Dodgers Top 20 Prospects: A Midseason Update

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Four days without Dodger baseball! For a blogger, this is both a welcome respite and a terrifying gap. With the big league team off the radar right now, let’s dip into the farm system and get a quick update on the progress the top prospects in the organization have made in the first half of the season. There’s a million different pre-season rankings, so let’s keep it simple and go with MLB.com’s top 20 from last winter, along with my non-scientific informal up/neutral/down grade.

1) Zach Lee, P, Double-A Chattanooga (up!)

In Lee’s first attempt at the Southern League last year, he was fine but not great, with a 4.25 ERA and 3.89 FIP in 12 late starts. Still among the youngest players in the league at just 21, Lee’s made a huge step forward this year, increasing his whiffs (6.99 per nine to 8.21), reducing his walks (3.02 per nine to 2.37), and cutting down on homers as well. The end result is a 3.01 ERA / 3.15 FIP and increased chatter that we could be seeing him in the big leagues at any time, though we’ll probably not see him before September. Lee still isn’t likely to be the “ace” we’d hoped he could be when he was drafted, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a solid #3 starter.

2) Joc Pederson, OF, Double-A Chattanooga (way up!)

Pederson is one of the very few players in Double-A younger than Lee, and he’s also one of the few who has increased his stock more than his pitching teammate as well. Pederson’s .407 wOBA is the top mark in the entire league, and he’s made believers out of prospect hounds who had previously been uncertain of his ceiling. One of those was ESPN’s Keith Law, who offered a very positive takeaway from seeing Pederson in the Futures Game. Baseball America‘s Ben Badler had a similar impression:

Best U.S. Batting Practice: Joc Pederson

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson has mature approach for his age and a knack for barreling the baseball. He has no problem backspinning a ball, which helped him hit 18 home runs last year in the hitter-friendly California League, but the power—and really everything about Pederson’s game—has taken a step forward this year. The 21-year-old lefthander already has 14 home runs in the Double-A Southern League, where he’s hitting .296/.386/.516.

His batting practice display was as dazzling as anyone’s, with rainbow home runs that repeatedly cleared the right field fence. He may have been trying too much to put on a show by getting underneath the ball too often, but he also hit some of the furthest home runs of the day, including one that nearly cleared the second deck in right field.

But will we see him in Los Angeles? Though there was some thought to calling him up instead of Yasiel Puig, I’ve already called him “the best prospect you’re never going to see,” and the stuffed outfield situation makes him an ongoing subject of trade discussion. Even if he never plays a game for the Dodgers, he’s greatly increased his trade value.

3. Corey Seager, SS, Single-A Great Lakes (up!)

Three-for-three as far as good performances, because Seager has been outstanding in his age-19 season, hitting .299/.380/.488 for Great Lakes as one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. Perhaps more impressive, DeJon Watson insists that he’s staying at shortstop for the foreseeable future. Remember, he still doesn’t even turn 20 until next April, and he has the talent to be a star, ranking at #35 on Baseball Prospectus’ mid-season prospect list. Just don’t hold your breath on seeing him before 2015 or likely 2016.

4. Julio Urias, P, Single-A Great Lakes (way up!)

Urias is 16. Urias is 16. Urias is 16. Urias is 16. Sorry, I got stuck there for a second. Speaking of massively talented young players who aren’t close to Dodger Stadium, there’s Julio Urias, who is easily the youngest player in full season minor league ball. (Did you know he’s just 16?) If Urias had merely managed to avoid getting embarrassed with the Loons, that would have been an achievement, but he’s done more than that — he’s excelled, striking out 39 in 33.1 innings while holding down a 2.70 ERA, good for a #41 ranking on on Baseball Prospectus’ mid-season prospect list. Urias is obviously more than a few years away from the bigs… but then, no one’s really ever seen a pitcher this young succeed like this before.

5. Chris Reed, P, Double-A Chattanooga (neutral)

Reed’s had a nice season, but he’s the first prospect on the list to not have very obviously increased his standing. I’ll admit here that I’ve never been a huge fan, and I still think he’s a reliever in the long term, though he’s managed to stay in the rotation this year with 16 starts for the Lookouts. A 3.42 ERA (matched by a 3.44 FIP) is nice and is an improvement on last year, largely because he’s improved his control, but he’s just not missing that many bats — 6.93 K/9, down from 7.39 in his first crack at Double-A last year. There’s still a major league future here, just not a high-ceiling one. Of course, maybe that’s just me.

