Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
The Seagers look poised to become the next great baseball family. Corey's older brother Kyle, a Mariners third baseman, signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension after a 2014 season in which he made the all-star team and won a Gold Glove. Similar accolades should soon be in store for Corey, who has an even higher ceiling. The No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 draft, he signed with the Dodgers for $2.35 million, immediately started raking and hasn't stopped since. After reaching high Class A Rancho Cucamonga as a 19-year-old at the end of the 2013 season, Seager returned there to open 2014 and quickly showed he was too advanced for that level, despite missing time with a right hamstring strain. A promotion to Double-A Chattanooga after the Futures Game in July did little to slow down Seager, who still won the Cal League MVP despite his abbreviated time there. He led the entire minors in hitting (.349) and doubles (50) in 2014, then continued to hit in the Arizona Fall League, batting .281 with a league-leading 10 doubles. Seager is one of the most dominant offensive forces in the minors. He's an aggressive lefthanded hitter with an advanced hitting approach well beyond his years. He has a loose, easy swing with good balance that unleashes terrific bat speed with a compact path that helps him stay inside the ball. He hits the ball with high exit speed to all fields, controlling the barrel through the hitting zone and rarely mis-hitting a ball. He's a potential .300 hitter, though he does swing-and-miss some when he chases sliders down and out of the strike zone, but his pitch recognition and plate discipline are both solid. He doesn't overswing, maintaining his line-drive approach and allowing the power to come naturally. It's average raw power now, with a chance to grow into plus power and produce 25 or more home runs in his prime. Seager has come through the system as a shortstop, but few expect he will stay there much longer. He's still filling out his 6-foot-4 frame and is already a below-average runner who lacks the range or quick-twitch actions to stay in the middle of the diamond long term. That's fine, because Seager has all the attributes to be an above-average defender at third base, where his range would be above-average. He got better breaks off the bat last year because he improved his ability to read swings, with a good sense of timing, sound hands and a plus arm that he leaned on heavily at short, where he played deep to mask his limited range. Scouts complained about Seager's low-energy play in 2013, particularly in the AFL, but did so less as he matured and learned how to grind through a season in 2014. With third baseman Juan Uribe signed through 2015, the Dodgers have the perfect bridge to allow Seager another year to develop in the minors, most likely at Triple-A Oklahoma City, before bringing him up to Los Angeles full time. He's a star in the making who should hit in the middle of the lineup and become one of the best players in baseball in the near future.
In most organizations, Pederson would have been up by the 2014 allstar break, but a congested outfield in Los Angeles kept Pederson in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he won the MVP award, until he made his major league debut as a September callup. Pederson took advantage of Albuquerque's extremely hitter-friendly conditions, blasting 33 homers, stealing 30 bases and leading the PCL in walks (100) and on-base percentage (.435). He also hit .274/.385/.523 in 63 road games and showed all the attributes that should allow his success to translate to the majors. Pederson is about as well-rounded as prospects come, showing five average to plus tools. He has good balance, keeps his weight back and explodes through the zone with good bat speed, a sound stroke and plus raw power. He's an aggressive hitter with some movement in the box, and while his strikeout rate jumped from 22 percent at Double-A Chattanooga in 2013 to 27 percent in 2014, he's also a patient hitter who understands the strike zone and should draw plenty of walks. He's a slightly above-average runner with an aggressive mindset on the basepaths, making him a threat to steal 20 bases. His reads and routes off the bat in center field improved, making him an average defender for the position with an above-average arm, albeit with inconsistent accuracy. Once the Dodgers sort through their outfield logjam, Pederson should emerge as the center fielder in Los Angeles. He has a chance to become an above-average player immediately, with future star potential.
