2015 Dodgers Top 100 prospects: 30-21

Ahh, the Top 30. The prospects are now legitimate, and some have even already debuted in the major leagues.

For the Top 30, I’ve included Overall Future Potential grades and risks. For example, if a guy gets a “50 low,” he’s basically a sure thing to be an average player at his position. If a guy gets a “55 high,” there’s a good chance he won’t reach that ceiling, but the potential is there. The grades are 20-80 (50 is average), and the risks are as follows:

  • Low – Players who are older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
  • Medium – Players who are a mix of young and old, usually have higher floors
  • High – Players who are usually younger with potential, but also question marks
  • Extreme – Players who are younger with star potential, but a ton of question marks

The aim is to offer a prediction of the player’s future worth in the majors. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both do this.

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 60
Curveball 40 50
Slider 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 35 45
Delivery 45 50
OFP 45 High

30. RHP Ralston Cash (6’3, 215 pounds, 23 years old)
The Dodgers selected Cash in the second round of the 2010 draft as a starting pitcher. He suffered a hip injury in spring 2011 that cost him the entire year. He has since converted to the bullpen because of injuries, lack of stamina as a starter and questionable command/control. He’s the cousin of former Dodgers’ 1st-rounder Ethan Martin. He had a breakout 2014 season as a power reliever. He missed bats (11.0 K/9) and kept the ball in the yard (one home run allowed in 59 innings).

Cash has a potentially plus-fastball that sat in the low-90s as a starter but now sits in the mid-90s as a reliever. He’s able to get some movement on it, so it isn’t completely straight. He can sink it a bit, which has contributed to a decent ground ball rate in the minors. He also has a curveball that flashes plus at times, but it’s inconsistent. It has a short and sharp 12-6 break to it, and he throws it in the high-70s-to-low-80s. He also has added a slider in the mid-80s. It has a some depth to it, but it looks like a cutter at times. It could be better than his curveball, though. It’s basically a faster version of his curveball.

He pitches from the windup when there are no runners on base, which isn’t surprising for the former starting pitcher. He holds his hands at stomach level before beginning his delivery. He has a classic windup and clean mechanics. He incorporates his lower half well and drives off the mound to generate velocity. But he also has good arm speed as his arm doesn’t drag through his motion. His release point is usually high three-quarters, but he has trouble repeating it. He’ll overthrow his pitches or release too soon, hence the questionable command and control. His upside is that of a late-inning reliever, but his future role is almost solely dependent on being able to command his pitches, as his stuff is some of the best in the system. He got a somewhat surprising late-season promotion to Double-A, and he could go back there to start 2015. If he struggles, he could always go to Rancho Cucamonga to work out some of the kinks.

2014 ranking: 43
2014 location: Double-A Tulsa
ETA: 2017

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

29. RF/LF Michael Medina (6’2, 190 pounds, 18 years old)
The Dodgers signed Medina out of the Dominican Republic for $275,000 just a little more than two years ago. He was signed shortly after Ariel Sandoval, and has, so far, outperformed him. He has a solid frame with the potential to add some good weight. If he does that, he could end up with some of the best power potential in the entire system.

His feet are about shoulder width apart with his knees bent more than most hitters. He lifts his front foot just slightly and doesn’t have much of a stride. That might change as he progresses through the minors. He holds his hands at about shoulder level until he starts his swing. He has a slight hitch, but he’s able to make up for that with potentially plus-bat speed. His swing can get long at times, but when it isn’t, it’s short and direct to the point of contact. He has good plate coverage and power potential to all fields. He has a lot of swing-and-miss to his game (37.4 percent strikeout rate in 2014, down from 43.1 in 2013), but he has also shown an ability — albeit at the lower levels — to take a walk (12.9 percent walk rate in 2014, 9.6 in 2013). His pitch recognition needs work, but his strike zone judgment is advanced for a player of his age and experience. He has fringy speed that will allow him to be an average defender in each corner. He has a strong arm that would be solid-average in right field and plus in left field. He should make it out of complex ball and see Ogden this season. He’s one of my most intriguing prospects and a guy to watch going forward.

2014 ranking: 29
2015 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2021

Tools Now Future
Fastball 45 65
Slider 40 55
Cmd/Ctrl 35 45
Delivery 45 50
OFP 50 Extreme

28. RHP A.J. Vanegas (6’3, 205 pounds, 22 years old)
Vanegas turned down a 7-figure bonus (reportedly close to $2 million) out of high school to go to Stanford, and didn’t exactly work for him (financially). He was an 11th-round pick in 2014 and signed for $100,000. He dealt with injuries in college and was permanently moved to the bullpen. His potentially plus-stuff could play quite well there. He has a good frame and could add some weight without negatively impacting his stuff. But his command is an issue.

