game on July 16 as part of this year’s All-Star extravaganza.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keeping an Eye on Diego Cartaya

After starting the 2022 season with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, 20-year-old catcher Diego Cartaya continues his climb to the majors with a recent promotion to High-A Great Lakes.

Catcher is one of those interesting spots for the Dodgers because they’ve had one of the healthiest stocks of players after being so barren at the position for nearly a decade. Even after dealing Keibert Ruiz to the nationals in the Max Scherzer deal and Connor Wong to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade, Los Angeles is seemingly sitting pretty for the foreseeable future.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Could 2022 See the MLB Debut of Diego Cartaya?

While the MLB roster freeze doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, many of us continue to speculate how the Dodgers might fill out their roster once the new CBA is in place.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Diego Cartaya Making Noise at Low-A Rancho Cucamonga

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(MLB.com photo)

While the Dodgers might be slacking in several areas of prospect development, the catching department is certainly not one of them.

Will Smith and Austin Barnes have a stronghold on both the MLB catching spots, causing 21-year-old Keibert Ruiz to take a backseat at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Even though he’s had two tours of duty with the big league squad so far this season, Ruiz has settled in nicely at OKC, already collecting eight homers, 10 doubles, and 21 RBI through his first 29 games.

However, one name that’s often forgotten among the organization’s young catchers is 19-year-old Diego Cartaya. The Venezuela native is frequently overlooked by fans in the shadows of Ruiz. Nevertheless, the fact that Cartaya was selected to the organization’s 60-man player pool last year suggests that he could be a bit more advanced than many think.

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By Signing Jesus Galiz, Dodgers Expand Stronghold on Catching Market

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(Baseball America photo)

Back when the international prospect rankings were beginning to take shape in early fall, initial indications were that arguably the best catching prospect, Jesus Galiz, was preparing to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a New York Yankee.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: 17-Year-Old Diego Cartaya Gaining Ground

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If you were fortunate enough to catch the Dodgers‘ series opener against the Rockies on Monday, not only did you see the impressive debut of infield prospect Gavin Lux, but you also witnessed a starting lineup that featured an impressive seven homegrown products from the Los Angeles farm.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Diego Cartaya

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One would need to go back nearly a decade to realize the last time the Dodgers had significant strength and depth at the catching position. Russell Martin was coming off back-to-back All-Star campaigns in 2007 and 2008, while A.J. Ellis was emerging as one of the most reliable backup catchers in the bigs. Plus, there was a Top 5 prospect named Carlos Santana who was revered by every rival GM across the league.

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