Urias signed as part of a a package deal from Mexico City of the Mexican League shortly after his 16th birthday and has been better than the Dodgers ever dreamed. After dominating at low Class A Great Lakes as a 16-year-old in 2013, Urias got off to a slow start in 2014 but quickly became one of the best pitchers in the high Class A California League at age 17. Urias was younger than many 2014 high school draft picks, so the Dodgers limited him to mostly three to five innings per start. His fastball sits at 89-94 mph and can reach 97. Scouts are split on whether they prefer his curveball or changeup, but that's only because both are plus pitches. His low-80s changeup can devastate hitters with its sink and fade, while his hard, sharp curveball misses plenty of bats when he stays on top of the ball. Both pitches earn future double-plus grades from some scouts, and Urias isn't afraid to throw either pitch in any count. He fills up the strike zone using pitchability beyond his years, with an easy arm action and clean mechanics. Urias has a noticeable medical condition on his left eye that scared some teams off when he was an amateur, but it doesn't hold him back on the mound. The Dodgers try to tap the brakes to take pressure off Urias, but it's hard to control the excitement around a pitcher with a chance to be a true No. 1 starter. He's ready to handle Double-A Chattanooga and on pace to reach Los Angeles in 2016 as a 19-year-old.
The Dodgers spent their 2014 first-round pick on Holmes, popping him at No. 18 overall to make him the highest drafted South Carolina high school righthander in modern history. After signing for $2.5 million, Holmes threw plenty of strikes and struck out more than a batter per inning in his pro debut in Rookie ball. He has a strong, filled-out frame with broad shoulders and two power pitches. His fastball parks anywhere from 91-96 mph and peaks at 98. Holmes calls his breaking ball a power curveball, while the Dodgers refer to it as a slider. Either way, it's a plus pitch in the low-80s with three-quarters break. Those two pitches help him strike out a lot of hitters, though he's still learning to take something off his breaking ball for an early-count strike instead of trying to induce a swing and a miss with every pitch. Holmes has mostly focused on two pitches, but he worked on his changeup during instructional league and it's flashed above-average. There's some recoil at the end of his delivery, and his long arm stroke wouldn't typically suggest above-average control, but he's athletic, repeats his delivery and threw plenty of strikes in his pro debut. He does get in trouble when he leaves his fastball up in the strike zone. Holmes is reminiscent of righthander Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers' 2003 first-round pick out of high school. He will open his first full season in low Class A Great Lakes, with a chance to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Verdugo was a two-way standout in high school, but other teams focused on his pro future on the mound. He had a fastball he could run into the low 90s with a potentially above-average slider, a nice delivery and the ability to throw strikes consistently. Verdugo preferred hitting, though, and the Dodgers also liked him in that role, signing him for $914,600 as a secondrounder in 2014. The early returns have been superb, with Verdugo raking in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He has a simple, repeatable swing with good bat speed and a mature hitting approach. He makes consistent contact, recognizes breaking pitches and doesn't chase much out of the zone, which makes him a threat to hit for a high batting average and draw plenty of walks. He has good balance and occasional power, working the gaps and hitting line drives to all fields. His above-average speed is surprising for his thick build, and his savvy on the basepaths helped him go 11-for-11 on steals in his pro debut. That speed and athleticism is enough to start in center field, though he projects to slow down and could end up in right field, where he has a plus arm. If hitting doesn't work out, Verdugo always has pitching as a fallback option, but that won't happen any time soon. He heads to low Class A Great Lakes in 2015.
Born in Puerto Rico, De Leon went undrafted out of high school before spending three seasons at Southern, including a sophomore season when he led the Southwestern Athletic Conference in strikeouts. When the Dodgers drafted him in the 24th round in 2013, he threw 90-93 mph but was pudgy and didn't have an out pitch. The Dodgers were stunned to see his stock soar in 2014, as he lost weight, cranked up his stuff and made mechanical adjustments en route to a breakthrough season, followed by strong winter ball showing in the Puerto Rican League. De Leon started 2014 in extended spring training, which shows how lightly he was regarded as a college draft pick coming into the year. He steadily lost weight and improved his conditioning, which helped him make mechanical adjustments, moving from the third base side of the rubber to the first base side to help him stay more online to the plate. His fastball also jumped up to 93-96 mph and his breaking ball improved, going from a sweepy pitch to a hard, power pitch at 80-82 mph with hybrid action between a true curveball and a slider. By any name, the pitch gets swings and misses. De Leon didn't need to throw his fringe-average changeup much during the season, but he focused on it during instructional league and it has a chance to be an average pitch. His remarkable transformation has taken him from long shot to a potential mid-rotation starter, perhaps more if his changeup improves. If he continues his dominance, he could zip through the system quickly.