He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches the high-90s at times. He gets some good movement and life on the pitch, but he has trouble commanding it at times. It has a chance to be almost a plus-plus offering if he can harness it. Vanegas also has a slider that sits in the mid-to-upper-80s and acts more like a cutter at times than a slider. He gets good, late-breaking action on it. It has a 10-4 break with some depth to it. He had a well below-average changeup when he was in college, but he has since shelved it.

He comes set with his hands at face level. He picks up his front foot and actually crosses it over his back knee sometimes before coming toward the plate with the pitch. He has a really quick arm, but the front end of his mechanics is where the command issues come into play. His front side flies open quickly, and a lot, when he isn’t in sync. That cause his fastball to sail up-and-in to righties and his slider to be flat. As an advanced college-draftee, Vanegas could go straight to Rancho Cucamonga, as he made it to Great Lakes for 8 1/3 innings last year. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went back to Midland for a refresher before an early-to-midseason promotion to the Quakes. He has the upside of a late-inning power reliever, but he needs to be more consistent with his command and control.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2017

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

27. LHP Jairo Pacheco (6’0, 165 pounds, 18 years old)
The Dodgers nabbed Pacheco out of Venezuela in 2013 and he immediately showed his talent in the Dominican Summer League (1.24 ERA, 9.3 K/9). The most impressive part about his professional career so far is that he’s doing well at such a young age. He pitched in the Arizona Rookie League last year and was just as good as he was in the DSL.

Pacheco has a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and sometimes touches the 90-91 MPH range. He has the potential to add a few ticks to it as he matures and fills out physically. He has a curveball that has slurvy tendencies at present. It’s a mid-70s pitch with a 1-7 break. It has a chance to be an average pitch, but it’s his third-best pitch at present. He could opt to make it a slider or work on adding a slider once he gets more comfortable and acclimated to the professional ranks. His changeup shows the most potential of his off-speed pitches, as he throws it in the high-70s with solid downward fade. It shows flashes of being a solid-average offering.

From the windup, he holds his hands at face level and has a quick start to his delivery, as he raises his arms over his head. He turns with a high leg kick that crosses over his back knee slightly. He comes forward with his leg at a 45-degree angle and plants his front foot. His arm can drag a bit when he isn’t fully in sync. His release point is between three-quarters and high three-quarters. It is somewhat reminiscent of former Dodger prospect Onelki Garcia, but not as exaggerated.

2014 ranking: 49
2015 location: Rookie Ogden
ETA: 2020

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

26. RHP John Richy (6’4, 215 pounds, 22 years old)
Richy was the Dodgers’ 3rd-round pick in 2014 out of UNLV, and sources said he was drafted that high solely because of his 80-grade mustache. But, he shaved it in his debut season and now looks like an extreme overdraft. OK, that’s not entirely accurate. His debut season — and profile — is reminiscent of Ross Stripling, and he enjoyed some success. But as a college draftee, that’s to be expected.

When he’s going well, Richy has a fastball that sits in the 89-92 MPH and can touch 94 MPH. He’s able to sink, but he isn’t an extreme ground ball pitcher. He also has a true 12-6 curveball in the mid-70s that he’s able to command well. He also has a changeup that is a low-80s pitch he’ll need to develop more going forward. The difference between Richy and Stripling is Stripling added a slider to his repertoire after turning pro. There’s a chance Richy could, too, but he needs to refine his secondary pitches more before he goes down that road.

Richy holds his hands at stomach level and his mechanics are pretty standard until he turns. Then, he lifts his arms straight up to head level as he kicks his leg up. All in one motion, he brings his arms and leg down simultaneously, and then strides toward the plate. His arm is in good position when his front foot lands and doesn’t drag behind. He doesn’t bend his back much on his finish, but it doesn’t negatively impact him. His release point is almost over-the-top. His mechanics are just a little generally repeatable, but he loses command of his pitches when he doesn’t have a consistent release point. He could go back to Great Lakes for a refresher, but an assignment to Rancho Cucamonga wouldn’t be surprising. He has a No. 3/4 starter’s upside, but could also be a middle reliever with two solid pitches if starting doesn’t work out.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2018

Tools Now Future
Fastball 40 55
Slider 40 50
Changeup 35 45
Cmd/Ctrl 40 45
Delivery 40 50
OFP 50 High

25. RHP Jeff Brigham (6’0, 200 pounds, 23 years old)
Brigham, coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him his 2013 season at the University of Washington, was a pretty underwhelming selection by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 2014 draft. But his debut season and late-season reports are somewhat encouraging. He went straight to Ogden and was able to miss bats. The true test for his future will be in the coming years. His frame doesn’t lead you to believe he has a lot of velocity in his arm, but he does.

