2013 Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jim Shonerd




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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.

Jim Shonerd: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm shifting out of college preview mode back into Dodgers mode, so bear with me as I try to get this chat in before the Triangle gets snowed in. And by snowed in, I mean gets one inch that causes widespread panic. Let's do this!

    Burke Granger (Columbus, OH): Are the ceilings of Chris Reed and Onelki Garcia really that much higher than Steven Rodriguez to justify their higher ranking? Paco has already reached the Majors and had success in meaningful September games. To me it seems similar to Lance Lynn being ranked #7 overall on the Cardinals system, behind Tyler Jenkins last season.

Jim Shonerd: Starters have greater value, so as long as we're confident they'll pitch in the majors, we tend to give them the nod over relievers, even ones that have already gotten there.

    Grant (NYC): Did Alex Castellanos merit any consideration? What is his role likely to be going forward?

Jim Shonerd: Castellanos ended up just on the outside of the top 10. The Dodgers see him fitting best as an outfielder, but their trade for Skip Schumaker likely pushes Castellanos out of the big league picture for now. He's been an infielder though his college and minor league career, playing second and third base last year, but his actions aren't really smooth enough for him to stay there at the big league level. Versatility is a plus for him though, and his natural hitting ability should get him a shot at some point.

    Burke Granger (Columbus (OH)): Where did Scott Griggs fall on the top 30, and does he have the stuff to close at the MLB level?

Jim Shonerd: He absolutely has the pure stuff to be a major league closer. But he's got to throw strikes first. The Dodgers don't really think there's anything mechanical that causes his control problems, but rather that he simply overthrows too often. If you saw him on a night he was throwing strikes at UCLA last year, he looked like a guy that could pitch in the majors real soon.

    Rob (Toronto, ON): What happened to Angelo Songco? I saw he even played a below average first base to go with his drop off in offensive numbers. Does he still have the skills to bounce back and become an asset, and now that we've seen him struggle, how high is his ceiling likely to be? Thanks!

Jim Shonerd: Tough year for Songco. He still possesses the power to intrigue scouts, but he's too aggressive at the plate, guessing on balls and getting himself out when he chases. He's also 24 years old now and hasn't played above high Class A yet, so if he's going to turn things around, he needs to do it soon.

    Frank (Chicago): What did scouts tell you about Zach Bird's skillset? Top 11-20 for you?

Jim Shonerd: I'm excited about Bird, and he did fit in the mix at the back of the top 20. He's got a projectable frame and already shows he can command his potentially plus curveball. He does need to repeat his motion better, but he's just 19 and the Dodgers have been impressed with how easily he implements what he learns.

    Dan (Ohio): Did Blake Smith make your top 30? Does he have any realistic shot at playing OF for the Dodgers?

Jim Shonerd: Smith continues to live on the fringes of the top 30, but yes he's there again. He made progress this year, smoothing out his swing and hitting more balls the other way, and he still has the potential for average power. That said, he still needs to make more consistent contact. The Dodgers didn't protect him on their 40-man roster (he went unpicked in the Rule 5 draft), and he's pretty well down their outfield depth chart.

    Burke Granger (Columbus (OH)): I'm surprised that Tim Federowicz didn't make the top 10 following a decent year at Albuquerque. Was his exclusion due to regression, age (25), or just being displaced a little given the strong draft 2012 draft class?

Jim Shonerd: Keep in mind that Federowicz did most of his damage at home, hitting just .245/.331/.370 away from the Isotopes' hitters haven. His profile hasn't changed, as his defense will continue to be what carries him though he does have power potential. He ended up ranking just outside the top 10 and should be A.J. Ellis' backup in the majors this year.

    Matt (Pasadena): Does your rating of Ryu of #1 reflect more of he readiness to contribute in the bigs, the biggest impact of any player in the system or lack of faith in the other pitchers in the system to be more than a #3 type?

Jim Shonerd: Readiness to contribute right away. Sure, there's risk he'll not pan out, but it's lesser with Ryu than anyone else in the system.

    Sammy (DC): Did Garrett Gould get any love for the list, and what was the word on him this past season?

Jim Shonerd: The word was not encouraging. Gould had a disappointing year in high Class A (5-10, 5.75). His fastball velocity, which had been low 90s in the past, was mostly 89-90, and there were worries about his conditioning. His curveball is still one of the system's best, but he has trouble throwing it for strikes and got in trouble whenever hitters were able to lay off it. Gould's only 21, so it's too soon to give up on him, but he needs to bounce back this year.

    Greg (Ohio): In Dodgers quest to become a global brand, do you anticipate an effort to bring more Asian and Latin players into the player development system?

Jim Shonerd: I suppose expanding the brand could be a secondary motivation, but I just think the Dodgers will keep spending whatever it takes to get the players they want, no matter where they come from. Their Latin program had fallen way behind where the best teams were. Signing Ariel Sandoval a couple weeks ago is a start, and we'll see how they build it back up under the new MLB rules governing international amateur spending, but obviously that won't affect them going all-out for guys like Ryu.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How many of these prospects are top 100 worthy to you?