Anderson was the Dodgers' first-round pick (No. 18 overall) in 2013 and made his full-season debut at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga in 2014. While the California League inflated his ERA, Anderson improved in the second half and punctuated his season with a 44-7 K-BB mark in August and double-digit strikeouts in his final three starts. Early in the season, Anderson's stuff was flat and he ran up high pitch counts early in games. In the second half, he made adjustments that helped him keep the ball down in the zone. His fastball ticked up, his slider started to work again and he made big strides with his changeup. At his best, Anderson sat 90-94 mph and touched 97 with downhill angle and boring life down in the zone. He had trouble throttling his slider early in the year, but by the second half it was better and flashing above-average again. The Dodgers pushed him to use his changeup more often, which paid off, with Anderson taking the pitch from a firm, below-average offering into a slightly above-average weapon against lefties and righties with improved separation from his fastball. He also mixes in an early-count curveball to change eye levels and give hitters a slower offering as a get-me-over strike. He became more pitch-efficient later in the season but still needs to improve his command and control. With a strong, durable build and the stuff to miss bats, Anderson has the makings of a mid-rotation starter, with command his biggest developmental need. The new Double-A Tulsa affiliate is his next test.
When Scott Van Slyke came through the Dodgers' system as a 14thround pick, he dealt with detractors at every level. Schebler, who signed for $300,000 as a 26th-rounder in 2010, has faced similar skepticism from scouts but has now strung together two stellar offensive seasons, with improvement across the board upon making the jump to Double-A Chattanooga in 2014. He led the Southern League in home runs (28), triples (14) and slugging (.556). Schebler sliced his strikeout rate from 26 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2014 while facing better pitchers. Early in the season, teams had success against Schebler by pitching him away and getting him to chase sliders off the plate. In the second half, he improved his pitch recognition, tightened up his plate discipline and forced pitchers to come into the zone, where he made them pay. Scouts who once questioned his bat speed and ability to cover the inner third of the plate saw a quicker stroke in 2014. Schebler has above-average raw power that plays in games. He's an average runner who played center field in a pinch, but he mostly split time between left and right field, with left a better fit due to his below-average arm. While he's on the 40-man roster, Schebler has no big league opportunity in the foreseeable future. He's headed to Triple-A Oklahoma City for 2015 and could develop into a solid everyday left fielder.
Like fellow Dodgers lefty Chris Reed, Windle was a reliever in college. But after two seasons in Minnesota's bullpen, he impressed scouts as a starter the next summer in the Cape Cod League and started for the Gophers as a junior before the Dodgers made him a second-round pick in 2013. He had a solid first full season in 2014 in the hitter-friendly high Class A California League. Windle entered pro ball with two effective pitches in his fastball and slider. He throws 88-93 mph with downhill plane and the ability to sink, run and cut his fastball. His 82-86 mph slider is above-average when he keeps it down, with sharp tilt and two-plane depth. Windle can also backdoor his slider to righthanders, but the Dodgers pounded on him to improve his changeup, which went from below-average and very hittable early in 2014 to flashing average once he started to use it more in games. Windle throws slightly across his body and his delivery has effort, but it lends him some extra deception without preventing him from throwing consistent strikes. The continued development of Windle's changeup will dictate whether he can remain in the rotation, with a chance to be a No. 4 starter, perhaps a tick better. If not, he has plenty of stuff to be effective in a return to the bullpen. He will go to Double-A Tulsa to start 2015.
Reed was a closer at Stanford, but the Dodgers immediately made him a starter after making him a first-round pick in 2011. The Dodgers were split on whether to keep him in the rotation or move him to the bullpen in 2014, but the decision to keep him as a starter helped his secondary pitches develop. Reed is a good athlete who attacks hitters from a three-quarters arm slot with a sinking 90-94 mph two-seamer that makes him a groundball pitcher. He found a more consistent arm slot with his low-80s slider in 2014 to give him a weapon against lefties, earning average to solid-average grades on the pitch. He threw his changeup more frequently to righthanded hitters in 2014, giving him a chance for a third average pitch. He's not wild, but his command and control both need to improve. The Dodgers would like to keep Reed as a starter, but with a stacked rotation, the easiest path to the big leagues could be through the bullpen. He will return to Triple-A, with a chance to be a back-end starter or late-inning reliever.
