Los Angeles Dodgers: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Los Angeles Dodgers: Scouting Reports

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, 2009.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers' back-to-back National League West titles in 2008 and 2009 were in many ways a tribute to their scouting and player-development departments, even if the spotlight always seemed to shine on the antics of Manny Ramirez and the sage wisdom of manager Joe Torre.

Key players such as Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, James Loney, Russell Martin and James McDonald were drafted and developed by Los Angeles. Ten of the 25 players on the NL Championship Series roster were homegrown, while Ronnie Belliard, Casey Blake, Jon Garland, Ramirez, George Sherrill and Jim Thome all were acquired in trades for prospects.

It's a tribute to the work of assistant general manager for scouting Logan White and assistant GM for player development DeJon Watson that the Dodgers were able to win consecutive division crowns for the first time since 1977-78. The downside to graduating and trading so many prospects is that it has left Los Angeles thin in the upper levels of its farm system.

In order to avoid picking up the salaries of their midseason trade acquisitions the last two years, the Dodgers were willing to sacrifice more in the way of talent. They traded catcher Carlos Santana and righthander Jonathan Meloan to the Indians for Blake; third baseman Andy LaRoche and righty Bryan Morris to the Pirates in the three-way deal for Ramirez; and third baseman Josh Bell and righty Steven Johnson to the Orioles for Sherrill.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they don't need a lot of help from their farm system right now because they have a core group of big leaguers who are just entering their primes. The Dodgers have never made three consecutive playoff appearances, much less won three straight division titles, but they are poised to contend for a third straight NL West championship and make another run at their first World Series appearance since 1988.

The biggest question surrounding them is how divorce proceedings between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt will play out and affect the franchise financially. Los Angeles had a 2009 Opening Day payroll of $100 million, the highest figure in its division and the ninth-highest in baseball.

The Dodgers don't have cheaper players ready to step in if the divorce leads to budget slashing. The only potential rookies who could make much of an impact in Los Angeles in 2010 are lefty Scott Elbert and righty Josh Lindblom. They could try young big leaguers Blake DeWitt and McDonald at second base and in the rotation if in-house options are needed.

However, they're starting to replenish the lower levels of the system with athletic position players and live-armed pitchers from recent drafts, led by shortstop Dee Gordon, righthanders Chris Withrow and Ethan Martin, and lefty Aaron Miller.Los Angeles rarely exceeds the bonus recommendations from the commissioner's office—its total of $8.5 million spent on bonuses in 2008-09 ranks last in MLB—yet has a knack for finding talent in the later rounds. The two best position players in the system, Gordon and outfielder Andrew Lambo, were fourth-round picks. Two of the better power arms, righthanders Allen Webster and Nathan Eovaldi, were 18th- and 11th-round choices in 2008.

1.  Dee Gordon, ss   Born: April 22, 1988B-T: L-RHt: 5-11Wt: 150
 Drafted: Seminole (Fla.) CC, 2008 (4th round)Signed by: Scott Hennessey
Dee GordonBackground: Gordon's father Tom has spent 22 seasons pitching in the major leagues with eight clubs, including the Diamondbacks in 2009. Dee's first love as a youngster was basketball, though. He didn't play baseball until his senior year of high school in Avon Park, Fla., but he quickly learned to like the sport. Undrafted and lightly recruited out of high school, Gordon attended NAIA Southeastern (Fla.) and hit .378 with 45 steals as a freshman in 2007. He planned to transfer to Seminole (Fla.) CC in 2008 to increase his exposure, but he had to sit out the season because of issues with his high school transcript. While scouts couldn't see him in game action, Tom Gordon tipped off Dodgers assistant general manager for player development DeJon Watson, who was his roommate in the Royals system when Dee was born. Gordon threw too much in predraft workouts for a handful of clubs and showed a below-average arm when he auditioned for the Dodgers. Intrigued by his speed and athleticism, however, they took him in the fourth round and signed him for $250,000. He showed little rust from his layoff, batting .331 in his pro debut. For an encore he shared the MVP award in the low Class A Midwest League with Great Lakes teammate Kyle Russell in 2009. Gordon led the MWL with 73 steals—22 more than his nearest competitor—and 12 triples while ranking second with 96 runs and 162 hits. He also won the Dodgers' Branch Rickey minor league player of the year award.

Strengths: Gordon is the best athlete Los Angeles has signed since Logan White took charge of the club's drafts in 2002. His most impressive tool is his game-changing speed. He has been clocked at 6.3 seconds in the 60-yard dash and has the raw ability to lead the majors in steals one day. Despite his inexperience, he's an adept hitter who crowds the plate and uses his quick bat to hit line drives from gap to gap. He's not just a slap hitter and should have decent pop for a middle infielder once he adds strength. His range is outstanding, as he gets to balls few other shortstops do. He has good actions and a solid arm. His tools also would make him a plus defender in center field.

