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.
It’s not that often when a blockbuster trade backfires on Los Angeles boss Andrew Friedman and his front office troops. When the Dodgers packaged up and sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds last winter, there was plenty of scrutiny, especially from those who felt the team would be lacking in the power department heading into its 2019 campaign.
During the 2018 season, there were very few prospects whose stock rose as much as 20-year-old infielder Gavin Lux. Selected by the Dodgers with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 draft, many people believed that he didn’t live up to his expectations during his debut campaign in 2017, when he struggled with the glove and hit just .244/.331/.362 in 111 games. However, the Wisconsin native came back with a vengeance last season, capping off the year by being named the organization’s Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year.
While there have been many conversations this season surrounding the big league bullpen of the Dodgers, many fans have taken it upon themselves to scour the depths of the farm system in search of any rising arms that stand out. In the past, it was rare to find a true reliever who was developed in the bullpen, because most of the pitchers with the highest values are often groomed as starters regardless of their pedigrees. However, in the newest generation of prospects, pitchers like Joe Broussard, Shea Spitzbarth, and Marshall Kasowski have been developed as relievers since day one and have been rising to the top very quickly. Add Rancho Cucamonga reliever Zach Pop to the aforementioned crew, and it’s not difficult to see why the organization is extremely excited about the bullpen talent that’s ready to emerge.
If you’re guessing that we’re putting together a few extra minor league profiles during the first half of the 2018 season, you would indeed be correct. While there may not an overwhelming number of fringe players who are big league ready right now, there is a multitude of blue-chip prospects on the lower-level of the farm who have plenty of promise and could be there soon enough.
If you’re a regular reader of the content here, you’ll recall when we put together a quick profile on Rancho righty reliever Marshall Kasowski just under two weeks ago. At the time, the 23-year-old Texas native had a 1.69 ERA and a 15.1 K/9 fresh off a promotion to High-A, and many believed it would be difficult for him to stay the course of having such success.
With all the attention that’s been placed upon the Dodgers‘ big league pitching staff during the first-half of the season, the conversations surrounding both the bullpen and starting rotation have been endless. Many folks familiar with the team sometimes scan the rosters of the minor league affiliates daily in search of an emerging arm which could potentially contribute at the major league level.
For those fans who watched Monday night’s contest against Arizona to the bitter end, they saw a little bit of everything from the Dodgers—sketchy starting pitching, some stellar relief pitching, some timely hitting, and another unimpressive appearance from one of the best closer in baseball.
As strong and as deep as the Dodgers‘ farm system is considered, there are a few spots, however, which may be little light on talent. Second base sticks out the most, but the system also lacks a solid third baseman who has both a capable bat and an impressive glove. Sure, there are guys like Edwin Rios, Matt Beaty, Rob Segedin and the ever-versatile Kyle Farmer, but the absence of outstanding defensive ability may be the biggest factor in keeping players like these from thriving at the big league level.