6. Onelki Garcia, P, Double-A Chattanooga (up)

I’m giving Garcia an “up” simply because he’s pitching after getting into just one game for the Quakes last year. Like Yasiel Puig, he’s a Cuban defector with some mystery in his past, and he’s missing a ton of bats — 40 whiffs in 38 innings. He’s also walking far too many (26), and while there’s obvious talent here, there’s definitely some rough edges to be smoothed out for the soon-to-be 24-year-old. If he can harness the wildness, he could move quickly, though his future could be as a reliever as well.

7. Matt Magill, P, Triple-A Albuquerque (down, probably)

It’s hard to give Magill a realistic grade, because he reached the bigs and had some early success (that’s good) before melting down in a flurry of walks and homers after that (that’s bad). His ridiculous schedule of constantly going up and down from Albuquerque to the Dodgers surely didn’t help, and he’s also recently missed a few weeks with arm trouble. Magill almost certainly has pitched himself out of consideration for further starts with the Dodgers this year, though he likely still has a future as a back-end starter — if not in Los Angeles, then likely elsewhere as he gets passed on the depth chart.

8. Chris Withrow, P, Dodgers (up)

After endless years of trying and failing to be a starter in Double-A, the Dodgers finally pushed Withrow to Triple-A this season, if for no other reason than to spare him the ignominy of a fifth year in Chattanooga. Now strictly a reliever, Withrow has been able to let loose his high-90s heat more often, though he didn’t leave his control issues behind, and he made his big league debut in June. Withrow is still walking too many with the Dodgers, but he’s been missing bats and should be a nice low-cost setup man for years to come — or trade bait in the next two weeks.

9. Zachary Bird, P, Rookie League Ogden (way down)

One of my favorite prospects entering the season, Bird has had an extremely tough go of it, walking 35 in 36 innings for Great Lakes before getting demoted back to Ogden. With the Raptors, he’s still been unable to find the strike zone, walking 11 in his first 13.2 innings. He only turned 19 yesterday, so obviously he’s still extremely young, but I doubt we’ll be seeing him in the top ten list next winter.

10. Alex Santana, 3B, Rookie League Ogden (down)

The 2011 second round pick still hasn’t made it out of the short-season rookie leagues, so that’s not great. He’s off to a good start with Ogden (.308/.384/.523) though it’s just been 84 plate appearances. Santana turns 20 next month, but he’s really going to need to show something and get himself out of rookie ball if he’s going to keep appearing on these prospect lists.

Let’s lightning round the second half…

11. Yimi Garcia, P, Double-A Chattanooga (way up!)

You can’t simply scout a stat line, but it’s hard to not be impressed by Garcia’s 52/8 K/BB as the closer for the Lookouts. Garcia has moved on a one-level-per-year pace, but we know how the Dodgers like to skip Albuquerque with pitching prospects, so it’s not out of the question we see him in September.

12. Jonathan Martinez, P, Rookie League Ogden (down)

Martinez turned 19 on June 27, so let’s not get too negative about any teenager, but it’s not been an impressive season at all for the Venezuelan righty. Since being sent from Great Lakes to Ogden, Martinez has thrown 26 innings… and struck out eight. Eight!

13. Jesmuel Valentin, IF, Rookie League Ogden (down)

Another teenager, so again, perspective must be kept, but even for a glove-first guy you’re going to need to do better than .207/.323/.287 for Great Lakes & Ogden. A lot better, especially for a first-round pick.

14. James Baldwin, OF, Single-A Great Lakes (down)

Baldwin wasn’t great in his first crack at Great Lakes last year (.209/.293/.334). He’s not doing much better this time around (.226/.325/.356) and despite great speed (121 steals in parts of four seasons) a career .314 OBP isn’t going to get you far.

15. Alex Castellanos, OF, Triple-A Albuquerque (down)

The great infield experiment is over, and so he gets a “down” just because he’s another year older, turning 27 next month, and with less positional flexibility. He’s still hitting well with the Isotopes and I still believe there’s some hope of a big league career for him, though it looks less and less likely it’ll ever be with the Dodgers.

16. Ross Stripling, P, Double-A Chattanooga (way up!)

Perhaps the biggest mover in the system this year is the 23-year-old Stripling, a 5th round pick out of Texas A&M in 2012. Stripling was promoted out of Rancho Cucamonga within a month and has been dominating the Southern League since arriving, putting up an outstanding 55/7 K/BB in 55 innings.

Last week, Minor League Ball named him the “prospect of the day”, offering this scouting report:

He threw 87-91 in college but some minor mechanical adjustments have boosted his fastball slightly, which now works at 89-94. His control of the pitch is excellent and he does a good job of working the lower part of the zone, inducing grounders and avoiding home runs.

