Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 Prospects Chat

Moderator: Ben Badler will be here at 2 p.m. Eastern to chat Dodgers’ prospects

Ben Badler: Hey everyone! This was a fun Top 30 to put together for the Prospect Handbook. It’s one of the few top 10 farm systems in the game from an organization that’s also a playoff team, and they’ve done it without having a top 10 draft pick the last 10 years. A lot of players to talk about today, so let’s get started.

Jerry (Hollywood, CA): Your scouting report on Cody Bellinger makes him sound like a deity. Problem is, A-Gonz is in his way. Predict for us - does he likely get dealt away, as opposed to being his heir apparent? Finally, should we expect him to rank in the top 5 of Baseball America's 100 best?
Ben Badler: He’s No. 8 on my Top 50 list in the Prospect Handbook and I have him ranked as the top first base prospect in baseball. Even though the Dodgers have Adrian Gonzalez, I don’t think they want to trade away one of the truly elite prospects in baseball, especially when Bellinger has the speed and athleticism to play in the outfield. Bellinger is a stellar defender at first base, but I think his ability to play the outfield will be important for him to break into that lineup.

Ryan (San Diego, CA): Is Jordan Sheffield's future likely as a SP or RP?
Ben Badler: The Dodgers are going to give Sheffield every chance to develop as a starter, but there is a high level of reliever risk with him. On pure stuff, it’s a starter’s repertoire with three pitches that flash 55 or better on the 20-80 scale, but the high-effort delivery, command issues and injury history might eventually push him to the bullpen.

Trey from LA (LA): Where does Chase De Jong fit in, in the Dodgers' plans? Or is he trade bait?
Ben Badler: Maybe a 5th starter. He’s on the 40-man, so if they need a starter he’s in the mix to get called up, but I don’t see him having much trade value. It’s a lot of 40-45 grade pitches that play up because of his pitching smarts and ability to throw strikes.

Connor (Los Angeles): Interesting to not see Walker Buehler on the list. I know he didn't pitch much after coming back from TJ last year, but stuff still got very good reports. Any thoughts on him?
Ben Badler: Buehler reached 98 mph last year, so the good news is that is stuff is already back after Tommy John surgery, like you said, even if he was only able to show it in short bursts. He has the stuff to pitch in the middle of a rotation, but durability is still a major risk given his injury history, thin frame and the mechanics/arm action. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great news for Buehler and the Dodgers that his stuff is where it is right now, but I think there’s a tendency for all of us to overrate what we can immediately see and overlook other factors.

Randy (Ventura): Should the Dodgers have drafted Delvin Perez instead of Lux? Or will Lux turn out to be the better SS?
Ben Badler: I’d rather have Delvin Perez.

David W (SFV): With all the talk of a 2B, what is the chance they try Calhoun? Also Cody for LF? Your thoughts? Thanks11
Ben Badler: If the Dodgers felt comfortable going with Calhoun at second base this year, they wouldn’t be looking to trade for a second baseman. I think he can be their second baseman of the future, but his defense certainly is not ready yet and even as a hitter he will benefit from time in Triple-A this season.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Thanks for chatting, Ben. Did Jose Fernandez sign too late to be considered for this list? If so, would he have ranked in the top ten?
Ben Badler: The Dodgers haven’t officially announced his signing yet, so he wasn’t eligible for this list. I would have ranked him in their Top 10 if he had been eligible.

Frank (Indianapolis IN): How many of these guys are likely to make the BA 100?
Ben Badler: Certainly the top five, for me. Chance for six.

DH (Pittsburgh): Favorite baseball movies?
Ben Badler: Major League still cracks me up.

Adam (LA): Realistic comp for Bellinger?
Ben Badler: If Eric Hosmer and Anthony Rizzo had a baby, it would be Cody Bellinger.

Saint (NE MPLS): Any thoughts on Dustin May's future projection? He looks like he could potentially surpass draft reports.
Ben Badler: I love Dustin May for the Dodgers in the third round. Super projectable 6-foot-6 frame, solid fastball that should jump once he adds weight with good life already and a swing-and-miss slider, plus he’s already well coordinated to repeat his mechanics well for someone as young, tall and skinny as he is right now. That’s great value for where the Dodgers picked May. All the arrows are pointing in the right direction on him.

Saint (NE MPLS): DJ Peters had a fantastic pro debut, showing both power and speed, alongside a respectable slash line. Any grades on his tools and future projection?
Ben Badler: Another nice pick by the Dodgers in the fourth round. Good blend of physicality, athleticism and tools with a strong performance in his debut, although just about everyone hits well at Ogden. But the power is real and he kept his strikeout rate reasonable, so there’s a lot to like going forward with D.J. Peters, especially for where the Dodgers got him.