Weaknesses: Gordon is still raw in all phases of the game. He needs to learn how to recognize pitches better and show more discipline at the plate to be a truly effective leadoff hitter. He steals bases strictly on speed at this point, and he led the minors by getting caught 25 times in 2009. He topped MWL shortstops with 34 errors, with many coming on throws because he tends to drop down his arm angle. He also needs to be more aggressive at shortstop and let fewer grounders play him. He has tried, so far in vain, to gain weight despite often eating five or six meals a day last season. However, his broad shoulders suggest he has the frame to add strength.

The Future: Gordon has only scratched the surface of his potential. Considering his lack of experience, he has made amazing progress. He'll begin 2010 at high Class A Inland Empire and should be ready to become the Dodgers' starting shortstop and leadoff hitter at some point in 2012.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Great Lakes (Lo A) .301 .362 .394 538 96 162 17 12 3 35 43 90 73
2.  Chris Withrow, rhp   Born: April 1, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Midland, Texas, 2007 (1st round)Signed by: Calvin Jones
Chris WithrowBackground: The 20th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Withrow pitched just 13 innings in his first two pro seasons after signing for $1.35 million. He sustained a deep cut on his right index finger in a snorkeling accident during spring training in 2008, then was bothered by elbow tenderness for most of that season. Healthy again, he rocketed to Double-A Chattanooga as a 20-year-old in 2009.

Strengths: Withrow has a live arm, routinely throwing his fastball in the 92-96 mph range while being clocked as high as 99. His curveball is an above-average pitch with good late bite. He has very good mechanics, which he learned from his father Mike, who pitched in the White Sox system and coached him in high school.

Weaknesses: Withrow's changeup is a work in progress, and he needs to throw it more consistently for strikes. He also will have to command his fastball and curve better to reach his potential. He's prone to the occasional big inning because he tends to press with men on base.

The Future: Withrow fared well in his late-season promotion to Double-A and will begin 2010 there. Despite his lack of experience, he's on track to reach the major leagues by the second half of 2011 and looks like a potential top-of-the-rotation starter.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Inland Empire (Hi A) 6 6 4.69 19 16 0 0 86 80 3 45 105 .252
Chattanooga (AA) 2 2 3.95 6 6 0 0 27 24 2 12 26 .240
3.  Aaron Miller, lhp   Born: Sept. 18, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 200
 Drafted: Baylor, 2009 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Chris Smith
Aaron MillerBackground: Highly regarded as a right fielder coming out of high school, Miller resisted pitching as a Baylor freshman but became a full-fledged two-way player as a junior last spring. Though he batted .310 with 12 homers, he was more impressive as a power lefthander and pitched his way into the supplemental first round. He signed for $889,200, finished his first pro summer by starring in the Midwest League playoffs and pitched briefly in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Miller routinely pitches at 91-95 mph, and he could pick up velocity now that he's a full-time pitcher. His hard, 82-83 mph slider is tough on lefthanders. He's an outstanding athlete who fields his position well and has a good pickoff move despite his lack of experience. Command was an issue in college, but he has cleaned up his mechanics and started to throw strikes more consistently.

Weaknesses: More than anything, Miller just needs to accumulate innings and continue getting used to being a pitcher. He needs to fine-tune his changeup in order to remain a starter, and he can make further refinements to his command.

The Future: If Miller can master a changeup, he could be a No. 2 starter. If not, his stuff would play well in a late-innings relief role. He'll open 2010 in high Class A and should move quickly, possible reaching Los Angeles toward the end of 2011.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
AZL Dodgers (R) 0 0 6.35 3 3 0 0 6 8 0 2 10 .320
Great Lakes (Lo A) 3 1 2.08 7 7 0 0 30 22 3 10 38 .208
4.  Ethan Martin, rhp   Born: June 6, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Toccoa, Ga., 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Lon Joyce
Ethan MartinBackground: Baseball America's High School Player of the Year and the first prep pitcher drafted in 2008, Martin tore the meniscus in his right knee during a fielding drill shortly after signing for $1.73 million. He had arthroscopic surgery, delaying his pro debut until last April. Many teams considered drafting him as a power-hitting third baseman.

Strengths: Martin's fastball sits at 93-95 mph and occasionally touches 97. He has good movement on the pitch, and he can make it sink or cut. His big-breaking curveball is a potential plus second pitch. He's very athletic and does a good job of repeating his delivery.