Armed with a heavy, sinking fastball that sits in the 90-94 MPH range and touches 96-97, Brigham has a potentially plus-pitch. The high velocity and movement is an uncommon combination, but Brigham has high ground ball tendencies and showed it a bit in his first season (1.64 GO/AO). He does have trouble commanding the pitch, as a lot of high-velocity, high-movement pitchers do. He backups up his fastball with a low-80s slider that has shown signs of being an average pitch. He also has a changeup that projects as fringy and will be a determiner whether he moves to the bullpen down the road.

Brigham stands straight up with his hands set at his face before he begins his delivery. He has a little shoulder turn as he turns on the rubber in hopes of adding some deception.  He is a little hunched over as he’s striding toward the plate. His arm doesn’t drag much and he releases his pitches from a three-quarters arm slot. He’s able to get good movement on his sinker because of his release point and is able to stay on top of it, despite not being a tall pitcher. He could be ticketed for Great Lakes, but it wouldn’t be completely surprising to see him go straight to Rancho Cucamonga. He could be a harder-throwing, not-as-good version of Tim Hudson, or a power reliever with an inconsistent breaking ball like Brandon League.

2014 ranking: NR
2015 location: Low-A Great Lakes/High-A Rancho Cucamonga
ETA: 2018

Tools Now Future
Hitting 30 45
Power 25 40
Speed 45 50
Defense 65 70
Arm 60 65
OFP 45 Low

24. SS Erisbel Arruebarrena (6’0, 200 pounds, 25 years old)
Arruebarrena was inked by the Dodgers last year for $25 million over five years. It’s safe to say, that investment doesn’t look like it’s going to pay off. His glove is absolutely legitimate, but there are real questions whether he can even be replacement-level with the bat, let alone average. Also, his attitude wasn’t the best in the minors. At times he looked disinterested and complacent. He also, was at the center of a brawl with now-Dodger Mike Bolsinger and reportedly, didn’t want to play in day games while in Triple-A. He was designated for assignment by the Dodgers and went unclaimed.

His bat is not good. While he looks decent in a batting cage, that hasn’t translated to the field — even in the minors. Arruebarrena’s swing is really long for a guy his size. He should be more focused on a short, quick path to the ball. Instead, he tries to hit a home run a lot of the time at the plate. He’s easily beat inside because he lacks average bat speed and his pitch recognition is not where it needs to be. If he were a few years younger, these things could be correctable. Since he’s already 25, this is probably as good as he’s going to get with the bat. He has minimal power potential and would be an 8-12 HR guy at best. He has a high leg kick, but his swing isn’t fluid. Mark McGwire and John Valentin really have their work cut out for them. Where Arruebarrena thrives is on defense. He is a magician with the glove and would be a Gold Glove contender (for whatever that’s worth) if he played 140 games. He is smooth and fluid in the field with plenty of range for shortstop. His arm isn’t Troy Tulowitzki strong, but it grades out as plus. He is an average runner who is better underway. He should spend most of his season at Oklahoma City. If Jimmy Rollins cannot stay healthy, Arruebarrena would likely be first in line to take over for him.

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

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

23. LHP Chris Reed (6’4, 195 pounds, 25 years old)
Even 23 feels a bit high, but here’s Reed, who was the Dodgers’ 1st-round pick in the 2011 draft. He has yet to show why he was drafted so high. He has been a middling starter in the minors who should have been moved to the bullpen prior to last season. He started off pretty well at Chattanooga before plateauing. He earned a late-season promotion to Albuquerque, and was, predictably, roughed up (10.97 ERA, 4.6 BB/9).

Reed works in the 88-92 MPH range with his fastball. He’s able to get it to sink, allowing him to get some ground balls. He doesn’t have great command of the pitch and has a tendency to have his front-end open up and elevate the pitch. The slider is his best pitch, and is probably the best left-handed slider in the system (except Julio Urias, obviously). It’s the pitch that will get him to the majors, and probably keep him there for awhile. He throws it in the low-80s with good depth and tilt. It’s equally effective against lefties and righties. He also has a below-average changeup that has a chance to be fringy, but it probably won’t do much for him at the next level. All his stuff should play up out of the bullpen — he could add an MPH or two to his fastball, get some more movement and be more consistent with his slider.