He has three secondary pitches: curveball, changeup, slider. The curveball is his go-to pitch and is quite good, but the changeup has impressive moments as well. The slider is a new pitch that he’s gradually incorporating. His delivery is clean and consistent, he is a good athlete, and has stayed healthy under both college and pro workloads. Stripling also has impressive makeup, with high levels of general intelligence, baseball smarts, competitive instinct, and mound presence.

As a college pitcher without a ton of projection left, his ceiling might only be of a 4th starter, but there’s still a lot of value in that.

17. Blake Smith, P, Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (n/a)

Less than two years off a great .304/.369/.578 half-season in 2011, Smith recently was converted from the outfield to the mound. He hasn’t yet appeared as a pitcher, and his future is incredibly uncertain.

18. Rob Rasmussen, P, Triple-A Albuquerque (neutral)

Acquired for John Ely over the winter, the 24-year-old UCLA lefty was effective for the Lookouts but has had a really tough go of it in Triple-A. Albuquerque’s a tough place to pitch, of course, but Rasmussen’s ceiling is probably best explained by the fact that the cost of acquisition was, well, John Ely.

19. Garrett Gould, P, Double-A Chattanooga (down)

It’s usually not a great sign when you get promoted from Single-A to Double-A and the general consensus is “why”? Obviously, the California League is a tough place to pitch, but that alone can’t explain away a 7.04 ERA. Gould’s off to a better start with the Lookouts, though over only 7.2 innings. I remember last year when the Dodgers tried to get Carlos Lee and Gould was going to be the return, I hated the deal… but only because I didn’t like Lee, not because I would have been crushed to lose Gould.

20. Jose Dominguez, P, Dodgers (up!)

We end on a very high note, as Dominguez and his rocket arm have already made a splash in the big leagues, touching triple-digits with the Dodgers. Dominguez might have been ranked higher if not for the suspension hanging over his head that cost him the first part of the season, but has overcome that to get his big league career started.

******

Overall, this is good news. The four big-time prospects in the system — Lee, Pederson, Seager, & Urias — have all had very good half-seasons, and the two top picks in the 2013 draft (Chris Anderson & Tom Windle) have shown promise at Great Lakes as well. Considering how torn apart the system was during the McCourt years when international spending was at just about zero (note here that Puig & Hyun-jin Ryu are not included), this is a massive step up.

Also, apparently, if you want to see some talent, stay away from Rancho Cucamonga. Smith is the only prospect listed here to be listed on the Quakes roster, and he’s only there because his conversion to pitching required he move down from Double-A. Pitcher Lindsey Caughel is probably the most interesting prospect there and could make the top twenty in the winter, and there’s some mildly interesting offensive talent in shortstop Darnell Sweeney and outfielders Noel Cuevas & Scott Schebler; otherwise, the star power here is concentrated in Chattanooga, which has seven of the top twenty.

Projecting the Dodgers’ Minor-League Rosters: Low-A & Hi-A

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.)

Will Garrett Gould return to Rancho for another season? (via Dustin Nosler

Will Garrett Gould return to Rancho for another season? (via Dustin Nosler)

Great Lakes Loons (Single-A Midwest League)

Starting rotation: Ralston CashLindsey CaughelJake HermsenArismendy OzoriaRoss Stripling

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 BirdCarlos FriasGustavo GomezJonathan Martinez, Miguel Sulbaran

Bullpen: Gregg DowningSawil GonzalezScott GriggsOwen JonesJoel LimaKazuki NishijimaJuan Noriega

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 AngelesJharel CottonAlan GarciaJordan HershiserTravis JonesJackson MateoRicky PerezJuan RodriguezCraig StemSamuel Taveras

Catchers: Tyler OgleEric Smith

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 CannonJose CapellanAustin Cowen, JJ Ethel

Infielders: 1B–Jesus Valdez, 2B–Malcolm Holland, SS–Corey Seager, 3B–Bladimir Franco, UTIL–Delvis MoralesJeffrey Hunt

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

Outfielders: LF–Devin Shines, CF–James Baldwin, RF–Joseph Winker, OF–Pat Stover, DH/OF–Paul Hoenecke

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 EmbreeGregory 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)

Starting rotation: Garrett GouldJarret MartinJon Michael ReddingAngel Sanchez, Duke von Schamann

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

Bullpen: Manny AcostaDaniel CoulombeJuan Dominguez, Yimi GarciaMatt SheltonSteve SmithMichael Thomas

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 CabreraHector CorreaThomas Melgarejo

Catchers: Pratt MaynardMichael Pericht

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.

