Down On The Farm: May – Seager, Wieland, De Leon, Bellinger, Holmes

It was a busy month of May in the Dodgers system, as Jose De Leon was promoted to AA, Julio Urias will miss a month with eye surgery, Zach Lee‘s hand is tingling, Erisbel Arruebarrena‘s whereabouts were discovered (extended spring training), Chris Reed was demoted to AA, Julian Leon was sent to extended spring training, and Brock Stewart was promoted to high-A.

Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA)

Hitters

Corey Seager – SS – 21 – 33/110, .300/.342/.455/.796, 10 XBH, 3 HR, 6 BB, 20 K (Month) – 63/190, .332/.369/.547/.917, 23 XBH, 8 HR, 11 BB, 31 K (YTD)

Seager started off extremely slow in AAA, but exploded late in the month, putting up a 1.536 OPS in its final six games. Seager collected three homers and four doubles among his 13 hits over those games and is setting himself up well for a more normal-for-him June.

Defensively, I’m not sure if he’s quite ready at short, or if he will ever be a truly above-average defender at short, but he’s been better than last year and he’s better at short than he is at third at the moment.

Chances are the Dodgers will play it conservative with Seager, but with Jimmy Rollins hovering around the Mendoza Line, how quickly Seager is deemed MLB-ready becomes more and more important by the day.

Austin Barnes – C – 25 – 14/48, .292/.397/.500/.897, 6 XBH, 2 HR, 6 BB, 2 K, 2/0 SB/CS (Month) – 29/100, .290/.390/.430/.820, 8 XBH, 3 HR, 14 BB, 13 K, 5/0 SB/CS (YTD)

Barnes had a great May that culminated in him getting the call to the MLB when Yasmani Grandal went down with a concussion. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much of an opportunity serving as a backup, but he didn’t look overmatched at the plate or behind it.

Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus has liked what he’s seen:

He’s not overly impressive in a short viewing, but in longer looks (like I got while he was in Jupiter for parts of two seasons), you can really see what Barnes can do well on the field. That starts with his control of the strike zone and of his barrel, and that paired with his ability to catch, even part time, gives him tons of value on a major-league roster. I don’t know if he can handle the grind of catching every day, but he’s good enough back there to handle the position when called upon as well as play two other infield spots when needed. His versatility and contact skills are going to lead to a solid, late-blooming major-league career.

For now, he’s left to slog away at AAA, and hopefully his performance continues because it seems like they’ll need him again at some point in 2015, and at the rate A.J. Ellis is going, Barnes will likely be the 2016 reserve.

Darnell Sweeney – 2B – 24 – 28/104, .269/.300/.413/.713, 10 XBH, 2 HR, 4 BB, 29 K, 8/4 SB/CS (Month) – 45/179, .251/.323/.374/.698, 16 XBH, 2 HR, 18 BB, 51 K, 19/6 SB/CS (YTD)

Sweeney had another mediocre month in May, which is more of an issue for him because the value lies in his bat. It’s not so much that a .713 OPS is terrible, but he lost his control of the strike zone while still striking out ~30% of the time, and this year he’s not showing as much pop so far. The good news is that his basestealing is still much improved, and he’s not making as many routine mistakes in the field, which is important since he does needs to get to that playable point in the field.

That said, at the end of the day, if he’s ultimately going to contend for any type of MLB role, he’s going to have to show the approach he had last year in AA. Right now, the profile looks bleak without adjustments, and while I think he’s better than organizational depth, that’s the path he’s on at the moment.

Scott Schebler – OF – 24 – 17/88, .193/.304/.295/.599, 6 XBH, 1 HR, 11 BB, 19 K, 3/0 SB/CS (Month) – 32/154, .208/.299/.377/.675, 13 XBH, 6 HR, 17 BB, 36 K, 5/1 SB/CS (YTD)

It’s actually rather remarkable that Schebler got to make his MLB debut recently given that he hit sub-.200 in May and has a sub-.700 OPS on the year, especially for a guy who put up a .941 and .921 OPS in 2013 and 2014. With the promotion to AAA, despite his struggles, the walk numbers are respectable and the strikeout numbers are not especially gaudy, but he’s being bitten by a .232 BABIP so far. Unfortunately, that doesn’t explain the decline of his power numbers, and he does seems to be squaring up fewer balls than usual.

Still think Schebler can carve out a reserve role for himself somewhere else, but if he remains in the Dodgers system, it looks like he’ll remain in that sixth or seventh outfielder organizational depth mode barring some type of significant skills breakout.

Non-Prospect Bonus Update: Darwin Barney – 2B/SS – 29 – 22/102, .216/.273/.265/.537, 5 XBH, 0 HR, 7 BB, 15 K

Okay, so as Alberto Callaspo inexibilicably gets starts, I’m getting questions like, “Why didn’t they just call up Barney instead?!” Well, the answer is mainly because Barney is not really any better to begin with, but also because he’s hitting AAA pitching at the moment like he normally does MLB pitching.

Oh yeah, besides that, he’s also currently on the DL and hasn’t played since the end of May.