Julio Urias was the organization's top signing out of Mexico after the 2012 international signing period opened. Now Leon, who like Urias signed that summer as a 16-year-old from Mexico City of the Mexican League, has emerged as a legitimate prospect himself. He has a thick, squatty build and is an offensiveoriented catcher. He swing stays short, with strong hands and wrists that help him generate average raw power. There's some swing-and-miss to his game, but it's not excessive, and he's not a free-swinger, showing patience to draw walks. While scouts liked Leon's offensive game, he has work to do behind the plate. He has a plus arm and led the Rookie-level Pioneer League by throwing out 30 percent of basestealers, but he needs to speed up his transfer. Leon should stick behind the plate, but his receiving, blocking and footwork need to improve. He's ready for his first full-season trial at low Class A Great Lakes in 2015.
Garcia hasn't started a game since Rookie ball, but he plowed through the minors to reach the majors in 2014 despite the lack of an attention-grabbing pitch. He has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors while keeping his walk rate low, and he performed at a similar level with Los Angeles. Garcia throws 89-95 mph with good movement. He gets great extension, which makes his fastball sneak up on hitters. He made a mechanical adjustment to separate his hands away from his head to try to stay on top of his fringe-average 79-83 mph slider. It has tight spin but occasionally comes in flat like a cutter. Garcia has also messed around with a splitter, but he doesn't use it much. He pounds the strike zone and locates his stuff especially well down in the zone. That control and deception explain why he's been so effective, and that should allow him to continue to have success in short relief outings and potentially throw highleverage innings. He could play a key role in Dodgers' 2015 bullpen.
It was a big deal when the Dodgers convinced Lee to give up the chance to play quarterback and pitch for Louisiana State. He had lost some luster before reaching Triple-A, but he fell flat in his first exposure to the level. Albuquerque is unforgiving for pitchers, but Lee's strikeout rate also dissolved, and scouts backed up the stats with reports that his stuff wasn't sharp. His fastball sits 88-92 mph at hits 94, and the sink helps him gets groundballs. Lee had trouble missing barrels though because his secondary stuff regressed. Lee has never had a true wipeout pitch, but his slider and changeup both were fringy in 2014, occasionally flashing a tick better, with an early-count curveball mixed in. He throws strikes but his pitchability approach will only work against major league hitters if his stuff returns to average or better. If it does, he has a chance to rebound as a back-end starter, but he's headed back for another season in Triple-A.
Baez signed with the Dodgers in 2007 for $200,000, which was one of the most significant bonuses the organization handed out to a Latin American amateur during a time when penny-pinching was the norm in that arena. After six seasons as a third baseman, he shifted to the mound in 2013 and took to it surprisingly quickly. Baez reached the majors in August 2014 and became one of the club's most reliable relievers down the stretch. His velocity improved from 2013, as he threw 93-97 mph and touched 100 in 2014. He pitches heavily off his fastball, throwing consistent strikes at a remarkable rate for someone with his inexperience, and he moves the ball all around to all quadrants of the strike zone. Baez throws a fringy 86-88 mph slider with short break, and an occasional changeup when he faces a lefty, but he lacks a true swing-and-miss secondary pitch. Coming up with one would help his strikeout rate, but if not he still has the stuff to be a steady middle reliever, one who should open 2015 in the big league bullpen.
Primarily a second baseman in 2012, Barnes caught almost exclusively in 2013, and the Marlins sent him back to high Class A Jupiter to start 2014 to let him catch every day. He hit his way to Double-A anyway and played second and third base as well as catching. In December, the Marlins shipped him to the Dodgers with lefthander Andrew Heaney (who was flipped to the Angels for Howie Kendrick) in a package for second baseman Dee Gordon. Barnes makes a lot of hard contact thanks to a gap-to-gap approach, barrel awareness and excellent hand-eye coordination. He has below-average power and speed. Defensively, Barnes fits better as a catcher, where he's an average receiver and thrower. Some scouts question his durability as a catcher due to his modest size. His hands are a bit hard in the infield, but he's an improved second baseman with the tools to be an average defender. At the very least, Barnes should enjoy a nice major league career as a utility man like his uncle, Mike Gallego.
