Los Angeles Dodgers: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Alan Matthews

Los Angeles Dodgers: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

Q:  john from LA asks:
How does Josh Bell not make the top 10?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Winter Meetings are about 36 hours old already and the most interesting news from Nashville thus far is this: Ron Jeremy was on the same flight to Nashville as BA's Chris Kline Monday, and Kline made sure to take time for a photo op . . . fully clothed, thankfully. Coincidentally, Kline uncovered quite a nugget during his GCL reporting this summer that Dodgers prospect Andrew Lambo has a relative that has experience in the adult-film-making industry as a producer . . . How's that for a segue . . .

Alan Matthews: The first two questions (both of which are posted) today focus on Josh Bell, the slugging third baseman ranked No. 11 on this year's Dodgers Top 30, one spot behind Pedro Baez. Baez was signed out of the D.R. this year and made his pro debut in the GCL, an ambitious opening assignment and one that is indicative of his advanced ability and package of tools. He's 16 months younger than Bell, plays the same position, but is a full grade better defensively, has more projection and comparable raw power and throwing ability. Bell is a switch-hitter, that's the only edge he has over Baez for me at this stage, so though the questions are valid, there's the tangible evidence for the order.

 Q:  Tom from NC asks:
Any chance that McDonald will add velo as he is still learning to pitch?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: That's a good question, and an important one. When Dodgers assistant GM Logan White was looking for a late-round, projectable pitcher in the 2002 draft, area scout Bobby Darwin knew the perfect candidate, as he had seen McDonald pitch briefly and loved his arm action from third base when he scouted him in high school. McDonald pitched presently with a solid-average fastball, and because he has fluidity to his delviery, there is reason to think the FB could add some velo in the future. But's he's not as big-boned as his father was, and some scouts said they believed there was not considerable room for additional growth on his wiry frame. Even if 93 is all he's got in there, that, along with his command and breaking ball are going to get him to the big leagues.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Does Greg Miller still have a shot at being the pitcher the Dodgers first acquired, and how far off the list has he fallen?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well Miller, who has had two surgeries on his left shoulder since the Dodgers drafted him in that same draft as McDonald, doesn't look like he's ever going to become a front-line starter, which is what he projected to be following his sensational 2003 season. He took a step back in 2007 in terms of his command, but his stuff is still present. His likely role is to serve as a lefty specialist, because he can command his plus breaking ball and throws in the low- to mid-90s with his fastball.

 Q:  Travis from TX asks:
No James Adkins? Is this due to the depth of the system or his short track record? Thanks for the chat.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Dodgers system took a hit from 2004 to 2006—Chad Billingsley, Joel Guzman, Edwin Jackson, James Loney, Russ Martin, Tony Abreu, Jonathan Broxton, Dioner Navarro, Yhency Brazoban, Joel Hanrahan, Steve Schmoll, Willy Aybar, Frank Osoria and Jason Repko all made it to the big leagues off the '04 top 30—but the system has reloaded. Adkins, whom the Dodgers drafted 39th overall this year, will rank in the top 20, but he has a ceiling of a No. 3 or 4 starter, which makes him one of the minors' top 25 lefthanded pitching prospects, but not quite good enough to crack the Dodgers' deep 10.

 Q:  MJ from Valpo asks:
Greetings~ No offense here, but what does it say about the Dodgers' minor league system when their #8 prospect is a 23-year old middle reliever who will be in the pen in LA in '08, and #9 is a 25-year old who will probably be in the starting OF mix in LA in '08? I mean really, they have no other younger, raw, athletic, 18-20-year old super-prospects who are projectionable out there!?!?! Ouch, if they don't! Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The goal in formulating these rankings is to have a nice blend of toolsy guys with upside while recognizing and giving credit to the players who have major league value, and perhaps can provide immediate major league help, at the same time. There are several hitters—Baez, Bell, Andrew Lambo, Ivan DeJesus, etc.—who have higher ceilings than No. 9 Delwyn Young. However, we felt because he is ready to contribute now and could very well play everyday on a second-division team, he deserved the nod in the top 10, finally, after three straight years of outstanding performance in the system.