Infielders: 1B–O’Koyea Dickson, 2B–Scott Wingo, SS–Darnell Sweeney, 3B–Jesse Bosnik, UTIL–Jesus ArredondoPedro Guerrero, DH/1B–Angelo Songco

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

Outfielders: LF–Scott Schebler, CF–Jeremy Rathjen, RF–Jonathan Garcia, OF–Noel Cuevas

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.

Dodgers Depth Chart Analysis: All is Right Among the Right-Handers

Editor’s note: Chris Jackson moves on to the righty pitching in the organization, which is probably the deepest group the Dodgers have. No, I definitely don’t miss seeing Allen Webster here. No, not at all. Not even a little. 

Right-handed starting pitching is the backbone of every organization’s depth on the mound. For all the future stars, however, there are also plenty of guys working merely as filler. The Dodgers have plenty of organizational arms who throw right-handed, along with a few legitimate stars inching closer to the big leagues and some sleepers scattered about from Double-A to rookie ball.

This is Fife. He is probably not going to be the Isotopes' right-hander that will get Dodgers' fans excited this season. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

This is Stephen Fife. He is probably not going to be the Isotopes’ right-hander that will get Dodgers’ fans excited this season. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

If there is a surprise this season it is in the lack of random veterans, the kind of guys used to fill out Albuquerque’s staff. So far the Dodgers have only brought into two right-handed vets and one lefty (see the entry on the not-so-fabulous Fabio Castro). It is perhaps a reflection of Triple-A vets shying away from both Albuquerque’s altitude and, even more likely, the lack of a perceived opportunity to move up to Los Angeles. The Dodgers have eight legit starters in the mix this spring, which does not make them very attractive to job-hunting journeymen.

So from the guys expected to be Isotopes to those who will stay behind in extended spring training, here are the Dodgers’ right-handed starters. Take note, to be listed here, a pitcher would need to have made over half his appearances last season as a starter. Not all are still guaranteed to start this season, and some relievers (who will be in the next post on this series) from last year might be stretched out as starters this year.

Stephen Fife: A perfectly average starter, with average stuff and average velocity, every team seems to have a few Fifes lying around. The key is that they are usually at Triple-A, only called upon for a few spot starts per season. That figures to be Fife’s role again after he went 11-7 with a 4.66 ERA with the Isotopes and 0-2 with a 2.70 in five starts with the Dodgers. He’s not a big strikeout guy — 93 in 135 1/3 innings at Albuquerque; 20 in 26 2/3 in L.A. — and he joined the short list of pitchers with a better ERA at Isotopes Park (3.68) than on the road (5.58). Barring a rash of injuries to the guys in front of him, or an injury of his own, he should be the Isotopes’ opening-day starter against the Iowa Cubs on April 4.

Matt Palmer: A 34-year-old journeyman, Palmer is the type of guy the Dodgers sign to pitch at Albuquerque just about every off-season. He has 672 2/3 career innings in the Pacific Coast League with Fresno, Salt Lake and Tucson, posting a 4.86 ERA and going 41-46 since 2008. He suffered through a fairly lousy campaign with the T-Padres last year (6-9, 5.66) and only made three relief outings in San Diego. Palmer once went 11-2 with the Angels back in 2009, but that seems eons ago. He will eat innings at Albuquerque, nothing more, nothing less.

Mario Santiago: The 28-year-old returns to the U.S. after spending 2012 with the SK Wyverns in South Korea. Santiago went 6-3 with a 3.40 ERA in 18 starts for the Wyverns, who were the runners-up to the Samsung Lions for the second year in a row in the Korea Series. Santiago has never been overpowering in his career, which stretches back to 2005 when he was a 16th-round pick by the Royals out of Baton Rouge JC. Santiago has just 458 strikeouts in 714 2/3 career minor-league innings. He only struck out 49 in 95 1/3 innings with the Wyverns last year. His only Triple-A experience came in 2011 with Omaha (Royals), when he was 3-3 with a 5.70 ERA and two saves in 19 games (four starts). He seems more likely to start than relieve for the Isotopes, barring any additional pitching signings.

Zach Lee: A little bit of the shine came off the former first-round pick after a so-so campaign between Chattanooga and Rancho. Lee went 6-6 with a 4.39 ERA, throwing 121 innings in 25 starts. He struck out 103 and walked 32. His biggest issue, according to just about every prospect report, is that he lacks a signature out pitch. This will consign him to the dust bin of … No. 3 starters. Oh, darn. Look, Lee is 21, his fastball sits between 90-95 mph and can sink and cut, he has a good slider and a potentially plus changeup. There is still plenty of time for him to develop. He will return to the Lookouts, and with a legit No. 1 (Kershaw) and No. 2 (Greinke) already on the roster, if Lee only turns out to be a No. 3, well, the Dodgers will not complain, especially when his $5.25 million signing bonus comes out to about one-fifth of Kershaw’s inevitable mega-salary.