Ben (Olney, MD): I realize Alvarez has a very high ceiling and there are some durability concerns for De Leon but given how few innings Alvarez has pitched - and at low levels - I'm nevertheless surprised to see him ranked above De Leon. If you had only one in your organization would you want it to be Alvarez? Why? From what I can tell the Dodgers must agree (and perhaps the Twins do too given Dozier is still in Minnesota). Thanks!
Ben Badler: I would take Alvarez. I’ve been the high man on De Leon for a while—I remember a lot of surprise when we ranked him No. 6 in the system as a 24th round pick with four starts in full-season ball—but Alvarez is a potential frontline starter. Alvarez has a lot of risk, but the pure stuff is electric and better across the board the De Leon with the exception of the changeup, although that pitch flashes plus for Alvarez too. He misses a ton of bats and while his command need to improve, he answered a lot of questions about his strike-throwing ability last year. Can Alvarez hold his stuff more than five innings and handle a full season’s workload? That might be the biggest risk with him, but De Leon has pretty serious durability questions himself based on what’s happened the last couple of seasons. Given the frontline starter upside with Alvarez and the risk De Leon has even though he’s already reached the major leagues, I’d take Alvarez.

Jose (DC): Gun to your head, what are the odds Calhoun can stick at 2nd? Is this something he can improve with better conditioning and agility drills (i.e., an offseason at Pedroia's Arizona training guys), or is there just a cap on his defense based on athleticism and size?
Ben Badler: He’s pretty brutal there right now, but we’ve seen a lot of prospects at second and third base who were poor fielders transform themselves into even above-average defenders. I don’t think that type of radical overhaul is going to happen with Calhoun, but he just turned 22 and I do think he can at least work himself into a playable defender at second base who gives away some runs in the field but makes up for it with his hitting.

Dan (Augusta, ME): What kind of upside do you see for OF (and former QB) Cody Thomas? Did he make the top 30? Thanks!
Ben Badler: A bit of a long shot, but a good player to roll the dice on in the 13th round. The baseball skills are understandably crude for his age given his background, but it’s plus raw power from the left side and you hope the athleticism and full-time focus on baseball help him make adjustments in terms of his plan at the plate and being able to put the ball in play.

Bob (LA): It's a shame that Austin Barnes isn't going to be starting somewhere. How many AB's you think he can get in a catcher+reserve INF role? Any chance he takes the 2B job and LA scrounges up a new backup catcher?
Ben Badler: I’m with you on that—Barnes would be the starting catcher on some teams. A lot of Barnes’ value comes from his defense behind the plate, so I don’t think the Dodgers want to take that away and make him their second baseman, but they have at least cleared a path for him to get playing time as a backup catcher with infield flexibility. Maybe 200-250 PAs depending on who else on the roster stays healthy.

Jim Nielsen (Kapaa Kauai): Will Alveraz make the majors this year as a bullpen arm or will they keep him as a starter?
Ben Badler: Starter. You won’t see him in the majors this year.

Micah (Bayport): Carlos Rincon's numbers looked good at age 18 in limited time in the AZL. Do you have any insight to his game and future outlook?
Ben Badler: Big power. Needs to adopt a hitting plan that isn’t just an all-or-nothing approach to make it work at higher levels.

Niall (Ireland): Who would you prefer long term, Urias or Alvarez? Dodgers are going to be such a force in two years
Ben Badler: Urias. They can both be frontline starters. Urias might be that in 2017, and he’s even younger than Alvarez.

Mick (Mn): In your opinion, what other prospects should the Dodgers be willing to include, along with DeLeon, to get Dozier, or are the Dodgers doing the best thing by holding on to their prospects?
Ben Badler: I understand where both sides are coming from. The Dodgers don’t NEED to trade for Brian Dozier. They are already one of the best teams in baseball. And there isn’t a huge competitive trade market right now for second basemen among teams that view themselves as 2017 playoff contenders. But Dozier is under team control for two seasons at a cheap rate coming off a 6-win season. The Twins absolutely should want a lot more than Jose De Leon, whose durability they are rightly skeptical of, to trade Dozier, especially given the precedent of other prospects who have been traded in recent deals. If I’m the Twins, obviously I want Cody Bellinger more than anyone else the Dodgers have, but given where the Dodgers are, I’d be hesitant to make that move if I were LA. But a package built around Yadier Alvarez? I think there’s a way to structure a deal there that makes sense for both sides.

Ian Connor (Atlanta, California): Mitchell White seems to be flying under the radar after having a dominant debut to his pro career, what are your thoughts on his future potential?
Ben Badler: I think he’s going to move quickly, especially in an organization that likes to push their prospects aggressively. He commands a plus fastball, has a pair of solid breaking pitches and a chance to stick as a starter, or if not then a chance to pitch high-leverage relief work.

