The prospects are becoming a little more … prospecty. Here are the players I ranked in the 40-31 range in the Dodgers’ system. The ETAs are getting better, as is the quality of the player.
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.
40. C Shawn Zarraga (6’0, 248 pounds, 26 years old)
Zarraga, an Aruba native, was acquired from Milwaukee in December and could end up being a more useful human than he would have been considered if he were picked up last year.
Zarraga dropped some weight heading into the 2014 season, which helped him a lot with his defense. He lost 20-25 pounds and allowed him to be more mobile as a catcher — allowing him to block pitches, be quicker with his throws and less sloppy with his footwork. He isn’t a world-beater back there, but he looks the part more than he did 12 months ago.
At the plate, he has a really good eye, as he posted a .419 on-base percentage at Double-A Hunstville last season. He also doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s a contact-oriented hitter with almost no power. He only has 13 home runs and 66 doubles in 1,489 plate appearances. He started switch-hitting a few years ago, so he’s at least a little more versatile at the plate as a singles hitter. He profiles best as a backup catcher or organizational depth at the high minors. He should go to Triple-A Oklahoma City and could see time in Los Angeles if there are enough things that break his way.
2014 ranking: NR
2014 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
39. RHP Victor Araujo (5’11, 171 pounds, 22 years old)
The Dodgers signed Araujo in November 2009 and he spent his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League before making it stateside in 2012. Before 2014, he was a starting pitcher, and didn’t far particularly well. Once he was moved to the bullpen full-time, he was a much better pitcher.
Araujo, despite the strong numbers at Great Lakes (1.32 ERA, 9.8 K/9), he doesn’t have overpowering stuff. Instead, he relies on location and some deception to induce swings and misses. His fastball sits in the 88-91 MPH range and can touch the low-90s at times. He doesn’t get a ton of movement on the pitch, but he’ll sink it every now and then. To have success with it, he needs to have good command with it, especially as he moves up the minor-league ladder. His slider is a high-70s-to-low-80s pitch with a 10-4 (from the batter’s perspective) break, but he doesn’t throw it consistently well enough. It’s a decent swing-and-miss pitch that he needs to improve, but he has a good feel for pitching. His delivery is definitely one of a relief pitcher, as he pitches exclusively from the stretch. He comes set with his hands at chest-high. He’s a drop-and-drive pitcher, as he starts his delivery with a high leg kick, a collapses all his weight on his back leg and drives toward the plate. His release point is high three-quarters. If he throw more from a three-quarters arm slot, he might be able to get some more movement on his fastball. He looks like a middle reliever in the long run and should go back to Rancho Cucamonga, as he earned a late-season promotion to the California League.
2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
38. CF Devan Ahart (6’1, 175 pounds, 22 years old)
Ahart was popped in the 16th round of the 2014 draft out of Akron University. Much like Darnell Sweeney a couple years prior, Ahart made a strong impression as a player selected between the 10th and 20th rounds. Ahart began with Ogden and hit extremely well (.399 OBP, .889 OPS). He earned a short, late-season promotion to Great Lakes and, predictably, didn’t hit as well as he did in rookie ball.
He’s a left-handed hitter with a short, line-drive swing at the plate. He stands with feet a little more than shoulder width apart. He has a quick, almost unnoticeable load on his back leg and a short stride toward the mound. He looks a little stiff as he starts the top-half of his swing. But, the bat gets through the zone quickly because of the short stroke and some projectable bat speed. He won’t generate a ton of power with the swing, but he should be a gap-hitter with a fair amount of doubles. He showed solid plate discipline at Ogden, but he only drew one walk in 72 plate appearances in Midland. He has at above-average speed that he uses to play a good center field rather than to be a base-stealer. He should be able to handle the position as he moves up in the minors. His arm is fringy and is probably best-suited for left field, but it’s OK for center. Since he only played 16 games in Low-A, he could go back there. I’d rather the Dodgers be aggressive with him and put him at Rancho Cucamonga. Either way, he should get his first taste of the Cal League at some point in 2015.
2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Low-A Great Lakes
37. LHP Victor Gonzalez (6’0, 200 pounds, 19 years old)
Gonzalez was signed out of Mexico on the first day of the 2012 international signing period, along with Julian Leon, Lenix Osuna and William Soto. He had a really solid debut season in 2013, but didn’t fare too well in the Pioneer League in 2014. He got more hittable, walked more hitters and missed fewer bats. As an 18-year-old in that league, it isn’t exactly unheard of.