Sweeney's plus speed and athleticism have always drawn scouts to him, but it's his evolution as a hitter that has taken him from a raw tools player and turned him into a prospect on the cusp of the big leagues. Prone to swing and miss, he cut down his strikeout rate from 25 percent at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga in 2013 to 20 percent after moving up to Double-A Chattanooga in 2014. Sweeney has a quick bat, a line-drive approach and good strike-zone discipline. He has fringe-average power, with a chance for 12-15 home runs. Sweeney is a poor basestealer who's still learning how to read pitchers' moves to home after succeeding in just 48 percent of his attempts in 2014. He spent most of 2014 at second base with time mixed in at shortstop and center field. He's below-average at each position, lacking the natural footwork and actions for the infield, with an average arm. Scouts highest on Sweeney see an everyday second baseman, though others see a potential utility man. He heads to Triple-A for 2015.
Stripling was a fast mover who pitched well at Double-A Chattanooga in 2013, but he missed 2014 after having Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers hope he can return by midseason 2015. When healthy, Stripling filled up the strike zone with a sinking 88-94 mph fastball with good armside run, generating downhill plane and getting a lot of grounders. His stuff grades out around average across the board, with scouts split on whether they prefer his curveball or his short, mid-80s slider. He maintains his arm speed when he throws the changeup, which flashes average but lacks much movement. Stripling's polish had put him on the fast track, but the goal now is just for his stuff to return to where it was before surgery, pitch in 2015, then perhaps emerge as a back-end starter candidate in 2016.
Arruebarrena was the shortstop for the Cuban national team at several international tournaments, capturing the attention of scouts for his defense. After he signed with the Dodgers for five years and $25 million, Arruebarrena played briefly in the big leagues in 2014 but looked overmatched even in the minors at the plate. He was also suspended five games by the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for his role in a benches-clearing brawl. Scouts rave about Arruebarrena's defense. He's a below-average runner but he has good range because of his quick first step and reads off the bat. He can make the acrobatic play with quick actions, sound hands and a plus-plus arm. Arruebarrena's hitting will never be good, but the hope is he can at least be adequate to play every day. His swing is long, his pitch recognition is poor and he chases balls out of the strike zone, with below-average power. He's going to give Triple-A another crack in 2015.
Bird struggled while repeating low Class A Great Lakes in 2014, but his stuff and performance looked completely different that August. He sat 89-94 mph early in the season, but by the end he was sitting 93-96 mph and cracked 99. In August, Bird ditched the windup and started to pitch exclusively from the stretch. That simplified his delivery, allowing him to focus on attacking hitters more aggressively, and he posted a 38-to-8 SO/BB ratio in 26 innings in the season's final month. Bird has an electric fastball, but his secondary stuff needs work. His breaking stuff, though still fringy, improved. His changeup is belowaverage and is a big reason why lefties teed off on him for a .291/.381/.445 line in 207 plate appearances in 2014. Bird's stiff-shouldered arm action concerns some scouts, and his crossfire delivery causes him to finish closed off. That doesn't help his control, which is trending in the right direction but needs to improve. Bird is still raw but has the chance to develop into a back-end starter. If not, his power arm would play well in the bullpen, with high Class A Rancho Cucamonga his next destination.
The polish Bellinger shows in all facets is no surprise, given that his father Clay spent four seasons in the big leagues. His swing works well and he makes frequent contact with a sound hitting approach. Bellinger's swing is geared more for line drives than loft, and power is the biggest question mark. He's mostly a gap-to-gap guy right now, with some scouts projecting 10-15 home runs, which would be light for a first baseman. Others point to his quick-twitch hands and the room in his frame to add muscle and think average or better power will come. No one doubts his defense at first base. He's light on his feet with slick actions, smooth hands and a strong arm. He's even a solid-average runner, plenty speedy to play the corner outfield, but his defense is so good at first there's no point in moving him. Bellinger has a chance to break out if the power comes, with a season at low Class A Great Lakes on deck.