Weaknesses: Martin lacks command of his pitches, particularly his curveball, which he bounces in the dirt too frequently. Though his fastball usually has good life, it flattens out on him at times. He has struggled to get the feel for a changeup because of inconsistent arm speed with the pitch. His arm action is long in back, leading some scouts to project him as a reliever.

The Future: Martin should move up to high Class A Inland Empire in 2010. The Dodgers won't rush him because of his inexperience, but he has the stuff to move quickly once he harnesses it. He projects as a No. 2 starter or dominant late-game reliever with a major league ETA of 2012.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Great Lakes (Lo A) 6 8 3.87 27 19 0 1 100 85 4 61 120 .232
5.  Josh Lindblom, rhp   Born: June 15, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-5Wt: 240
 Drafted: Purdue, 2008 (2nd round)Signed by: Chet Sergo
Josh LindblomBackground: Lindblom was one of the biggest stories of Dodgers spring training last March. The organization promoted him from minor league camp midway through the exhibition season, and he pitched so well that he nearly made the big league club nine months after signing as a second-round pick. He opened the season as a starter in Double-A and finished it as a reliever in Triple-A Albuquerque.

Strengths: Lindblom blows hitters away with a heavy sinker that breaks bats and sits at 94 mph when he pitches in short stints. He can dial his heater up another notch when he needs a strikeout. His No. 2 pitch is a power curveball. He's aggressive and attacks the strike zone. He has a resilient arm and a strong, durable body.

Weaknesses: Lindblom has good arm speed on his changeup but doesn't consistently keep it in the strike zone. That shouldn't matter as much now that the Dodgers have decided to develop him as a reliever, which was his college role at Purdue. He also had trouble pacing himself as a starter.

The Future: The Dodgers resisted the temptation to call up Lindblom in 2009 because they had a deep bullpen. He's a strong candidate to make their Opening Day roster in 2010, however, and is a possible future closer.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Chattanooga (AA) 3 5 4.71 14 11 0 0 57 55 4 14 46 .250
Albuquerque (AAA) 3 0 2.54 20 3 0 1 39 34 3 12 36 .236
6.  Scott Elbert, lhp   Born: Aug. 13, 1985B-T: L-LHt: 6-1Wt: 215
 Drafted: HS—Seneca, Mo., 2004 (1st round)Signed by: Mitch Webster
Scott ElbertBackground: Completely healthy for the first time since he had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in 2007, Elbert won the organization's minor league pitcher of the year award last season. The Dodgers called him up four separate times and placed him on their National League Championship Series roster. The 15th overall pick in the 2004 draft, he signed for $1.575 million.

Strengths: Elbert has regained the stuff he had before he had scar tissue removed from his labrum. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph and reaches 95. He complements it with a late-breaking, mid-80s slider that lefthanders find unhittable. His changeup keeps righthanders at bay.

Weaknesses: Though Elbert has enough pitches to start, he may not have the command or durability to succeed in that role. There's some effort in his delivery, he overthrows at times and shoots for strikeouts too often. All of that leads to walks and high pitch counts. Using him as a reliever may be the best way to keep him healthy.

The Future: With George Sherill, Hong-Chih Kuo and Brent Leach, the Dodgers have enough big league lefty relievers to allow Elbert to start 2010 in Triple-A. His long-term role still remains to be determined.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Chattanooga (AA) 2 3 3.90 12 11 0 0 62 59 5 30 87 .248
Los Angeles (NL) 2 0 5.03 19 0 0 0 20 19 4 7 21 .253
Albuquerque (AAA) 2 1 3.74 8 7 1 0 34 34 2 14 38 .262
7.  Andrew Lambo, of   Born: Aug. 11, 1988B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Newbury Park, Calif., 2007 (4th round)Signed by: Chuck Crim
Andrew LamboBackground: Lambo lasted until the fourth round of the 2007 draft because clubs questioned his makeup after he got caught smoking marijuana as a high school sophomore. He has had no problems since turning pro and ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, when he reached Double-A shortly after turning 20. He had a lackluster 2009 season in Chattanooga but did bounce back to hit .330/.365/.484 in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: A pure hitter, Lambo has a short swing and uses the whole field. He's more of a gap hitter at this point, but his doubles should translate into more homers as he learns to turn on pitches. He played first base in high school and sporadically in his first two years as a pro, and he's a plus defender at that position. He has average arm strength and makes accurate throws from left field.

Weaknesses: Lambo is a below-average athlete whose lack of speed and range make him a substandard outfielder. Though he gets good jumps on balls, he may not be quick enough to avoid a return to first base. He has a tendency to get easily frustrated, which leads him to chase pitches out of the zone.