 Q:  Richard from British Columbia asks:
I was very surprised that the Dodgers did not protect LHP Wesley Wright on the 40 man roster, and equally surprised that they did protect RHP Mario Alvarez. I'm sure Alvarez throws harder, but everything else (handedness, stats, Double A success) favors Wright (who isn't exactly a soft-tosser), and I have to believe that Wright is more attractive to other clubs and more likely to stick on a 25-man roster in 2008. Do you know what the Dodgers were thinking?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: This had to be a tough call for the Dodgers, and I would not be surprised if they lost Mexican rhp Jesus Castillo as well as Wright on Thursday during the Rule 5 Draft. Wright has steadily made his way through the system, but when he went to Triple-A this season, he struggled. He finished his season with 16 consecutive scoreless innings out of Jacksonville's bullpen, however. He pitches off an 88-91 mph fastball that he has deft command of. It's described as sneaky-fast, as it has late, riding life. His solid-average spike-curveball is his best secondary pitch, and he'll mix in below-average offerings in his slider and changeup, as well. Wright offers good feel for pitching and consistency, two things that major league managers covet. As a middle reliever or situational man, his ceiling is modest, whereas the 90-96 mph throwing Alvarez might be a setup man or middle-of-the-rotation starter, if you really wanted to daydream.

 Q:  Nick Eustrom from West Hills, CA asks:
Who do you see jumping into next years top 10? I see LaRoche, Meloan, and Young graduating to the majors next year, so theres at least three spots open...
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Probably some of the pitchers from the '07 haul, both from Latin America and the draft. The Dodgers instructional league roster had at least six arms that could very well pitch with 60 fastballs and showed the making of at lease one above-average secondary pitch. The previously mentioned Adkins, righthanders Justin Miller, Tim Sexton and Carlos Frias and lefties Leoenel Beras and Geison Aguasviva are just a handful of names that are on the way.

 Q:  Todd from Chattanooga asks:
Is Kershaw the clear cut best lefty prospect in baseball - are the likes of Lofgren, Mcgee, G.Gonzalelz, & Elbert even close? Do you believe in your opinion that Clayton has any shot at the top prospect this year, or is Bruce the foregone conclusion? Thanks!
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Outside of the Dodgers and Angels Top 30 lists, as well as some Southern and Northwest League reporting this summer, my main focus here at BA is the amateur draft. Because of that, I don't have the benefit of seeing as much pro stuff as Kline, Manuel and Callis do, but based on what I know on those guys, Kershaw is ahead of those guys, with McGee a close second. Franklin Morales deserves mention in this conversation, as he still has prospect status despite spending the final month of the season helping the Rockies win a pennant. I've never been a huge Andrew Miller fan (just always concerned about his arm action, personally), but the Tigers lefthander is certainly ahead of Lofgren and Gio, for me.

 Q:  Phil from Woodland Hills asks:
Have you got any information on Daigoro Rondon from the GCL league? His control numbers in the rookie league were outstanding but I have no information about him
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Won't make the top 30, but in the mix in the future if he continues to improve: 6-foot-3, 21-year-old Dominican rhp, Ezqquiel Sepulveda sigee with 92-93 FB, strike machine with good but inconsistent breaking ball, no changeup to speak of, very few walks in instructional league this year . . .

 Q:  Richard from British Columbia asks:
So you don't see Withrow being ready for low A right out spring training? Miller and Billingsley skipped low entirely and started in high A the year after their draft years, and Elbert and Kershaw started in low A. Is Withrow really going to be Logan White's first 1st-Round HS pitcher to be treated so conservatively? As a Texan you wouldn't think he would be so raw.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: It's not out of the question, but one thing to remember is that the Dodgers low A affiliate was once in Wilmington, N.C., and later in Georgia earlier this decade. Now it's in Midland, Mich., where the wx is not as favorable in April. Withrow's atypical from many Texan prep first-rounders, because he's just growing into his frame and was still adding velocity as a senior. He's a little erratic, too, and there were several Dodgers player development guys who really balked when they saw how highly I ranked him. I believe in the projection and love the delivery, but he won't move as quickly as Billingsley, Kershaw and Broxton have.

 Q:  Phil from Woodland Hills asks:
I've been hearing that Xavier Paul cannot play credible defense to stick in CF. Is this true? His 22 year old season in AA suggested a decent prospect but he does not appear to impress the scouts. Any ray of hope here?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I have written in the past and will continue to write that Paul's best outfield position is right. He can play center field in a pinch, but I think his value is as an extra OF who can play all three, with a plus arm and some pop in his bat. His 60 speed really doesn't translate as a prototypical major league center fielder, but again, this is no epiphany. He's in the 30 because he continues to make gradual improvement at the plate and he has utility value.

