Lee Continues Rise Through Dodgers System

Best Player: Joc Pederson turned a few heads in the organization by hitting .316/.407/.497 in his first two minor league seasons. But the speedy center fielder, an 11th-round pick in 2010 out of Palo Alto (Calif.) High, truly arrived this summer, slugging .518 with 18 homers and 25 stolen bases at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

As impressive as Pederson was, the Dodgers may be even higher on his Cal League teammate Yasiel Puig. The Cuban defector, who sat out last summer, played just 23 games this season but hit .354/.442/.634 with five homers and eight steals in 95 at-bats between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Rancho Cucamonga. And the team believes that is just the beginning of the return it will see for its $42 million investment. "Puig," assistant general manager Logan White said "has the highest ceiling in the system."

Best Pitcher: Zach Lee was another pricey purchase, signing a draft-record $5.25 million bonus in 2010. But Lee is proving worth the price after making a rapid climb up the organization's minor league ladder. He started last season in low Class A Great Lakes and finished 2012 at Double-A Chattanooga, where the 20-year-old went 4-3, 4.25 in 66 innings. Although the Dodgers say Lee has a plus fastball, good breaking pitches and solid command, what they like best about the righthander is his mound presence and makeup.

"Off the charts," White says. And with the Dodgers having dealt pitching prospects Allen Webster, Nate Eovaldi, Josh Lindblom, Logan Bawcom and Ethan Martin during the summer, Lee has a chance to continue his quick ascension toward the majors.

Keep An Eye On:
Not surprisingly, given the team's recent drafts, pitchers dominate this category. But the best of the bunch may be Double-A lefthander Paco Rodriguez, who made his big league debut in September after posting a 0.92 ERA in 22 relief appearances between Great Lakes and Chattanooga. A second-round pick in the June draft, Rodriguez was the first 2012 draftee to reach the majors.

L.A. Confidential

• Puig will get more at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. Pederson, Rodriguez and catcher Gorman Erickson are also part of the Dodgers contingent with the Mesa Solar Sox.

• Lefthander Chris Reed, a first-round pick in 2011, had blisters interrupt his season twice. He went 1-8, 3.97 with 67 strikeouts and 34 walks in 70 innings overall.