The Future: Lambo could return for a third stint in Double-A to begin 2010, but he's still ahead of many 22-year-olds. He could be Manny Ramirez's successor in Los Angeles when the slugger's contract expires after next season.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Chattanooga (AA) .256 .311 .407 492 70 126 39 1 11 61 39 95 4
8.  Ivan DeJesus Jr., ss   Born: May 1, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 5-11Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Guaynabo, P.R., 2005 (2nd round)Signed by: Manny Estrada
Ivan DeJesus Jr,Background: After being chosen as the Dodgers' 2008 minor league player of the year, DeJesus' 2009 season effectively ended March 2, when he broke the lower part of the tibia in his right leg while being thrown out at the plate in a spring-training "B" game. He was limited to four late-season games in the Rookie-level Arizona League.

Strengths: DeJesus has an advanced approach at the plate, with good discipline and a willingness to use the whole field. He has average speed and keen baserunning instincts. He's a good defender with solid range and arm strength. He gets high marks for his baseball IQ, not surprising since his father Ivan Sr. was a major league shortstop for 15 seasons and is a coach with the Cubs.

Weaknesses: DeJesus doesn't have a lot of power and hits too many grounders for someone lacking plus speed. He has a knack for getting on base but won't provide many extra-base hits or steals. There will be questions about how his speed and range will be affected by his leg injury until he returns to playing every day.

The Future: Had he spent last season in Triple-A, DeJesus might be ready to make the jump to Los Angeles. Instead, he'll open 2010 in Albuquerque. He's not as dynamic as Dee Gordon and may move to second base if they're in the same big league lineup one day.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
AZL Dodgers (R) .200 .308 .300 10 1 2 1 0 0 3 1 6 0
9.  Trayvon Robinson, of   Born: Sept. 1, 1987B-T: B-RHt: 5-10Wt: 175
 Drafted: HS—Los Angeles, 2005 (10th round)Signed by: Bobby Darwin
Trayvon RobinsonBackground: Robinson played at Los Angeles' Crenshaw High, alma mater of former all-stars Chris Brown, Darryl Strawberry and Ellis Valentine. He earned a spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster in November after setting career highs in most categories and ranking second in the high Class A California League with 43 steals.

Strengths: A veritable tool shed, Robinson boosted his stock by showing power for the first time last season, hitting 17 homers after totaling 12 in his first four pro seasons. He has made significant improvements with his swing from the left side and his approach. His plus-plus speed makes him a stolen-base threat and gives him range in center field.

Weaknesses: Robinson needs more discipline at the plate to avoid being exploited by more advanced pitchers. He chases too many pitches out of the zone and falls in love with his newfound power at times. His arm is slightly below-average, though that's not a problem in center field. He can have a hot temper, though his outbursts are becoming fewer.

The Future: After taking a major step forward last season, Robinson will open 2010 back in Double-A with the chance for a midseason promotion. If he continues his rapid progress, he'll be knocking on the door of the major leagues in 2011.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG
Inland Empire (Hi A) .306 .375 .500 470 82 144 28 9 15 54 50 125 43
Chattanooga (AA) .246 .358 .439 57 8 14 1 2 2 10 10 18 4
10.  Allen Webster, rhp   Born: Feb. 10, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 165
 Signed: HS—Madison, N.C., 2008 (18th round)Signed by: Lon Joyce
Allen WebsterBackground: An unheralded 18th-round pick who signed for $20,000 and walked 17 in 18 innings during his pro debut, Webster improved as much as anyone in the system last season. He ranked third in the Arizona League in ERA (2.08) and opponent average (1.97), and was impressive after a late promotion to Rookie-level Ogden. The Diamondbacks brought him up in trade talks when they shipped Jon Garland to Los Angeles.

Strengths: Webster's fastball sits in the low 90s and often touches 94-95 mph. It looks even quicker because he throws it so effortlessly after putting in extensive work on his delivery during extended spring training. His hard three-quarters breaking ball is a plus pitch at times, and he has fairly good command of his changeup.

Weaknesses: Webster is extremely thin and will have to add significant strength to have the durability to remain a starter. He's hesitant to throw his changeup right now, particularly when behind in the count or with less than two strikes. His breaking ball could use more consistency.

The Future: Ticketed for low Class A, Webster will get his first taste of a full-season ball in 2010. His raw stuff and ability to make adjustments could allow him to advance rapidly.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
AZL Dodgers (R) 2 1 2.08 12 8 0 0 48 35 0 14 56 .197
Ogden (R) 2 0 3.00 4 3 0 0 21 23 1 4 21 .277

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