2015 Dodgers Top 100 prospects: 50-41

Now, it’s going to get good. We’re into the Top 50 of my 2015 Dodgers’ Top 100 prospects series. The names are getting more familiar, and the talent level is getting better.

Previous entries in the series:

Editor’s note: I am not a scout (#notascout). I am an amateur when it comes to evaluating players. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. Notes and comments are based on personal observation, talking to sources, reading scouting reports and watching video. All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable (think Giancarlo Stanton‘s power), and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 50
Slider 50 50
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 45 45

50. LHP Adam Liberatore (6’3, 225 pounds, 28 years old)
Acquired with Joel Peralta for Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris, Liberatore is on the 40-man roster and has a reasonable chance of pitching in LA this season. He is, after all, a left-handed pitcher with a pulse. However, his age and lack of plus-stuff is why he’s ranked as low as he is. He’s pretty much maxed out, physically, at this stage as a 28-year-old.

Liberatore has a fastball that works in the high-80s and touches the low-90s on occasion. Unlike most lefties, there isn’t a ton of natural movement on the pitch. That means he needs to be precise with his location since he doesn’t have elite (or even plus-) velocity. The slider is his best pitch, as it shows some decent tilt and depth. He throws from a high three-quarters arm angle and kind of “pushes” the ball toward the plate. It definitely isn’t a classic left-handed release. He comes set with his hands at stomach-level before raising them to chest-high when he begins his delivery. He finishes in good position to field, for the most part. Sometimes, his body is facing the third base dugout rather than home plate. He’ll begin in Triple-A (barring injury) and should make his MLB debut sometime in 2015.

2014 ranking: NR
2014 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: 2015

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 55
Curveball 40 50
Changeup 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 50 55

49. RHP Kam Uter (6’3, 200 pounds, 19 years old)
First of all, if you don’t immediately think of this, the I can’t help you. Uter was drafted out of Pace Academy in Georgia as a 12th-rounder in 2014. He was thought to be a tough sign, seeing as he was a 3-star recruit as a wide receiver to Wake Forest University. Surprisingly, the Dodgers got Uter to agree to a $200,000 bonus — $100,000 more than the slot amount for picks after the 10th round.

One thing with Logan White high school pitching draftees is projectability, and Uter has a lot of it. He has a big frame and could add a little (good) weight in hopes of making his fastball a pitch that jumps from the high-80s-to-low-90s to a low-90s-to-mid-90s offering. He only threw 5 1/3 innings in his debut season, so he’ll get a lot of work in extended spring training and the rookie leagues in 2015. Uter’s best breaking pitch is a mid-70s curveball that needs to become more consistent with its shape and break. He also has a below-average changeup that needs work if he wishes to remain in the rotation. His delivery is clean and his mechanics sound. That helps with the projectability he has in his arm. He’ll stay in rookie ball this season, either in the Arizona Rookie League or Pioneer League.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2020

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 50
Slider 45 55
Changeup 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 50 50

48. LHP Michael Johnson (6’1, 185, 24 years old)
There aren’t many Ivy Leaguers in professional sports, let alone baseball. But, Johnson is one of them from Dartmouth College. He was a 14th-rounder in the 2013 draft and signed relatively easily as a senior. He teamed with the likes of Victor Araujo, Ralston Cash and Jacob Rhame to form quite the formidable bullpen in Great Lakes.

Johnson is an average-size left-hander who throws his fastball in the high-80s-to-low-90s with a little arm-side movement. His slider gets a bit loopy at times and throws in the low-80s. Sometimes, it looks like it’s trying to be a curveball, but he’s able to get swing-throughs at the lower levels with it. He’ll have to tighten it up as be moves up the ranks. He has a below-average changeup that needs a lot of work. But if he fulfills his potential as a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen, he won’t need the pitch much. His delivery is compact and there isn’t a ton of effort/unnecessary movement in it. He also has a release point between a high three-quarters and three-quarters arm slot. He’s in a good fielding position. Because he’s older, he might not need a ton of time at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He could taste Double-A Tusla by midseason, if all goes well in the California League.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2017

Tools Now Future
Hitting 40 50
Power 25 35
Speed 55 60
Fielding 50 55
Arm 50 50

47. OF Deivy Castillo (6’3, 170 pounds, 19 years old)
Castillo was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. He was one of International Scouting Director Bob Engle’s first international signings with the Dodgers. The athletic outfielder hasn’t hit for a ton of power, but his projectable frame leaves the possibility open to him developing it down the road. Having said that, he has eight extra base hits in 310 career plate appearances, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