Pitchers

Zach Lee – SP – 23 – 2.84 ERA, 31.2 IP, 31 H, 1 HR, 7 BB, 20 K (Month) – 2.38 ERA, 56.2 IP, 50 H, 4 HR, 12 BB, 44 K (YTD)

Lee has regressed a bit in May, but he’s been deserving of a high-2 or low-3 ERA, so he’s still pitching well. The strikeout rate is a bit concerning, but the fact that he’s back to controlling the zone a bit better and commanding his fastball is definitely a plus since he’ll never be an overpowering type.

Obviously, there’s now concern with Lee’s arm, particularly his elbow, due to a tingling sensation in his hand. While Lee’s loss wouldn’t necessarily be disastrous to the team, it could prove somewhat important if another MLB starter goes down or struggles mightily because Lee was likely the first or second in line to take starts next. Nothing to do but hope for the best on this front for now.

Joe Wieland – SP – 25 – 7.04 ERA, 23.0 IP, 32 H, 1 HR, 6 BB, 18 K (Month) – 5.45 ERA, 38.0 IP, 44 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 35 K (YTD)

Horrid, right? Well, sort of? Despite the ERA, Wieland actually has a 2.98 FIP in May and maintains a 2.84 FIP for the season (5.74 ERA at the moment). His primary issue? A .389 BABIP, which is unsustainable even for the worst of pitchers. I don’t see much to worry about yet, and Wieland still remains a back-end rotation candidate.

Tulsa Drillers (AA)

Hitters

Yadir Drake – OF – 25 – 25/88, .284/.333/.375/.708, 4 XBH, 2 HR, 7 BB, 12 K (Month) – 45/144, .313/.383/.424/.806, 12 XBH, 2 HR, 16 BB, 18 K (YTD)

That sound you heard was the Yadir hype train coming to a screeching halt. Okay, it’s not so dramatic, but after destroying everything, he finally seems to have met his match at AA.

Drake is fast, makes a lot of contact, and has shown pop, but whether that means he’s a potential MLB player is yet to be determined.

Pitchers

Julio Urias – SP – 18 – 4.11 ERA, 15.1 IP, 12 H, 3 HR, 6 BB, 20 K (Month) – 3.00 ERA, 36.0 IP, 25 H, 3 HR, 9 BB, 46 K (YTD)

Urias is currently out after elective eye surgery, and his May numbers aren’t anything to worry about as it was only a few starts.

The only thing worth wondering about is how sharp he’ll be after returning and whether the eye surgery actually affects anything in terms of his pitching.

Jose De Leon – SP – 22 – 1.65 ERA, 32.2 IP, 17 H, 2 HR, 7 BB, 51 K (Month) – 1.95 ERA, 50.2 IP, 32 H, 3 HR, 12 BB, 77 K (YTD)

After De Leon’s deserved promotion to AA, I figured he may get hit a bit harder than before until he adjusts, but I wanted to see whether or not his control or ability to miss bats would suffer. Well, in his two May starts at the level, he’s struck out 19 and walked four in 13 innings, so I guess that answers my question.

One of those dominant starts at AA came against the best prospects the Rangers had, pitting him against Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, and Nomar Mazara, so it’s not like he’s just coasting. Nothing so far to suggest he isn’t as legit as his numbers say.

Chris Anderson – SP – 22 – 4.10 ERA, 26.1 IP, 28 H, 0 HR, 16 BB, 21 K (Month) – 3.58 ERA, 50.1 IP, 43 H, 4 HR, 24 BB, 43 K (YTD)

Anderson is holding his own at AA so far this year, but May wasn’t as kind as April was. His K/BB ratio is inching closer to 1 again, which is important for him because while the stuff is always legit, his control isn’t.

There’s not necessarily a rush here, but at some point you’d like to see some control improvement (and command), and halfway into his third season, you have to wonder whether it’ll ever come. If it doesn’t, then we’re looking at a bullpen arm, so hopefully he harnesses his stuff sooner than later.

Chris Reed – RP – 25 – 5.84 ERA, 12.1 IP, 13 H, 0 HR, 7 BB, 5 K (Month) – 3.38 ERA, 24.0 IP, 19 H, 0 HR, 12 BB, 18 K (YTD)

Reed was actually recently demoted to AA at the end of May, though he spent almost all of the month pitching decently at AAA. At Oklahoma City, he pitched 11 innings and had a decent ERA of 3.27, but upon arriving back at Tulsa, he immediately gave up four runs in 1.1 innings and continues to struggle. I’m not sure if the Dodgers saw something they didn’t like at AAA or if he’s just taking the demotion poorly, but either way, he’s not helping himself at the moment.

While he once seemed next in line after Daniel Coulombe to get a crack with the Dodgers, now I’m not sure what the team has planned for him until he gets right.

Jacob Rhame – RP – 22 – 3.78 ERA, 16.2 IP, 12 H, 2 HR, 7 BB, 19 K (Month) – 2.36 ERA, 26.2 IP, 15 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 37 K (YTD)

Rhame still hasn’t gotten a ton of attention because he’s always been a relief prospect, but all he’s done is slowly move levels and continue to miss bats with his mid-90s heater.