 Q:  Richard from British Columbia asks:
What kind of stuff does Jesus Rodriguez throw? He looks like a promising reliever. Gets a lot of ground balls.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: You read the stats closely, as his sinking fastball does get balls on the ground. He has good feel to pitch. A 22-year-old Mexican, Rodriguez has a sinker with screwball action who worked primarily in relief in 2007 in Ogden. Secondary stuff is underwhelming. Not in the 30. Probably jumps to high Class A or Double-A in a long-relief or swing man role next season.

 Q:  Mike from Lynchburg, VA asks:
How far has Elbert's prospect status fallen with his injury? Do you see him making his big-league debut this season? What is his ceiling?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, he still ranked No. 4 in a loaded system, so clearly we are giving the shoulder the benefit of the doubt here. Some people might say I was burned a little bit for hanging onto Greg Miller (No. 8 in '05, No. 18 in '06 and No. 17 last year), but I think our staff has done a nice job of giving a guy a year-plus to show some recovery before we run him off a list. If Elbert gets it all back—power breaking ball, velocity, durability—he's a No. 2 or 3 starter. He might even wind up closing one day, for that matter. Shoulder injuries don't have the same success rate as elbow injuries, so if you're a Dodgers fan, keep your fingers crossed.

 Q:  Phil from Woodland Hills asks:
The Loons had some huge disappointments this year. Carlos Santana was moved to catcher and on the surface it was a complete disaster offensively and defensively. For one month he was the best hitter in the league but that was the extent of his offensive output. Preston Mattingly was making an error a day when he moved from SS to 2nd. Did the defense improve? His offense went backyards. Can he stick at 2nd because he doesn't seem to have the bat to become an outfielder?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I guess when you look at the numbers, you would think Santana was a disaster, but on the contrary, his defense showed promise. I don't think he's going to hit enough to profile as an everyday catcher in the big leagues, but he and fellow converted infielder Lucas May both made strides in their development defensively last season, thanks in large part to the tireless tutelage of roving catching instructor Travis Barbary. As for Mattingly, we wrote last year that it was unlikely he could stay at shortstop, but we gave the Dodgers scouting department the benefit of the doubt and ranked him highly based on his upside with the bat and athleticism. He slipped to the back of the 30 this year, but keep in mind that despite his bloodlines, he's a raw teenager who didn't concentrate on baseball as a prep (he played three sports). He's going to wind up in left field, in my opinion, so he's got to be able to make some improvements at the plate, to state the obvious.

 Q:  Phil from Woodland Hills asks:
Does your gut say that Byran Morris will be on the top ten next season after he bounces back from TJ surgery? Any word on his progress?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Yes. He was back on the bump during instructional league, and we got one report from the Dodgers that indicated he was up to 95. He has some things he must clean up in his delivery, but he was one of scouting director Tim Hallgren's gut-feel guys from the '06 draft, and Morris has a chance to be an impact arm.

 Q:  Dave from Chicago asks:
Would you say Kershaw has a higher ceiling than Porcello?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The velo and stuff are comparable, and since Kershaw is lefthanded, I would say that their ceilings as potential No. 1 or 2 starters are pretty similar, yes. Porcello might do it a little easier, and his hard breaking ball is probably a little more consistent than Kershaw's curveball. The command Kershaw showed in '06, provided he gets it back, is something that few pitchers with that type of fastball show.

 Q:  Dave H from Glenfield asks:
Can you order these players; Chin-Lung Hu, Jed Lowrie and Elvis Andrus?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Based on ultimate ceiling: Andrus, Hu, Lowrie.

 Q:  Dave H from Glenfield asks:
Can you order these players; LaRoche, Neil Walker and Ian Stewart?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Same criteria: LaRoche, Stewart, Walker.

 Q:  Ronnie Green from Buchanan TN asks:
What is the future outlook for Lambo.............also 1st base or outfield
 A: 

Alan Matthews: He's a 30 runner with heavy legs, but he's actually a pretty good athlete and has a 55-60 arm, so there's reason to believe he can handle a corner. He was one of the best hitters during the Dodgers' instructional league. For a hitter straight out of high school, Lambo has an advanced feel for hitting. He could probably handle a full-season assignment following spring training and should spend most of this season in the low Class A Midwest League.