A lefty all the way, Castillo has a wide stance at the plate and not much of a leg kick. He rocks back as to load his swing while keeping his top-half quiet. He holds his hands at about shoulder-level and is able to generate some good bat speed. With proper instruction going forward, his bat could speed up. It has a tendency to get long at times, which slows it down. He doesn’t project to have a lot of power, as his swing is more line-drive in style. Castillo’s best tool might be his speed, which is above-average-to-plus. He hasn’t used the speed to steal a lot of bases, as he’s better once he’s underway. He uses his speed to play a solid center field. He’s a long-strider. However, prospect No. 45, who is a better center fielder, has gotten the lion’s share of time at the position, as they’ve been at the same level since they were both signed. Castillo’s arm isn’t that strong, so it’s best suited for left field. But, he could handle center field in more than a pinch, if necessary. He should play for Ogden in the Pioneer League after some extended spring training. He has an extreme outside chance of reaching Great Lakes at some point this season.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2020

Tools Now Future
Hitting 40 45
Power 30 35
Speed 45 45
Fielding 45 55
Arm 45 50

46. C Kyle Farmer (6’0, 200 pounds, 24 years old)
Drafted in the 8th round of the 2013 draft, Farmer signed for $40,000 and it’s looking like a solid investment on the Dodgers’ part. He was a shortstop at the University of Georgia, but was immediately converted to catcher. Farmer began his career in Ogden, and hit well. He began 2014 with Great Lakes, and hit well. He earned a midseason promotion to Rancho Cucamonga, where he struggled — a lot. But his defense has been solid (especially for a conversion prospect) behind the plate.

Farmer’s has a stiff-looking stance with his knees bent and his hands set head-high. He has a little wiggle in the bat before the pitch is delivered. The wiggle might contribute to him dropping his hands and cocking the bat a touch, but it doesn’t seem to impede his swing much. He has a noticeable leg kick but is able to get his front foot down in time for his swing. He has a short, compact swing when executed properly, which produces line drives. He won’t ever hit for a lot of power. His plate discipline should be better, but he just doesn’t walk a lot. That means his on-base percentage will likely be tied to his batting average. If he isn’t hitting, he isn’t getting on base. He’s a decent runner for a catcher, but his speed is still fringy and probably won’t get much better.

His defense is better than anyone could realistically expect at this point. He’s praised for his receiving skills and leadership abilities. Those two go hand-in-hand. His athleticism plays well behind the plate, as he’s able to move better behind the plate than most catchers. As a college shortstop, his arm is strong enough, but he needs to improve his footwork behind the plate. He’s a solid prospect, but not the Top 15 guy a lot of folks think he is. He should go back to Rancho Cucamonga for some seasoning before getting the call to Double-A. He could make the majors with his glove, but it’d be nice to see him hit a bit more going forward.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2017

Tools Now Future
Hitting 35 50
Power 30 45
Speed 55 60
Fielding 50 55
Arm 50 55

45. CF Ariel Sandoval (6’2, 180 pounds, 19 years old)
Sandoval was the first six-figure player Bob Engle signed as the Dodgers’ international scouting director. Sandoval signed for $150,000 out of the Dominican Republic. He’s athletic and toolsy, but hasn’t yet put it all together yet (not surprising, seeing as he turned 19 in November).

He has a decent feel for the strike zone, as Sandoval’s hand-eye coordination has been praised in the past. If he figures things out, he should be able to make some consistent contact as he climbs the minor-league ladder. He has solid bat speed and as he gets stronger, some of his doubles-power could turn into home run-power. As of now, he’s a contact-oriented hitter who is still many years away from the majors. His speed grades out as above-average-to-plus, which should allow him to handle center field. He didn’t play much center in 2014 after playing two-thirds of his games in center in his debut season. If, for whatever reason, he can’t handle center, he has a strong enough arm to play right field. He should go back to the Arizona Rookie League to begin 2015 with a chance to get to Ogden if he performs well enough.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 55
Slider 30 45
Changeup 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 40 55
Delivery 45 50

44. RHP Carlos Felix (6’2, 240 pounds, 19 years old)
Signed out of the Mexican League as a 17-year-old, Felix was assigned to the AZL Dodgers and rewarded the organization with a solid performance. He’s a big kid with a large frame. His wide shoulders should allow him to carry more on his frame than others.

