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: Double-A & Triple-A

Editor’s note: Chris Jackson rounds off the minor league roster projections with Chattanooga & Albuquerque. Also, don’t forget to enter the Opening Day roster contest — open through 9pm PT tonight!

Van Slyke is one of nine outfielders who will vie for an Isotopes roster spot this spring. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

Scott Van Slyke is one of nine outfielders who will vie for an Isotopes roster spot this spring. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A Southern League)

Starting rotation: Onelki Garcia, Zach Lee, Aaron Miller, Rob Rasmussen, Chris Reed

All prospects, all the time, in east Tennessee this year! Garcia has the most pure stuff, but the least experience. Lee and Reed will hope their potential matches the results this season. Miller will have to fight to keep his starting spot after a middling season. Rasmussen will get some attention as the new guy in the organization.

Bulllpen: Geison Aguasviva, Steve Ames, Kelvin De La Cruz, Eric Eadington, Jordan Roberts, Andres Santiago, Chris Withrow

That is a lot of lefties, but it is hard to figure out where else to put them. De la Cruz is not a LOOGY and will give them a second long reliever to go with Santiago, who could start if Miller struggles. Aguasviva could fight his way to Albuquerque. Roberts is 27, so if he can’t stick here, his time with the Dodgers may be done. Ames and Eadington figure to share the closing job, though Withrow could see saves, too, now that the Dodgers have committed to him as a reliever. Just missed: Javier Solano

Catchers: Gorman Erickson, Christopher O’Brien

Erickson will be looking for some redemption after a lousy 2012. O’Brien was decent enough at Rancho to merit the promotion.

Infielders: 1B–J.T. Wise, 2B–Rafael Ynoa, SS–Alexis Aguilar, 3B–C.J. Retherford, UTIL–Joe Becker, Omar Luna

Wise and Ynoa have played well enough to earn promotions, but they are blocked at Albuquerque barring some trades. Aguilar is the pick I am least confident in; it could be a half-dozen other guys. In other words, please, Dodgers, sign some random Cuban defector shortstop to spare the poor fans in Chattanooga watching a guy with a career .662 OPS. Retherford had a big year at Rancho, but struggled with the Lookouts, so he will return here. Luna and Becker didn’t play a lot of shortstop last year, but they sure could this year. Just missed: Chris Jacobs 1B, Elevys Gonzalez 3B/2B, Miguel Rojas 2B/SS

Outfielders: LF–Yasiel Puig, CF–Joc Pederson, RF–Blake Smith, OF–Nick Buss, Bobby Coyle

Puig and Pederson are premium prospects. They both figure to play all three outfield spots here. Smith deserves to move up, and he certainly could, but for now I have him starting with the Lookouts. Buss and the talented but oft-injured Coyle return. Just missed: Kyle Russell

Final analysis: If some of the pitchers can translate their potential into results, then this team could be the favorite to win the Southern League. The rotation is six-deep and strong, while the bullpen is strong from both sides of the mound. The outfield should carry the offense, with shortstop being the only real concern on the infield. The Lookouts should be fun to watch this season.

Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

Starting rotation: Fabio Castro, Stephen Fife, Matt Magill, Matt Palmer, Mario Santiago

Magill is the legit prospect here. Fife returns and will be the first called up in the event of an injury to a starter in L.A. Palmer can chew up innings, but that is it. Castro was terrible last year with the A’s organization and might not last long in Albuquerque. Santiago is a gamble, with the Dodgers/Isotopes hoping he can carry over the success he found in Korea last year with the SK Wyverns.

Bullpen: Michael Antonini, Blake Johnson, Hector Nelo, Red Patterson, Paco Rodriguez, Cole St. Clair, Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall

Antonini’s health is in question, so he might not crack this group. Rodriguez and Tolleson both deserve to pitch in the Majors, but I have Javy Guerra and Ted Lilly taking the last two spots. Johnson and St. Clair return in the long relief roles. Wall should close again. Patterson moves up, but it could easily be Ames instead. Nelo, a minor-league Rule 5 pick, gets the nod over the plethora of Triple-A vets signed this off-season. I am also betting that the veteran trio of Kevin Gregg, Mark Lowe, and Peter Moylan will opt out at the end of the spring. Just missed: Juan Abreu, Victor Garate, Gregory Infante, Wilmin Rodriguez, Luis Vasquez

