2019 Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Keibert Ruiz (Photo by John Williamson)

To see the Dodgers top 10, click here. 

Kyle Glaser: Hey everybody, Happy Friday. Look forward to chatting the Dodgers system with you. It’s an excellent system with a lot of talent and depth (yet again) and was a lot of fun to dig into. Let’s get started

J.P. (Springfield, IL): 

    Thanks for chatting, Kyle. I’m a bit surprised not to see newly acquired Jeter Downs on the top 10. Was he considered, and do you believe his future is at short or 2B?

Kyle Glaser: Hey J.P., my pleasure. Downs was given some consideration as high as No. 9, but the talent of both White and Peters and the fact they’ve shown flashes of sustained success at Double-A put them over the top without a whole lot of consternation. Downs has talent, but he’s primarily about the bat and he didn’t exactly set the Midwest League on fire in his first full season. His future will likely be at third base, although second base is possible. Shortstop isn’t something anyone expects to be his future position. The trade occurred after our Handbook deadline, but if it had happened before Downs would have slotted in as the Dodgers’ No. 13 prospect.

DJ Etan (Denver): 

    What can you tell us about Gerardo Carrillo? I’ve started to see quite a bit of buzz about him since late ’18.

Kyle Glaser: Carrillo really excited a lot of people this year. He’s small, but he’s very athletic with a clean arm action and delivery and a really, really mature feel for pitching at 19. The biggest thing with him will be durability. He worked 90-94 and teased a 96 early but by the end of the year he visibly tired and was in the 87-90 range by his final starts, and that was after only 60 innings. He’s got some building up to do. The athleticism, feel and three pitches are there to get excited about though.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    How many of these guys are likely to make the next BA 100?

Kyle Glaser: The Top 4 are locks and I think you’ll see No. 5 on there too.

Kyle (Oakland, CA): 

    What are your thoughts on Diego Cartaya, especially behind the dish?

Kyle Glaser: He’s a really mature player for his age, which will only help him as he moves up. Great feel and understanding for the game, both behind the plate and in the box. He’s more of a contact and high OBP bat than a masher, but he’s got plenty of time to grow into his power. International catchers (Keibert Ruiz excepted) can take 6-7 years or more though, so don’t expect anything super soon. It’ll be a long, slow burn, but all the tools are there on both sides of the ball.

Mike (Tampa, FL): 

    What are the chances of Yadier Alvarez being a major leaguer, and in what capacity?

Kyle Glaser: If he gets his head on straight enough to make it, it will be as a reliever only. He doesn’t throw enough strikes or compete consistently enough to close. It’s going to be 7th inning unless he fixes those two issues, and he hasn’t for two-plus seasons now.

Justin (Detroit, MI): 

    Has Kendall’s stock gone down for you, especially due to his alarming number of strikeouts?

Kyle Glaser: It has gone down for everyone across the entire baseball world. I actually will have a piece coming out shortly about the myth of the fourth outfielder “floor”. Short version – Even the guys who actually become backups in the big leagues hit a lot in the minors. Kendall right now is nowhere near the threshold to project as even a backup. It wasn’t just the fact he was striking out – it’s how many of his swings were just utterly non-competitive. The “victory” the Dodgers were excited about by the end was that his swings and misses were actually more on time. That’s the level we’re talking about here – digging for positives within swings and misses. It’s not good. At all.

Alex Verdugo (Still Hanging On): 

    With Puig’s departure, do you think I’ll be residing in his spot now, or will they pull the rug out from under me and get Harper?

Kyle Glaser: With Pederson, Taylor, Hernandez, Bellinger and Toles all around, I actually think the Dodgers best move is to package you for a veteran at one of their weaker positions (cough, J.T. Realmuto, cough). Bryce Harper is obviously a special talent. Other teams need him more than the Dodgers do. I don’t think he’s a great fit TBH.

Bobby (LA): 

    What are your thoughts on Rincon? Can he perform anywhere near as well at higher levels as he did in the CAL?

Kyle Glaser: No one I’ve found thinks so. He made some approach improvements and dove into the advance scouting process, which are sustainable changes that should help, but he’s still an extreme free swinger who is a liability on the bases and in the outfield. He’s pretty unanimously seen as an up-and-down bench bat, at best.