Jim Shonerd: The top four are locks, for me, and Lee, Reed and Garcia should be in the conversation.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Puig - just a brief mention of "immaturity" in alienating scouts and opposing players. Are we looking at a player with possible attitude problems? How do his teammates feel about him? Or just to early to say for sure?

Jim Shonerd: Yeah, I don't really have room in the scouting report to go too deep on that stuff, but I did hear stories about him showing pitchers up, stealing bases when his team had big leads, things like that. I didn't hear anything about him causing issues with teammates though, as the Dodgers said he was a likeable guy inside the clubhouse. Some maturing would help at the plate as well though, as he does tend to press, get over-aggressive and chase balls out of the zone.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): I know projected line ups are more fun than anything for you, but were you tempted to list Pederson or Crawford as the 3rd OF instead of Ethier?

Jim Shonerd: It was tough to leave Pederson off.

    Kelly (Saint Cloud, MN): Your top hitting and pitching sleepers from this system are?

Jim Shonerd: I'll go with Bird for the pitching sleeper. For a hitter, I'm a fan of Jeremy Rathjen, the outfielder from Rice who was the Dodgers' 11th-round pick last year. He's got solid all-around tools to go with an advanced approach at the plate. He had been getting buzz as a potential top-five rounds pick going into his junior year at Rice but tore his ACL, prompting him to come back as a senior last year. He's the type of guy that can cut through the Class A levels pretty quickly.

    nick (DC): Will James Baldwin reach his potential at the plate?

Jim Shonerd: His ceiling remains very high, but he has a long, long way to go. Baldwin's power potential has been a both blessing and a curse. It obviously raises his profile as a potential five-tool center fielder, but he gets too tempted to go all out and hit home runs rather than take advantage of his plus-speed. He can be a top-shelf center fielder and top-of-the-order hitter, with the power making him more dangerous, but he needs to redirect his approach at the plate.

    Mike (Los Angeles): Aaron Miller - prospect or suspect to you?

Jim Shonerd: Suspect, for me, though there are some observers that still believe in him. His fastball velocity just hasn't come back to where it was in college after all the injuries he's battled (the biggest being a torn abdominal muscle in 2011), as he sat at 86-89 at times last year. Miller can still reach the majors, but he'll have to do it as a command guy, not a stuff guy. He just doesn't have any above-average pitches at this point.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Thanks for the chat, Jim. In the case of Zach Lee, was it a matter of his numbers not being what you believe they should, or others climbing over him on the list that led you to rank him where you did?

Jim Shonerd: The latter. Joc Pederson was the only one in the system last year that climbed over Lee, and that was a function of Pederson just taking off, not regression on Lee's part. Ryu and Puig were pretty clearly the top two guys, then things were closer after that.

    Martin (LA): Hi Jim, Thanks for chatting with us. This Top 10 is short on position players and heavy on relief pitchers. Reed, Garcia, Rodriguez and possibly Ryu are all relievers long term. Which one of these guys has the best chance to stick in the rotation and why?

Jim Shonerd: Well, Rodriguez is already a reliever and will be staying there. Of the other three, I'd go Ryu-Garcia-Reed in terms of the most to least likely to stay a starter. Ryu's repertoire is deep enough that I don't expect him to have any issues being a starter. As for Reed, I do believe he can start, but his changeup has to keep improving and the blister problems bear watching.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Was Valentin's AZL performance lauded or panned by scouts, and how close was he to making the list?

Jim Shonerd: Valentin wore down a bit in the AZL, but he didn't end up too far outside the top 10 here. He fits more of the traditional shortstop's mold as a defense-oriented guy, and he's got a better chance of sticking at short than Corey Seager, who will probably play one level ahead of him this year.

    Chris (Brentwood, CA): While Paco Rodriguez made a fast climb to the show, I tend to think that Duke Von Schamann's climb from 15th round draft pick to AA was as impressive. What is Von Schamann's upside and is he likely to race Onelki Garcia to the show for the second player from this draft to the show?

Jim Shonerd: Von Schamann's interesting but doesn't have nearly the ceiling as a guy like Garcia. He's a gamer who gets a lot of sink on his 90-91 mph fastball to go with a couple of average secondary pitches. Nothing he does blows you away, but he commands the ball well and could fit as a back of the rotation type.

    Fred (NYC): Does Onelki Garcia project as a SP or RP at the Major League level? What was his role in Cuba?

Jim Shonerd: For me, there's little question he can be a starter. He's got a four pitch mix that includes two outstanding offerings in his fastball and curve. Some Dodgers coaches have already talked about whether Garcia is ready to pitch in the majors, though the organization won't accelerate him that much. He has the talent to get there fast, but obviously there isn't really room in the big league rotation.

Jim Shonerd: That's going to do it for me. Hopefully won't need a snowplow to get home. Rejoin us on Monday as Matt Eddy chats about the Padres. Have a great weekend!