Catchers: Jesus Flores, Matt Wallach

Flores could easily be subbed out for Federowicz if the Dodgers opt to have the prospect play every day and the veteran back up A.J. Ellis. Consider them interchangeable. Wallach has never hit, but he plays good defense and seems like a safe bet to the backup. Just missed: Eliezer Alfonzo, Wilkin Castillo, Ramon Castro

Infielders: 1B–Nick Evans, 2B–Elian Herrera, SS–Dee Gordon, 3B–Dallas McPherson, UTIL–Rusty Ryal, Justin Sellers

Evans always earned rave reviews for his defense, which could be a big help for Gordon’s wild throws (remember how Mark Teixeira made Derek Jeter look better back in 2009?). While it can be speculated that Gordon could or should be in the Majors, until he proves otherwise, I have him here. Sellers is another guy most people are counting out, but the Dodgers have not dumped him yet, even after his arrest in Sacramento. Herrera can, and likely will, play everywhere, but he should play almost every day. McPherson will DH against AL teams, since his back is unlikely to hold up for 144 games. Ryal gets the nod because the Isotopes need the left-handed bat. Just missed: Alfredo Amezaga UTIL, Brian Barden 3B, Ozzie Martinez SS

Outfielders: LF–Scott Van Slyke, CF–Tony Gwynn Jr., RF–Alex Castellanos, OF–Jeremy Moore

Unless Castellanos returns to the infield, this outfield is tough to figure out. Both he, Moore and Van Slyke are all right-handed hitters, so it would make a lot of sense for someone like Smith (who hits left-handed) to move up from Chattanooga. Unless the Isotopes only carry seven relievers (which, fat chance), it won’t happen unless the Dodgers move Van Slyke in a trade. Moore gets that backup spot because he can play all three positions and because the Dodgers obviously think very highly of him as he was the only free agent to participate in their prospect minicamp last month. Just missed: Matt Angle, Brian Cavazos-Galvez

Final analysis: This team does not look as talented as last year’s playoff squad, at least on paper. The rotation looks awfully suspect behind Fife and Magill. The bullpen could be good, at least. The lineup lacks left-handed bats, but should be able to score enough runs to keep games interesting. If the Dodgers can’t find any additional starting pitchers, however, it could be a long summer of 12-10 scores in Albuquerque, which this reporter is not very interested in watching anymore.

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 Invite 13 Prospects to Developmental Camp

Per Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, the club has announced the 13 players who will attend the annual Winter Development camp, to be held this year in Arizona since Dodger Stadium is undergoing renovations.

Pitchers Steve Ames, Onelki Garcia, Zach Lee, Matt Magill, Rob Rasmussen, Chris Reed, Paco Rodriguez & Chris Withrow will be joined by catchers Tim Federowicz & Matt Wallach and outfielders Jeremy Moore, Joc Pederson,& Yasiel Puig.

angels_jeremy_mooreI did a bit of a double take at Moore’s name, because we’d heard nothing about the former Angel signing with the Dodgers and his baseball-reference page still doesn’t even note the transaction. The outfielder, 26 next June, got into 8 games for the 2011 Angels and was ranked as Baseball Prospectus’ #9 Anaheim prospect headed into 2012:

The Good: Moore can do a little bit of everything. He’s an impressive athlete with plenty of bat speed and nearly average power; he has reached double digits in triples in each of the last four seasons. He’s an above-average runner who can steal bases, and a very good defensive outfielder in all three positions.
The Bad: Moore has always been an impatient hitter who gets into trouble when fed breaking balls early in the count. His arm is his lone below-average tool, but none of his tools are star-level, either.

Moore never did play in 2012 thanks to hip surgery, and he was outrighted off the roster in October. He’s likely headed for what looks to be a crowded Albuquerque outfield.

Otherwise, this is a good look at the prospects the team considers worth their effort to bring to Arizona in January to spend additional time with. As Gurnick notes, 8 of the 15 participants last year – Michael Antonini, Rubby De La Rosa, Stephen Fife, Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall, Alex Castellanos, Federowicz & Scott Van Slyke — saw time with the big club later in the season (well, sort of, for Antonini). I’d say it’s not a promising sign that catcher Gorman Erickson, a past participant, was not invited back, which should tell you a lot about his falling prospect stock after a very disappointing 2012, and you can probably say the same for hopefuls Aaron Miller & Kyle Russell.