He has a similar profile to Julio Urias, but that teenage sensation he is not. He features an 88-90 MPH fastball that could tick up as he progresses through the minors. He overthrows it at times, losing command of it. His best off-speed pitch is a changeup that has some good fade down-and-away to right-handed hitters. His slider has a little potential, but it’s a flat offering at present that gets a few swings and misses at the lower levels. He also has a below-average curveball that still needs works if he’s to remain in the rotation. He has an incredibly clean delivery that should minimize his injury risk as much as possible going forward. He has a high three-quarters release point that allows him to get a decent amount downward plane on his pitches, considering he isn’t a tall pitcher. He finishes in a facing home plate with a slight fall-off to the third base side. This allows him to field his position well. He’ll need to watch his physique to make sure he doesn’t lose some of his athleticism and me. He should be ticketed for Low-A Great Lakes, despite his struggles in Ogden last season. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if he went back Ogden to begin his 2015 season.
2014 ranking: 19
2015 location: Low-A Great Lakes/Rookie Ogden
36. RHP Jacob Rhame (6’1, 190 pounds, 22 years old)
A 6th-rounder in 2013, Rhame established himself as a relief prospect in the system to watch, as he was dominant in the Midwest League in 2014. Not only did he miss bats, but he didn’t allow many free passes and kept the ball in the yard.
Rhame has an electric fastball that has ticked up a bit than his college days. He now throws it in the low-to-mid-90s and can add an extra MPH or two when needed. It’s a little straight, but the high velocity makes it a potentially plus-pitch down the road. He used to throw a curveball, but he’s converted it to a hard slider/cutter combination. It’s a mid-to-high-80s offering with a tight break. He also has a surprisingly good low-to-mid-80s changeup that features nice fade down-and-away to left-handed hitters. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, allowing him to stay on top of his pitches. He has a pretty mechanical delivery that doesn’t have any funk. He comes set at the chest, has a high leg kick and drives off his back leg to produce his plus-velocity. He finishes in a great position to field, as he doesn’t fall off to the first base side. He could ultimately be a late-inning reliever, but he should be a middle reliever at worst. He’ll see Rancho Cucamonga to start 2015 and could move quickly if maintains his command/control.
2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga/Double-A Tulsa
35. OF Jacob Scavuzzo (6’4, 200 pounds, 21 years old)
Scavuzzo entered 2014 as a prospect who made a big jump in the rankings, but the Midwest League really got the best of him. He was drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 draft and had a breakout 2013 in Ogden (.927 OPS). He was overmatched at Great Lakes and closed his season back with the Raptors.
Scavuzzo’s best tool is his athleticism, but it hasn’t completely translated to the field. He has a slightly closed stance and has a little bat wiggle that quiets as he starts his swing. He has a toe-tap timing mechanism that, when executed correctly, helps him to get his bat through the strike zone quickly. When his timing is off, his bat drags and he gets hit foot down too soon. He generates good bat speed with his athletic frame. He doesn’t have particularly good plate discipline or strike zone judgment, which makes his on-base percentage dependent on his ability to put the bat on the ball. He has a frame that lends itself to good power potential, but has yet to show it outside a hitter-friendly environment. He has above-average speed and plus-speed when he’s underway. He won’t be a big-time base-stealer, but he can swipe a base every now and then. He also can handle center field, but is probably suited best for left field, as his arm would be fringy in right field. Scavuzzo should go back to Great Lakes for a remedial run through the Midwest League. He might make it to Rancho Cucamonga at some point.
2014 ranking: 14
2015 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
34. 1B O’Koyea Dickson (5’11, 215 pounds, 25 years old)
The Dodgers drafted Dickson in the 12th round of the 2011 draft out of Sonoma State University and has been nothing if not consistent in his pro career. Dickson is a bat-first first baseman who doesn’t have a ton of power, so he’ll really have to hit if he’s to have a future in the majors at the position.
Dickson is a pull hitter who flashes average-power potential, but is more of a doubles hitter. He’s able to generate his power potential with a thick lower-half. He has a slightly crouched stance and holds his hands at shoulder level because he rests the bat on his shoulder until the pitcher turns on the pitching rubber. He loads well on his back leg before generating solid bat speed coming through the strike zone. His hips open as his hands come through the zone. His front leg almost “swings” toward the pitcher instead of a direct step toward the mound. He has good plate discipline and doesn’t strike out a lot. Dickson, for a stout guy, has better speed than he probably should. He won’t steal bases, but he can go first-to-third on a single at times. Defensively, he’s seen a little time in left field and third base — both of which were failures (especially third base). He’s an average defender at first base with a fringe-average arm. He is a non-roster invitee to Dodgers’ camp and will surely be one of the first reassigned players. But, it’s nice to see him get that bit of recognition. He’ll play first base for Oklahoma City and has an extreme outside chance of seeing Los Angeles in 2015 (lots would have to go wrong for this to happen).