Guerrero was one of the top offensive shortstops in Cuba's Serie Nacional, but the Cubans used him sparingly on the national team. Many scouts were skeptical after watching him in the Dominican Republic, but that didn't dissuade the international scouts for the Dodgers, who signed him after the 2013 season to a four-year, $28 million deal that included a $10 million signing bonus. The Dodgers' major league staff shared that skepticism, so Guerrero spent 2014 at Triple-A Albuquerque. He missed nearly two months, though, when he was involved in a fight with teammate Miguel Olivo, who bit off part of Guerrero's ear, requiring surgery. Guerrero has the power to hit 20 home runs, but he's a pull-oriented hitter with holes in his swing, though he didn't strike out excessively. He expands the zone and has trouble hanging in against breaking pitches. Guerrero lacks the first-step quickness for shortstop and has trouble at second base, where he has an average arm but lacks natural infield actions. The offseason trade for Howie Kendrick shows the Dodgers' lack of faith in Guerrero, who will repeat Triple-A as a 28-year-old.
After getting tagged for a 7.07 ERA in the first half of 2014 at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, Cotton posted a 2.55 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 18 walks in 85 innings after the all-star break. His fastball ticked up slightly, bumping up to 88-94 mph and touching 95, although it can flatten out. At midseason, Dodgers officials in the stands noticed he was tipping his pitches and pointed it out to Cotton. Once he started to disguise his pitches, the results followed. Cotton backs up his fastball with a plus changeup featuring late fade. He maintains his arm speed when he throws it, making him equally effective against lefties as he is against righthanders. Cotton needs to improve his below-average curveball, which has decent depth but gets slurvy. He'll sneak in a cutter as well. He has good pitchability and throws strikes to both sides of the plate, with the total package making him an intriguing sleeper with a chance to slot into the back of the rotation. Double-A Tulsa will be a key test for Cotton in 2015.
Rhame signed with the Dodgers for $300,000 as a 2013 sixth-rounder, when he sat 88-93 mph and touched 95. That's the range he started throwing in 2014, but as the year progressed he began bumping mid- to upper-90s heat, topping out at 100 mph. Rhame has a low-90s two-seamer he tends to rely on too much, but he's at his best when he's pumping his four-seamer in the 95-100 mph range. He introduced a hard, upper-80s slider into his mix and it flashes average, with an occasional changeup as well. He tweaked his arm action in 2014, going from a long, wrappy path with a wiggle and transitioning to a cleaner arm circle before exploding out front, and he's now one of the best strike-throwers in the organization. Rhame could move quickly, with a chance to pitch high-leverage relief innings within a few years.
The Dodgers have shown an affinity for tall, strong pitchers in the draft, like Richy, who signed for $534,400 as a third-round pick from Nevada-Las Vegas in 2014. He sits at 89-92 mph and touches 94 with sink. There's no wipeout pitch in his arsenal, but Richy throws strikes with a balanced four-pitch mix. Some scouts prefer his mid-70s curveball to his low-80s slider, though they both earn average grades at their best, along with a solid changeup he throws for strikes. Richy throws with effort, but he repeats his delivery and is a consistent strike-thrower. That ability to fill up the zone with solid stuff profiles him as a potential back-end starter. He finished 2014 at low Class A Great Lakes and could return there in 2015.
Frias became a minor league free agent after the 2013 season, but he quickly re-signed with the Dodgers. He made his major league debut in August 2014, then he stuck with the big league club the final two months of the season, though he got hit hard. Frias was a starter in the minors, but most of his action in the majors came in long relief, and he projects best in that role. He pitches off a mixture of four- and two-seam fastballs that range from 91-97 mph. He can manipulate the movement on his fastball, imparting cutting, sinking or riding action on the pitch. Frias is a solid strike-thrower, but he doesn't miss many bats. His best secondary pitch is his solid-average, upper-80s slider, which has short break like a cutter. He will drop an occasional 76-81 mph curveball and an even more infrequent changeup in the mid-80s, but both are below-average. The Dodgers have room in their bullpen for Frias to carve out a role, though he could shuttle back and forth between Los Angeles and Triple-A Oklahoma City.