Keith (San Francisco): 

    Did Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray merit any top 10 consideration?

Kyle Glaser: We addressed Downs earlier. There was a little bit of discussion but didn’t go very far. Gray not yet. Both are in the 11-20 range, though, in what is a very good system. Both are talented prospects to keep an eye on, but they’re not elite stud types.

Alex (Bay Area): 

    Thanks for chatting with us today Kyle. Would recent acquisition Jeter Downs have ranked in the #7-#10 range in the Dodgers system? Outside of Lux, Downs would seem like the clear cut #2 middle infield prospect in the Dodgers organization. With Downs moving over to an organization with affiliates located in more hitter friendly destinations, would you be surprised if Downs put up a 20 HR / 20 SB year in 2019? If so, do you see him eventually cracking the top 100?

Kyle Glaser: To follow up on Downs a little more, the range of discussion for him was 9-14. He is the Dodgers clear-cut No. 2 middle infield prospect behind Lux, and a fine player, but keep in mind the Dodgers had very little middle infield depth beyond Lux, so being No. 2 isn’t a huge accolade in and of itself. As far as a 20-20 season, if it comes with him hitting .sub-.250, it’s not going to mean much. He’s patient and has a good eye, but he’s going to have to make more contact than he did in the MWL. If he starts creeping into that .280-range, then we can talk about Top 100.

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    What’s the probability of Verdugo playing opening day?

Kyle Glaser: That’s going to depend A. On the effort he puts forth in spring training, and B. If a righthander or lefthander is on the mound. If the D-backs start Greinke on Opening Day, there’s a higher likelihood we see Verdugo and than if they start Robbie Ray (assuming both are still D-backs on Opening Day, that is).

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    If Urias was still a prospect, where would he rank given his age, stuff and injury?

Kyle Glaser: Interesting question. I’ve always been a little lower than others on Urias, but I’d still comfortably have him No. 2 in this system. The fact he came out and held his own in the NLCS and WS, often getting put out there in big spots, was nice to see and a solid indication of the talent that’s still in there.

Justin (Tucson, AZ): 

    Ruiz is the best catching prospect since _________?

Kyle Glaser: Not going there. Catchers are so fickle and the position so demanding that things can change on a dime. See: 2011 No. 3 overall prospect Jesus Montero.

Warren (New London): 

    Jacob Amaya had a really nice season. Was he close to the top 10? Is he more likely to be able to stay at shortstop than Gavin Lux and Jeter Downs?

Kyle Glaser: Amaya probably generated the most excitement of any position player in the Dodgers front office in 2018, just in terms of what the organization’s expectations were vs. what he showed. He wasn’t close to the Top 10 yet just because we’re still talking about a system with a lot of really good upper-level talent, and Amaya still has some swing things he needs to work on to be successful against higher-level pitching, but he’s comfortably in the 30 and some in the organization think he’s one of their top 20 prospects (but not top 10). And yes, he is the more likely to stay at SS than Lux or Downs.

Danny (Richmond VA): 

    Hey, Kyle. I’d love to hear your thoughts on SS/2B Omar Estevez. Was he anywhere near your top 10? Do you agree with some others I’ve read elsewhere who say he could be a breakout candidate in 2019? Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Kyle Glaser: Hey Danny. It was really impressive to see the strides Estevez took last year. The Omar Estevez I saw at Rancho in 2017 to the Omar Estevez at Rancho in 2018 were two completely different players. I don’t want to spoil the Handbook writeup, but short version is he began doing some new hitting drills that helped him stay behind and through the baseball more, and we saw the results pretty quickly. That all said, he doesn’t really have many tools to lean back on. His arm, defense and speed are all fringy to below-average, and while his bat improved, it’s a potential average bat, not anything beyond. As such, most see him as a potential bench contributor, not a guy who would be a 2019 breakout star or anything. But he’s moving in the right direction finally, and if he can replicate the size of the jump he made form 2017 to 2018, maybe that starts to change.

Scott (New Hampshire): 

    Who are a few guys not on this list that could break out and join it next offseason?

Kyle Glaser: Keep an eye on Zach Willeman. His stuff came back waaayyy better after TJ and he’s got one of the most gifted arms in the system. If he shows the flashes of 99 mph with two plus breaking balls weren’t a small-sample fluke, he’s going to fly up the rankings.

