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Track Record: Ruiz mainly attracted teams with his defense as an amateur in Venezuela, training at the academy run by former major league shortstop Carlos Guillen. Almost immediately after signing with the Dodgers for $140,000, Ruiz began holding his own against older players. At age 17 he moved to the Rookie-level Pioneer League and hit .354 as the league’s youngest player. At 18 he jumped to full-season ball and hit .316 with an .813 OPS between low Class A and high Class A. And in his age-19 season, as the rare teenaged catcher in the upper levels, Ruiz had the lowest strikeout rate of any hitter in Double-A, hit a career-high 12 home runs and ably handled Tulsa’s high-octane pitching staff.
Scouting Report: Ruiz originally intrigued with his glove, but as he has progressed his offense now stands out first and foremost. He is a gifted switch-hitter with excellent timing, bat speed and loose wrists that enable him to manipulate the barrel to all parts of the zone, giving him excellent plate coverage against all types of pitches. He has an aggressive approach and doesn’t walk much, but he stays within the strike zone and rarely swings and misses. Ruiz puts together quality at-bats from both sides of the plate, but he has faster hand speed and more natural lift in his lefthanded swing, resulting in significantly more impact contact from that side of the plate. Ruiz has progressively added strength and increased his home run total every season, now projecting for double-digit homers to go with a plus bat. Ruiz’s defense lags behind his offense but is still advanced for his age and constantly improving. He shows good timing blocking balls, is an above-average—if sometimes inconsistent—receiver and has developed a knack for back-picking baserunners. He has an average, accurate arm that occasionally gets slowed by footwork and transfer issues, but he made strides to clean those up and threw out a career-best 26 percent of basestealers 2018. Ruiz also became more confident handling a staff, from presenting game plans to pitchers to knowing when to take mound visits.
The Future: Ruiz’s success on both sides of the ball as a teenager in Double-A makes him the top catching prospect in baseball. His potential as a switch-hitting, middle-of-the-order catcher has him in line to be the next great Dodgers homegrown catcher.
Track Record: Verudgo rose quickly after the Dodgers drafted him 62nd overall in 2014. He represented Mexico in the World Baseball Classic at age 20, reached the majors by 21 and had a chance for a larger role in his age-22 season in 2018, but the Dodgers’ outfield glut forced him back to Triple-A. Verdugo finished fifth in the Pacific Coast League with a .329 batting average.
Scouting Report: Verdugo is the purest hitter in the Dodgers’ system with a simple, balanced swing. He generates hard line drives to all fields and is extremely patient, recording nearly as many walks (86) as strikeouts (97) over the last two years. Verdugo’s average home run power is mostly to his pull side, but he can drive the ball hard the other way, too. He stays dialed in at the plate, but an indifferent attitude affects the rest of his game. He has average speed and gets good jumps in right field when he’s focused, but he often isn’t and lets balls drop that shouldn’t. His slow motor also shows up on the bases, frustrating teammates and coaches alike.
The Future: Verdugo has the potential to be a high-average, moderate power outfielder like Nick Markakis, but only if he improves his effort.
Track Record: When the Dodgers drafted Lux 20th overall in 2016, he was a skinny teenager with athleticism and instincts but was short on physicality. After a middling first full season, he bulked up and broke out in 2018. Bigger, stronger and faster, Lux led all full-season minor league shortstops in average and slugging as he surged from high Class A to Double-A.
Scouting Report: Lux caught up to velocity and recognized pitches even when he struggled, and his added strength with a swing adjustment unlocked an above-average hitter with growing power. He has a rhythmic, athletic setup that allows him to fire his barrel through the zone, and his path adjustment to get on plane resulted in significantly more hard contact in the air. Lux mostly pulls the ball on a line, but can elevate for home runs to tease average power. He stayed limber as he got stronger and remains an above-average runner with plus baserunning instincts. He has the range, hands, athleticism and above-average arm for shortstop, but accuracy issues have him projected to second base
The Future: Lux has the bat to profile at either middle infield position, likely as a No. 2-type hitter with a lot of doubles. He’ll see Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2018.
Track Record: A string-bean high schooler with bushy red hair, May sat in the low 90s when the Dodgers drafted him in the third round in 2016. After two years of growth, May’s fastball velocity jumped from 89-92 mph to 93-96 mph in 2018 and sent him skyrocketing. He cruised through high Class A up to Double-A as a 20-year-old, capping his season with a win in the Texas League. championship clincher.
Scouting Report: May’s ability to command his fastball and pitch downhill made his heater a weapon even at lower velocities. Now with his velocity bump, it’s a true plus pitch with power sink. May used his fastball more than half the time early in 2018, but after bumping that usage to around 70 percent in mid-June, he took off. May’s power curveball and cutter each flash above-average but aren’t consistent because they’re relatively new to his arsenal. His low-80s power curve replaced his slider, and his cutter became his go-to pitch for lefties after his firm, below-average changeup stalled. He is the rare long-limbed pitcher with plus control.
The Future: May has size, velocity, control and performance all on his side. If he improves his secondaries, he can be a mid-rotation starter or better.
Track Record: An infielder by trade, Smith impressed with his ability to catch Kyle Funkhouser, Zack Burdi and other flamethrowers at Louisville. He immediately showed the same impressive catching ability as a pro, guiding Walker Buehler, Dennis Santana and other high-octane arms through the Dodgers’ system. Despite missing a month with a deep thumb bone bruise, Smith hit a career-high 20 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, all while splitting his time between catcher (49 games) and third base (43).