Matt Magill: While Lee lost some luster, Magill was on helium in 2012, shooting up the prospect lists. The 23-year-old right-hander was a 31st-round pick out of Royal High School in Simi Valley back in 2008, but he sure didn’t pitch like one with the Lookouts. Magill went 11-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 26 starts, striking out a Southern League-leading 168 batters in 146 1/3 innings. Magill’s out pitch is his slider, a sharp, late-breaking pitch that sits in the low 80s. His fastball sits 91-92 with movement and has touched 95. Now comes the tough part for the guy ranked No. 9 in the Dodgers’ farm system by Baseball America — pitching at Albuquerque. There are too many guys lined up behind him to pitch in Chattanooga this year (Lee, Santiago, Chris Reed, Aaron Miller, Onelki Garcia, Rob Rasmussen) and not enough guys for the Isotopes. Magill was added to the 40-man roster, but now comes the tough part. Hopefully he can get a hold of John Ely‘s phone number.

Andres Santiago: The 23-year-old Puerto Rican has been around for a while, but he finally seemed to put things together in 2012. A 16th-round pick in 2007, Santiago broke through between Chattanooga and Rancho (6-5, 3.69, 122 Ks in 112 1/3 innings). It might not be enough to guarantee him a rotation spot to open 2013 back in Chattanooga with all the guys I listed above, but he figures to at least be a spot starter/long reliever at the outset of the season. Santiago has an 89-92 mph fastball that touches 94, a low-to-mid-80s slider and a plus changeup. He has the stuff to start, but for now I expect him to open as a reliever with the Lookouts.

Garrett Gould: The 21-year-old’s name popped up in the spotlight back in July when the Dodgers were rumored to be sending him to Houston for the corpse of Carlos Lee. This created a small furor on the internet among Dodgers fans, who mostly wanted no part of Lee but were also loathing the thought of trading an actual prospect for the aging ex-slugger. Thankfully, Lee invoked his no-trade clause, and Gould stayed put. Well, Gould probably could have used a break from Rancho Cucamonga, where he took it on the chin most of the year. Gould was 5-10 with a 5.75 ERA, allowing 140 hits and 54 walks in 130 innings. Still, the former second-round draft pick is young enough, and the Cal League is challenging enough, that no one is about to give up on him. Gould’s fastball usually sits 87-89 mph, but it’s his sinker and a plus 12-to-6 curveball that are his bread and butter. Due to the logjam ahead of him, Gould will likely open back with the Quakes and get another shot at taming the Cal League.

Brandon Martinez: A former seventh-round pick out of Fowler High School, Martinez had a season to forget. The 22-year-old finished with a 7.19 ERA at Rancho last season. He gave up 140 hits and 55 walks in just 106 1/3 innings. Martinez has some decent stuff, including a 90-94 mph fastball, a good slider and a changeup, but his command evaporated in the desert air of the Cal League. At this point, a move to the bullpen might seem more likely than subjecting him to another season of getting savaged by High-A hitters. Martinez is certainly an interesting story — he suffers from Tourette syndrome and OCD — but if he pitches again like he did in 2012, he won’t be around much longer.

Jon Michael Redding: Essentially a poor man’s Fife, Redding put together an average season at Rancho in 2012. He was 9-7 with a 4.42 ERA, striking out 102 and walking 48 in 130 1/3 innings. A former fifth-round pick out of Florida College in 2008, Redding has been around for a while without really wowing anybody. He just seems to stick on the basis of his so-so pitchability. He has a low-90s fastball, an inconsistent slider and a hard curveball. In most years, he would move up to Chattanooga, but there are far better pitchers who need to start ahead of him, and with Santiago already (likely) in the long relief/spot starter role with the Lookouts, Redding seems likely to return to Rancho for another go-around at the not-so-young age of 25.

Angel Sanchez: The 23-year-old Dominican had a rough year with the Quakes in 2012. He went 6-12 with a 6.58 ERA, allowing 157 his and 51 walks in 130 innings of work. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but it is too straight and lacks movement. He has an average changeup and a below-average curveball. The Dodgers haven’t give up on him yet, but he could easily be moved to the bullpen in 2013, where he might function better as a two-pitch guy anyway. He will return to Rancho regardless of his role this season.