Unlike most Logan White 1st-round selections, Reed’s delivery isn’t particularly clean. From the windup, he stands with his feet about shoulder width apart. Everything looks clean as he lifts his leg and turns on the rubber. Then, he collapses his back leg pretty significantly while almost hunching his top-half over. It’s definitely not smooth. He plants his front foot, but his arm tends to drag behind a bit. Then, he delivers from a three-quarters arm slot and a mostly upright top-half. He gets decent downward plane on his pitches, but the delivery isn’t ideal. It’s the same from the stretch, minus the initial windup. At best, Reed is a back-of-the rotation starter or late-inning lefty who can get righties out. Realistically, he’s a middle reliever who is seen more as a LOOGY. He won’t remain in the rotation because of durability issues and lack of even a fringe-average third pitch. He was added to the 40-man roster in November and will be in Oklahoma City’s rotation to start the 2015. He could see some time in LA, but he isn’t particularly high on the organizational depth chart. His OFP grade/risk is as a reliever.

2014 ranking: 8
2015 location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: 2015

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

22. LHP Daniel Coulombe (5’10, 185 pounds, 25 years old)
When the Dodgers drafted Coulombe in the 25th round of the 2012 draft, not much was expected from him. He isn’t physically imposing and doesn’t really have one standout pitch. But he has missed plenty of bats in his 157 1/3 minor-league innings (12.2 K/9). He has spent most of his time at Rancho Cucamonga, but earned a late-season promotion to Los Angeles that surprised basically everyone.

Coulombe almost has a starter’s arsenal that plays well out of the bullpen. His fastball is usually an 88-92 MPH offering, but he has dialed it up to 94-95 MPH in the minors at times. He gets a little arm-side run to it and it plays up because of his other stuff. His slider is a mid-80s pitch that he likes to throw to lefties. It probably isn’t even his best off-speed pitch. That is reserved for his curveball, which has a 12-6 break and sits the 79-81 MPH range. Finally, he has a low-80s changeup that he’ll throw mostly to right-handers. He might have to ditch one of these pitches if he cannot command them all equally well.

He comes set at chest level and has a high leg kick that touches his right elbow. He kind of leans toward the third base side as he drives off his back leg. He swings his leg forward and plants, but his arm has a tendency to lag behind. Coulombe release his pitches from a three-quarters arm slot that allows him to stay on top of his pitches. That’s sometimes difficult for shorter pitchers, and when he doesn’t stay on top of them, that’s when his command and control suffer. He had a high walk rate in the minors (but it improved in 2014), so that’s something he’s probably always going to have to manage. He has the stuff to get right-handers out, but he’ll probably relegated to left-hand-only work early in his career. Despite debuting in 2014, he’ll probably begin at Triple-A Oklahoma City. If there is an injury or other kind of opening in the bullpen, he should be among the first pitchers considered to fill the spot.

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

Tools Now Future
Fastball 50 60
Slider 45 50
Changeup 40 45
Cmd/Ctrl 45 50
Delivery 45 50
OFP 50 Medium

21. RHP Pedro Baez (6’2, 230 pounds, 27 years old)
Baez was signed as a third baseman out of the Dominican Republic. He was supposed to be the next Adrian Beltre, but he obviously was not. But one thing he always had was a strong arm. He was once clocked at 94 MPH across the diamond (from third to first), so it was only natural to see if he could make the successful transition to the mound. He debuted last season and even made a (forgettable) appearance in the playoffs.

Baez has a good fastball, which has been clocked as high as 99 MPH. When I saw him in person in 2013 (multiple times), he failed to crack 95 MPH. He has since added some consistent velocity, and the pitch has just a little arm-side run but is generally straight. He relies heavily on it, as he threw it 81 percent of the time in his debut season. When Baez made the transition to pitching, Sandy Koufax got a look at him and was impressed by his curveball. He has since ditched the curveball in favor of a slider. It’s a hard slider in the 86-88 MPH range with a tight 11-5 break. He needs to be more consistent with it as it lacks depth at times. He also has a changeup that has shown flashes of solid-averageness, but is still fringy at this point. He comes set at shoulder level out of the stretch and has a high leg kick. He is lower to the ground than some relievers when he pushes off the rubber to deliver the pitch. He has a quick arm that comes through he motion on time. He throws almost from a high three-quarters arm slot. He has options, so Oklahoma City is a possibility, but Baez has the arm to begin the season in the Dodgers’ bullpen as a middle reliever. He has the upside of a late-inning reliever.

2014 ranking: 47
2015 location: Los Angeles
ETA: Debuted 2014

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Next up: Prospects 20-11

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.