Dan (Socal): 

    Thanks for the chat Any under the radar Dodger prospects coming up creating some buzz? If I go to a Rancho game, who do I keep an eye on?

Kyle Glaser: My pleasure Dan. Thanks for joining in. SS/2B Decon Liput really made a positive impression with Great Lakes after getting drafted and should be in Rancho at the start of next year. His college career got sidetracked by some off the field stuff, but he can really hit, play both middle infield positions and shows some impressive leadership attributes.

Jack (Sacramento): 

    What’s Will Smith’s offensive upside? Does he have the bat to play at 3B if they move him there?

Kyle Glaser: You’re going to be looking at low average, solid power from Smith now with the way the Dodgers have reworked his swing. .230-.240, 18-22 home runs is probably fair. He might get to .250 in his best years. I don’t think Smith will ever be the true everyday 3B. He’ll be more catch two days a week, play 3B two days a week, fill in at 2B a day or so. Kinda of bounce around but get enough ABs that it’s a full-season’s worth. He’ll hit plenty to do that.

Domingo (Miami): 

    Does Dennis Santana have mid rotation arm upside, or can he be more?

Kyle Glaser: It’s more No. 4 starter upside because of where his third pitch and control are. Both are usable, but No. 3 starters in the majors have a better than usable third pitch and certainly better than usable control. Santana’s arm is that of a big leaguer though, and he’s going to help the Dodgers win games. It’s just more at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen – both of which are critical to be successful.

Bort (Springfield): 

    What are the odds that Will Smith ends up as the better player than Ruiz?

Kyle Glaser: They’re very different. Ruiz is kind of your straight catcher with impressive feel to hit. Smith is the versatile infielder who is really good behind the plate but you also can move around. It’s honestly not that different than Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes. They are really different and not really all that comparable, but they complement each other very well. I think when all is said and done, we might see a similar arrangement between Ruiz and Smith as we saw with Grandal and Barnes, although I think Ruiz is better than Grandal and Smith is better than Barnes.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    Looks like you are really sold on Keibert Ruiz behind the plate, but is there any chance Will Smith surpasses him and becomes the Dodger catcher of the future?

Kyle Glaser: Just as Barnes is a better defensive catcher than Grandal, Smith is a better defensive catcher than Ruiz. That’s not in question. But with Smith’s ability to play other positions and everything else Ruiz offers you at the plate, the best arrangement for your team is to have Ruiz behind the plate and Smith bouncing around.

Karl of Delaware (Georgtown, Delaware): 

    So where would Bannon, Yusniel Diaz, Kremer and Zach Pop appear in the Handbook’s top Dodger 30, if at all?

Kyle Glaser: Diaz would check in between 3-5, Kremer would probably be early teens, Bannon and Pop somewhere in the 18-22 range.

Clayton (Galveston): 

    Hello! Where would Jaren Kendall rank in the Top 30? Or did he even make the Top 30? Will he ever get his Ks under control? Thanks!

Kyle Glaser: Kendall is still in there, in part because the Dodgers depth drops off quite a bit. And his K’s are a function of his setup and stance. He needs to blow it up and start completely from scratch to get the K’s under control. If he doesn’t come back with a 100 percent different setup, then the answer is no, the K’s will not improve

Angie (Denver, CO): 

    Is Andre Ethier a fair comp for Alex Verdugo?

Kyle Glaser: Ethier had a lot more power than Verdugo does. He had four 20-HR seasons and a 30-HR season. Verdugo’s better comps are in the writeup – Nick Markakis, Melky Cabrera, guys like that who maybe got to 20 once or twice but mostly stayed in the 13-18 HR range

BK (LA): 

    How far down the list did Yadier Alvarez slide?

Kyle Glaser: He’s still in the top 20, but that’s due more to the Dodgers dropoff after their top dozen prospects or so

Brandon Johnson (Altadena, CA): 

    When Healthy, Mitch White has been really good. But health remains a question mark for him. What do you expect out of White in 2019?

Kyle Glaser: It’s hard to say without having access to his medical records. He finished strong and made some delivery changes that should help moving forward, but none of that will matter if he can’t stay on the mound.