This Year, Trading Season Prices Look Higher Than Ever

Anyone still wondering if the lack of sellers in the world of four wild cards is going to increase prices?

Take yesterday’s Detroit/Miami deal, where the Tigers acquired half a season of Anibal Sanchez, a very good and underrated (FIP between 3.32-3.41 over the last three seasons) 28-year-old starter with some history of arm problems, along with solid-but-hardly-stellar second baseman Omar Infante. That cost them, along with a decent catching prospect who could be ready in 2013 and a lottery ticket arm, 21-year-old lefty Jacob Turner, the 9th overall pick in 2009, who made the bigs at 20 and has been ranked as Baseball America’s #26, #21, and #22 prospect before the last three seasons. He was also Detroit’s #1 prospect in Kevin Goldstein’s Baseball Prospectus rankings in each of the last two seasons, ahead of highly regarded third base prospect Nick Castellanos. (I’m assuming I don’t need to point out here that an 8+ ERA from a 21-year-old in six MLB games is all but useless to look at.) Detroit got a good starter for the playoff push this year, but paid handsomely to do it.

Or look at the yet-to-be finalized Ryan Dempster trade, which for two months of the 35-year-old Dempster would reportedly include at least 22-year-old righty Randall Delgado and possibly more. Delgado has struck out 574 in 543 minor league innings, and was ranked as BA‘s #35 & #46 prospect prior to 2011 & 2012. At BP, he was Atlanta’s #2 prospect behind Julio Teheran, though also in the “five-star” level along with Turner.

As Ben Lindbergh noted while reviewing the potential Dempster deal at BP, we’re already seeing what kind of effect the second wild card is having on the trading season (emphasis mine):

Last July, the Braves got Michael Bourn—who not only contributed 1.7 WARP to the Astros before the trade, roughly equivalent to Dempster’s 1.6 for the Cubs this season, but was under team control for the following season—for a package of four lesser prospects (Brett Oberholtzer, Jordan Schafer, Paul Clemens, and Juan Abreu). Delgado is easily better than any of those four. Those two trades are a study in quantity vs. quality, but Delgado alone is likely the better haul. If so, the Cubs got more for a half-season of Dempster than the Astros did for a season and a half of Bourn. Maybe that’s shrewd trading by Jed Hoyer and crew, or maybe it’s a reflection of a Wild Cards-created buyer’s market.

I don’t think that’s necessarily coming as a surprise, because we sort of anticipated that might be the case as soon as we found out about the expanded playoffs, but it’s instructive to see it coming to life. That means that if the Dodgers do make any sort of deal, whether it be for Matt Garza or Chase Headley or Aramis Ramirez or Hanley Ramirez, the way the market is coming together, we can expect that the price is almost certainly going to be far more than we’re comfortable with, unless it also comes with the Dodgers eating a ton of bad contract like Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells.

It doesn’t help, of course, that top Dodger prospect Zach Lee generally isn’t as highly regarded as either Turner or Delgado, coming in at #62 on BA‘s preseason list and as a four-star prospect (though still Los Angeles’ #1) on Goldstein‘s. As I don’t have to tell you, I’m putting almost no stock in a 20-year-old struggling in his first few games at Double-A, though I’ll admit it doesn’t help. None of that means that Lee won’t be a successful major leaguer, because I think we all believe he will be, and that means you don’t trade him for a rental like Dempster. But he may not be the ace we had hoped for, and that can have an impact on his value; he did not make Keith Law’s list of the top 20 prospects who may be moved in potential deadline deals today. Considering what teams are getting in the current market, perhaps it’s not foolish of the Cubs to have been (allegedly) asking the Dodgers for him in any Dempster deal.

All of this makes for what could be both a fantastically interesting and terrifying week and three hours until the deadline arrives. With the Dodgers now on a partially-Mets-fueled winning streak again, I don’t think there’s any question that they consider themselves buyers, and the way things are now, that’s a tough spot to be in.