 Q:  Phil from Woodland Hills asks:
Dejesus was number 6 last year. This year I thought he did okay for a 1920 year old High A but he dropped off your top 10. Was that a result of new talent (Baez, Withrow, McDonald)or did he disappoint in 2007? By the way you have Adam Laroche as our 3rd basemen in your 2011 projections. Andy might not like that.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: With the revolving door over there since Beltre departed, Adam might be an option . . . Our web team will get on that . . . The main reason DeJesus slipped to the 11-15 range is the influx of talent added to the system and only Tony Abreu and James Loney graduating from last year's Top 10. DeJesus is a mature hitter with good barrel awareness and an ability to spray the ball to all fields. His defense is well above-average and well ahead of his offensive tools. I don't know if he's have much impact with the bat, so we're talking more of an eight-hole hitter rather than two-hole.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
What's your take on Jamie Ortiz & Austin Gallagher? Any chance of either player becoming a Major League Starter?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Gallagher's a little like Mattingly in that both players are strong, raw athletes. He's got some holes in his swing. Ortiz has some juice, as well, but right now both players are well behind Lambo, Bell and Baez among the Dodgers top corner, power-bat prospects.

 Q:  ncriado from phoenix asks:
What is the ceiling for bryan morris if he comes back in full health?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: At full health and improvement, with solid-average command, two plus pitches and a third that might be solid-average, he could be a No. 2 or 3 guy one day.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
If Irvin Joel Guzman doesn't stick with the Rays, would the Dodgers ever consider signing him again? Do you ever see him being a MLB Star? The next Juan Gonzalez?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I don't think the Dodgers have any interest in reacquiring their former No. 1 prospect. He was always questioned for his low-energy approach to the game, and while there have been plenty of big leaguers to handle themselves that way before flipping a switch and performing well in the majors, that makeup begins to come into play when you're repeating minor leagues and not making adjustments. Having had a chance to see him play on a regular basis here in Durham for the Rays the past couple of years, all the things we heard from opposing managers and off-the-record commentary from Dodgers PD staffers became obvious. He still has power, but he's below-average defensively and I don't envision him developing into a front-line guy for a contending club.

 Q:  James from Texarkana asks:
LHP Cody white had a pretty good season, any thoughts on his prospect status. thanks
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I think Cody's going to pitch in the big leagues, I just don't know that he will be an impact reliever. He was a 12th-round pick out of Texarkana (Texas) College in 2003, and thanks to a filthy changeup and a solid-average fastball, he's got enough tools to earn a big league job as a middle reliever.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Who will be Russell Martin's backup in 2011? Juan Apodaca or Kenley Jensen? Will either guy force Martin to the bench?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: If the backup comes from within, it will most likey be Russell May or Carlos Santana. Martin's job is secure for a long time.

 Q:  Matt from Windsor, Canada asks:
How would you rank the following pitchers in terms of impact in the next 5 seasons. C.Kershaw, C.Buchholz, J.Chamberlain, P.Hughes, Y.Gollardo, H.Bailey and Dice-K? Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Kershaw, Bailey, Matsuzaka, Chamberlain, Hughes, Gallardo, Buchholz.

 Q:  Peter Griffin from Quahog, Rhode Island asks:
How close was Josh Bell to making the list? All reports say he has been making steady progression, while his tools remain in the raw form. Additionally, his ceiling has been labelled to be extremely high, most notably power. How does a player like Blake DeWitt, with a much lower ceiling and offensive potential, beat out a young and excelling player like Bell? Are there any concerns about Bell from scouts and/or the organization?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I don't consider DeWitt's ceiling to be considerably lower than Bell's. Sure, Bell has 70 raw power, but DeWitt makes better contact and has a swing more conducive to handle big league pitching. They are two completely different players, so it's tough to compare them, I just believe that guys like DeWitt who center the ball up and have sound swing planes learn how to turn doubles into home runs. He has a three-ball swing plane, meaning the barrel stays in the zone and he gets extension. Bell tends to work up the zone and he's not as patient as DeWitt. DeWitt's a better defender. Neither one of them can run well. Bell has a better arm.

 Q:  Jim from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Javy Guerra coming off of tommy john had an up and down season. Has he regained his velocity back since the surgery?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: He had Tommy John surgery in 2005, and like so many others who had the procedure, his velocity has returned without his command. He took the ball each fifth day in high Class A last season and consistently pumped 89-95 mph heat, touching 97 on occasion.