Adam (SF): 

    Thank you for chatting with us today. Where would the recent acquisitions of Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray fit into the Dodgers top 10? Would it be fair to say Downs would probably fit at #8 behind Dennis Santana and Gray somewhere in the #11-15 range?

Kyle Glaser: You’re high on both counts. Downs would be the Dodgers No. 13 prospect, Gray No. 18 if they had made it into the Handbook

John (Minnesota): 

    Ríos going to start the year off in the big leagues?

Kyle Glaser: He deserves to, but it’s hard to find him a spot with Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy on the corners.

bob (DE): 

    Will Sheffield or Alvarez make to mlb as RP next year? Which has best path.

Kyle Glaser: Alvarez way more than Sheffield. I wouldn’t count on either of them though.

Zac (NYC): 

    What are your thoughts on Michael Grove? When do you expect he returns? Chances he winds up high in this top ten next year?

Kyle Glaser: Grove is definitely a candidate to ascend to the Top 10 if he proves he’s healthy. Up to 96 with excellent carry through the upper third of the strike zone and a plus power slider, yeah, that’s a starter’s kit for a potential top 10 pitching prospect in the organization. Of course, we need to see if that stuff is actually still there when he comes back.

Michael (Abingdon): 

    What are your thoughts on DJ Peters, Cody Thomas and Errol Robinson? Any chance we see any of them suit up for the Dodgers?

Kyle Glaser: Peters would be the one. The others have their talents but are seen as minor leaguers for the most part. Peters though should get a chance at some point, although whether he stays in the majors is going to depend on some swing adjustments he made in instructs sticking.

Bob (DE): 

    Where will julian smith start in 2019? What is his upside? Rp or SP.

Kyle Glaser: I’m glad you brought up Julian Smith Bob. This is the super sleeper in the org. Juco guy who had some arm problems, came out in instructs and made only one appearance, but it was a hell of an appearance. He probably starts in Great Lakes because he’s got some building up to do, but there is a chance he blossoms into a very promising lefty SP prospect sooner rather than later

Jose (Santa Ana Ca.): 

    With Seager set at SS for a while, could Lux turn into a posible 20/20 2B? What about his possible future OBP?

Kyle Glaser: 20/20 may be a little high for Lux. You’re looking more at 35+ doubles, 15ish home runs, 15ish stolen bases. Maybe he gets to 20-homers in his best years. But he’ll do all that hitting .280 or better, with an OBP of .360 or better. That’s a darn, darn good player.

William (Denver): 

    May seemed to jump up quite a bit. Any thought he can advance more to top of rotation type as he continues to grow into his body and develp secondaries? The red-haired Thor comps are obvious…..

Kyle Glaser: Top of the rotation is a bit much. Thor throws 100 with a ridiculous 92-mph slider. May is more 93-96 with secondaries that need some work. He’s really, really good, and you can find an evaluator that absolutely loves him and thinks he has a chance to be a No. 2, but most see a No. 3. Thor isn’t really in the cards.

Bryan (Mahomet, IL): 

    Does Edwin Rios get a chance in LA or should he hope for a trade? Does he have anything else to prove in AAA?

Kyle Glaser: I would be very interested to see the Dodgers send Verdugo and Rios, along with some others, in a package to Miami for JT Realmuto. I think Rios would hit given the chance. He doesn’t really have anything left to prove in AAA, especially after he made massive improvements to his defense at 3B last year

Max (Oakland): 

    Dodgers 2017 second-rounder Morgan Cooper hasn’t thrown a pitch in pro ball. Do you know what his injury is and whether he is expected to pitch this year?

Kyle Glaser: Cooper is battling the same shoulder tendinitis/tightness that has plagued him since he signed. It’s a coin flip whether he pitches next year at this point. It’s just about if that shoulder ever heals up. It hasn’t in two years now.

BillS (Castle Pines): 

    Lot of top-10 are near majors. Who are some of the new faces we might see – Gerardo Carrillo, Josiah Gray, Robinson Ortiz as pitchers? What about recent signee Diego Cartaya? Thanks for doing chat!

Kyle Glaser: Hey Bill, my pleasure. Cartaya will be the first one on from that group. You’ll see when you get your Prospect Handbook that he was close as is. Carrillo would be next, although there are other guys ahead of him you would see first.