Carl (Dover, DE): Could you pick a sleeper from the lower minors whom you believe could jump onto everyone's radar this season?
Ben Badler: Does Dustin May qualify as a sleeper? I could see him vaulting into the Dodgers’ Top 10 next year. And they gave him a lot of money, so I’m not sure if the sleeper label fits, but the player I’m looking forward to making his U.S. debut in 2017 is Oneil Cruz.

Warren (New London): Do you think Willie Calhoun could play first base? I know he's short (and the Dodgers don't figure to need him there), but Steve Garvey and Gregg Jefferies did well at 1B after failing at other positions, and it was a good spot for Pete Rose.
Ben Badler: I don’t see that happening. A lot of his infield weaknesses like hands and footwork even on the routine plays would still carry over to first base and the rest of the infielders would have less margin for errors on throws to a guy who’s maybe 5-foot-8. It’s 2B or LF for him.

O (California): Thoughts on Kiebert Ruiz?
Ben Badler: I like him. Nice find by the Dodgers in Venezuela. Those Ogden numbers always come with an asterisk next to them, but he’s a switch hitter who uses his hands well at the plate and has a knack for putting the ball in play. No questions on him sticking behind the plate either. Needs to block balls better but his hands and feet work well back there.

DJ (Red Oak, IA): Is there any hope for Johan Mieses to become anything more than a 1 tool slugger? A lot of people seem down on him even though he's just 21.
Ben Badler: Mieses is more than a one-tool guy—it’s average speed, a plus arm, plus raw power—it’s just that his approach kills him. His plan at the plate is to try to pull every pitch out of the park with an all-or-nothing swing. That leads to a lot of empty swings with too many strikeouts and easy outs. The raw tools are among the best in the system, so there’s upside there, but there’s a lot of risk in him being able to improve his plate discipline and becoming a more complete hitter.

Rick (Illinois): Hi Ben, many thanks for the chat. if the LAD had signed Kyle Funkhouser, approx. what range would he rank in their system ? aside from Alvarez and De Leon, is any pitcher significantly better ?
Ben Badler: I would have ranked him in the No. 18-22 range for the Dodgers.

Connor (Los Angeles): Bellinger in your top 10 overall? Do you think BA is higher on him than other publications, or do you think his grades are more consensus?
Ben Badler: I don’t really know. Our information comes from the scouts and others in the game who watched Bellinger all season. There isn’t much disagreement among them that Cody Bellinger is terrific.

Scott (Maryland): Where do you have Mitch Hansen ranked? What do you think his potential is?
Ben Badler: He’s still hanging on in the Prospect Handbook, but 2017 will be a big year for him in his first year of full-season ball two years after being drafted. He’s flashed some signs of life with the bat but he’s going to need to take big steps forward offensively, especially since he probably fits best in LF.

Martin (Los Angeles): Is Yaisel Sierra still a prospect in your eyes? Or is he another high priced Cuban flop? What does Sierra have to do to get back on the prospect map?
Ben Badler: The Dodgers way overpaid for him, but he is still a prospect. One of the most important things I’ve learned in writing about prospects over the last 10 years, especially on the international side, is that people in the game tend to speak about a player relative to his contract or expected contract (like in the case of an upcoming July 2 player) or what’s being written about him, especially if it’s some of the sensationalistic stuff you see from some places. So when people talk about Mark Appel now, they still evaluate him relative to his No. 1 draft pick status, rather than just evaluating the player right now on his own merits. It’s the same with Sierra, where the talk around him is colored by the contract he received. The risk around Sierra coming out of Cuba was always that his results didn’t match the pure stuff (even as a reliever in Cuba), and that’s still the case today. In the Prospect Handbook I get into the adjustments Sierra made with the Dodgers from what he was doing early in the season, which are fairly significant, but this is still a pitcher with clean mechanics, a plus fastball and an out pitch in his slider. At this point I don’t think he’s a starter, but he’s a solid relief prospect who should pitch in the big leagues.

Jeff (CA): The Dodgers seem to have a lot of left handed power with Seager, Pederson, Bellinger, and Verdugo. Do they have any prospects that may supply power from the right side?
Ben Badler: Johan Mieses an D.J. Peters would be the two main ones.

Richard (Milwaukee, WI): With Seagar, entrenched at SS, do you see Gavin Lux switching positions as he continues to progress thru the minor league system
Ben Badler: Lux is at least 3-4 years away from being able to contribute at the major league level. That won’t be a factor for a while.

bob (DE): Is Sborz a solid set up guy or a back end SP in MLB?
Ben Badler: Middle reliever. He has four pitches but it’s primarily fastball/slider in terms of 50-grade or better pitches. I liked giving him the opportunity to start but a bullpen role suits him well.

Ben Badler: Thank you for the questions. We have Top 10s for 28 organizations up on the site with the last two NL West teams going up next week, followed by our farm system rankings and the Top 100. Have a great weekend!

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