Scouting Report: Smith’s best asset is his athleticism. He has quick feet, soft hands and an above-average arm he can get to from multiple angles, making him a plus defensive catcher and above-average defender at third base. Smith was a contact hitter in college, but the Dodgers reworked his swing to generate more loft. An adjustment to get ready a tick earlier revealed above-average power in 2018, though his uphill swing yields more swings and misses than expected given his solid bat speed, hands, direction and approach.
The Future: The Dodgers brought Smith to Los Angeles at the end of 2018 to observe how big league catchers prepare. His debut is on the horizon in 2019.
Track Record: Ferguson had Tommy John surgery his senior year of high school, but the Dodgers still gave him $100,000 to sign as a 38th-rounder even with the injury. After rehab and three years of careful workload management, the Dodgers turned him loose in 2017, and he went out and won the California League ERA title. He followed with 10 dominant starts at Double-A and Triple-A to open 2018 and reached the majors in June.
Scouting Report: Previously able to touch 94 mph only in his first inning before dropping to 89-92, Ferguson improved his nutrition and fitness in 2018 and better sustained his velocity. With a slimmer and stronger body, his fastball now sits 93-95 mph and touches 97 in relief, and he holds it over multiple innings. His main secondary is an above-average upper-70s curveball with 12-to-6 bite that he controls better than his fastball. Ferguson’s fringy changeup is raw and rarely used.
The Future: Ferguson has already shown himself to be a bullpen asset in the majors. Depending on the Dodgers’ needs—and if he develops his third pitch—he could still grow into a starter.
Track Record: Santana signed with the Dodgers as a shortstop for $170,000 but converted to pitching after his first season. He took to pitching quickly, earning all-star honors in the Midwest League in 2016 and California League in 2017 before shooting through Double-A and Triple-A up to the majors in 2018. Santana was set to make his first major league start on June 7 but was scratched with a strained rotator cuff and missed the rest of the season.
Scouting Report: The long-limbed Santana whips his arm around his body out of a low slot to create a potent combination of deception, velocity and movement. His fastball sits 93-95 mph and touches 97 with significant sink and run, handcuffing righthanded batters. It’s a plus offering, but its premium movement also makes the pitch difficult to command. Santana’s above-average 82-85 mph slider is effective against righties but runs into the barrel against lefties, so the continued improvement of his 85-87 mph changeup will be key.
The Future: Santana has the stuff and track record to start, but his arm slot and resulting suspect command have most evaluators preferring him in the bullpen.
Track Record: Gonsolin played both ways at St. Mary’s as the Gaels’ starting right fielder and top reliever. The Dodgers, intrigued by his arm strength, drafted him in the ninth round in 2016 and signed him for $2,500 with the idea his velocity would jump if he focused on pitching. That hunch proved correct. Gonsolin asked the Dodgers for the chance to start in 2018 and took advantage when they granted his request, leading the system in ERA (2.60) and strikeouts (155) as he rose to Double-A.
Scouting Report: Gonsolin flashes three above-average or better pitches as a starter, though not always at the same time. His fastball sits 94-96 mph and peaked at 99 in 2018 with ride, and he holds that velocity into the late innings. His 78-81 mph curveball with big depth was voted the best breaking pitch in the California League, and his diving 85-88 mph split-changeup increasingly became a favored option. He also flashes an average upper-80s short slider. Gonsolin mixes well and throws all his pitches for strikes, though his command is a bit scattered. He remains a dangerous hitter for a pitcher owing to his two-way past.
The Future: Gonsolin’s four-pitch mix has him firmly in the Dodgers’ rotation plans. He’ll see Triple-A in 2019.
Track Record: White’s career has been a frustrating tale of success interrupted by injury. He had Tommy John surgery right before college but recovered to emerge as Santa Clara’s ace as redshirt sophomore and be drafted 65th overall. In his first full season he posted a 2.93 ERA while advancing to Double-A but also missed six weeks with a broken toe. In 2018 he missed the first month of the season with general soreness and struggled to find a rhythm most of the year before finishing strong..
Scouting Report: White has plus stuff at his best but is woefully inconsistent. Sometimes he works 94-97 mph; others he sits 90-93. He has a fluid arm action but crosses his body and loses his direction to the plate, resulting in his stuff playing down and an inability to locate to his arm side. Tulsa pitching coach Dave Borkowski made late-season tweaks to liven White’s backside, yielding some improvement. White’s short, tight upper-80s slider is his most consistent pitch and shows plus at its best. His 12-to-6 curveball flashes above-average and his changeup average.
The Future: White looks like a potential frontline starter at his best but struggles to sustain it. Maintaining his health and refined delivery will be key in 2019.
Track Record: Muscular and massive, Peters signed with the Dodgers for $247,500 as a fourth-round pick. Playing for the organization he grew up rooting for, he led the Pioneer League in total bases in his pro debut, won California League MVP his first full season and led the Double-A Texas League with 29 home runs in 2018, albeit with a league-high 192 strikeouts.
Scouting Report: Peters’ carrying tool is his enormous raw power, which some scouts grade an 80. With a chiseled core and long limbs, Peters creates prodigious leverage and demolishes anything left over the plate, frequently clearing 400 feet to all fields. His long arms leave him vulnerable to velocity inside, and he led both the California and Texas leagues in strikeouts despite good strike-zone discipline because he swings and misses in the zone so much. Peters is tremendously athletic for his size and a serviceable center fielder with average speed and long strides that allow him to cover enough ground. His above-average arm strength helps him profile in right field too, though accuracy is an issue.
The Future: Peters’ strikeout rate is alarming, but the hope is he can get to his power enough to still make an impact. He’ll move to Triple-A in 2019.
-- Reports written by Kyle Glaser
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