Editor’s note: here’s where it gets fun. Chris Jackson predicts the minor league rosters of the top four Dodger clubs. We’ll do Great Lakes & Rancho Cucamonga today, followed by Chattanooga & Albuquerque next. Also, don’t forget to enter the Opening Day roster contest — open through 9pm PT Monday night.
After plowing through the Dodgers’ minor-league depth chart position by grueling position, now comes the fun part. Yes, it’s time to put on the prognosticator hat and do the almost-impossible: project four minor-league rosters just as pitchers and catchers are reporting to Camelback Ranch.
Dustin Nosler over at Feelin’ Kinda Blue has been doing the same thing, team by team. I agree with some of his picks, disagree with others. As I have said many times on this site and on Twitter, the Dodgers work in mysterious ways, so at best my predictions and his are nothing but educated guesses. (That’s the nice way of saying the Dodgers will make us both look foolish come April 4.)
Great Lakes Loons (Single-A Midwest League)
Picking this rotation was toughest of all among the four full-season teams. Cash will be here if he is healthy, which is a big “if.” Caughel pitched well enough at Ogden, but there are other, higher-drafted players who could move up. Hermsen gets the nod as the token lefty, but Miguel Sulbaran will push him for the spot and probalby has more upside. Ozoria is repeating the level after a middling campaign (8-8, 4.51 ERA). Stripling has the most upside of the bunch and could skip a level to Rancho, but for now I’ll put him here. Just missed the cut: Zachary Bird, Carlos Frias, Gustavo Gomez, Jonathan Martinez, Miguel Sulbaran
Griggs figures to be the closer. Noriega deserved to move up but there’s no room. Downing and Nishijima weren’t great at Ogden, but there aren’t any other left-handed options. Gonzalez, Jones, and Lima are on the bubble. Just missed: Aris Angeles, Jharel Cotton, Alan Garcia, Jordan Hershiser, Travis Jones, Jackson Mateo, Ricky Perez, Juan Rodriguez, Craig Stem, Samuel Taveras
Ogle did most of his damage in the Arizona League, so he won’t end up any higher up the ladder despite his Isotopes cameo in 2012. Smith hit well at Ogden, but he also spent more time as a designated hitter than catcher, so it’s a judgment call over the guys listed here. Just missed: John Cannon, Jose Capellan, Austin Cowen, JJ Ethel
Valdez raked at Ogden, earning the promotion. He could also see time in the outfield corners. Holland has speed and can draw a lot of walks, but his hit tool is a work in progress. He can play center field as well. Seager is one of the Dodgers’ top prospects. Franco will compete with Alex Santana for the third base gig this spring. Morales will back up the middle, Hunt the corners. Just missed: Tae-Hyeok Nam 1B, John Sgromolo 1B, Zachary Babitt 2B, Kevin Taylor 2B, Alex Santana 3B, Jesmuel Valentin SS, Justin Boudreaux UTIL
Shines’ father, ex-Expo Razor, is the Loons’ manager. Baldwin repeats the level after striking out 177 times. Winker struggled as well and also repeats. Stover could force his into a starting gig. Hoenecke can also back up first base. Just missed: Nick Akins, Cory Embree, Gregory Pena
Final analysis: Seager and Stripling are the stars here, along with a slew of sleeper types such as Ogle and Holland, plus guys looking to reestablish themselves like Baldwin. This team has a chance to be much more competitive in 2013.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Single-A California League)
Gould pitched poorly, Sanchez pitched worse, so both have to repeat a tough level for pitchers. Redding pitched better, but there is nowhere to put him in Chattanooga’s rotation. Martin earned the promotion despite missing some time last year with an undisclosed injury. Von Schamann also probably deserves to start a level higher, but again, there is no room. Just missed: Brandon Martinez
Garcia has promise and could close, though if Dominguez gets his act together, his 100 mph fastball could put him in the ninth inning. Coulombe and Thomas offer up a decent pair of lefty arms. Shelton pitched well at Great Lakes and at 24, he needs to move up the ladder. Acosta and Smith return due to the logjam ahead of them (which yes, will be a frequent theme at multiple positions as I go through these lists). Just missed: Freddie Cabrera, Hector Correa, Thomas Melgarejo
Maynard is a former third-round pick, but he struggled last year, so he won’t move any higher. Pericht has some pop, but otherwise is just an organizational guy.
Dickson could put up big numbers in the California League. Wingo was mediocre last year, so he figures to be stuck repeating the level. Sweeney had a solid debut and should skip a level. Bosnik struggled at Great Lakes, but he moves up now that Pedro Baez is converting to pitcher. Arredondo and Guerrero could easily be replaced by others. Songco is caught up behind other first basemen in the organization, but he will get more at-bats here since there is no designated hitter except against AL teams in Double-A. Just missed: Casio Grider
Schebler is perfectly average, but he should start ahead of Cuevas, who can play all three outfield spots. Rathjen is old enough to skip Great Lakes; he may not stay in center, but his bat is intriguing. Garcia was dreadful last year; thus, he returns.
Final analysis: Dickson, Sweeney and Rathjen will lead the position prospects, while Songco, Maynard and Garcia are the guys in search of atonement for last year’s woes. The pitching staff has experience, but not an overwhelming amount of talent. It could be a rough year in that respect in the hitter-friendly Cal League.