May wasn’t his best month, but he’s been holding his own in AA, and when he adjusts to the competition he could soon be an organizational depth factor for the Dodgers bullpen.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A+)

Hitters

Cody Bellinger – 1B – 19 – 33/105, .314/.371/.619/.990, 17 XBH, 7 HR, 10 BB, 26 K (Month) – 53/182, .291/.358/.538/.896, 25 XBH, 9 HR, 20 BB, 52 K (YTD)

I wondered whether Bellinger’s sudden power surge last month was a fluke given his lower than normal batting average and spike in strikeouts, and he responded by slugging seven homers in May AND hitting .314.

The knock on Bellinger has always been whether he can hit for enough power for first base, and he’s aiming to answer that question by both destroying the ball and adding center field to his positional repertoire. Regardless of that experiment, I still think his future is at first or a corner outfield spot, so the bat will have to play, and so far Bellinger is acquitting himself extremely well.

Devan Ahart – OF – 22 – 13/44, .295/.396/.545/.942, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 8 BB, 9 K (Month) – 33/113, .292/.393/.407/.800, 7 XBH, 2 HR, 19 BB, 19 K (YTD)

Ahart is currently on the disabled list, but in half of a May, he set the world on fire in high-A. Not bad for a 16th-round pick, or an any round pick, and Ahart is as much on track to being a legit prospect as anybody with his draft pedigree could be. His disciplined approach is powering his high averages and on-base percentages, and he’s also managed to show a bit of pop as well.

Pitchers

Brock Stewart – SP – 23 – 5.13 ERA, 26.1 IP, 29 H, 3 HR, 5 BB, 24 K (Month) – 4.18 ERA, 47.1 IP, 51 H, 5 HR, 9 BB, 49 K (YTD)

Stewart was promoted to high-A on the basis of his impressive 2.84 ERA in seven starts in A-ball, and he was promptly greeted by the California League to the tune of eight runs in four innings. Fortunately, he did bounce back by striking out six and walking none in 5.1 innings in his next start.

Already 23, I’m honestly not sure how much of a prospect Stewart really is, but at least he’s making a push so far with his swing-and-miss stuff and well above-average control.

Great Lakes Loons (A)

Hitters

Alex Verdugo – OF – 18 – 18/94, .191/.232/.255/.488, 5 XBH, 0 HR, 5 BB, 14 K (Month) – 35/164, .213/.254/.274/.529, 8 XBH, 0 HR, 9 BB, 27 K (YTD)

Yeah, so I figured his April would be the worst of it, but then May hit and boy that’s ugly, huh? Verdugo wouldn’t be the first hitter to struggle in Great Lakes after torching Ogden, but unlike most who truly flop in the adjustment, Verdugo has legit tools. I still have to say I would be surprised if he doesn’t eventually hold his own and has to get sent back to Ogden, but he needs to show something sooner than later.

Jacob Scavuzzo – OF – 21 – 31/103, .301/.324/.544/.868, 16 XBH, 3 HR, 4 BB, 23 K, 3/0 SB/CS (Month) – 44/155, .284/.317/.458/.775, 18 XBH, 3 HR, 6 BB, 35 K, 4/1 SB/CS (YTD)

Hey, remember him?

After struggling to a .588 OPS in his first crack at the Midwest League last year, which resulted in him getting demoted back to Rookie-ball, Scavuzzo didn’t do much in April to show he could handle the league in his second crack at it. However, he’s now taken off in May and finally seems to be getting his footing outside of Ogden.

The athleticism and tools are still there, it’s just a matter of refinement, so for him to be showing some signs of putting it together in a tough league is promising. Scavuzzo still isn’t walking, but he’s cut his strikeout rate by 8% thus far, and more contact certainly helps allow his tools to play.

Pitchers

Grant Holmes – SP – 19 – 1.55 ERA, 29.0 IP, 16 H, 1 HR, 14 BB, 36 K (Month) – 3.22 ERA, 44.2 IP, 36 H, 3 HR, 24 BB, 58 K (YTD)

Giving up just five runs in a month’s work for a starter is generally going to get good reviews, and Holmes is not the exception. The 19-year-old righty is quickly starting to put it together, and the scary part is that while he’s been dominating of late, he’s done it while struggling a bit with his control (it’s usually just his command). His control is better than he’s shown so far this season, so if he can get that back as well, he’s truly looking at taking the next step forward.

J.D. Underwood – RP – 22 – 2.76 ERA, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 2 HR, 2 BB, 19 K (Month) – 1.67 ERA, 27.0 IP, 18 H, 2 HR, 5 BB, 26 K (YTD)

Underwood is a 2015 bullpen conversion and so far the move is paying dividends. He’s showcasing plus control and striking out almost a batter an inning with a fastball, curve, and change mix, with the fastball working from 91-93 mph. At the rate he’s going, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be promoted sooner than later.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times