Wes (Wautoma, Wisconsin): 

    Not a lot of big name guys come from Wisconsin so I’m excited to follow Gavin Lux. I realize he had a great 2018 and between organization need and throwing accuracy he’s trending toward 2B. The Dodgers are known to have a lot of financial resources. Do you think Lux is a high end enough talent to make the Dodgers avoid buying their next 2B?

Kyle Glaser: Yes. Lux is a better long-term solution at 2B than anyone on the market currently.

Dave (Reno, NV): 

    Please tell me one encouraging thing about Yadier Alvarez that doesn’t refer to his pure stuff.

Kyle Glaser: He looked better after moving to the stretch at the end of the season.

Zavala (Southern California): 

    Do you belive the Dodgers plan to keep Connor Wong as a catcher or will they convert him to another position with Ruiz and Smith already in the picture?

Kyle Glaser: He’ll remain a catcher. You can never, ever have too much catching depth.

Tim (@sddodger) (San Diego): 

    DJ Peters was a little higher than I thought he’d be based on his struggles in AA. Was wondering what you are seeing that you like?

Kyle Glaser: I struggle with Peters a little bit. Guys who swing and miss in the strike zone that much are rarely ever productive big leaguers. But you see really good plate discipline (he doesn’t chase), kind of amazing athleticism for his size, game-changing power – there’s enough there to envision a power hitter playing all three OF positions as needed. At the end of the day, there is enough there to see a big leaguer, more than a lot of the other guys behind him on this list, even if what his exact role will be is a bit cloudy.

Warren (New London): 

    I haven’t seen a Miguel Vargas question yet, and it seems to me that a guy who played at three levels at 18 deserves one. How high is his offensive ceiling? Will he be able to play 3B?

Kyle Glaser: There’s a lot to like with Vargas. The approach, hand-eye and raw power are all there. He’s still learning to pull the ball, but if he does you could see a pretty impressive hitter with power. As far as 3B, he’s a big boy already without a lot of twitch or athleticism, so it’s considered pretty slam dunk he’ll eventually move to 1B. That will put more pressure on his bat obviously, but he has the track record and attributes to make it work

Mobby (Detroit): 

    Keibert Ruiz had a very low strikeout rate last year but had a lower batting average than one would expect. Was he making poor contact, or just bad luck? I expect you see him to make strides given his age for the level of play and his ranking here.

Kyle Glaser: Ruiz’s overall numbers looking a little lower than you like is actually the product of a pretty pronounced switch-hitting split. He hit .276 with 11 home runs batting lefthanded. If you saw just those numbers, you’d be ecstatic for a 19 year old catcher in AA. But he hit .238 with one home run batting righthanded, and that weighed his overall numbers down. His righthanded swing is kind of a pepper swing, where he makes contact but doesn’t drive it, so it’s a lot of soft contact that doesn’t do much. He may end up junking that RH swing eventually. For now, he’s going to keep working on it so that it doesn’t weigh down his overall production.

Craig (LA): 

    Does Jeren Kendall go back to Rancho Cucamonga, any news on what he did at Instructionals to work on his swing/approach. Thanks!!

Kyle Glaser: He should go back to Rancho, but the Dodgers have seemed determined to keep pushing him at times. The main focus in instructs was going to be tweaking his setup a bit, especially with regards to his lower half – but that was the same deal last year, and the final product was worse than it was before. We’ll see what it looks like coming out this year

Siani (Washington): 

    Where does Dodgers Farm System rank?

Kyle Glaser: It’s a top 10 system. You’ll find out exactly where when our Org Talent rankings come out shortly

Barebodkin (Zembla): 

    What about Cristian Santana?

Kyle Glaser: Santana wasn’t too far off the Top 10, although he wasn’t really in consideration to be in there either. He can demolish a fastball and makes Gold Glove level defensive plays at 3B, two things that are really promising to start with. He just has unbelievably poor breaking ball recognition and goes fishing a lot, which leads to all the strikeouts you see. He needs to tighten that up, big time, especially as he gets ready to move to AA.

Kyle Glaser: Alright everybody, looks like most of the questions left in the queue are repeat questions, so we’ll wrap it up here. Thanks for chatting with me, and have a great weekend.

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