Ralston Cash: The 21-year-old was the Dodgers’ second-round pick in 2010, but little has gone well since then. He injured his hip in spring training in 2011 and never threw an inning that year. Cash ended up throwing just 40 2/3 innings with Great Lakes in 2012, going 1-6 with a 6.42 ERA. He gave up 45 hits, walked 24 and struck out just 29 batters. Back when he was drafted Cash threw a 91-92 mph sinking fastball that could touch 94. He had a good curveball, an average slider and needed to work on his changeup. Now he just needs to work on getting healthy and staying healthy. He will likely do so back with the Loons to start 2013.

Gustavo Gomez: There is not much information out there on Gomez, a 21-year-old who was signed out of Panama back in 2008. He struggled at Great Lakes last year — 8-8, 5.63, 122 hits, 55 walks, 77 Ks in 110 1/3 innings — which was his first full year in a full-season league. For his career, Gomez has a 4.77 ERA and 303 strikeouts in 322 2/3 innings. He did not find the Midwest League very agreeable compared to rookie ball. His fate for 2013 is a mystery.

Arismendy Ozoria: Another Latin American who struggled in Great Lakes’ rotation, Ozoria is a 22-year-old who signed out of the Dominican in 2008. He went 8-8 with a 4.51 ERA for the Loons, with his other numbers looking an awful lot like Gomez’s numbers (115 2/3 innings, 124 hits, 50 walks, 77 Ks). Much like Gomez, he could move up to Rancho, repeat Great Lakes, or move to the bullpen with either team.

Raydel Sanchez: The 23-year-old filled the spot starter/long reliever role with Great Lakes, making 14 starts and 13 relief outings in 2012. He went 3-8 with a 4.64 ERA. He struck out 61 and walked 33 in 95 innings of work. Born in Cuba, Sanchez signed with the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent out of Miami-Dade JC in April 2011. He could repeat his Loons role with the Quakes this season.

Duke von Schamann: The Dodgers’ 15th-round pick out of Texas Tech in last year’s draft, Von Schamann shot all the way up to Chattanooga to finish his first pro season, though it seems more likely that he will settle at Rancho in 2013. Using his sinker, slider and changeup, the 21-year-old went 6-4 with an ERA of 3.00 in 75 innings of work. He only struck out 44 batters, but he only gave up 14 walks as well. With that type of control he might just survive pitching for the Quakes.

Lindsey Caughel: Another later-round draft pick who may have overachieved a bit last summer, Caughel shined at Ogden and should move up to Great Lakes this year. The 22-year-old was a 23rd-round pick out of Stetson. He went 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 42 2/3 innings at Ogden, holding his own in a hitter-friendly environment. Caughel only gave up 33 hits and eight walks while striking out 29 batters. In college his fastball sat 88-91 mph and he had an average curveball. He will need more than that to succeed and keep moving up the ladder.

Carlos Frias: Signed out of the Dominican back in 2007, Frias bounced around the system in 2012. He finished the year 7-5 with a 4.73 ERA in 83 2/3 innings of work. There is not much more info out there on the 23-year-old, who just looks like roster filler in the low minors. He might move up to Great Lakes full-time this year, or he may be back with Ogden.

Luis Meza: The 22-year-old Venezuelan had a 2012 to forget, posting a 7.39 ERA in 28 innings of work. He made six starts and five relief appearances and could end up in the bullpen full-time this year, though he will almost certainly open in extended spring training.

Ross Stripling: The Dodgers’ fifth-round pick out of Texas A&M last summer, Stripling has caught the eye of scouts and prospectors alike. Baseball America pegged him as the Dodgers’ No. 10, while Keith Law had him at No. 8. A senior sign, Stripling is already 23 and could jump all the way to Rancho to open 2013, though Great Lakes might be a better place to stretch him out. He only threw 36 1/3 innings after a heavy college workload. Even in that short span he posted a 1.24 ERA, allowing just 26 hits and six walks while striking out 37 batters. He has a 92-93 mph fastball with run and sink that touches 96. He also has a plus 12-to-6 curveball, but he will need to improve his average changeup as he moves up the ladder.

Victor Araujo: A 23-year-old Dominican, he posted a 6.88 ERA in the Arizona League last summer. That’s not the type of thing that keeps one employed. Nine of his 64 hits allowed in 53 2/3 innings were home runs, which won’t play much better as he moves up the ladder, assuming he moves up at all. He will open in extended spring.