Felix has a fastball that sits in the high-80s, but has a chance to get to the low-90s as he matures and gets more exposure to professional instruction. He’s able to command this pitch well, as evidenced by his solid walk rate in his professional debut. He also keeps the ball down, as he didn’t allow a home run in his 43 innings in Arizona. He uses a low-80s changeup as his primary off-speed pitch and a below-average breaking ball that should eventually turn into a slider. His delivery is pretty clean, as he’s a little methodical when starting his wind-up. When he turns, there’s just the slightest bit of funk in his delivery and he’s able to hide the ball relatively well. He delivers from a high three-quarters arm angle and falls off slightly to the first base side on his finish. He has some pitchability and could be a back-of-the-rotation guy or long reliever in down the road. His willingness to work in the strike zone consistently helps.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2020

Tools Now Future
Hitting 35 45
Power 40 55
Speed 40 45
Defense 40 50
Arm 40 45

43. OF Andrew Godbold (6’3, 230 pounds, 23 years old)
A 23rd-rounder in 2014, Godbold (that name!) signed a little late, which only allowed him to appear in 21 games in his professional debut. He was assigned to Ogden and showed some glimpses of what the Dodgers’ amateur scouting department saw in him out of Southeastern Louisiana University.

A big kid, Godbold’s physique just oozes power potential. He slugged .500 in his debut (65 plate appearances, SSS) and has the potential to be a true left fielder who has actual power. His stance is slightly crouched for a taller hitter, and he has a pre-pitch bat wiggle that quiets down as the pitch is on its way. His hands are set almost head-high before brings them closer to his head as he starts his swing. He generates decent bat speed with his load and his hip rotation. The swing definitely lends itself to power more than contact. He makes up for a probable lack of contact with solid plate discipline and strike zone judgment. He has fringy speed that doesn’t make him a base-clogger, but does make him best-suited for left field. His arm plays best at that position anyway. He could see an aggressive assignment to Low-A Great Lakes, but it wouldn’t be surprising he if he went back to Ogden for a refresher course after some extended spring training.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Rookie Ogden/Low-A Great Lakes
ETA: 2019

Tools Now Future
Fastball 50 55
Slider 40 45
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 50 50

42. RHP Rob Rogers (5’11, 205 pounds, 24 years old)
Rogers was a 32nd-round pick in 2013 out of baseball powerhouse Keystone College. After pitching at three different levels in his debut, he pitched the entire 2014 in Rancho Cucamonga, and posted some quality numbers in a hitter-friendly environment.

Rogers attacks hitters with his low-90s fastball that features some sink and arm-side run. I saw him hit 95-96 MPH on the gun in person a couple times in 2014, so the potential for some extra velocity is there, even if he’s physically maxed out. There isn’t any projectability left in his frame. He also has a fringy slider that needs work if he’s to be anything more than middle relief at the next level. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot that allows him to get a little boring action on his fastball to right-handed hitters. He should begin at Double-A Tulsa with a chance to get to Triple-A, if needed.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2017

Tools Now Future
Hitting 30 45
Power 25 45
Speed 40 45
Fielding 35 50
Arm 50 50

41. SS/2B Lucas Tirado (6’2, 180 pounds, 18 years old)
The Dodgers signed Tirado out of the Dominican Republic during the 2013-14 international signing period for $1 million. It was the highest bonus they had given an international amateur prospect in quite some time (Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu and others don’t fall into this classification). He didn’t play at all in his age-16 season, which isn’t totally unheard of. He debuted in 2014 for the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers, and he had a rough go of it. He struggled on both sides of the ball.

This isn’t going to be pretty. Luckily, Tirado is young, but his swing needs a ton of work. He begins with a wide, somewhat closed stance from the left side. Instead of your normal load, Tirado does something unique (and not particularly aesthetically pleasing). He puts all his weight on his back foot, causing his body to drop a little. His front leg collapses (for lack of a better term) toward the catcher. He then takes a small step toward the mound and his front foot is down before he ever starts his swing. That’s usually OK for guys with tremendous bat speed and strength, but Tirado isn’t one of those players at present. Despite the awkwardness, he has pretty decent balance through his swing and generates good-not-great bat speed. He can get fooled with good off-speed pitches (as can most hitters). He has the frame to be a good hitter and add some power, but he had just six extra base hits (all doubles) in his 131-plate appearance debut. He’s more of a gap hitter and could be a 10-15 home run player long-term. He’ll need to overhaul his swing — or figure out a way to make it work — as he progresses.

Defensively, he was signed as a shortstop, but he might not have the range or arm strength to stick at the position. He had a rough time in his first pro season, as he committed 23 errors in 38 games. He might have to slide over to third base, but if his arm isn’t strong enough, second base might be his final stop. He’s athletic enough to handle an infield spot. After some extended spring training, he should be headed back to the AZL with an outside shot of seeing Ogden at some point. As a million-dollar prospect, it’s hard to rank him too low. I’m banking on the talent showing up after a bad first season.

2014 ranking: 29
2015 location: AZL Dodgers/Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

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Next up: Prospects 40-31

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.