2014 ranking: 31
2015 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City
33. RHP Lindsey Caughel (6’3, 205 pounds, 24 years old)
It isn’t often 23rd-rounders make much noise in the minor leagues, but Caughel has done that on some level. A late-season injury prevented a promotion to High-A, which he would have likely received had he been healthy.
Caughel had an 86-90 MPH fastball when I saw him in person two seasons ago, but he’s since increased his velocity and is able to sustain more of an 88-91 MPH fastball. He can sink and cut it a bit, but it’s mostly a straight pitch. His curveball is a 12-6 offering that sits in the low-70s. It’s his best off-speed pitch. His changeup has a little fade against left-handed hitters, but it’s a below-average pitch at this point. His slider is barely a “show me” pitch at this rate. But, Caughel has the ability to eat innings and has really good command/control, so that could get him a look in the majors in the next couple years. His delivery is solid and repeatable. He has a high leg kick, and his arm doesn’t drag as much through his delivery as it did last year. He has the ceiling of a No. 5 starter, but could be a long-reliever if that doesn’t work out (think Jamey Wright minus all of the height). He should finally get to Double-A this season and could see Triple-A, if he’s needed.
2014 ranking: 38
2015 location: Double-A Tulsa
32. 1B Justin Chigbogu (6’1, 240 pounds, 20 years old)
Chigbogu was the Dodgers’ 4th-round pick in 2012 and has hit 40 home runs in his professional career. The thing is, he has hit 37 of them in rookie ball. He began with Great Lakes in 2014 and struggled mightily. He struck out 39 times in 96 plate appearances and hit all of .156 for the Loons. That got him a demotion to Ogden, where he predictably hit a lot of home runs (20, in fact). But he also struck out a lot there (101 times in 287 plate appearances).
He has big power potential. It will be his carrying tool, but he might not ever make enough contact to show it off in the majors. His stance is a little wider than shoulder width and slightly open. He holds his hands out and at about chest level. He doesn’t have a big leg kick, as it’s more of a leg twist. He gets his front foot down and is able to generate considerable bat speed. He shows power to all fields. But, his swing gets long and he can get beat inside really easily with hard stuff. He, obviously, has trouble with pitch-recognition, as he swings and misses far too often. He has an uppercut swing, as a lot of lefties do. He has well below-average speed and his defense isn’t great. But with his big frame, there isn’t really another position for him to play. If he can figure out his swing and make just a little more contact, he could be the left-half of a first base platoon or a second-division starter. More likely, he’s a Quad-A guy who hits the most home runs on his minor-league team.
2014 ranking: 23
2015 location: Low-A Great Lakes
31. OF Joey Curletta (6’4, 245 pounds, 21 years old)
Curletta is a lot like Scavuzzo, in that he had a really good 2013 and got beat up a bit in the Midwest League in 2014. He was an All-Star in the MWL, but the power potential he has displayed in batting practice has yet to translate to in-game action. He was a 2012 6th-round pick and is a profile right fielder.
He holds his hands out and at chest level before bringing them more toward his right ear before the pitch is delivered. He doesn’t have a leg kick, as barely picks it up off the ground and steps toward the shortstop/third base side of the mound. That won’t play down the road, but he can get away with it in the minors. His front side opens up as he’s bringing the bat through the strike zone, leaving him susceptible to pitches on the outer-half of the plate. He’s able to generate solid-average bat speed, which bodes well for him down the road. He has some of the best power potential in the system, but it remains to be seen if he ever reaches it. He runs a lot better than you’d expect a guy of his size to. He won’t be mistaken for Dee Gordon, but he can move his big frame around the bases and in the outfield. He has a plus-arm in right field. There was some faint scuttlebutt that the Dodgers might try him at third base, but I don’t see that happening. At best, Curletta is a middle-of-the-order run producer with power. More likely, he’s a fourth/fifth outfielder with some pop who struggles against right handed pitching. He should spend all of 2015 in Rancho Cucamonga, where he might show off some of that power potential.
2014 ranking: 22
2015 location: High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Next up: Prospects 30-21