Zachary Bird: The Dodgers’ ninth-round pick last summer out of a Mississippi high school, Bird was more impressive than his numbers might indicate. Keith Law named him the Dodgers’ No. 10 prospect for 2013, as did FanGraphs. Bird had a 4.54 ERA in the Arizona League, but he did strike out 46 in 39 2/3 innings. Bird’s fastball sits 89-92 mph and touches 94. He has a good curveball, average changeup and a fringy slider that might get tossed aside as he moves up the ladder. With a strong spring the 18-year-old could force his way to Great Lakes, but Ogden seems more likely.

Jonathan Martinez: An 18-year-old who signed out of Venezuela in 2011, Martinez was impressive in the Arizona League. He went 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA, striking out 59 and walking just 16 in 59 innings of work. There isn’t much other info out there on Martinez, but if he pitches like that again this year at Ogden, there will be some buzz.

* * *

Well, that’s it for the right-handed starters. The relievers are up next (and no, I’m not gonna review every single guy who made at least one appearance out of the bullpen in all the Dodgers’ U.S.-based affiliates). Then that should be it, but that’s OK, because Mike is on vacation (and we usually know what that means) and pretty soon there will be real baseball to talk about.

Dodgers Lacking in Prime Prospect Trade Bait

Editor’s note: Hooray, four days without Dodger baseball! It’s a much-needed break. Today, we welcome back Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner, who did such a good job providing us with an early Isotope status check in April. We talk so much about how the Dodgers have “a lot of starting pitching prospects” without actually looking into how they’re doing, so Christopher reviews how the young arms are coming along through the break. -Mike

The All-Star break is upon us. It is boring. Talking about the impending trade deadline is a lot more interesting. For better or worse, most of that trade talk deals with who the Dodgers are going to get, not how they are going to acquire those players. It takes two to tango, after all, and while some in the comments section might pop off with “just trade Jerry Sands for Justin Upton!” it is time to take a more realistic look at what the Dodgers have on the farm at midseason.

Mike did a solid analysis on the plus and minuses of trading No. 1 prospect Zach Lee already. The problem is that after Lee, things drop off fairly quickly within the organization. There is a reason that Stan Kasten and company have been said to be seeking to take on salary relief instead of giving up a lot of prospects that the organization simply does not have.

The Dodgers have a fair amount of depth in pitching, though in most cases potential will have to outweigh current performance. Most of the pitchers have at least been decent, but there are no real breakout performers. The starters at Double-A Chattanooga are heating up enough to potentially generate more interest. The position players have, by and large, struggled and few if any would bring back anything in return.

So let us break down the pitching prospects in the Dodgers system besides Lee and those prospects up with the Dodgers (e.g. Eovaldi, Van Slyke). All the rankings come from Baseball America.

No. 2 Allen Webster: This season has been a mixed bag for Webster, whose record (3-8) with Chattanooga is not really indicative of how he has pitched. His ERA (4.30) is decent and he has 73 strikeouts to 33 walks in 81 2/3 innings. The Dodgers did move him to the bullpen for five games earlier in the season, but it was temporary and he has posted a 2.25 ERA in seven starts since returning.

No. 5 Chris Reed: Last year’s first-round draft pick has gone 1-4 with a 2.52 ERA between Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga. He has struck out 51 in 50 innings spread over 11 starts and one relief appearance. The Dodgers have kept him on a tight pitch count as they stretch him out from college closer to future big-league starter.

No. 6 Garrett Gould: Well, we know the Astros were interested in the 20-year-old in the failed trade for Carlos Lee and the Dodgers are willing to move him. He has the usual Cal League blemishes (2-6 record, 4.96 ERA), but much like Webster, his record is deceiving. He has 77 strikeouts to 28 walks in 78 innings. Gould has arguably the best pure stuff in the system, something certain teams tend to cherish over actual results.

No. 7 Chris Withrow: The most frustrating arm in the organization is scuffling again in his fourth season with Chattanooga. He still walks too many (28 in 45 2/3 innings) and this year has had trouble staying healthy. At this point his future might lie in relief, so clubs that like to have lots of projectable relievers (looking at you, Padres) should have an interest.

No. 12 Angel Sanchez: The 22-year-old Dominican popped up out of nowhere last year and threw well at Low-A Great Lakes (8-4, 2.82, 84 Ks in 99 IP). Much like Gould, he has found the Cal League a tougher go, already allowing more hits (96) and home runs (12) than last season in 16 fewer innings. He could be ticketed for relief if his curveball does not improve.

No. 14 Scott Barlow: Last year’s sixth-round draft pick has yet to throw a pitch this season, making evaluating him fairly tough. He reportedly had Tommy John surgery recently, and may not be back at full strength until late next year or 2014, ruining any trade value he may have had.

