Want More? Complete Top 10 Prospects Rankings
Get it all: Subscribe to Baseball America
Go 30 deep: Order the 2016 Prospect Handbook!
|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Corey Seager, ss|
|2. Julio Urias, lhp|
|3. Jose De Leon, rhp|
|4. Jose Peraza, 2b/ss|
|5. Cody Bellinger, 1b/of|
|6. Grant Holmes, rhp|
|7. Alex Verdugo, of|
|8. Austin Barnes, c|
|9. Jharel Cotton, rhp|
|10. Yadier Alvarez, rhp|
For as much focus as the Dodgers’ payroll receives, their farm system is among the strongest in the game, something that has little to do with their financial advantages. They built that pipeline without the luxury of picking high in the draft and instead have done it through astute scouting and coaching.
Corey Seager is one of baseball’s future stars, something he showed in flashes during his September callup. The Dodgers preferred other international pitchers on the market in 2012, but they ended up signing Mexican lefty Julio Urias, who is on the cusp of the big leagues at 19.
Seager and Urias are the best one-two prospect punch in baseball, but the depth behind them is impressive, too.
Righthanders Jose De Leon and Grant Holmes both have mid-rotation potential, while Jharel Cotton is on the verge of making an impact in the majors. First baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger had a breakout season, while center fielder Alex Verdugo is another one of the team’s brightest position prospects.
The organization’s amateur talent procurement in 2015, however, was bumpy. The Dodgers draft haul—the first under new scouting director Billy Gasparino—initially looked strong, but it lost luster when the team didn’t sign one of its first-round picks, Louisville righthander Kyle Funkhouer, then had the other, Walker Buehler, succumb to Tommy John surgery.
The Dodgers spent heavily in Latin America, though it was a year filled with tension and discord. Team president and CEO Stan Kasten had brought in Bob Engle as vice president of international scouting and Patrick Guerrero as the Latin American supervisor after the 2012 season. Alex Guerrero in 2013 and Erisbel Arruebarrena in 2014 proved to be expensive, underwhelming Cuban signings, while the $8 million contract for Cuban righty Pablo Millan Fernandez in 2015—a deal pushed for by VP Josh Byrnes— is another one they probably will regret.
The Dodgers then signed Cuban infielder Hector Olivera to a six-year, $62.5 million deal in May, only to trade him to the Braves (after paying his entire $28 million bonus) two months later. The Dodgers went well beyond their 2015-16 international bonus pool, led by a $16 million bonus for Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez.
Soon after, the Dodgers fired Engle and Guerrero and several scouts who were associated them, though they retained some members of their international staff. Ismael Cruz, who had been running Latin American scouting for the Blue Jays, came on board as department head.
Los Angeles split with manager Don Mattingly after a second straight National League Division Series loss, but despite the turnover, the club remains successful on the field and the farm. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman succeeded on a tight budget with the Rays, so the thought of him running a 92-win team with a top farm system and a near-limitless bankroll has to be frightening for the rest of the NL West.