 Q:  Martin from Los Angeles asks:
Hi Alan, Thanks for the chat. Where would Kyle Blair have ranked had he signed? Would he be Top 10 material?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Blair was an unsigned fifth rounder from the Dodgers' '07 draft out of Los Gatos (Calif.) High. I saw a lot of him in high school and liked his delivery, arm action and breaking ball. He would have landed in the 11-20 range, most likely, had he not gone to USD.

 Q:  Nate from DC asks:
What is the state of the dodgers farm system? Obviously, they have graduated a lot of players, but it appears that they still have a lot of depth and a number of impact prospects. Is it fair to say they are a top 5 system?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I believe they will be in the mix among the top five farm systems in the game when we sit back and analyze them in the coming weeks. There is better pitching depth in the system than there has been since 2004, but the impact position players are not as good as the Martin-Loney-Kemp class.

 Q:  Martin from Los Angeles asks:
What would you rather have: James Loney, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw for 6 years or Miguel Cabrera for 2 years? As great a talent that Cabrera possesses, it seems madness to trade 3 cheap above average players for 1 expensive All-Star that might walk after 2 seasons. Do you agree?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I concur, but I am fearful ownership in L.A. does not. I think the McCourts are a little media-hungry, and they want to give this team a shot in the arm after bring Torre over as manager. There's a rumor that the Dodgers might trade Erik Bedard to the Dodhers for Jonathan Broxton and Matt Kemp, and that deal, like the one for Cabrera, seems short-sighted. Ned Colletti came from an organization that made a nice living by pawning prospects for major league talent, and there's nothing wrong with using your system that way. But the current asking price for Cabrera's too high if Kemp and Loney and or Billingsley and Kershaw have to be in the mix. Making matters worse for Dodgers fans who want to see the homegrown guys get their shot is that I think the Angels are the front-runner to get Cabrera, which might make ownership more headstrong in its pursuit of him, regardless of the costs.

 Q:  Martin from Los Angeles asks:
Other than Pedro Baez, are there any other international signees that we fans should keep an eye on?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I mentioned some of the top Latin arms on the way a moment ago, and Alfredo Silverio, a smooth-swinging outfielder, might be another guy to keep an eye on. Righthander Beyker Fructuoso might be in the mix with Aguasviva and Frias, as well.

 Q:  Mike from Missouri asks:
Will Kershaw really crack the Dodger rotation some time this season? Is he comparable with Hamels wo the injury history?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Kershaw must become more consistent, but if he does, there's no reason he can't pitch in the big leagues late in 2008. His changeup is nowhere near as good as Hamels, but most everything else projects higher than Hamels', especially the fastball velocity.

 Q:  Travis from CT asks:
Do you think the Yankees should give in to the Twins demands because i wouldn't think they can let the Red Sox pick up Santana?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: It's hard not to get off the subject here, but there have been a ton of non-Dodgers related questions in here and the Santana sweepstakes are intriguing, indeed. If I were Brian Cashman, I'd be pleased with Chamberlain and Hughes. I don't think Boston should include Lester in the mix, but if it's Lowrie, Masterson and Crisp, I'd pull the trigger. Keep in mind, Santana is a lefthander who is no-doubt one of the best in the game but also allowed 33 home runs. The Green Monster might not be his best friend in the end . . .

 Q:  Travis from CT asks:
Can you give me a scouting report on Albaledejo who the yankees traded for today?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: All the dope on the deals: http:www.baseballamerica.comtodaynewstrades07.html

 Q:  Blake Guyer from Madison, WI asks:
Hey Alan sorry to hear that you're headed to work with the Rockies after all the great work you have done with BA. My question is can Clayton Kershaw be this generations Sandy Koufax? It seems he has the tools, size and velo to make Dodger fans drool. Or who would you compare him to?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I suppose Koufax comps are inevitable, given the organization, but other than a similar loose and clean arm action, I can't say that I have seen Koufax enough to say how similar he is to Kershaw. Some of the scouts I've spoken to have thrown Steve Carlton comps on Koufax, but he's a pretty unique prospect, with power, aptitude and pitchability.

Alan Matthews: Thanks for the sned-off, Blake, and to all of you for all of the great questions today. I'll be around long enough to polish off a follow list or two for our Prospects Plus scouting service, as well as the Angels Top 30, but make the transition to scouting right away, otherwise. The Padres chat is next, on Thursday. Enjoy, and keep an eye out for Ron Jeremy on your next flight.