No. 16 Aaron Miller: A sports hernia limited the southpaw to just 36 innings last season. Healthy this year, walks have been his nemesis (45 in 79 1/3 innings) with Chattanooga. His fastball velocity has dropped since he was drafted in 2009, a warning sign to most teams to stay away.

No. 17 Ethan Martin: Withrow’s rival for most perplexing has bounced back, somewhat, from a dismal 2011 campaign. He leads Chattanooga in ERA (2.99), but like Miller has been held back by walks (49 in 93 1/3 innings). Command has always been Martin’s biggest issue and despite the shiny ERA this year, it is clear he has still not turned the corner.

No. 23 Ryan O’Sullivan: The younger brother of former Royal Sean O’Sullivan, Ryan has already jumped from Great Lakes to Rancho Cucamonga this season. He has now made 15 relief appearances to nine starts, but the Dodgers view him as a potential starter down the line. O’Sullivan has a history of injuries at the college level.

No. 24 Josh Wall: The Isotopes closer has an above-average slider and a fastball he seems almost afraid to command. He coughed up three home runs in one inning in his final appearance of the first half on Sunday. If Wall could regain his confidence in his fastball he could at least be another cheap bullpen option, though he is likely a middle reliever/set-up man at the next level.

Dodgers Embarrass Themselves On the Field, But What’s Happening Off It?

I mean, basically. I won’t hide that I’m writing this as the Dodgers are down 9-0 in the eighth inning, and if that’s not exactly how the game ends up, well, who the hell can be bothered to care at this point. Aaron Harang got shelled, R.A. Dickey cruised, and A.J. Ellis & Tony Gwynn are the only Dodgers other than Harang with hits. Shocking, I know.

This team is an absolute disaster right now, basically unwatchable. I get that they’ve lost their two big guns to injury and that’s not to be ignored, but every day it’s harder and harder to look at this club and think that they’re related in any way to the same squad that shockingly busted out to the best record in baseball up until just two weeks ago. That doesn’t mean they’re not interesting though, since the big news of the night is the rumored deal with Houston that started out supposedly involving Zach Lee & Jed Lowrie and now seems to be down to something more like Garrett Gould & Carlos Lee. (Jon Morosi notes that Gould was scratched from his scheduled start tonight just before gametime.)

I don’t like passing judgement on a deal before it’s even done and we know the specifics of exactly who is involved, but since I’ll be out of touch all day tomorrow I figure I’ll get my thoughts down on this proposal while we have the chance. I don’t love Gould, honestly, though the people who keep saying “but he’s 1-6 with a 5.12 ERA!” are misguided; he’s struck out 72 in 72 innings in the hitter-friendly California League, which gives him a 3.51 FIP. Prior to the season Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked Gould as his #6 Dodger prospect, between Chris Reed & Chris Withrow, while Jason Parks of BP actually preferred Gould to Lee last month. (An opinion which I have not been able to find many supporters on, honestly.) Most see Gould as a potential #3 starter, which is valuable but clearly not untouchable.

So you want to trade Gould? Fine. In a system deep in good-but-not-great righty starters, it’s the perfect place to deal from depth, and you can lose him without too much trouble. The question would be, is Lee really worth the effort? I mean, sure, he’s better than the execrable Loney, who is just two or three more hitless plate appearances from having his OBP dip below .300. But that’s like saying that Adam Kennedy isn’t your least favorite Dodger because Juan Uribe still exists; it’s exactly not high praise to say you’re better than Loney.

Lee entered play on Saturday hitting .291/.344/.410, which is fine, I suppose. It’s an upgrade, sure, but what’s problematic is that he’s hitting far better in Houston (.286/.362/.459, all five of his homers) than he is on the road (.297/.317/.347, zero homers). I get that Loney is terrible – and he is – but importing a guy without a single homer away from the hitter-friendly Houston park seems like an odd choice to try and fix your power outage. Toss in the fact that he’s a huge defensive downgrade from Loney, important in an infield that has Dee Gordon playing every day, and while Lee might represent something of an upgrade I’m just not sure it’s worth the bother.

Again, I don’t care too much about losing Gould, and we’ll see what, if anything, actually ends up happening. If it does happen, it’s not going to be too difficult to not see Loney’s name in there every night, I’ll admit. (Though I imagine he’d need to be retained for defensive purposes.) It just seems like a deal that would be more about doing something – as I joked on Twitter, “Carlos Lee is a hitter. We need a hitter. Therefore, we need Carlos Lee” – than it is about actually finding a guy who solves the real problem.