26 CHRIS O'BRIEN, C O'Brien's father Charlie spent 15 seasons catching in the big leagues for eight different teams. Chris, who followed in his father's footsteps by catching at Wichita State, had struggled at the plate as a pro until 2014, having the best year of his career upon jumping to Double-A Chattanooga. O'Brien stays within the strike zone and puts the ball in play frequently. He's more of a doubles threat than a masher, but he has solid on-base potential. He earns praise for his game-calling and the way he handles a pitching staff. He has a thick, heavy frame, so his lateral agility isn't great, but his receiving skills are adequate. He has a fringy arm that he used to throw out 29 percent of basestealers in 2014. As a switch-hitting catcher who's better from the left side, O'Brien has a chance to get to the big leagues as a backup or platoon catcher.
Tommy John surgery kept Brigham off the mound in 2013, but he looked sharp upon his return in 2014 as a redshirt junior for Washington. His power arm prompted the Dodgers to take him in the fourth round and sign him for $396,300. He looked good in his pro debut at Rookie-level Ogden, limited to no more than four innings per start, but his arm started barking again after the season, so the Dodgers didn't let him pitch during instructional league. Brigham's primary weapon is his fastball, which cruises at 90-94 mph but can ramp up to 98. His heater has good movement, with lively tail and sink that helps him generate groundballs. He showed an effective slider in pro ball that flashes average but also got sweepy and slurvy on him at times, along with a below-average changeup. Brigham has starting experience, but given his medical history and lack of any type of durable track record, it's safer to project him as a reliever. He will be 23 in 2015, so the Dodgers might be tempted to push him.
Stewart was a two-way player at Illinois State who spent most of his time at third base, with occasional work out of the bullpen in 2014 as a redshirt junior. The Dodgers were intrigued by his arm strength and popped him in the sixth round and signed him for $190,000. Stewart already has a plus fastball from 92-96 mph, and there's reason to believe he could push the upper 90s once he's able to incorporate his lower half into his delivery. His 78-82 mph slider is still erratic, though it's ahead of his below-average changeup. Stewart has little mileage on his arm and his feel for pitching is understandably raw, but his baseball upbringing gives him a high general baseball IQ. The Dodgers are even tempted to develop him as a starter in 2015, with an assignment to low Class A Great Lakes most likely.
The Padres drafted Vanegas in the seventh round in 2011 and offered him a bonus that approached $2 million, but he turned them down to stay in state to play at Stanford. His stock fell after his junior season when mononucleosis and surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back limited him to nine innings. Back problems hampered Vanegas again as a senior in 2014, when he threw 41 innings and signed with the Dodgers for $100,000 in the 11th round. Exclusively a reliever his final two seasons at Stanford, Vanegas pitched in the bullpen in his pro debut and will stay there. He throws two plus pitches, with a 93-97 mph fastball and a power slider, though at times his slider shortens up and becomes flat like a cutter. He doesn't show much of a third pitch, but he only needs two as a reliever. His pitchability and control are understandably behind for his age given the time he's missed. Health will dictate Vanegas' 2015 assignment.
Farmer was a four-year starter at shortstop for Georgia when the Dodgers signed him for $40,000 as an eighth-round pick in 2013. They immediately put him behind the plate. Farmer showed good bat-to-ball skills in 2014 at low Class A Great Lakes, where he rarely struck out, though his whiff rate spiked and overall production dropped precipitously once he got to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga in June, a red flag for a player who turned 24 before the season ended. Farmer has good pitch recognition, but he doesn't walk a ton, and his well-below-average power makes him mostly a gap hitter. Farmer did a solid job for a first-year catcher of throwing out 30 percent of basestealers, with quick feet and an above-average arm, though his release is long. He has the hands to catch, but his receiving and blocking are raw. Farmer is likely headed back to the California League and projects as a backup catcher.